I Became Obese on Bipolar Medication

A woman regains her health through bariatric surgery.

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When I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, I was told that the meds I would take would make me gain between 30 pounds to 50 pounds. I didn’t hesitate because I was desperate for a solution – I was an unemployed single mom, I couldn’t concentrate in school, and I believed that life was passing me by.

Three years later, I found a job, was able to enroll in school again, and held an internship at a Latino magazine. Unfortunately, my weight had reached 350 pounds. Things became hard to do – just going up and down the subway made me winded. And dating became a thing of the past.


Then, my doctor told me I had Type 2 diabetes, and that my blood sugar levels were out of control. He immediately put me on medications for diabetes and high cholesterol. My doctor’s concern scared me, and all these physical ailments were making it hard to appreciate that my mental health was getting better.

That summer, I went to my first seminar on bariatric surgery. I was hesitant, scared and excited all at the same time, but I soon became convinced that it was the best option. I promised myself that if I could get down to a weight where it could be easier to exercise and to do the normal things in life, I would maintain it.


It took me two years before I was cleared for the surgery. To prepare, I quit smoking and drinking and got my weight down to 332 pounds. Many think bariatric surgery is the easy way out, but it is actually an extensive process that encourages a change in lifestyle; candidates are mandated to change their way of eating and living.

Post-surgery wasn’t easy, either. I was put on a very rigid diet while I was still healing, and had to slowly ramp up my exercise routine. But a few months after the surgery, I was able to get off my diabetes and cholesterol medications. Within a year and a half, I had lost 142 pounds.

I can now run and play with my daughter, so I have no regrets.

Type 2 Nation does not endorse any one method for treating obesity. Please consult with your medical team on all treatment decisions.

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Astharte de los Santos is a professional writer and poet, and works in the field of substance abuse recovery.