I have continued to have some sort of fixation with clothes and clothing – not only the color in which they appear but also the “privacy” of the label. Sometimes this label is not private and is emblazoned on the back pocket of the jeans as in Calvin Klein jeans from the 1970’s or even the Levi’s name tag on that ever so timeless brand of clothing. I am unsure what this fixation on clothing entails exactly. I do know that it is tied with some body image issues that get complicated because of my need to take regular meds for my bipolar condition.
Throughout high school and college I remained a size 6 to 8 when I perhaps should have been a size ten. After meds were introduced in my life I was almost always a size 8 to 10. After bearing a child and substantially increasing my meds, I have been more a size 12 to 14. My goal at this juncture in life is to be back at that size 12. Perhaps my obsession with clothing is in parallel to my own body image issues, perhaps not.
In any case, the preoccupation with clothing seems to have something also to so with pattern recognition. If four people out of ten wear red to the office that day, I notice it. If black was worn by person A on day one and by persons B, C, D, and E, I notice it. Not that I really ever did anything with the information, it was just a layer of the type of perceptions I would have – extraneous and meaningless maybe or maybe not. Definitely with a focus on color patterns and patterning.
In my teens, I spent hours shopping for the right clothing. Today, I abhor shopping for clothes largely because I am two sizes bigger than I would like to be. The preoccupation with clothes at an early age is probably all wrapped up in image. I have very little to say in that regard today as Ego is largely drained from my daily events. I tend today to wear the same make of clothes all the time and often repeat the same outfit once a week. In fact, I do not care about clothing at all. It is a chore to buy clothes and it is a chore to pick out clothes for any given day.
While being diagnosed with an eating disorder is something I have considered as relevant to my mental health, I feel that my weight gain issues center more on body image issues and medication use. For years, I bought into the fashion magazine mindset that you were not beautiful unless you were a size 6 or size 8. For years throughout high school and college and into my twenties, I ate and exercised in order to maintain a size 6 or a size 8 figure. Often this meant running three to five miles several times a week and counting caloric intake to be about 1000 calories a day. When I became pregnant at age 38 I was about a size ten. After giving birth to my daughter, I have stayed at a size twelve if not a size fourteen. I currently have very little discipline in the food and exercise realm largely in my own view because I feel I am reacting to years of over-exercising and over-dieting.
So it is that my size in clothes has moved from a size 6 in high school to a size 14 in married life and after child-birth. This continues to be a goal of mine to return again to size 12 through a combination of exercise and food monitoring. However, it is something admittedly that until quite recently has fallen off the radar screen. Some of this frustration and back-pedaling about eating and exercise may include the fact that meds are often associated with weight gain. In my mind, I tell myself it is better to have an extra twenty pounds on while taking medicine than it is to be a at a model’s weight with little or no mental stability. This is particularly true when I start to be honest with myself that fasting from breakfast time through lunchtime is associated with mood issues since blood sugar levels are not being addressed.
3 thoughts on “My Sojourn through Bipolar Illness – Clothing Then and Now”
I used to care about what I wore, but now it’s just one more thing that illness has made me apathetic about.
I find that self-expression has moved away from “fashion” toward other forms like writing and talking to my support team.
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I will talk later in my posts about medications. They have progressed so much since the 1980s when I was first diagnosed. I am thankful for that. However, the pharmaceuticals could make some improvements in the side effects of these newer drugs as weight gain can increase risk of other illnesses like Type II diabetes.