THABISO MAHLAPE | Medication helped me silence food noise and I'm not ashamed of it

Taking this route helped in my battle with addiction, mental health

In the mind of a food addict, constant questions of what to eat, which craving to give into, when will I eat, all melt into the deepest sense of shame and failure.
In the mind of a food addict, constant questions of what to eat, which craving to give into, when will I eat, all melt into the deepest sense of shame and failure.
Image: 123RF

To be a human being is dealing with one affliction or the other. And for some, in fact many of us, we deal with addiction of some kind. And to understand how addiction works, you have to know what goes on in the mind of an addict.

In the mind of an addict, a relentless and insidious battle rages. Thoughts twist and turn, dominated by an overpowering craving that darkens all else. Every moment is consumed by the singular, biting need for the substance or behaviour that promises escape or relief.

Rational thought becomes a distant whisper, barely audible over the desire. Fleeting moments of clarity are quickly swallowed by waves of guilt, shame, and an aching sense of helplessness.

If you have never experienced this, you are very lucky. Addiction is a dreadful disease. Each decision is weighed against the urgent need to satisfy the addiction, creating a cycle of fleeting highs and soul-crushing lows.

There is an addiction that I know intimately, food addiction. In the mind of a food addict like myself, constant questions of what to eat, which craving to give into, when will I eat, all melt into the deepest sense of shame and failure. This is called food noise.

I have not always known that there was a term for what I go through, I am only learning of this term recently with the discussion around medical weight loss growing. I have watched and listened to so many conversations, my application algorithms show me those conversations only. I want to offer my two cents to the current “morality” conversation around the use of things like Ozempic for weight loss.

There has been a lot of controversy around people using Ozempic, because the medication was originally developed for people with diabetes. And now thanks to celebrities in the US, and don’t say I told you but locally too, the price of this medication has sky rocketed. There is hardly any stock of it, and this has compromised the people who need it to save lives. And this argument I hear well.

What I have a problem with is people bashing people like me seeking reprieve with these medications. People have been called selfish and/or cheaters for using these medications. I, for one, refuse to take on that discrimination. I am taking Ozempic, and for the first time in my life I am experiencing life without food noise. I have been happier than I have ever been in life.

Have I lost any weight? No! People call these medications cheating, but you actually can’t cheat your way into weight loss. You still need to take care of what you eat, exercise and stop drinking alcohol. Yes, despite my not having lost weight, and if I never lose a kilogram from it, I am immensely grateful for the way the medication has been able to help me shut down the food noise in my head. It is such a blessing to not have my day revolve around what I am eating, what I regret eating or what I am eating later.

I am not opening up about my struggles for laughs and giggles. I am doing this because it is time to remove the shame cast upon people using this medication for anything than what it was intended for. This is not the first time that medication has been repurposed.

For example, Viagra was originally developed by Pfizer for the treatment of high blood pressure and angina pectoris, chest pain due to heart disease. During the heart clinical trials, researchers discovered that the drug was more effective at inducing erections than treating angina. Now Viagra has been saving relationships and egos for many years. I may be wrong, but I don’t think the ability to engage in nocturnal activities is more important than saving a life. Is it nice to be able to get an erection? I’m sure it is, but I can promise you it is not nicer than getting to live.

It has freed me from a mental environment loaded with self-torment, where I simultaneously yearned for freedom from my torment and fears of the void that “sobriety” might bring. It was a place where hope and hopelessness co-existed, and where the search for solace led them further away from peace.

My only regret is that it does not magically melt away the fat. But with my new found peace of mind, I am certain that I will unlearn my bad habits and start choosing better.

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