I stopped writing here because I didn't know what else I could tell you. Just going on about my feelings felt almost wrong because I'm sure that you are feeling the same thing and don't need to read about someone else’s feelings about it as well. Also, not going to lie, it was starting to suck bringing up my emotions about it, so I shied away from it. But I want you to know that you aren't alone in all this. That there are people out there you wouldn't believe suffer from this just like you are. Just like I am.
I've been going to school for Criminal Justice. This semester I am taking a class in psychology and we have been doing research into the psychological effects of different things such as Alzheimer’s, micro-expressions and such. That got me thinking that there have to be psychological effects from PCOS as well, so I did research. It’s amazing what I found, I thought it would be worth sharing with you.
For a while, I thought I was crazy. I was so emotional and it didn’t make sense. Why couldn’t I just shake all this off, to take the advice of everyone and just not think about it? The doctors don’t tell you how your emotions will be. Instead, they tell you that diet, exercise and medicine will make it all better. That doesn’t stop you from feeling insane, much like what I had. So I figured that you who is reading this might be feeling the same way I was. I want to show you that you aren’t insane, that everything you are feeling has a reason and that you aren’t alone in what you’re feeling.
According to McCook PhD, Bailey PhD, Williams PhD, Anand MD and Reame PhD, authors of Differential Contributions of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) Manifestations to Psychological Symptoms says that “severe mental health issues including anxiety, depression, body dissatisfaction and eating disorders, decreased sexual satisfaction and decreased health-related quality of life,”. They did a study that talked to women with PCOS against people without it and showed that there is a link between PCOS and mental issues. Though they go on to say that the disease we have doesn’t actually CAUSE these symptoms but having these symptoms caused these. “Because excess facial of body hair in women is perceived as socially undesirable, male pattern facial and body hair distribution may be one of the most distressing symptoms among woman who have PCOS.” That tells me that it isn’t so much the disease as it is what others think of us.
I don’t know about you but I don’t really think about all the things PCOS causes because it’s too depressing. I don’t like it so I don’t think about it. That doesn’t mean that the emotions aren’t still there, under the surface. Especially now that the world has gone on a ‘health’ kick and to be anything but going to the gym and getting thin is nearly unacceptable. One of the things PCOS causes is the hardship it is to lose the fat. My doctor told me that I could lose weight but it is harder and longer than it would a normal person. (That is, someone who doesn’t have PCOS). Unless I take Metformin (which when people hear that they instantly feel sorry for me and think I am diabetic when that’s not that case. They don’t want to hear anything else so they shut off as soon as they hear that. PLUS people like the military don’t like when you use it and won’t let you join, even though you don’t have diabetes.) and I don’t like the way that the pills make me feel. So I stop but I have to fight twice as hard as anyone to lose weight and they don’t see that they just see that I’m fat. When I don’t lose the weight as quickly or as easily as everyone else I get discouraged.
Then there isn’t just the fact I can’t lose the weight but then I have hair where most of the women population do not. Big black hairs under my chin, on my lip, down and away from my bikini line. It’s gross and I hate it. I am self-conscious when I think it shows. Society pushes an image into every person’s mind, especially women, what the ideal image for a woman should be. The male pattern hair growth and inability to lose weight don’t fall into that image and it’s hard. A lot of people are trying to change the way society thinks but that’s harder than it sounds. They also state that “it may be that the societal expectations for women’s physicality … leads women with PCOS to feel anxious about their excess body hair and feel anger about excess weight and societal negativity towards weight.” So it isn’t just you that feels any of this.
The biggest issue that women who have PCOS faces, though, and this is the most emotional one, is the infertility issue. McCook, Bailey, Williams, Anand and Reame say that “wishing to conceive” has been related to decreased quality of life.” And for anyone facing this is completely true. I know that this is the hardest part about this disease because I want to conceive so badly I can feel it in my soul. It’s like I am not a normal person (though that is a subjective term) because I can’t give my husband a child of our creation. I keep waiting for him to tell me he is leaving because I can’t do something so simple. That isn’t the case but that’s where my emotions take me. They also say that, “that many believe they are abnormal or not real women due to the fact that they cannot predict when they will menstruate.” Now that’s something hard to hear but it rings true, at least it does for me.
The emotions we all feel isn’t just for those suffering from PCOS but with all that, our bodies are enduring it isn’t hard to see it. Depression for what you really want but can’t seem to have. Depression because no one around you REALLY understands what you are going through. Anxiety because you aren’t like everyone around you. Anxiety because your partner might not understand and/or want to put up with this. Body dissatisfaction because it refuses to give up the weight you are fighting to get rid of because you don’t look like everyone around you. Eating disorder, because if you can’t lose the weight then why try? If you are like me then you stress eat, you can’t control anything else but you can control this. Decreased sexual satisfaction because you are so worried about what you look like, upset that you can’t be like all the other women and because what’s the point? It’s not like you are going to get pregnant from it anyways. And decreased health-related quality of life because you are worried about everything else you aren’t taking care of yourself.
I want to let you know that it’s ok to feel all these emotions. It’s ok to let yourself cry after trying for six years and still nothing. It’s ok to open up to your partner. It takes two to tango and they are invested in all this just like you are, so let them know and let them help you. DO NOT DO THIS ALONE. All the depression, anxiety and fears will swallow you whole unless you share it with someone else. You aren’t crazy for feeling all this. I am not going to say it’s normal, nothing about this is normal, but you need to be strong. Makes goals and keep them. Go to the gym or exercise at home. Don’t do it because you want to lose weight but because you want to get yourself healthy. Eat better foods, not because you want to lose weight but because you are making yourself healthy. Don’t have sex with your partner because you are trying to make a baby but because you love them and it will bond you closer. Talk to your partner and let them help you. Do research on this disease, as I am doing, and find what you can do to help make it better. Ignore the negative and hold on to hope.
I won’t tell you that nay of this is easy. 6 years of trying for a child of my own and I am still struggling. I cry, I get depressed and I get angry. I rant about people who have kids who didn’t want them or shouldn’t have them. I swear my husband is going to leave me because of this but that’s not it. Let yourself feel those feelings, you can’t really stop them, but know that YOU ARE IN CONTROL. So feel them then pick yourself up and move on.
Let’s do this together. I won’t stop writing anymore, I want you to know that there are other people out there who is going through this like you are. I didn’t know that, I had no one to talk to and feeling alone was the most crippling thing ever. Ever since I started this I have heard of people I knew going through this, I never knew. So there are people out there and its time we stop being silent. Stop the ignorance and letting fear control us. Talk about it, tell people about it, become an expert at this and teach others. Stop being silent. Find people who struggle with this and make a support group. We are all in this together and we need to help each other through it. There is NO FIXING THIS but we can learn to live with it, find loopholes and ways around it.
I believe in you. You should too.