Over the past three years my body has been held hostage.
In January 2014 I was hit with a round of panic and depression that took me nine months to fully address and recover from, but that period, combined with a difficult birth control and a toxic relationship, caused my weight to climb. I was at 170 pounds by August of that year, after maintaining a comfortable 150 for a solid year.
150 is the weight I am at when I’m working hard in the gym, avoiding the foods I’m allergic to, and also enjoying treats every once and a while because I’m not a robot. It is 18 pounds heavier than my lightest weight, which took starvation and hours of cardio at the gym to maintain. Depression and hormonal imbalances caused me to gain twenty pounds from that happy weight.
I am using numbers because I don’t want to be afraid of them. I use numbers because I want you all to understand what it means to be healthy.
The story continues.
In August 2014 I was put on a beta blocker to manage my heart condition. My cardiologist suggested I lose weight. So I set about getting healthier, and recovering from my depressive episode.
My clothes still fit (I’m a size 4-6 in most stores), and some of them even got loose. I developed muscle. I felt good.
In the fall of 2016 I went on Prozac to deal with OCD, chronic depression, and anxiety. It fundamentally changed my life. Not only was I healthy physically, I was finally at a good place mentally. I didn’t look at my weight once but I was still fitting into all of my clothes and a lot of them were getting looser.
Last week I went to the cardiologist expecting to see a significant drop in my weight. It was the same as it was in 2014, when I was at my lowest mental point.
As my brain’s logic center worked to remind me that I am so much healthier than I was a few years ago, that the Prozac and beta blockers make it hard to lose weight, that I’ve put on muscle, that the numbers don’t matter, one of the doctors said to me, “you need to change your diet. Tell me what you eat.”
It hit me that my cardiologist thought all of this wasn’t because of hormones, or Prozac. It was because of something I was doing. That I was simply not trying hard enough.
Keep in mind, I am allergic to gluten, peanuts, eggs, and dairy, but I do slip and have them on occasion. I quietly told my doctor about this, and as he loudly pondered if I was exercising enough and how much fruit I should cut out of my eating plan, I silently began to cry.
For the first time, I was physically and mentally healthy. I was strong. I was doing work I loved. I was able to be emotionally and mentally present in my life in a way I had never been before. My blood pressure and LDL levels were perfect. And this doctor couldn’t get past the numbers.
I work out six days a week. I eat healthier than you. (No, I mean that. You, reading this right now? I eat healthier than you.)
I am at a weight that I cannot control because of medication that is saving my life every single day, and you want to talk to me about the kind of grapes I eat after dinner?
I must say that when my doctor noticed my tears he felt terrible and immediately remanded his comments to say “of course the Prozac makes it very difficult to lose weight and you are very muscular, so I bet a lot of it is muscle.”
I called my psychiatrist the next day and we worked out some medication options that she says will help counteract the Prozac’s physical symptoms (so far it’s been working pretty well, I think) and I have been seeing a nutritionist to check if I have any other allergens in my diet that could be causing inflammation. Both of these doctors are women, and they listened compassionately and kindly to me. They nodded when I mentioned my difficulty with hormones and eating disorders, and I want to thank my nutritionist for understanding my desire to lose a little bit of weight without going into Eating Disorderville.
When she asked me how much I was looking at losing, I thought back to my old self, who insisted that any weight above 140 was not good enough, and replied “I’m happiest at 150, 155.” She nodded and said “that sounds good to me. Let’s get you on a plan that’s right for you.”
But before I saw that other number on the scale, I was truly and entirely happy with my body. I am strong, skilled, and powerful. I am sturdy. I am sexy. I am so many things I wasn’t three years ago at this exact same weight.
I would rather be happy and working on losing a few, than skinny and filled with daily terror about life itself.
So, here’s to the journey, and here’s to wellness.