Writing usually comes easily to me. When I start typing out a piece, the words all just start to flow together on their own; however, as I begin writing this, I know already that this will probably be one of the hardest articles for me to complete.
About two years ago, a routine doctor’s visit and blood work turned into the day I found out that I had Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome – otherwise known as PCOS. This is something that I have told very few people about until now, but with the disorder becoming one that is better known by people these days, I decided it is finally time for me to put in my two cents about my experience.
So what even is PCOS, anyways? Trust me, I had no idea what it was when I first heard the term, and chances are, most of you have never come across it either.
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, sometimes known as Stein-Leventhal Syndrome, is one of the most common chronic hormonal disorders that women face. The list of side effects for it is pages long, ranging from hirsutism, acne, a high chance of infertility, weight gain and increased risk of many other problems, such as high blood pressure and heart disease, cholesterol, and insulin resistance which can lead to type 2 diabetes. The worst part of all this, however, is that not only are there only treatments but no complete cure, the actual cause of PCOS is still unknown.
The scary part is that I was able to type all that information from my memory, because of the countless hours I have spent alone on a computer researching PCOS, from reading the simple Mayo Clinic and WebMD summaries to even skimming complex medical journals.
The more I read about it, the more hopeless I felt–here is this one tiny disorder that affects me in so many different ways. My body appearance changed drastically because of it, I might not be able to have kids one day because of it, and it just felt like I had no way out. Here was this tiny disorder that suddenly made me so impossibly imperfect – at least that is how I looked at it for a long time.
To this day, this is still one of the few things that I am not completely comfortable talking about. I consider myself an open book for the most part, and I always tell people, “Ask me anything right now, and I’ll answer honestly,” but PCOS is the one thing that I hesitate to discuss. Even the few people who do know about it, I usually just brush it off going, “Oh, it is just a hormonal problem, nothing important,” and I just shut down immediately when it is brought up.
I have decided that I need to try and be more open about it. I spent the longest time blaming myself as well as worrying about how people would react, but now I have decided that I need to try and come to terms with it. I have to remember that it is not something I should be ashamed of, it is not something I should blame myself for, and it is not something that I could have prevented – I can only try to lessen the condition and take better care of myself.
I am slowly teaching myself to remember that PCOS does not define me. It is only one part of who I am – there are so many other fragments too, all the ones combined that make me who I am. It does not change my personality or my emotions, my dreams or my aspirations. Nor should it make anyone look at me differently. This is not a cry for help or sympathy. This is merely just me trying to come to terms with it and to remind myself that it does not make you different or faulty if you are dealing with a disorder. It just makes you human.
These things are true not just for me, but also for anyone else out there who is suffering from PCOS.
While it is not a disorder that many people are aware of yet, statistics do show that there are in fact many women around the globe who face this problem.
To other women out there in the world who are struggling with this: I know how you feel. But I want you all to remember that you are not imperfect or flawed. You are not to blame. You are not doomed. Most importantly, you are not alone. I know it might feel like the end of the world, but I promise you that it is not – it is just one more thing that will make you a stronger woman than you already are.
That day, over two years ago, changed me in many ways, but as I continue to grow and help myself, I am glad that I am becoming brave enough to deal with this – and grateful to those who are always around to support me.