Sanity over Vanity

Sanity over Vanity
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It has been a battle for many years and I have been avoiding writing this article for many months.  It is about my personal battle with weight gain and medication that causes it and the ongoing frustration with the war that seems to never end.  It is personal and as I put on the pounds, I notice, but barely want to admit it to myself and I go up from a size 8, 10, 12, 14, and so forth.  I now have an array of clothes that sit in my closet that are beautiful, summer dresses, evening gowns, slick jeans and blouses; none of which fit me at all and none that I can wear or even get past my wide hips.

Why have I decided to write about this topic?  Because it is so common and many people struggle with medication weight gain and suffer psychologically for it.  When I can barely look in the mirror, it is so difficult for me to feel mentally well; I find it very hard to be happy.  There was a time when it was easy before the medications, and I find myself self-loathing about the times when I was a perfect size 8.  Life just seemed better, or was it?

I have to ponder who I am now and who I was then, and I have to say I was untreated bipolar in my mid-twenties when I had this ideal body, but I was indeed in trouble.  I led a dangerous lifestyle, I was severely unstable and I have to admit I was actually really unhappy.  The only thing I was happy about was with the image I saw in the mirror, but is that true happiness?

With the creation of Bipolar Babe I have become a different person and the diagnosis shifted who I am and who I have become.  I realized a slogan pretty fast and coined the term, “Sanity over Vanity” and this means that my mental stability is more important than my physical appearance.  It hurts and feels unreal even to say it, but it has to be true for me to make sense of it all.  I need to somehow keep motivating myself to eat well, even when I don’t want to, and try to exercise even in small amounts, but most of all at least try and accept that I am me.

I hope that in reading this that you find your own sanity over your vanity and know that you are so much more than a mirror image of what society tells you what you “should” look like.  Our minds are first and foremost and the images that we see in the mirror are secondary to the health and well-being of our brains.  It is difficult, arduous, and even painful at times but I have found that a smile, a helping hand, or having an impact in my community can be even more beautiful than the most stereotypical physical form out there.   

There are many ways to be beautiful beyond the mirror, so find your beauty and live it.

Andrea Paquette, Executive Director, Bipolar Director of the Bipolar Disorder Society of BC

AKA Bipolar Babe