At present, the thing that makes me most uncomfortable is the way my body has changed due to my medications. I’m sure everyone with some kind of mental illness, going through therapy experiences changes in their bodies. I’m no different. I put on a lot of weight over the past year and now it makes me feel bad about myself.
How do you cope with something like that? Every time I visit my psychiatrist, I ask her to give me medications that won’t make me gain weight. Every time I’m on Google, I type how to lose weight or why do bipolar disorder medications make you gain weight. Every time I try to start an exercise routine or a diet, my mind won’t even let me get out of bed.
I know these thoughts are in my head and they’re not healthy. And it’s different for each individual. But today, I just want to talk about the humiliation and loss of confidence I feel when I look at myself in the mirror. I see all the ways my body has changed in places and I feel regret, like a sharp knife cutting through the chest into my heart. I flinch at the sight of me.
I know I have already done more harm than good to my body. I have scars to bring me back to reality every time I wander in the fantasy land where everything is “normal”. I have been told to treat my own body like a temple, but that was long gone when I first cut myself. I have taken medications that were not for me for far too long to do damage to my internal organs.
Now when I think about the ways my mind has tortured my body, I feel ashamed. And knowing that all the way it was me who did the harm under the spell of my mental disease, I feel a pang of unimaginable guilt. It is true. I have been my brain’s most abused prisoner.
While we think others around us are most afflicted by our disease, we forget about ourselves. We feel guilty over everything, think about making it up to everyone, but we don’t think of ourselves. Everything that happens around us, the mistakes we make, the deplorable decisions we take, those are all as hosts to our mental illness. And we pay the high price for it all. Except we forget ourselves.
We don’t apologise to ourselves, our bodies. We apologise to anyone else we might have hurt or done wrong to but we exclude our bodies.
Now that I stare at my image in the mirror, I just want to say that I am sorry- I apologise for all the crap I put you through, all the unhealthy things I have taken in, all the times I hurt you, all the medications I still have to take to be normal and not hurt you.
But you know what I realised today while looking at myself? That I have paid enough, sacrificed enough to be sad about how my body looks now. This is the price I pay to be ordinary. Because none of us are ordinary, really.
I think I said this before and I will stick to it- people with any kind of mental illness is far from ordinary. They are far more intelligent than normal or what is perceived as normal in our society.
I have been struggling with the changes in my body, body shaming myself all the while not realising that these are the medications that hold me together, hold my brain together, so that I can’t harm myself further.
My conclusion is this- if you are feeling the same thing I have been feeling for so long just stop, stop and take a look at yourself again. You’re beautiful no matter how your body has changed. You’re held together tight with glue. There is no reason to hate your body, it has gone through enough. Don’t forget yourself. You’re your own little miracle no matter if your brain tells you otherwise. Don’t let your illness win this war.
If I can’t accept myself then how can I expect the society to accept me the way I am? Hope is Good is more than a cause for me, it’s my entire life. I wish to help people, but I can’t do that if I can’t help myself. So, I have made a promise to myself, no more shame about my body, no more guilt. A promise to love myself.
A version of this also appears on The Mighty.