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Positive, unexpected side effect... a bit of background...

Sunday, March 25, 2018

I wrote a blog a number of years ago that addressed this topic, and I am hesitant to write another... not because of any negative response to the previous blog (quite the opposite), but rather just because it is so intensely personal and private. But here goes... and please be kind Sparklers... I was diagnosed in my mid 20s with schizoaffective disorder (bipolar type)... which means I have aspects of both schizophrenia and bipolar disorder... I also have generalized anxiety and PTSD... among other things. Ok, so what does that really mean? I am not a paranoid schizophrenic. I have never acted out violently towards others. What it means is that I hears/see/feel/smell things that aren’t there to other people’s perceptions. At one time I had command hallucinations, but they were all directed at harming myself... it is distressing in retrospect to know how much pain and stress I put my family and loved ones through at the height of my active psychotic symptoms... I was in and out of hospitals, group homes, treatment facilities, etc... but not much helped, besides being drugged into a zombie... and the amount of medication I was on comes with serious physical side effects... like metabolic syndrome, weight gain, high cholesterol, cardiac issues, etc. and of course there’s the simple issue of the lethargy and apathy... and then something happened... I don’t really know what it was. I managed to get well enough and together enough to live independently, and took a vacation with my eldest niece... and there was so much I couldn’t do on that trip, because of my weight. Not because of fear, anxiety, mental illness, but how much I weighed. This was something I could change! So, I did some research, and accidentally found SparkPeople and the rest is 7 years of history... I lost 50% of my starting weight in almost exactly 2 years, which is terrific, but even better to my mind is the impact on my mental and emotional health. I still have schizoaffective disorder... that just isn’t going to change... but the amount of medication needed to manage my symptoms is significantly reduced (I take one medication for that now... ONE!), and I credit daily exercise with doing that... one of the things I did shortly after joining SparkPeople was to adopt a rescue dog (who has become such an important part of my life and therapy that my psychiatrist certified him as an ESA), who keeps me honest about that daily exercise thing. Every day, no matter what, I have to leave my apartment and walk the dog outside. He doesn’t care what my mood is, or if I am anxious or depressed... he has to do his “business”! And once we are outside we usually get going and walk several miles (unless it is raining... because he hates the rain, lol... but even then he still has to go out for a short walk)... Getting outside and exercising daily really changed my life. Sure, I lost weight... a lot of it, actually... but most impressive to me is the change in my outlook, the impact on my mental health. Don’t get me wrong, I still struggle... I probably always will... but I don’t have to be drugged into a stupor to protect myself from myself... sometimes the unexpected side effects are the largest benefits...
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • KATIE5668
    Beautiful inspirational blog..thank you for being so honest and open about your experience.
    Wonderful progress ..you are achieving so much in health both physical and mental!!
    Again Thank You for sharing !!

    231 days ago
    I am so grateful for you, Chandra, for all of your hard work and for your willingness to share so much of your journey. What a blessing it is to know you, to feel so proud of your extraordinary success.

    I believe that mental health and physical health are the same thing, no matter how we try to separate them.

    I admire everything it took for you to turn your life around. In my experience, coming off of psychiatric medications can be very difficult, even when the side effects are debilitating. For me, it might mean that I have some kinds of suffering and vulnerabilities that meds are supposed to ease, but it also means I am alert and present and able to make authentic connections. That in itself really is a miracle after all of the early trauma.

    Pursuing mental health with one or more chronic conditions is such a personal journey. I believe that we are social creatures, and I believe very strongly in the power of moving through it together. Cheers to your health, beloved. May we be as happy and healthy as we possibly can, with wagging all along the way.

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    231 days ago
    You are so strong.
    232 days ago
    An absolutely wonderful blog - you have accomplished so much. Congratulations!
    232 days ago
    Powerful blog and a deeply personal share. You've overcome so much and was led here, I'd like to think to continue your journey in a loving environment.
    232 days ago
    I respect your honesty because your sharing allows others who may be struggling similarly to find some solace and answers for themselves, in your blog. Wonderful strength on taking control of the one area you were able, your weight and from there, experienced many wonderful "side effects", as you shared, less medication and such. Cooper is such a perfect dog for you and you for him. Thank you for sharing.
    232 days ago
    Absolutely wonderful. Well done on regaining your independence and health, onwards you go with your fabulous canine helper. emoticon
    232 days ago
    wow what a story and a testimony of your resiliency! emoticon emoticon
    232 days ago
    My dear, hugs, many hugs. You have overcome many hurdles and made your life a whole lot healthier than it was! And to have your precious, handsome Cooper dog. Bonus! Fur babies have such a profound affect on our lives! In a POSITIVE way1

    I am so glad for you that you have come so far on your journey and Happy 7 yr. Sparkversary! HUGS
    232 days ago
  • EISSA7
    Important info for all....thanks for bravely sharing! You are so right....there are things in each and every one of our lives that we can control and build upon!
    232 days ago
    Great blog and awesome that you have made such improvements! Love that your sidekick can help you to walk outside and enjoy the exercise. emoticon
    232 days ago
    This is a fabulous blog .Your honesty is remarkable.You have come so far.I am happy for you that you and Cooper help each other.The world can be a tremendously difficult [lace and however you find your way is good.You are courageous to be so open and that is wonderful too .Your honesty may help someone else deal with something gripping them and give them hope.You have so much to be proud of Chandra and you are a remarkablr person.I appaud how far you have come.
    232 days ago
  • RHOOK20047
    Are usually don’t care too much about what people say. If they are good people they will be kind and helpful in their comments. And I certainly haven’t found negative responses here in SparkPeople. Feel free to post whatever you wish.
    232 days ago
    I applaud your honesty and congratulate you on your work ethic. You do not feel sorry for yourself, which you could! emoticon emoticon
    232 days ago
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    Disclaimer: Weight loss results will vary from person to person. No individual result should be seen as a typical result of following the SparkPeople program.