I went to Planned Parenthood last month for birth control. I’ve been especially avoiding doctors since I officially entered the “overweight” category about a year ago, but I just couldn’t get around it this time, and I told myself that I was being paranoid and my weight wouldn’t be an issue – after all, I am by every measure the healthiest I’ve ever been!
I filled out the intake papers, and really hesitated on the health history form when it asked if I’d had a change in weight of 25+ lbs in the last year and if I had any mental health problems. I feel like doctors almost never handle weight or mental health in a helpful way, so I don’t like to bring it up, but when it comes to prescriptions, I don’t want to be prescribed something that has been discovered to contribute to things like depression, changes in weight, etc. I struggled with anorexia, bulimia, and major depression for 7 years, and I have finally been free of them for one year. I had been severely starving and puking when I was diagnosed with anorexia, and then after my inpatient treatment I still starved and puked, but not as severely, so I maintained a “normal” weight for a few years by skipping meals and throwing up and being hungry most of the time. My dietitian finally convinced me to fully give up starving and purging a year ago, and also convinced me to add some more fat to my diet. I also started on a new anxiety medication at this time. Not-so-coincidentally, I started gaining weight quickly – within 6 months, I’d gained 45 lbs by eating normally and was in the middle of the overweight category. I moved cities and had a new dietitian who was puzzled by my weight gain because apparently “this never happens.” About 8 months ago I decided to go off my medication, and I also had a couple relapses when I really restricted my intake for about a week at a time – so I have lost some weight since then (and still have no clue what my natural weight is).
Fast forward to my Planned Parenthood appointment. First I refused to be weighed even after they insisted, so they asked for an estimate. I told them 180 (I’m pretty sure I’m within 5 lbs up or down of that), and since I’m 5’11”, that means that, depending on the week, I’m either at the high end of normal or fat (but still 30 lbs heavier than I was a year ago, and 60 lbs heavier than I was a few years ago). According to the weight I told them, I’d be okay by their standards if I lost just 2 lbs.
Well a nurse called me to her desk to look over my health history. There actually was one relevant issue – my osteopenia – because bone density seems to be affected by hormones and birth control. Did she mention that? Of course not! Instead she brought up the two issues I did not want to hear. First, “Was it a weight gain or loss?” “Gain,” I said. “And what are you planning to do about it?” I said, “Excuse me?” And she repeated, “What are you going to do about it? Exercise?” (Nevermind that I already walk, bike, hike, swim, and dance regularly! Fatties obviously don’t do those things, right?” I said, “Uh, eat healthy,” and hated myself for playing along. Then she said, “And the depression and stuff, that’s better now?” Hello, I call LEADING QUESTION! I told her yes – which was actually the truth, fortunately, because had it not been, and had she said this to me even a few months ago, I would have gone home and cried, starved, thrown up, and maybe cut myself to relieve the anxiety – things I really can’t afford without health insurance now!