Feminism and My Mental Health with Schizoaffective Disorder
Tuesday, May 29 2018 Elizabeth Caudy
After a hiatus from politics, I’ve come to realize once again that I need feminism for my mental health. The reason I’m rediscovering it is directly linked to my schizoaffective disorder: Feminism helps me to accept the weight gain that comes with the atypical antipsychotic medications I take and it gives me perspectives on a challenging time in our world as a whole.
Until I started taking atypical antipsychotic medication for my schizoaffective disorder, I weighed in at a size two. Yet even at a size two, I suffered from body image issues because of my small breasts. But that was nothing compared to the body image I’ve suffered because of the weight gain from the medication as I ballooned to a size 14—with voluptuous breasts.
How Feminism Helps My Mental Health
I know women have a lot bigger problems to face than body image. But when you’re heavy, you hate looking at yourself in the mirror, and you have to take four selfies on vacation until you snap one where your double chin isn’t quite so prominent. Body image started to feel like a big problem from the beginning of the weight gain. For a while I switched around my medication a lot, looking for one that would help with my schizoaffective disorder without causing weight gain. None of the medications that eased weight gain addressed the psychotic symptoms of schizoaffective disorder.
That’s where feminism came to the rescue the first time, before my political hiatus. It wasn’t so much that I discovered feminism and realized it was okay to be heavy; I’d already identified as a feminist. What happened was that I decided I couldn’t call myself a feminist while body-shaming myself. And it’s especially helpful that now plus-size women are becoming more visible in the media and accepted in fashion spreads.
Feminism Improves My Mental Health and Body Image
Still, I’ve been feeling bad about my weight lately and, once again, I’m turning to feminism. But that doesn’t mean I don’t care about being healthy. For one thing, my medication makes me healthier than I ever could be without it. Mental health is physical health: it’s the health of your brain. Also, I drink lots of water and stay away from sugared sodas—the schizoaffective medication makes me so thirsty that this is key in cutting down on sugar.
Feminism is good for my mental health. It helps me feel good about myself. And, in the world we live in, a world where women are constantly told they are not thin enough, not pretty enough—in essence, not enough—being a woman and feeling good about oneself is a feminist act. I know that’s a cliché, but it’s true. After all, if you don’t feel good about yourself, double chin and all, how can you do anything to make the world a better place?