It was a warm July day a couple of years ago when I biked to my new doctor’s clinic for my very first adult annual checkup. I was seventeen at the time, so I still had a paediatrician; but finding family doctors that was taking in new patients were hard to find, so when my mom found a doctor down the street from her work that had space in his practice, I figured it was best I jump on the chance.
Everything started out normally but as I feared, I was lead to the dreaded scale. I didn’t have a scale at home, and I rarely checked my weight at my gym’s scale.
“You are right now, just about 154 pounds,” the chirpy nurse announced.
This wasn’t really a huge surprise, last time I weighed myself I was about 148, and that was a while ago. As nice as my doctor was, there was no delicate or pretty way of him telling me I needed to lose some weight.
This bothered me, sure, nobody likes someone to say to them that you should lose some weight, but I didn’t drastically bike to the gym and work out for four hours or chuck out my favourite caramel n’ cheese popcorn.
Come September however, was when things really changed for me.
I had been diagnosed with general anxiety and social anxiety since I was sixteen, so my shrink had been suggesting that I look into antidepressants to decrease my anxiety. I spoke to my doc about it, and he prescribed me prozac.
Many medications like mine, do not produce the same results for everyone. People react differently to the medication. Some people may not react well to the medication, or maybe the side effects they got from the medication were too extreme to handle. While on my first few weeks on prozac, my hands would uncontrollably twitch and shiver, the only real physical side affect from the prozac that I could detect. As weeks went by though, it took me a while to notice something else, my entire appetite had decreased.
As months went by I continued to lose weight, and by the time summer came around again I was 115 pounds (which is still in the healthy range for my height.) It was really the summer when people, especially my family, noticed my weight loss.
And all the while, my anxiety had decreased dramatically. I was able to go up to a sales clerk where they carried their sunglasses, instead of hiding and avoiding eye contact from sales associates that were there to help me in the first place. I was able to say hello to strangers on the streets instead of constantly worrying if that person was snickering at my dorky shoes. Prozac didn’t turn me into the life of the party, that is for sure. I was, and still am, the shy, quiet and nerdy introvert. I’m fine with that really, I am just incredibly happy I found something to help me while I continue to work on my social anxiety and depression.
I still get comments and questions at family gatherings. “You look so good, what magical exercise did you do all summer?” I can see where they are coming from, physical changes are always more noticeable than mental ones. And then they ask what my trick is.
“Honestly man, it’s my meds, it’s how my body reacts to my medication, that is all, that is it, and everyone reacts to antidepressants differently.”
It was my Mom that was mostly concerned. “You have lost so much weight, you better not have an eating disorder!”
Really, in the simplest terms, I never starved myself to achieve a certain weight loss goal or over excised to burn a certain amount of calories. I never counted calories or addicted to pro-eating disorder web forums.
Like anything else, assumptions are never the best way to get an answer out of someone. And above all, while working on your physical health is important, mental health is equally important, maybe even more. I am happier not because I went down a few dress sizes, but because I’ve been seeing improvement in myself with my mental illnesses with prozac has an aid.
You are not your body, you are your mind.