Heavily Medicated

Category: Opinion Pieces Published in Ink Published: Monday, 29 October 2018 Written by Richard J Bell

Heavily medicated


“You might experience some weight gain with these medications,’ informed the Mental Health Nurse. With one in every hundred experiencing Schizophrenia, weight-gain can become an issue due to medicine. Currently there is no cure for Schizophrenia, so it is a possibility to many that they’ll never get off their medication and must manage side effects for the rest of their lives. It can be cause emotional and social problems until the right medication is found.

“That’s funny,” I thought. “This shirt fitted two weeks ago when I bought it.”

Then I realised there had been a medication increase since then. “Great,” I thought to myself. “I only got wear it once.” Frustrated I put it back with the rest of the clothes that didn’t fit either. The pile seemed to get bigger every time the dose of medication increased. Now I was down to tracksuit pants with an elastic waist band.

“Why didn’t you say something?” said the psychiatrist whilst discussing the problem.

“I just wanted to get my mental illness sorted out,” I explained. “Then worry about the weight gain.”

Although it would have saved a lot of money if I did try to maintain the weight as it happened.

Socially it would have saved a lot of emotional pain as well, being turned down from relationships because I was overweight. Not to mention the remarks people make towards your personal appearance. It can really make you distance yourself from peers and make you feel isolated whilst amongst people.

When conversations started with, “It’s really about being healthy.”

Statements like that would cause stress, especially because with every two milligrams of medicine, I gained ten kilograms. But then I’d be in a difficult position on whether to disclose my illness or to just let go of the incident where the person made a comment. It would affect me emotionally because the weight gain wasn’t something I had control over.

On the fifth medication I was diagnosed as Treatment-Resistant Schizophrenia. Part of that meant, I will remain on medication for the rest of my life. It was around that moment I realised I had to start taking care of myself before the problem got worse, and began to go to the gym.

Emotionally I wanted to be confident and not have to worry about issues that arose because of my weight. My aim for physical health was to maintain and keep a level of fitness because of the side effects of medications. I had to lose weight to feel better and maintain a level of fitness that would keep me happy. That was my goal to work on at the gym.

Even with the help of the gym three times a week I still stayed the same weight for 12 months. So I decided to see my General Practitioner for assistance. With a blood test later he told me I don’t have diabetes but it will develop, because of the weight gain. So I started seeing a dietician to cut down my eating habits slowly.

One of the dangers of being on medication for Schizophrenia is the risk of diabetes. Even Non-Clinical Mental Health Organisations have started weight loss programs with dieticians for consumers. To maintain healthy eating habits and prevent any further problems that will present themselves through treatment of their Mental Illness.

The side effect of weight gain is a reality for some people who live with Schizophrenia. It can be expensive and cause emotional stress. And sometimes could also lead to other health problems as well. To those who never get off their medication, it is about management of symptoms, side effects and having prevention methods in place. For many, who have a Mental Illness, it is about a lifestyle change.


Richard Bell © 18th July 2011

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