TRIGGER WARNING: MENTIONS OF SELF HARM, TRIGGERING BODY PART DESCRIPTIONS
I miss my Zoloft.
50mg a night for around 18 months, and it was like everything was turned down. My physical sensitivity to touch, bright lights and sudden noise went from unbearably overwhelming to mildly annoying. I was able to sleep through the night. The PTSD flashbacks that had haunted my nightmares since my first experience with institutionalized bigotry and systematic violence at age 7 were swapped out for brilliantly vivid lucid dreams where I was able to do everything from visit dead friends to embracing cliches and spending my little breaks from consciousness in flight. When confronted with an unexpected problem, or a large number of situations that all seemed to require all my attention at the same time, I was no longer overwhelmed and paralyzed. I was able to look at the situation and work through it systematically. My first instinct was to pull back a little so I could come up with a logical plan for working through whatever had come up, rather than to burst into tears or silently claw tracks into my thighs while choking on the impossibility of ever moving forward. Zoloft even improved my sex life. For the first time, I was able to relax enough to just enjoy the experience. In case you were wondering, orgasms, as it turns out, do indeed live up to the hype.
But throughout the time I took Zoloft, my weight slowly climbed. I filled out the conservative clothes I choose to wear as a sign of my religious faith and slowly replaced them with larger sizes. I began to work out regularly, jogging to the gym and then lifting and rowing before jogging back home. But without the overwhelming noise of my food and body image related anxiety, I had also started to eat. I ate and ate and continued to eat until I was full. I enjoyed my food and helped myself to an extra bite of cheese or an extra taste of soup. I still counted calories, or points if I was on a weight watchers kick, but I frequently found myself going over and unable to care. I knew I was larger than I’d ever been before in my life, and I had read many, many testimonies about Zoloft that mention weight gain as a possible side effect. I was concerned, but when I brought it up to my psychiatrist, her response was to ask me if all the benefits I found on the drug were worth an extra 10lb or so. For a very, very long time, the answer was yes.
And then I took a 3 week trip to visit my family and in laws.
My first day after traveling over 20 hours, one of my husband’s cousins greeted me with “Wow you got so fat! You used to be so pretty.” Rather than saying something like “you know, most people like to start with ‘hello'” I blushed and apologized for letting myself go. I had this conversation many, MANY more times, both from his relatives and mine, on a near daily basis until we left from our “vacation.” The many, many benefits of Zoloft were clearly no longer worth the extra weight.
I’ve been off it for about 3 months now, and I’m starting to feel the effects. I have lost about 20lb, finally putting me in a “normal” bmi range. It has been much, much harder to avoid my anxiety triggers for my ED. I cry more often. Sometimes I unintentionally self harm by clawing at my skin when stressed. I have a harder time getting started on my daily work because everything feels so important and I can never figure out what my priority should be. My dreams have gone back to their normal, nightmare state. I’ve even gone back to puking after overeating as a direct form of punishment. I am not well.
But I am getting so many compliments from friends and even strangers. I can see my beautiful collar bones and the delicate bump on the tops of my shoulders. My waste is small enough to fit completely in my husband’s two hands. I’m not fat anymore.
But I do miss being happy. Some days, thinner or not, I just really, really miss my zoloft.