I know how it feels to HATE your body. I know how it feels to feel hospitalized in the very vessel that The Creator put you in to exist on the earth. I know how it feels to wish, with every fiber of your soul, that you were someone else … ANY one else but yourself. I know how it feels to look in the mirror and feel so disgusted that you want to vomit at the site of yourself. I know how it feels to envy other people who seem to be born healthy and beautiful while you struggle every single day to live with yourself. I know how it feels to be the butt of other people's jokes and comments and feel so dreadfully disrespected and ashamed, just wishing they knew the TRUE story behind your appearance, weight, and body issues. Yes, I know all of this very, very well because it is MY story. It is MY experience. I have lived it. I have been there.
I have had body image and self esteem issues almost all of my life but my journey with PCOS almost killed me. It almost took my life mentally, physically, and emotionally. PCOS was the devil in my life that was sent to steal, kill and destroy me. I truly believe that every person has at least one challenge in life that has the power to absolutely destroy them and if you overcome that challenge you will have the power you need to achieve your life purpose. I have had more than one of those challenges in my life but PCOS came the closest to killing me.
So what is PCOS? What is it about this acronym that made it so daunting to me? PCOS: Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome is a medical condition, an endocrine disorder affecting an estimated 5-10% of women in the world. It is the most common reproductive endocrinology disorder in women. It is usually diagnosed in the teen years of a woman's life. I was diagnosed with PCOS in 1997, at the age of 18. At that time there was very little known about the endocrine disorder. Over 15 years later, there is still a lot that the medical community does not really know about it today. Although it is a disorder that effects millions of women across the globe, there still is not enough research about PCOS to assist those who suffer. Medical professional are even in debt about whether it should still be called PCOS because the symptoms and effects of the disorder extend way past the ovarian health of a woman. What makes PCOS so challenging for medical professionals and the women who have it, is the fact that the disorder can be expressed in each woman differently. PCOS is a “syndrome”, which means that not every symptom has to be present for a woman to be diagnosed with the disorder. Although there is a list of common symptoms, not every woman experiences every symptom in the same way. However, a woman diagnosed with PCOS will experience some combination of these symptoms:
- Abnormal menstrual cycles
- No periods
- Irregular periods
- Heavy or prolonged bleeding
- Hirsutism: (male pattern) hair growth on face and body
- Acanthosis Nigricans: darker patches of skin in neck folds, armipits, folds in the waistline, or groin
- Insulin Resistance: ability to properly utilize and process insulin within the body
- Hyperinsulinemia: high insulin levels to compensate for the insulin resistance
- Obesity / Inability to lose weight and keep it off
- Acrochordons: skin tags in excess on the body
- Alopecia: male pattern balding
- Cystic ovaries
- Infertility / Fertility Challenges
- Metabolic Abnormalities: higher rates of glucose intolerance and diabetes
- Emotional / Mental Anxiety
As you can see, PCOS is a disorder that wages war on a woman's body in several different ways. What can make this disorder so devastating to a woman is that it manifests itself in an attack against her femininity, her appearance, her mental health, and her emotions all at once. If you look at the symptoms (not all of them are listed) above, you will see how a woman's body image and self worth can potentially be CRUSHED by the manifestation of PCOS in her life. I have personally experienced and continue to live with several of the symptoms of PCOS. When I say that it can make you HATE what you see in the mirror so much that you start to hate yourself, I am speaking from my experience. When your body is plagued with one or more of the PCOS symptoms you feel: less than feminine, not beautiful, ashamed of your appearance, and frustrated with your body. One of the hardest things about PCOS is, together all of the symptoms and body challenges you have to deal wit, there is no medical cure for the disorder. That was where the despair came in for me.
Have you ever heard of the Seven Stages of Grief? It is a psychological term for the process that someone goes through when experiencing loss or death. Living with PCOS, took me through all of those steps:
- Shock and denial
- Pain and guilt
- Anger and bargaining
- Depression, rejection, and loneliness
- The upward turn
- Reconstruction & working through
- Acceptance and hope
I lived through each of these stages with PCOS. At the time I was going through them, I did not understand, it was all a hellish nightmare for me. However, now that I have come to a place of enlightenment and Peace, I can look back and see what I went through and understand it better. I will be sharing what I experienced in each of the seven stages. I will be honest and raw about the unhealthy ways that I coped and then I will share how I grew to the point of loving my body and myself. See Body. Love Self. ™ was birthed from my PCOS journey. I overcame the challenge that almost killed me, to discover a life of holistic health and a loving body relationship. I now embrace wellness mentally, spiritually, emotionally, and physically. It is now my life purpose to share that journey with the world and help those who are this journey with me.