Starving myself began as an innocent affair that continued for months and months. First I felt nauseous from my medications, then I barely ate because I was rapid cycling*, and then my stomach shrunk (*see below for definition). I lost a tonne of weight and almost everyone complimented me on this weight loss, so I just kept “forgetting” to eat, or I always felt too “full” to eat.
I developed a negative body image, and consequently I hated food. Even though I still ate one or two small meals a day.
I ate because I had to eat. I knew that starving myself meant I would be sent to the hospital eventually. Then some dietitian would’ve started me on Ensure and I hate the texture of Ensure. The list goes on and on. To top it off, everyone thought I looked fantastic so why bother eating? They didn’t have to know why anyways.
Every time I was asked, “You’re so skinny. What are you doing?” Part of me wanted to scream, “Take a gamble and eat my antipsychotics – you might gain weight or lose weight.”
That’s really the gamble – a lot of the side effects include weight gain. So was I just the “lucky one” to lose weight? No, no, no. I’m just the kind of person who stops eating when I’m stressed or depressed. But part of me stopped eating this time because I was afraid I would gain weight since I was taking more and more medications for my bipolar disorder.
When I finally acknowledged this eating-body image-weight loss problem months later, I swallowed my pride and tried to fix it.
I shoved food down my throat. I told myself that I had to eat at least two meals a day. I told myself that I needed to eat balanced and healthy meals. I told myself that I had to start loving my body and exercise so that I could make myself feel hungry again.
But those rules and guidelines weren’t enough to get the job done because the culprit was in my medication cocktail.
I cut one of my antipsychotic doses in half, and suddenly the sky opened up. I saw the sun again. I could walk straight because I wasn’t drowsy anymore. I was productive because I didn’t take two hour naps everyday. And I also began cooking regularly. I was eating regularly. Slowly, slowly, I ate more.
To be honest, I don’t think I “lost weight” if I measured myself on a scale, but I know I lost a lot of muscle density. That made me look a lot more petite overall. Eating is still a work in progress, but I’m doing my best to exercise a few times every week to build my appetite and those muscles again.
*My experience with rapid cycling: I am hypomanic, depressed, and anxious over the course of days… then I repeat that cycle for months.