Bipolar Thoughts

Picture Perfect

Nicer weather is here now, hopefully to stay. It makes me think about spring time and summer which are usually full of fun and laughs and good times, but also full of anxiety.

I have a set of obsessions. Obsessions and compulsions are not uncommon with Bipolar Disorder. I don’t seem to have any compulsions, but I do have a list of 5 or 6 obsessions that are the center of my therapy sessions, my personal work on my mood, and my daily struggles. I won’t get into all of my obsessions today, but I will talk about one.

For a long time my doctor thought I suffered from a reverse form of Seasonal Affective Disorder; one where I suffered depression every summer and sailed through every winter. However, this isn’t the case. I do suffer more from depression and anxiety starting in the spring but it isn’t directly due to the change in seasons. It is due to one of my biggest obsessions.

Body Image. Body Image is a huge obsession of mine. I constantly worry about the way that I look and how others perceive me based on how I look. I’m overweight, by more than 50 pounds, and I feel fine. In fact, I feel like I’m the weight my body wants me to be. But thoughts of going out in public not covered by a sweater or hoodie, having to bare my chest to go swimming or hang out on the beach. These things can bring me to tears. The anxiety that a beach can bring me is almost unparalleled. I will try my hardest to remain out of the water.

Sometimes it is undeniable and you just have to go for it. When that happens all of my thoughts turn to who is avoiding looking at my body and who is staring at it. The slightest wince can entice my brain into thinking that you are judging me, that you think I’m disgusting, that you find me offensive.

I struggle most around my wife’s family and at our city pool. At our city pool there are plenty of good bodies in a small area. I’ve even once heard a teenager say “ew” when I took off my shirt in front of her, and then she proceeded to find another area to sun bathe. My wife’s family is just so skinny, or in shape, or whatever, that by no fault of their own, I feel bad around them. I almost don’t want to subject them to my fat ass in the summer and feel bad that sometimes I have to.

I have twice made attempts to lose weight. One time about five years ago I lost 35 pounds and felt great and thought I looked great. I didn’t mind going to the beach or pool that summer and probably had the best summer of my life. And just a few months ago I tried to get started on a weight loss plan, lost almost 15 pounds then I hurt my back at the gym and the holidays came and I’ve gained it all back, probably, I won’t get on a scale to find out.

It sounds easy to say, just lose the weight. But the truth is, I like my lifestyle, like eating and drinking like I do and 50 pounds is a big number; a seemingly insurmountable number, even.

So every spring and summer, when I am just in a t-shirt, I am at my most uncomfortable. I am struggling to get out of the situation. And I am praying it doesn’t ever head to a pool.