Part of having BPD is struggling, to some degree, with your own appearance and levels of self confidence. When I first became aware of my appearance when adolescence began, I was never really happy with myself because I was very slight and not outwardly muscular. As I moved through middle school to high school, I was always physically active as a member of my school’s cross country running and track and field teams. I also continued running for the first two years of college.
As a result, I’ve always been used to being thin and unimpressive in terms of build. I was grateful to be thin. At the same time, however, as a male desperate for female attention, I was self critical about the fact that I didn’t have a more “manly”, solid build. My body was definitely toned from the conditioning aspects of running, but not built. I felt many of the girls ignored me simply because I didn’t have a formidable self appearance.
When I was first diagnosed with BPD in 2001, I was still thin and pretty much the same as I had always been. I began taking medication to help stave off depression, which included Effexor, Welbutrin, Zyprexa, and Klonopin. These medications also helped to stabilize my moods and quiet my mind when I went to sleep at night. For the most part, I noticed an improvement in my mental health, but nothing overly dramatic. The reality of BPD is that medication is probably only about one-third of the battle: the rest is working through behavioral patterns and mental ruts that cause pain in one’s life.
After college and up until I went to Costa Rica, I was 5’8″ 160 lbs, about 5 pounds more than I weighed when I was participating in sports in college. This was a healthy weight to have and I never really worried about what I ate or what medications I was taking.
Fast forward to 2009. I still take all of the same medications my doctor initially prescribed for me, mostly because I want to do everything in my power to feel better. The downside, however, is that I think 8 years of these medications, Zyprexa in particular, and the continuing battle with BPD, have caused me to gain weight.
Over the past few years, as I’ve continued to be self employed working online, my levels of physical activity have declined to almost nothing. The daily struggle with BPD, feelings of emptiness, depression, and worthlessness also generally send me to my bed, where I’ll spend a few hours each day napping just to escape the reality of myself. Sleeping in this way can be addictive: if your sub-conscious entertains you better than your regular, brow beaten conscious, why would you want to wake up and deal with your BPD?
Additionally, it’s worth noting that as a type 1 diabetic, the better you get at managing your diabetes, the more likely it is you’ll gain weight. At one point, my diabetes doctor said gaining a few pounds is actually good because it indicated that my blood sugar levels were not completely out of control. When sugar levels are constantly high, the body begins to break down fat, muscle, and everything else in between in an attempt to find energy. The by-product of this process is constantly needing to urinate. Essentially, when blood sugar levels go unchecked, you’re urinating your own body mass out every time you go to the toilet. This is why my Doctor said that gaining weight as a Type 1 diabetic is not necessarily a bad thing (although if you are Type 2, it IS something to worry about).
Putting my improved diabetic control (a good thing), my use of Zyprexa (a good thing mentally), and lack of exercise (probably not a good thing) together, it’s easy to see how all of these factors coalesce to cause general weight gain. On top of that, I just turned 30, and I’m sure my metabolism has slowed down. I’m not a scrawny teenager who can eat pizza and ice cream anymore. Now, my body and the way I manage myself are built around many different priorities.
BPD definitely contributes to this mix by causing me to sleep a lot. Also, something I just considered recently, is the fact that I’m starting to use food as a crutch for feeling better or passing time. I’ve begun to eat “recreationally” instead of just eating when necessary.
All told, since I began living in Costa Rica at 160 pounds, and considering the complicated mix of medication, lifestyle, eating habits, and BPD symptoms, it should come as no surprise to me that I’ve gained 18 pounds, putting me at 178, the most I’ve ever weighed and considered “overweight” by most all types of body mass calculations.
Instead of feeling bad about my small teeange body, now I feel bad that I’ve started a beer belly and don’t nearly exercise as much as I used to. So, it appears that no matter what my body image is – thin or gaining weight – I’m never happy. As a result, my will to exercise or modify my lifestyle is almost nil.
I know of a few people who will not take Zyprexa because they don’t want to gain weight, and this is particularly understandable if you’re female. Women have it much worse than guys when it comes to weight gain issues, and throwing BPD, Zyprexa, Depression, and a sedentary lifestyle altogether certainly doesn’t help the situation.
I guess it comes down to this: am I better off with the Zyprexa, all other factors considered equal? I would say “Yes, and maybe I should take more to keep my mood swings in check”. I think the issue now is to find a way to counteract not only my medications, but also the habits that have all contributed to my weight gain.
This is much easier said than done. I would recommend that people take the Zyprexa if it’s helpful, even if it means an extra pound or two. In the end, it’s probably not the Zyprexa that’s causing trouble: more likely, it’s just the reality of living with BPD and any other maladies you might have.