FAQ: The Steroids of It All

You were on steroids? 

I was – from July 2014 until May 2016. I started on 50mg, stayed there for 6 months, and then started tapering off of them. You can’t just quit steroids. You have to slowly go off of them, which can be worse than being on them in the first place. I would hit places in the tapering process and I would have to stop there for a few weeks or months. I was on 35mg for about four months. It was a very long and traumatic process.

Are you, like, super jacked? 

A lot of people assume that being on steroids means you’ll automatically gain muscle mass. I was on a corticosteroid, which is different from the steroids we think of when we hear “steroids” and automatically start thinking about Major League Baseball players. Those are anabolic steroids. Here’s a fun WebMD resource on the difference, which includes information on the side effects.

Side effects? Like being super jacked? 

No. Like weight gain, a higher risk of diabetes, osteoporosis, viscous red stretch marks (Seriously, it looks like you’ve been mauled by a bear), acne, increased risk of infection, increased eye pressure, high blood pressure, mood swings, bruising easily, exhaustion, muscle weakness. More info here.

And I basically had IBS for about a year.

That sounds… fun? 

No. No, it wasn’t. Weight gain, acne and, mood swings are the most common side effects. A good way to tell if someone is on steroids is if they have something adorably called “Moon Face.”

Here’s a few visual aids.

Here’s my face in June and July 2014:

Here’s my face in August and September of 2014:

It doesn’t look… That different, I guess? 

You know, a lot of people said that to me when I was on the steroids, which I guess was people trying to be kind. But I had fatty deposits and water retention not just in my face, it was in my shoulders, chest, and stomach. I got bigger all over, but I could especially see it in my face.

If people weren’t trying to be kind, then I guess I didn’t realize I looked like post-Blueberrying Violet Beauregarde for my entire adult life.


Why didn’t you just diet? Or workout? 

Because steroids don’t work like that. It doesn’t matter what you eat, or what you do, that weight will be there. All told, I gained 50 pounds while I was on steroids. As soon as I stopped taking them, 35 pounds disappeared in about two months, and I didn’t change my diet. If anything I was eating a lot worse than when I was on the steroids. It got to the point in 2015 where all I could stomach was brown rice, broccoli, and eggs.

May 2016: Still some chubby cheekies.

June 2016: Slimming down

August 2016: I have my face back (and a cat?).

Oh… Well, maybe it was just that terrible haircut. 

Um… Thank you?

But you’re like, all better now, right? No more steroids? 

Maybe. I’m on an immunosppressant that makes it easier for me to live a normal life. I get overheated easily, I still bruise easily, I have to have a bone density test to make sure the steroids didn’t result in osteoporosis.

I recently had a doctor’s appointment because my neck was hurting again. As soon as he said “steroids,” I started to panic. I could feel the absolute dread rising from my stomach into my throat. I told him I didn’t ever want to be on steroids again. I’ll do anything to avoid it.

I’ve joked that I’d rather kill myself than go back on steroids.

And… I’m not always sure it’s a joke.

Steroids wrecked my mind, my body, and I’m still having side effects. I broke my foot recently and the podiatrist firmly believes that the steroids were the root cause.

What’s your favorite food? 

Literally all food.

Except pork. Or octopus. Or duck. Or.. Okay, well, maybe not literally all food.

 

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