The Physical Side of Mental Illness

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It’s no secret that having a Mental Illness is fucking hard. It takes over every part of your life, until you start to wonder where you end and the illness begins.  However what about the physical side effects. Not just the tiredness and lack of motivation, but the long term effects. The effects, that once you are stable on meds, still come back to bite you in the arse.

A lot of people who have a mental illness need to be on medication to stay stable. For some people they will be on that medication for the rest of their life.  These medications can have long term side effects.  These can include softening of the enamel on your teeth, restless leg syndrome and sensitivity to sunlight.  For these people there is no alternative. You take the medication that works the best with the least crappy side effects.
Another swell physical side effect of many anti-psychotics is weight gain and increased appetite. Yep because I hate my body enough already without ballooning to twice my size while deep throating the entire bakery because you just never quite feel full enough. When I was on zyprexa I put on 10kg in 7days while still exercising and eating how I normally do.
When you can barely drag yourself out of bed every day, and most days you don’t then the finer points of personal hygiene fall by the wayside.  Teeth brushing falls to the wayside. Showers only when you need to leave the house. Food involves things that are easy to make, generally coming straight out of a packet. All of this, coupled with medication that softens the enamel on your teeth, means that a few years down the track your teeth are going to be shit.  No amount of making up brushing will stop it because your teeth are the only part of your body that doesn’t regenerate itself.
When I felt myself on the cusp of letting go, I would go walking, late at night, barefoot. I didn’t care about myself and the damage that it was doing at the time.  I would walk across glass, anything that would cause pain.  As a result my feet are now super sensitive. Even standing in good shoes for longer than 30 minutes hurts. It feels like my bones are bruised.
I have scars from my wrists to my shoulders. My arms are nothing but scar tissue. This makes a few things difficult. Taking blood was already a pain in the arse, now it’s damn near impossible. Pregnancy was fun.  I can never escape the looks. I love summer but feel more comfortable in Winter. I can wear long sleeves, I look like any ‘normal’ person. I don’t have to deal with people who think that I am blind and can’t see them pointing at me.
Do you suffer from a Mental Illness or does a family member? What are the long term side effects that you have witnessed.

2 thoughts on “The Physical Side of Mental Illness

  1. Cassandra

    Thank you for sharing! I’ve recently gone back on anti-depressants for the first time since I was a teenager. I’ve had terrible anxiety and depression since I was 3 years old, so I have no idea what “normal” feels like, but I think I’m starting to get to a place that’s something like how the “normal” people feel. I used to scratch at my arms with my fingernails, deny myself food for days, shower in my clothing because I didn’t want to see my own body. Now I can write, I can go outside, I can get on a bus if I need to. I feel so much better but I have this worry in my mind that I may have to take this medication forever and I don’t like that; I don’t even like needing Panadol. I will cope, though. I’m not sure, but I think I feel like a person now. x

    1. Tegan Post author

      I’m glad that you are able to feel like a real person. I hope that you are able to get to a place where you feel comfortable with the medication or that you don’t need them any longer.


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