My personal PCOS story…

Hello dear harmony visitors, so we’ve been sharing some feel-good vibes with our Wednesday wisdom series and spreading the PCOS awareness with the other information available on the site for a while now so I felt it was time to share a bit of my own little world with you so you can put a face to the harmony with PCOS name and understand more about why I created this blog.

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So how did I first discover PCOS? It all began during that wonderful time we all fondly remember as puberty, from the age of 12 I begun to experience all the typical signs and symptoms of a regular period but with none of the physical release that would mean a ‘normal’ menstrual cycle. In addition to this I had terrible acne all over trying various medications, homeopathic and over-the-counter remedies to shift it with little to no effect. Personally I have been lucky and did not experience issues with hirsutism (excess hair or facial hair) growing up however how my mother and I survived my mood swings over the following years still baffles me! As you will know from some of your own experiences the incontrollable nature of imbalanced hormones can leave you feeling on edge, ready-to-snap or burst into tears at any second and irrational beyond belief – then throw in teenage mood swings and hormonal challenges and you’ve got one hell of a party!

After several turbulent years pushing myself and my family to the edge, with no understanding of why, my mother having done some research herself started pushing the doctors to look at the prospect of there being something bigger behind all of this. So eventually at the age of 16 the doctor agreed and arranged for me to have an ultrasound along with some blood tests. I’ll never forget feeling nervous waiting for the ultrasound; not knowing what to expect, needing to go to the loo desperately and getting lots of judgemental looks in the waiting room as people saw a teenage girl in her school uniform waiting for an ultrasound. Well this confirmed it all and I was formally diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome much to the relief of my mother and I – finally we knew why I was going through all of this!

My mother was so pleased to have had a formal diagnosis of this and it confirmed her own experience of living with PCOS too as she had gone through her entire life with classic symptoms but had been left to feel as if it was all in her head. It was finally acknowledged, but now the question became what do we do now?

The first thing was research, lots of searching online and tracking down books in the library on women’s health to try and find anything that mentioned PCOS specifically. As was, and unfortunately still is the case for many, in the UK the doctors didn’t have any real information about PCOS, no advice, treatments to offer us so we were left to work it on out for ourselves… I’m pretty sure most of you have found yourselves in a similar boat trying to track down any information about the condition following frustrating conversations with medical professionals.

Contraceptive Pills

So not really any wiser about polycystic ovarian syndrome as a condition, the doctors simply prescribed me the contraceptive pill ‘dianette’ (initially I ended up working my way through many different types) and  I just carried on as normal working my way through school getting my GCSEs, my A levels and heading off to university. All of a sudden as I turned 17 my weight started to creep up and this time it wasn’t shifting, by the time I was at university I had gone from being a UK size 10/12 (that’s a six 6/8 across in the states) to a solid size 18 (and over 200 lbs) without really noticing.

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At the age of 16/17 before the weight aspect of PCOS became an issue for me…

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Getting bigger as PCOS shifted into overdrive.

For many years since my weight and clothes size has fluctuated around this point, for me it was a sad time when I found myself buying a few items sized 20 and cutting the tags out quickly so no one would ever know – thankfully I’m 5”7 so to many people seemed a little overweight but in proportion…but I was overweight, trapped in an ongoing battle with food that I couldn’t escape and felt totally miserable about it all having a horrible attitude of hatred for myself and my body.

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Maxi dresses and baggy tops helped me get out and socialise during university and the following years…

At university I continued to exercise – I have always been a dancer; in fact when I was 15 I’m pretty sure that dancing for several hours every day was the only thing that kept the weight off – so I carried on becoming an integral part of the university dance society and rehearsing whenever possible, but the weight just did not shift, my skin and my moods were getting worse with my periods only arriving as they were forced to by the pill, without that they were non-existent.

Years passed with what I suppose you could say was the ‘typical’ PCOS struggle with weight, food cravings, emotional eating, mood swings and decreasing self-confidence whilst at university as I managed to dress myself in layers, baggy outfits that covered me and managed to make me invisible struggling in silence.

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Pashmina’s were a staple in my quest to cover up my arms and body…

A blow came out of the blew in 2007 only a month before I was due to go into my final year of university – I was taken to hospital with a posterior astrocytoma brain tumour and underwent neurosurgery quickly. Due to this my balance has been permanently affected (affecting my professional dancing and performance aspirations) and I had to learn to walk on my own again. Safe to say my stint in hospital saw my weight drop, probably due to my constant vomiting as a side effect of the surgery and medication, but as soon as I was able to keep normal food down the lack of movement during my recovery meant I ballooned once again and continued to feel pretty crappy.

Over the next 7 years I struggled to regain a sense of normalcy following this surgery, working through my recovery and coming to terms with the label disabled as I experienced falls, problems walking (albeit with a fabulously sparkly walking stick) and standing for any period of time, depression became a prevalent force and the PCOS weight/mood shame cycle continued on throughout…

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On holiday in Australia following recovery – baggy clothes and sparkly walking stick on hand.

It has only been over the past 2 years that I’ve managed to undertake more exercise and try to get my life back in order – it’s hard to lose the weight if you can’t really walk to workout. I’ve managed to use swimming and slow rehabilitation gym sessions to help my progress, so much so I’ve been able to begin dancing again, taking Zumba classes and have been getting to a much better place with myself, my body and my PCOS. I’ve finally got to a point where after 10 years on the pill I’ve got my menstrual cycle working in a more regular (not quite like clockwork) manner which for us ladies with PCOS is a big deal!

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Whilst still classed as ‘overweight’ and ‘plus-sized’ I’ve been out doing more and feeling better about myself and my body – it’s taken a while but I’m getting there…

Trying to stay active, be aware of my diet, trying to cut down on those naughty things, eat more healthy foods and shift to a more positive, self-loving, go get ‘em attitude has helped. Even though it may be only small steps, I’m already feeling the benefits and want to share the cyster support and love as I live with my condition and work to manage it hopefully inspiring others to do the same or to share your own stories of life with PCOS.

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Ready to continue on with the journey and managing my PCOS… Let’s do this together! 🙂

Remember – you’re not alone with this; stay strong and be positive to make your life better.

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7 thoughts on “My personal PCOS story…

  1. DitchTheBun says:

    Thank you for sharing your story. I am glad you are in a good place now and it must have been so hard for you so you should be very proud of your journey.
    Personally I think you looked gorgeous in all those photos, but we always see ourselves differently don’t we.

    • littlemissmagickal says:

      Thank you for such kind words 😊 I know that my experience may not be seen as extreme or much in comparison to others however the personal struggle with my weight and depression hit me hard. Thankfully I am coming out the other side of this working my way through now and things seem a little brighter.
      You’re quite right though we all have our own versions of ourselves (good and/or bad) that we see that no one else seem to recognise! X

      • DitchTheBun says:

        We all have our own struggles and the only person who can understand how hard it is is us. Struggling with weight, depression and a dash of anxiety has been a constant for me since puberty so I certainly understand your journey. I think it took meeting my Husband who was the first boyfriend to love me unconditionally for who I was (even the crazy parts because we all have them) to realise that I’m a good person (kinda sad that it took someone else pointing out my value for me to start realising it I know, but sometimes we all need a push in the right direction), from there I realised that whilst I might not be happy with every bit of my body I am happy that I am relatively healthy, all my limbs are in working order and I have a lot of love in my life. Don’t get me wrong I still have bad body days (especially with my specialist on my back to lose weight), but I try not to let it get me too down. Life is too short to spend it unhappy 🙂

  2. Amanda Grozelle says:

    Hi my names Amanda I found out I had pcos when I was 23 I’m now 31…when I look back on things “I believe I had the condition as a teenager” I’ve had lot of health issues when I was 18 I had surgery it was a biopsy (day surgery) I noticed after that I’ve had problem after problem. I’ve always had periods that were either to long to heavy bad cramps “u name it I had it” how I found out I had pcos was it was 6yrs without a period the Dr didn’t know what was wrong finally did a ultra sound & found out I had pcos…the past 5 or 6yrs i’ve noticed alot of changes in my body & appearance especially with facial hair & my hair is alot thinner than b4. bcz of the facial hair I don’t want to leave my house & when I do I have bad anxiety I feel so depressed & I just can’t shake it off & get motivated…I saved up some money to get laser hair removal but i’m scared it’s not gonna work…my Dr tested for high testosterone bcz if it’s high ohip covers that mine isn’t high so I gotta dish out the money. Another thing that’s really making me depressed is the thought of not being able to get pregnant “breaks my heart” my moods r so up & down angry all the time crying I flip out on my love ones no one understands in my family even my friends don’t get it…they think everything is in my head.

    • littlemissmagickal says:

      Hi Amanda,
      Thanks for stopping by to share your story – it’s nice to meet you (virtually that is!) 🙂
      It’s amazing how many people notice tell-tale signs of PCOS when they reflect upon puberty after being diagnosed – far too many people (some medical professionals included) put it down to just being a teenager.
      I’m so sorry to hear you’ve had numerous health issues as a result of your PCOS – I also suffer from overly heavy and painful periods (well, when they actually turn up that is) so sympathise with that frustration.
      The symptoms and effects of PCOS are often inextricably linked and have an impact on each other which becomes more and more annoying, especially when it comes to the emotional aspects; depression, mood swings etc. they aren’t helped by the physical aspects; such as the weight gain, acne, excess hair – then it all becomes a bit of a vicious cycle that is tough to break out of.
      That sucks to hear about your laser removal conundrum – especially as you struggle with it but according to the doctor not enough to warrant medical assistance. 😦 I’ve heard conflicting reports of laser removal from some people that swear by it (including ladies with PCOS hirsutism) and some that had to keep going back for treatment. Have you heard of Harnaam Kaur? She’s a fabulous lady here in the UK who had very bad excess hair due to PCOS but has embraced it in a most unusual way – her strength and attitude is fantastic and inspirational (check out her instagram!) it may help to see an extreme example and how other people with a similar problem deal with it.
      I’m 29 atm and am also at that age where everyone is getting married, settling down and having babies so it is hard to not think about the fertility aspects of PCOS however whilst it is difficult for ladies with PCOS to conceive naturally and unaided it is not impossible, there are plenty of examples of ladies who successfully go on to have their own children so try to keep positive as it’s all too easy to let it get you down before even getting started. My mum (who also has PCOS) had lots of problems trying to conceive, it didn’t help that the doctors didn’t have a clue about PCOS either, so I have for many years been mentally preparing myself for potentially similar issues and whilst having my own children naturally would be wonderful if it was too problematic I wouldn’t hesitate in seeking alternative routes including adoption, or you know just becoming a crazy dog lady would also work for me! There are many types of family – it’s finding what’s best for you. Again try to stay positive with these thoughts (easier said than done I know). The mood swings are ridiculous and do make you feel a bit mad (especially since others don’t really understand it and just think it’s irrational) you are most definitely not alone with that one and as with everything else it can be evened out by the diet/lifestyle changes but personally I find increasing my exercise regime (which is pretty much dancing and zumba so the fun type of exercise) has helped me try to maintain a more stable and positive outlook and when it turns to cranky and/or crying outbursts I tend to cave in to guilty trash tv or movies, curling up away for some down time to avoid any arguments or clashes – it’s always our loved ones that get the brunt as those closest to us it’s easier to lash out at them. xx

  3. eponini says:

    You’re story is still so inspirational 🙂 you always were gorgeous and you look beautiful in your recent dancy photos!

    Little did I know in that picture of us at the summer ball that I also had PCOS! It definitely helps to be able to talk about the more embarrassing aspects, if only we had known at uni!

  4. iwannabeamommy2 says:

    WOW. Thank you so much for sharing your PCOS journey. I relate to you so much. It’s so amazing that your mom was so supportive when you were a teenager. My mom (who also had PCOS) did not share her diagnosis with me or recognize my symtoms as possible PCOS. My moods, etc, were of annoyance to her and therefor we had a terrible relationship when I grew up. I hope that one day, if I have a biological daughter, and she displays PCOS symptoms, I can be there for her like your mom was there for you.

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