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The Implications of Bipolar Medication Weight Gain

Body image, gaining weight with bipolar medication, physical appearance, the cosmetics of our body, even how our houses, cars, kids and clothes look; these are all external aspects of our life. When it comes to bipolar medication side effects such as weight gain and acne, the physical cosmetic nature of these effects can have huge ramifications for our self-esteem and how we deal with them.

Bipolar Medication

When you have a mental illness, and especially if it's severe, diagnosed, clinical, and an official label, then chances are you're taking medications. There are many different medications. They have many different side effects. They can also work very well in managing bipolar. Unfortunately, many of these medications cause weight gain such as Lithium and Seroquel.

Obsession with the Number on the Scale as a Result of Bipolar Medication Weight Gain


Body image.


Let's start with body image. There are dangerous thoughts about our body image and weight related issues that can take us away from Allah. At the same time, the whispers of Shaytan are real and we as Muslims believe that.

One of the thoughts we can get plagued with is an obsession with outer appearances. Form over function, style over substance etc. It's a constant focus on the outside and on "numbers." For example, the amount of money in your bank account, the number of pounds on the scale, amount of views, follows and likes on social media, even grades on a test can become a number obsession. The number game can also be the value of your house, how expensive your car is, how many kids you have etc. This obsession with numbers can be applied in many different external parts of your life.

Number on the Scale, Weight Gain and Your Soul

This number game has important ramifications when it comes to dealing with the weight gain side effect related to bipolar medications. Shaytan makes you focus on the external, and then you lose focus of the internal, which is actually what matters.

Moreover, your internal state is what is linked to your soul because your soul is everlasting. It is infinite. It existed before you were born and came in this world. Your soul is housed in this vessel. When you die, you leave this shell behind. Your soul is the one that's going back to Allah. Will the shape of your body matter then? Will the weight gain around your hips matter then?

Popping a Pill, a Medciation for Weight Loss is Easy

No doubt, gaining weight is a dangerous health risk. It also makes you feel like crap! We need to do everything we can to manage it using important and often neglected tools such as diet and exercise. At the same time, when you obsess over the look of your body and not it's function, your self-esteem can suffer. As a result you might think that getting rid of that bipolar medication will cause you to lose the weight.

It might. Changing diet and improving it might also cause you to be at a healthier weight for the long term. You choose what you focus on. Popping a pill for weight loss is easy. Not popping in a bipolar medication because it causes weight gain is also easy. But what are the consequences of these actions?

Working out and watching what you eat is a lot harder because it shifts the responsibility towards you. You have to do the work. And remember, the number on the scale is just one form of measurement of how good your health is. There are many others. Learn about them and use those factors to measure your level of health.

Your Worth is Not Defined by How Much Weight You Gain

Many of you have emailed me and I have friends who are dealing with psychiatric medication related weight gain. No doubt, medications have a lot of benefits. They are keeping us healthy. They're keeping us out of the hospital. They're preventing suicidal thoughts, panic disorders, mania episodes.

At the same time, the weight gain can make us focus on this dunya and the external and forget about what really matters: our soul. This is one of the best ways to deal with bipolar medication weight gain becuase it goes to the root of your beliefs around body image.

The shape of your body is one thing. The number on the scale is another thing. The way you interpret these two is a whole another beast or beauty depending on how you perceive it, interpret it, think about it and how you talk to yourself about any side effects form bipolar medications.


Unwanted Weight Gain from Bipolar Medication

At the same time, there are unwanted negative side effects. And sometimes the side effects are so severe that a person who is on a great medication regiment will go off the medications because they cannot deal with the side effects. And that's okay, some of the side effects are really harmful such as rashes, tremors, nausea that make it difficult to function in everyday life.

How to Deal with Unwanted Weight Gain froM Bipolar Meds

  1. Deep breathing

  2. Accept your diagnosis and take your meds as prescribed by your doctor

  3. Stop playing around and tinkering with your meds and take them as prescribed

  4. Get a dispel when that makes medication adherence easier

  5. Focus on eating healthier (more food from the ground and trees and less from boxes)

  6. Focus on moving more (even a thirty minute walk daily works)

  7. Accept my body the way Allah designed it

  8. See the number on the scale as just a number and not a reflection of my worth

  9. Believe that your worth is determined by how well you worship Allah with your intentions and actions

Deep Breathing to Deal with the Frustration Brought on by Weight Gain from Bipolar Medications

Breathing is a great form of not just dealing with bipolar symptoms but also the side effects that bipolar medication cause. How does that work? Well, for one thing, if the side effects are unwanted and even harmful in some sense, that can cause anxiety and frustration. And here is where deep breathing comes in to help you deal with the side effects of a particular bipolar medication. It's an action you can take to calm yourself down when an unwanted side effect causes you frustration and makes your mood drop. As you breathe better and calm down, the frustration starts to dissapate and you can accept that yes, I gain weight because of this medicsation. It's not in my control. What is in my control? Diet and exercise. Ok. What can I do to control this aspect beacause what I put in my mouth and how much I move is in my circle of influence. How can I stay there and improve. Then the "dealing with the side effect" goes from causing frustration to an oppurtun ity to implement long term positive changes in your life.

To that I say Alhumdulillah! The above paragraph shows you how you can implement the first way to deal with the weight gain from bipolar medication.

To learn how to implement the others, book a one-on-one support session with me now!

For more help in managing and mastering bipolar, join my Bipolar Membership HERE.

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A disco ball

It's an itch, almost electric. I can feel it pulsing through the right side of my body. The only way to make it stop or at least tame it is by shaking my right leg, my right hand and especially my right finger. I don't know why. But there is something about this "energy" that I dare not talk about lest it become immortalized on the internet: hypersexuality.

Hypersexuality and Muslims

The Mayo Clinic says this about hypersexuality:

Compulsive sexual behavior is sometimes called hypersexuality or sexual addiction. It's an intense focus on sexual fantasies, urges or behaviors that can't be controlled. This causes distress and problems for your health, job, relationships or other parts of your life.

Bipolar and the Sexual Energy

I can't say I have a sexual addiction but if I weren't Muslim then I probably would and Allah knows best. I don't know where my high libido comes from. Making wudu feels very good. It tames the sexual thoughts pervading my head. But I paint myself as such a bad person for having them. I think myself impure but the thoughts don't define me. They are just that: thoughts. But try telling that to an addict.

This post is meant to normalize the sexually charged thoughts or energy you can have with a mental health challenge. It's not about addictions because I don't know enough about it nor do I have enough experience about it. What I do struggle with is the intensity of the thoughts I have and how my mind will use to define who I am as a person.

Hypersexuality Doesn't Define You as a Person

Men think about sex nineteen times a day while women think about it ten times a day according to an article on BBC. The problem can arise when you obsess about those thoughts, especially if your mental health challenge predisposes you to have obsessive thoughts. Sexual thoughts can also become a problem when you let your mind reign free and don't take care of the mental junk you have.

The lack of critical thinking, reflection and self improvement is what I mean by letting your mind reign free. There are no checks in place to make sure your soul and moral intelligence are in charge and above your emotional intelligence.

Quote by Ibn Qayyim

This quote is so relevant for Muslims with bipolar when it comes to hypersexuality. I know it is challenging but mastering your thoughts can be done. Check out my bipolar ebook for more on that.

A key method in managing my thoughts is the things I expose my senses to. So that depends on what I look at whether it's social media or watch television or even the content I consume while walking down the street. No wonder why Islam places such an importance on lower your gaze and being very mindful of what we look at.

You can't control the thoughts you have but you can definitely control the things you look at. When you are looking at sexually explicit material even if it's looking at a person (male or female) down the street who is not covering their awrah, repeated exposure can increase the probability that you have more sexual thoughts.

I must say that think link between hypersexual thoughts and what you consume is just based on my experience so do your own research or see what happens in your own situation. Because Muslims with bipolar are more sensitive, the things they look at can affect them more than others.

Hypersexual Music and Audio

Listening to explicit music, podcast or even swear words can definitely get you hyped up. If you are an audio person, as opposed to video, then keeping your ears clean can keep your thoughts clean.

Listen to nature sounds more, even if it's a simulated audio. Listen to Quran recitation or be around people who speak good.

When is Hypersexuality Okay

When you are hypomanic and especially manic, you will probably be hypersexual. That's ok. It's not your fault. God knows how many times I've been there and the things I've said and did. Alhumudulillah, Allah covered me up each time.

When you have lost your insanity, you are not held accountable for your actions. So if you do things that are not permissible in Islam while you are sick, the rules are different. Do your own research to see what applies to you and what doesn't.

If you do end up doing embarrassing things or shameful things while you are unwell or in an episode, like many people I know, forgive yourself. See that as part of your illness and not who you are as a person. Have compassion on yourself just like you would for a friend who did something wrong.

Ask Allah for forgiveness and write a forgiveness letter to yourself.

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A brain with a pink background

Depression. It's more than sadness. It's a tsunami of impending doom. It's more than worry. It keeps you up at night. Not because of amusement but because of the taunting, the screeching thoughts, the monstrous howls, the silent scream and the excruciating cries. Feeling any pain or even disturbance yet?

I'm currently going through postpartum depression or so my therapist says. I did a podcast episode on this topic before and a previous blog post on it as well.

Beginner's Mind Set

I am working on instilling a beginner's mindset. This means, as I'm learning from Susan David in her book "Agility," means I approach every situation with a new set of eyes instead of using the same thought patterns or biases I've heal about that very same scenario before. I went through postpartum depression before and as I go through it again, I'm trying something different, just to spice things up. You may have seen on my Instagram that I was recently at a crisis center. Coming out of it, I walked away with a very important and dare I say life-saving tool: A Safety Plan.

A Safety Plan for Depression

A safety plan for a mental health challenge is meant to keep you, well, safe. It protects you from harm should a crisis arise. This tool is the "Tie your camel part" as you put your trust in Allah.

I didn't think much of it. Meh, it's just a piece of paper. However, when I was recently in a crisis, after I came out of the crisis center lol, it helped. I know, my life is just full of fun hardships. I love it alhumdulillah. I think of the little bursts of bipolar I go through as a track, jumping over one hurdle after another, racing to get to Jannah. Anyways, back to the topic: a safety plan.

Defeat Depression at It's Own Game with a Guide

Depression is very cerebral. I mean it is in your head, duh. But I don't mean that you make it up. I mean that it is mental albeit with a biological root. So you need something that is outside the head. You need something that is logical, a clear cut tool to slay away the depression.

A Clear Plan for Depression (or insert your challenging feeling)

This plan doesn't cure depression. That cure lies with Allah. This tool does give you the means to help yourself when you start feeling depressed. You can very well use this template I made for you, a copy of the one I got, for anxiety, mania or other tough times you may me challenged with even for anger.

Click on the PDF below to get your copy of the comprehensive safety plan guide.

Untitled document (1)
Download PDF • 26KB

In the first part of the safety plan for depression, write down the warning signs that accompany your depression, postpartum depression, anxiety, mania or psychosis. They can be physical or mental symptoms. For example, for mania it could be that you start many different projects and keep jumping from one to other without even finishing one.

The next parts are pretty explanatory. Step 2 is about things you can do yourself to cope. The next step is the social situations and people that can distract you from your situation but in a good way. The next two steps are turning towards your social support network and then turning towards the mental health support network you have. Lastly, list the ways you can make your environment safe.

This crisis plan is a great tool to have handy. Keep it on your fridge or somewhere you look often so that it becomes second nature to you. Once you recognize the signs (step 1), you can start right away in helping yourself.

May Allah give you much healing and health.

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