It may come as no surprise that being diagnosed with Bipolar is not a thrilling experience. However, it’s not being labeled with a diagnosis that bothers most people; it’s having to take medications to get treated for their illness. The medications may have side effects like making you tired, and they may make you gain weight. If you’re obsessed with fitness like I am, this may become a problem for you. Having to gain unnecessary weight, and being too tired to work it off can be a real problem that you have to become dedicated to work through.
Medications like Zyprexa (Gen. Olanzapine) not only make your body tired, they also make you want to eat unnecessary calories. When I was in the hospital getting treated for Bipolar, I remember scarfing down 6 individual sized Smuckers Peanut butters and 6 individual sized Honey Maid Graham cracker packets within about 15 minutes, as I was lounging and watching the movie The Waterboy with Adam Sandler. Within one week, I went from 200 lbs to 212 lbs. It’s not really a bad thing, except when you get under the pull-up bar and realize that you cannot crank out as many pull ups as you used to.
More than the weight gain, though, it’s the chronic fatigue that the medication brings on that really bothers me. I used to function on 6 hours of sleep per night, but ever since starting medication, I need 8 or 9. Fatigue also leaves you less motivated to work out, and your lack of exercise can leave you feeling lethargic, which leads to more fatigue. I talked to my Doctor about this vicious cycle, and he then switched my medication to Abilify (Gen. Aripiprazole).
The Abilify left me with a little less lethargy than the Zyprexa, so that has been my “drug of choice” over the past month and a half. It still makes me tired though. When I drive, I often find myself having to pull over to fuel up on caffeine. The bright side is that I can take it like a sleeping pill, as groggyness usually kicks in about an hour after I take it.
So overall, being BiPolar is all about how you take it. Like any pressure in life, the resilient can make a way out of no way. And that is what I intend to do.