Overweight with an eating disorder

Tuesday, August 08, 2017 • Rockville, MD 20853-3508

Hi there! I want talk about how I ended up overweight with an eating disorder. I have always been your classic Type A, overachieving, perfectionist. As a child, I was overweight and when I entered middle school the pressure of being “thin and pretty” as a means of fitting in took over. I started down a long journey of starving myself. Not only was food restriction a means at trying to improve how I looked, it became an outlet for control when nothing else was under my control. Most of the time I restricted my food intake to roughly one small meal a day just so no one would catch on. However, at my worst, I would barely eat for days. I got pretty sick at several points, thankfully though, I was never hospitalized.


In 2002, I developed a medical condition that required treatment with birth control. Shortly after this my mood started to change…I was more stressed, depressed, and anxious than normal. I also was in the midst of a severe eating restriction episode. My doctor thought everything was due to college stress so in 2004 I was put on antidepressants. The meds helped my mood, but with that improvement came a substantial weight gain. Over the course of two years I put on 40-45 lbs. Now as someone with a history of food restriction, this weight gain on my small 5’2’’ frame devastated me. As I barely ate anyway, the weight gain didn’t come from overeating, but as a side effect of the medicine. I made the decision that since the meds had stopped working that we should take me off the antidepressants. Once this happened, I was able to start losing all that weight and I was feeling better.


While it would seem that my issues were fixed, they really were not. As time wore on, I would lash out for no reason, I was back in another severely depressive state, and in the midst of yet another severe eating restriction episode. My doctor determined that I couldn’t tolerate high doses of estrogen or progesterone so he picked the lowest dose pill possible. But in 2010, I had to go back on antidepressants. Thankfully this one helped. I was able to finish grad school in 2011 in a better mental state and I somehow managed not to gain any weight.


After I started my postdoc, the antidepressants were stopped because I seemed to be doing well. Unfortunately, with that came a change in my birth control pills. My mood became very unstable and in 2013 I was told I had to go back on antidepressants by my boss. This time, in the following 2 years I was put on 8 different antidepressants or mood disorder meds, none of which were able to fix my mood issues. I was having horrific side effects and I was also gaining weight like crazy even though I barely ate anything…this time it was a 50 lb increase. 


I was so angry about my mental and physical state that I fired my psychiatrist in 2015. I was so tired of my head being foggy, my unstable mood, and the weight gain. I knew from before that as soon as I stopped the meds I would be able to lose the weight. So in June of 2015, I joined my gym and signed up for personal training. I also found a new psychiatrist who figured out that the birth control was the route of all my issues. I am one of the women who cannot tolerate any systemic administration of hormones. He recommended a hormonal IUD because I still needed the hormones medically. It’s not a stretch to stay that he changed my life. Once the birth control pills were stopped I started down a new journey….

Up next…learning how to eat and overcoming my eating disorder