After I left St. Louis, I had a few months until I was officially diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder and put on mood stabilizers. Until then, the doctors put me on Risperdal, which is an anti-psychotic that helps treat psychosis and delusions, but also has a nasty habit of making patients gain an incredible amount of weight in a short period of time. I was on that bullshit medication for 3 months and boy did I get fat. The insatiable cravings resulted in me snacking incessantly throughout the day and eating an Amy’s microwaved meal before bed. All the exercise I did couldn’t stave off the calories I was consuming.
During my brief, but delicious time as Chubby Pete, I was accepted into a small Liberal Arts school near my parents’ house called Elmhurst College. Before classes started in the Spring of 2009, I went to get my ID taken at the library. Actually, Chubby Pete went to get his ID taken. The picture was terrible. I had a double chin and my jacket was sliding off one shoulder. The poor lighting didn’t do me any favors, either. “Who cares?” I thought to myself. “It’s not like any one will ever see this anyway.”
By the time classes started up, I was off the Risperdal for good and getting accustomed to my new Lithium regimen. I was getting down to a healthier weight and looking more like myself. I commuted to school from my parent’s house so I usually ate a light breakfast at home. However, I’d occasionally head over to the cafeteria to pick up a healthy snack in between classes. One of the cashiers there was a middle aged Polish woman who was always delighted by purchases. “Very good choice!” she’d say as she rung me up. She’d even give me tips on how to make the Greek Yogurt healthier by using honey instead of the provided jam or how diluting the juice with water can cut down on the sugar. I thanked her for the advice, but I thought it was weird to ruin a $3 bottle of Naked Juice by adding water to it.
Anyway, my special relationship with her carried on for the entirety of my college career and I was always oblivious as to why she took such an interest in my diet. I started to notice that she never gave Kelly any tips. Then, right before graduation, all the pieces of the puzzle came together. She simply asked me, “You’re doing so good. How much weight did you lose?” Kaboom. It all made sense. Every time I used my student ID to pay for food, the picture of Chubby Pete would pop up in a big window on her computer screen so she could verify that someone else wasn’t using my card. What a sweet woman. Trying to coach and guide a young man so he doesn’t fall back into the trap of fatness. It must have killed her whenever I bought fried chicken and mashed potatoes.
Nowadays, I’m not as skinny as Svetlana would like me to be, but I guess I don’t qualify as full blown Chubby Pete. I have to be on the Zyprexa way more than I had to be in college so it’s harder to keep off the pounds. At least I avoid the Amy’s frozen dinners, though.