When I first started writing about PCOS it was really hard on me. I would write the word PCOS or infertility and delete it immediately. Those were two words I was successfully avoiding in my life. Two words that seemed too personal. Was I really supposed to talk about how I struggled with chin hair, wonky hormones, crazy periods and infertility. What if people saw?? So instead I made my blog about weight loss but the more I talked about weight loss the more PCOS started to leak into my posts. Suddenly, I realized, it was important for me to write about PCOS because it was linked to almost every aspect of my life. Besides, wasn’t that the point? To reach out to others struggling with PCOS (or weight loss) and also have a place to share my woes that I had been hiding away for far too long?? Yes it was.
I am not flawless in how I handle PCOS. I would like to think I am because well I am 30 and I have been dealing with it since I was 13 years old. But I am not. I still struggle. I still get angry. I still have moments that make me want to pull my hair out. With all that though I do know one thing, I am also nowhere close to the teenage girl who was hiding a 6 month heavy period from my Mom or the 22 year old newlywed trying to get pregnant without a normal period or the 25 year old anemic mess first trying to exercise at 335 pounds.
This morning I was ripping hairs out of my chin instead of getting ready for work. One of the things I still can’t get used to is how the PCOS hormones make me grow chin hair. Not nearly as much as my husband has but more than your average female. I had ran out of my hair removal cream last week and of course I still haven’t made it to the store. So here I am, chin hairs and all. I noticed that my cover up made the hairs stand out and I freaked. When the husband came to check on me I was half make-upped (word?) with the tweezers frantically pulling hair out of my chin and wiping cover up off. I must of looked like a crazy person. He made the mistake of asking me a question and I of course proceeded to tell him that if he allowed me to forget to buy hair removal cream one more time I was going to pluck his chin hair with tweezers. He hadn’t asked a question about my chin hair, I am pretty sure he was asking me something about what shoes I wanted him to pull out for me. Is it funny now? Yes. Was it funny this morning? No. But if I didn’t laugh I would have ended up falling on the floor crying. Can I call in sick for chin hairs? No. So here I am, chin hairs, trying not to be self conscious and furiously reminding myself to buy hair removal cream on the way home. These are the ugly parts of PCOS.
I was part of a chat forum once with other women struggling with PCOS. I was so excited because it was my first time ever talking to someone else with the same illness as me. I loved it up until the point I posted my first question about the hair on the chin or something along those lines. I will never forget what one lady wrote to me:
“We have to make sure our husbands know we are ladies because we have this icky male hormones running through us. That means whatever we do we have to never let them see a chin hair or let them know of what is going on with us. We keep it all behind locked doors and away from them. We must pluck, fight the acne and make sure there is no flaws for them to see. Otherwise our husband’s will fall out of love with us.”
That is the kind of advice we are giving young wife’s struggling with PCOS?? Oh no. I will tell you this, as a newlywed, I was mortified. It got me thinking, did my husband hate me because I spent the night before plucking chin hairs on the couch while we watched T.V. (yes I used to pluck, never again, well except when frantic)?? After that, I was so self conscious. I started hiding it from everyone, because a lady never tells.
Let me tell you a secret. Come closer.
You are going to need all the support you can get and why would you want to marry someone who isn’t supportive of you? My husband has a few flaws,a few that absolutely drive me nuts, but one of his flaws has never been that he has made me feel embarrassed or asked me to hide my PCOS from him. Never. He doesn’t care if I walk out of the bathroom with my hair removal cream caked all over my chin and neck, even if it smells bad (and it does). He listens when I am telling him about my bad PCOS day. He smiles at me when I snap at him about buying hair removal cream. He picks up my medication. He talks to me about when my doctor suggests to increase my medication. He can tell when I am overdone and need some down time (exhaustion is another one of those lovely PCOS traits). He sends texts rescheduling our plans when he knows I am having one of those PCOS days. He goes to the store for tampons when I run out and can’t stand the idea of leaving the house. He tells me I am beautiful even when I have hormonal acne and my energy is low. He works out with me. He eats low carb with me. He supports me in a way that no one else can or could. Mostly because he is living in this house with me everyday. I can’t hide it from him and I wouldn’t want to. He married all of me.
I will never forget when a very dumb doctor decided taking progesterone would help me out. It didn’t. It sent me through the worst pain I have ever experienced in my life. The waves of pain left me breathless and crying. I was in constant pain that didn’t go away for a month. Needless to say I stopped taking the progesterone within two weeks. But in the mean time it took my body a month to get back to normal again and the pain was downright intense. I ended up quitting my job because the pain was too intense to function at work. I couldn’t leave the house. I cancelled all my plans much to the frustration of the people around me. Most days I would lie at the bottom of my shower crying with the hot water pouring over me. I would do this 3-5 times a day. I never slept anymore because the pain was too intense. But I am a stubborn girl and I refused to go to a doctor or hospital. In the end it was my husband who found the right combination of Ibuprofen to give to me and then would rub my abdomen while talking to me softly till the pain subsided. It was the only way he could get me to sleep. Each time I woke up in the night, he would get me the Ibuprofen, rub my abdomen and talk softly to me till I fell asleep. He never complained about a lack of sleep or being the only one working or about having to nurse me through this. He just did it.
Does that mean he never see’s the beautiful side of me? No. I do take care of myself. I pride myself on looking put together most days. I do my hair. I wear nice make-up. I pick my clothes with care. I wear nice jewelry. I do my nails. I shave my legs. I wear face cream. I use face masks to ease the acne. It isn’t like all he sees is a constant hot mess, I work hard to take care of myself as well, for me as much as him.
So if I can tell you one thing about PCOS it is this, find the people who will support you and want to be there for you during this tough journey. You aren’t going to be flawless about it. PCOS is a messy health condition. It will knock you to your knees and make you stay there if you let it. Find people you can talk to, find people who will hold your hand, find people who will allow you to rant and curse the world. Find the people that will catch you frantically plucking chin hairs and will make you laugh instead of cry. There were many times the people that I loved seemed to get exasperated with my health condition, they didn’t want to hear about it, they didn’t want to talk about it, and they definitely didn’t want to hear the word infertility uttered. It makes people uncomfortable, especially those of them that are already parents. But what they forget is, I am uncomfortable as well and often times I feel very alone.
I turned 30 recently and it was a very hard birthday for me. I am still fighting obesity due to PCOS, I am childless still, I am still struggling with PCOS symptoms. I thought for some reason I would have it ALL figured out by 30 and I don’t. I am okay with it now but a few months ago I was really upset about all of it. Not to mention I was dealing with a few other stressful things. It was just a hard time all around. The problem was, I expected certain people in my life to understand this and make it a special day for me. Instead I found that I was shocked by who actually did make it a great birthday and who else just sort of shrugged their shoulders about it or didn’t even bother to acknowledge it. It made me so very angry. The holidays are hard for those of us that are infertile. Turning 30 was hard. Dealing with PCOS is hard. But then I remembered something, struggles make other people feel guilty and uncomfortable. That isn’t my fault. Don’t take it personal, just move on. So I did. I moved on and I have been dealing with it in my own way without any apologies. I have been making plans and working out solutions. I feel like I am finally headed in the right direction and suddenly I don’t feel so crappy about turning 30 anymore.
Even if you don’t have PCOS, I am sure you can relate. Whenever we make big changes or try to improve ourselves or have a tough life moment, there are those that aren’t that supportive and it shocks us. The thing is, maybe they don’t know how to be supportive, so forgive them and move on. It is just part of the uglier side of PCOS. There is good and bad that comes with having an illness. You just have to find the balance between the two and don’t let anger overrule everything else.