Thinking of September, do you know what September is?
If you have been reading my blog for a bit now you know that I have PCOS.
It has taken me a long time to come to terms with my symptoms and to understand them. I am almost 30 years old and in the last year alone I feel I have discovered the most about PCOS and how it effects me as an individual. See we aren’t all the same, women with PCOS, we are all different and though we might have a few symptoms that are the same, we also struggle with our own unique battles. Mine started when I was 13 years old, when I started my period and was actually excited to join womanhood like my friends. It wasn’t till 6 months had passed with a near constant heavy flow that caused me to alert my mom to a possible problem. This started many doctor appointments, treatments, birth control that I would later stop taking at age 18 because it was causing painful periods and going almost 2 years without a period. Once in my mid twenties I struggled with stopping my period and not being anemic. So where as most women with PCOS complain of few periods, maybe only 1-2 a year, most days I wish THAT was my problem. Instead I struggle with a near constant heavy flow that leaves me anemic and drained of most of my energy. It wasn’t till I found a great doctor who was willing to listen that I was able to get on Metformin, start taking an iron supplement and slowly learn to balance out my hormones by what I was eating.
I think the hardest part of PCOS is explaining it to others. I don’t look sick. I mean I have acne, unwanted facial hair, scars from my hidradenitis suppurativa and sometimes my hormones are so off I can feel it causing my energy to drain away. Some weeks this makes me prone to snapping and crying fits and feeling tired all the time. Some days it is even hard to get out of bed, it takes all my energy just to go to work for 8 hours. Some days I am so emotional I can feel my heart breaking in a hundred pieces from wanting a baby so bad.
My infertility is something I try not to talk about much. I spent a long time being ashamed. I spent a long time hating my body for not being able to do something that it was MADE for. But this year I have been working on coming to terms with it. Accepting that I might never have my own kids and that is okay. And the husband and I finally decided to work on losing weight first before starting fertility treatments. I have seen too many women not be able to get pregnant because they were so unhealthy. I want to give my body a fighting chance. So the goal is to get below 300 pounds and then start working with my doctors on fertility treatments.
I also battle high blood pressure and anxiety. They don’t know if these two things are related to PCOS but there is a strong link between women having PCOS and also having anxiety/high blood pressure. I take medication for my high blood pressure but have chosen to fight anxiety through my own means. Just like I have chosen to fight my PCOS through my own means. Most doctors have told me the same thing either way, lose weight and stick to a strict diet of low carbs. It took me a long time to understand why I needed to eat low carb and high protein. Some days I still hate it. Some days I still eat high carbs and then I feel it, I can literally feel my hormones tipping and I can feel the PCOS symptoms returning. My relationship with food is so weird, I emotionally eat but know that I also can’t emotionally eat. I have to analyze and read labels almost obsessively just to make sure what I am eating doesn’t have too much sugar or carbs. It is a daily battle between cravings and knowing that those cravings will end up aggravating my symptoms. One slip means a huge onslaught of hormone issues.
I will never forget the day I weighed in at 300 pounds. It was so eye opening, I must have cried for hours. I starved myself by only eating one meal a day for most of my early 20’s in order to stay a size 18 and it wasn’t till I started dating my now husband, who can cook,that my weight sky rocketed. Pretty soon I was wearing size 26’s and refusing to look at a scale. The highest number I have seen on a scale is 330 pounds and that was right out of college after two years of not taking care of myself in order to get a career. I have to eat a strict diet of very low sugars (including fruit) to lose weight. I have to be consistent as well and it is when I feel my best. I go through 2 weeks of hell any time I change things simply because my hormones have to go crazy in order to right themselves again. I have gotten used to it to be honest. Most of my life has been spent dealing with symptoms and horrible doctors and coming up with something to say when I am asked why I don’t have kids yet. And even though I have had my blog for going on 3 years now, it didn’t really bloom into a blog about PCOS or weight loss until about a year or so ago when I got serious. Since then I have lost roughly 24 pounds through really hard work and a strict diet. I even quit smoking because it was causing horrible PCOS symptoms. I still struggle with emotional eating and I still go through periods of time where I gain back some of the weight I have lost but all in all, I am fighting for each pound. My hope is by the end of September to FINALLY be below 300 pounds so that I can start infertility treatments. Each pound is a victory for me because each pound is really hard for me to lose. The small victories are the biggest for me, recently I was able to wear a size 20 and I can’t tell you how good it felt to slip those babies on.
If you don’t have this disease, if you have never felt what it has felt like to feel awkward and ugly in your own body, then it is hard to explain how it truly feels to have PCOS. It is a disease just like any other and even though it isn’t as widely known or written across my face, it is there and it effects me every single day.
I am lucky in so many ways. I have a wonderful husband who tries really hard to understand what I am going through and has fought along side me for 10 years now. I have a friends and family that are willing to talk to me and listen. I found a great doctor who keeps an eye on me and listens when I tell her something isn’t right. I have spent hours researching articles, blogs and studies on PCOS to learn how to best deal with everything. I work really hard to take care of my body and I have learned through trail and error how to deal with the unwanted hair, boils and acne. PCOS is teaching me how to take care of myself, something I am not sure I would have done without PCOS being apart of the picture. Above all, I broke my silence and started blogging about it so that maybe young women could find hope and inspiration to take care of themselves and fight PCOS as well.
What can I tell you if you have PCOS? Don’t hide. Talk. The people who love you and are closest to you will listen. Don’t be ashamed, you didn’t ask for this and you don’t always have to be strong. There are going to be really good days and there are going to be really bad. Eat how your body wants you to eat. Exercise, it helps in more ways than weight loss, it will balance out your mood swings. Talk to your partner. Read lots of articles and blogs and studies on PCOS. Find a great doctor and don’t be afraid to tell your doctor that something isn’t working for you. And above all, have hope.
So spread the awareness for PCOS because September is, PCOS awareness month!