Fat Girl Wearing Thin

Life beyond the loss.

   Jul 27

Here we go round the pill-popping bush….

As you know, I’ve been playing Pharmacy for the last several weeks, waiting for an anxiety medication that will actually help, not hinder my existing problem.  The last medication I was on caused me to have insomnia and made my heart race like a rabbit.  After 5 days, I’d had enough.

Realizing that this problem was NOT going away on it’s own, I went to see my doctor and was given something else to try.  Less hopeful, yet not willing to give up, I agreed. 

As he wrote the script he said, “This is a pretty clean drug, and by that I mean there are very few side effects.  However, it will take up to a full month to see if any progress is being made.  What it does is prevent further anxiety, instead of just masking the anxiety you already have.”  Well then, bring it on.

Even though I was agreeing to my sixth round of trying different medications, I decided to be realistic about the whole thing: expect the worst, hope for the best. 

It has been a little over a month now, and I am sleeping better.  No racing heart, no dizziness, feeling woozy, or anything else that tends to go with drugs like these.  By the tiniest amount, I am turning a corner, here.  Even though my anxiety is still a bit persistent on wanting to be my forever BFF, I am having periods of a more focused, calm Me.   It’s been a long time since I’ve felt that way.  But unfortunately, there is always a worm hiding within a bushel of seemingly perfect apples.  


Since beginning this medication I’ve gained 7 pounds.  Un-Lucky Number Seven.  In less than five weeks.

I’ve thought about this quite a bit while watching the scale numbers escalate.  There is one very real reason why I might be gaining.   When I was in the throes of anxiety I had a lot of nervous energy.  I had a difficult time keeping still, and constant movement can burn quite a bit of calories.  Now that I am more calm, now that I can actually sit still for longer periods of time, I’m not burning off all of that energy. 

My eating habits have changed as well, but I don’t know if I can blame this on the medication or not.  It might just be the result of an emotional reaction to the changes that are taking place within me.  Who knows.  These meds are working, but they’re not working, and my options are getting slim. What do you do with a possibility of being faced with the decision of having to choose between your mental health or your physical health?

I started comparing my dilemma to other drugs that people take for medical problems.  Steroids such as prednisone are prescription drugs used for a number of things, from severe allergies to immune deficiencies.  A tech at my vet’s office is sometimes prescribed steroids for an old knee injury.  She has boundless energy and can function on very little sleep.  In other words, she’s in a permanent manic state.  She loves being on them.  “I get so many things done!” she says.   Many people have the opposite effect.  A former in-law of mine had no choice but to be prescribed an equivalent medication because she suffered a serious physical condition that responded to no other treatment.  Within a year, she’d gained over 75 pounds.  She felt better, but physically, her body never recovered. 

I’m so grateful for the periods of serenity I’m feeling that believe it or not, I am NOT in panic mode – yet. However, the fact that I’m writing about this shows it is weighing on my mind. I feel like I need to prepare myself for the possibility of having to make a choice, should things continue on this path. Do I bail, or stick it out? I’m not crazy about the very real possibility of this gaining trend continuing, and if there’s one fear that long-term maintainers have, it’s the fear of out-of-control weight gain.

So, let’s recap: Anxiety brings medication. Medication brings change in appetite. Change in appetite breeds worry and anxiety.

…round and round we go. 

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  1. Sharon says:

    Oh boy, can I ever totally relate to this. Too much to delve into in a comment, just know I am one friend who understands this predicament all too well! At least you are able to know (or so it seems) which medication is causing the weight gain. If I can help, let me know. But do know for sure, I understand the dilemma.

    • Ellen says:

      Thank you, Sharon. What a frustrating set of circumstances. Damned if you do, and damned if you don’t. I’m not sure what I’m going to do yet. Well, I guess I do: nothing, for now. But if this keeps up, I’ll have to make some decisions. Thank you for your understanding and as always, your support.

  2. roxie says:

    I’ve got nothing but sympathy for you, dear Ellen. I’ve played Pharmacy (love that phrase), too. It does stink.

  3. Jill says:

    Oh Ellen. What a scary cycle for you to be presented with. I don’t know what that must feel like. I do know the strength of the fear of out of control weight gain. I am so sorry. Whatever you need … even if just a soft shoulder!

    • Ellen says:

      Thank you so much for that comment, Jill. I’m paying very close attention to the scale at the moment (something I hate doing) but hopefully my body will adjust and things will even out.

  4. Obviously only you can decide… but seems to me you should stick it out. I’d put the mental health first. Because if that’s not there, does it really matter if you’re thinner? Maybe there are ways you can eventually adapt that helps with the weight and appetite piece. That said, I can very much empathize with the feelings that come with gaining again:( Hugs.

    • Ellen says:

      Reading your comment on this prompted me to remember posting just recently that if my mental health is taken care of, the physical part will follow. I guess I need to learn to take my own advice! (she says, embarrassed!!)

  5. I’m glad you’re feeling better, Ellen. Sorry your medication is still messing with you though. Hopefully you can find some balance in there. We’re pulling for you.

    • Ellen says:

      Thanks Greg. Not so flaky anymore (great thing)! Shorts getting tighter (not so great). As they say, ‘something’s gotta give’. Hopefully it will be the weight!

  6. teresa says:

    Have you tried really upping your exercise? Including weight training for general metabolism raising… I’d start there I think. I know what you mean about the drugs and weird appetite/weight things. My doc gave me something else to counteract that, but I can’t do the speedy things very well.
    The calm you’re feeling at that deep level is so important though.
    How are you with supplementing with alternative therapies? Have you looked into Neurofeedback? I can share more if you’re interested. Not to replace your meds, but it can make them less necessary.
    big hugs to you.

    • Ellen says:

      You know Teresa, up until I started these meds I was doing weight training along with cardio. I think the anxiety gave me the stamina to do it consistently; however, since then it’s been a struggle to do much of anything at all. Everything seems to be playing a factor in what’s happening with me. I’m sure if I worked out more, I’d see less gain but it’s getting from point A to point B that I’m having trouble with. Sigh.
      As far as supplementing, I have decided this week that I’m going to sign up for Yoga classes and see if that helps (it certainly cannot hurt, I figure). I know absolutely nothing about Neurofeedback but will do some research on that. I’m open to just about anything at this point. Thank you for the info!

      • teresa says:

        here’s a link. These are the people I’ve used. They’re great and I do trust them. I think they have recommended practitioners all over the world if you get to the point of wanting to try it.
        I know what you mean about getting out to exercise… yoga does sound like a great idea.

        • Ellen says:

          Thank you so much, Teresa. I don’t see your link anywhere. Would you mind sending it to me in email? I’d really like to learn more about it.

  7. Val says:

    I could not tolerate the side effects of any of the AD’s I’ve been prescribed in the past – trying to treat myself “holistically” these days w/a combination of exercise/diet/meditation…
    It’s funny: I’m probably in better physical shape, cardiovascularly speaking, than I was in my 20’s, although the excess weight disguises that well 😉
    Hang in there, my dear – keep on keepin’ on!

    • Ellen says:

      Treating oneself holistically is a route that more and more people are taking, and I totally get why that is. I know what you mean about being in better physical shape now; I feel that way, too. Now if I can just get my head on board!

  8. Vickie says:

    you may have said, but I can’t remember.

  9. Roz says:

    Hi Ellen. Wishing you the best always….sending big hugs your way and hope you are able to balance the mental and physical very soon!!! Take care!!!

  10. munchberry says:

    Big hugs. Totally understand that dilemma. Maybe the feeling hungry will subside once your body gets used to the medication. Meanwhile you should tell your doc. I hate that catch 22. If you were only experiencing anxiety over weight, it would be more cut and dry. But since it improves your whole mental health? Tricky. Tricky.

    I take prevacid. Makes you gain weight. But I also like to swallow. AND was given Prednisone today. BIG unsmiley face for weight gain. As he handed me the prescription I seriously thought about whether I truly wanted to take it. I will, but I will be bitching and not funny bitching.

    Totally get your emotions on this.

    • Ellen says:

      Well, I feel like an ass. It would just FIGURE that I’d mention a random drug like prednisone only to find out that you have just been prescribed it :( That was an inconsiderate mistake on my part (should have left it unnamed). Have you been on it before? Don’t assume that it will cause you to gain, because it doesn’t affect everyone the same. Foot. in. mouth.
      Hope you are OK and that it isn’t serious.

      • munchberry says:

        Don’t feel like an ass! I wish that prednisone made me full of energy. I have taken it (inhaled it) before and was pretty unthrilled when he handed me the prescription. I asked for an alternative and he just crunched his brow like I needed to take a step back into reality. So Pish! Name what you will, nobody is the same. In fact I think it made my brother hyper as a kid. Not sure what it does to him as an adult. I am glad you mentioned it.

        So to reinforce. Pffft, Call me a name? Then I will be hurt.

  11. How frustrating that the moment your anxiety improves, it creates something new for you to be anxious about! I am happy to hear that you’re feeling more and more like yourself again. Perhaps the small weight gain (as long as it stays small) is a small price to pay?

    Big hug to you!

    • Ellen says:

      After discussing it with my husband, I’m going to stick it out for a bit longer and see if things stabilize. I just have to remember that we can’t always have everything we want. Sometimes there’s give-and-take.
      Thanks, Jenn. Good to hear from you!

  12. LauraJayne says:

    That is so frustrating – I think I *kind of* know what you are feeling. Since I haven’t been exercising, on doctor’s ordered, I am scared to see what the scale says – since I know it won’t say what I want it to say. I think it’s about our own sanity – what is worth it and what isn’t. For me, I’m missing exercise not because of the weight gain, but for sanity’s sake – so I’m going to try to work it back into my life. No matter what, it’s about how you feel, and I’m totally admirable about how well you are dealing with it!

    • Ellen says:

      Reading this probably isn’t doing you any favors, is it, Laura? It kind of wants a person to run as far away from meds like these as possible. HOWEVER, I have to say that at least I’m getting relief…it’s just not a perfect case scenario.
      When my anxiety was really high up there, I was able to exercise like a madwoman. Only now that I’m less affected by it do I see it for just plain nervous energy that HAD to be burned in order to keep my own sanity. I don’t have that drive now that I’m more calm. Always that give and take, isn’t there?

  13. Brenda says:

    These drugs sure aren’t as fast, fun, and easy as the commercials on TV would have you believe. Is it just me, or do doctors seem reluctant to prescribe this stuff, compared to how they pushed them a few years ago? I’m wondering if they have seen how miserable some of the side effects are and how hard it is to get off of some of them. (?) I hope we BOTH find something that works—hang in there.

  14. Tim says:

    I’ve never taken any drugs before, apart from flu tablets, so haven’t got any advice to help you out at all (sorry!!!) but just wanted to send you my best wishes and hopefully you find something that works best for you.

  15. I’m sorry you’re struggling with the gain, but I can’t help but think you’ll figure out a way to compensate for it and overcome it. Especially now that you’re calmer. :)

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