For the last few months I’ve been in a really good place. Every once in a while I get derailed and the hard part for me is trying to get back on track. I’m my own worst critic and I pick apart everything I’m doing wrong. What sets me off this time? A stinking number. A number that won’t change even with my best efforts. I’m sharing my story not for pity or for encouragement. I’m not sharing it to be inspiring. I’m sharing it because this is my life and it’s the life of many women I have come to know. I speak for those who aren’t brave enough to share their story, but feel the same way as I do. I speak about my experience with #PCOS and it’s not to whine about it. I’m here to educate. I’m here to be an advocate. I’m here so that my voice can be heard along with those with me who have this chronic condition because truth be told, there is not enough information out there to help us all.
I’m on a search for help. I’m at my wits end. I’ve had people who are unfamiliar with PCOS try to give me advice and although I’m aware they are trying to do good, they don’t realize that I’m highly educated in this area and the methods they proclaim to work with weight loss do not apply to me. My body doesn’t function properly. It looks to the wrong places to burn calories. It’s self-defeating.
Let me share my story with you. For over 6 years I’ve been trying to turn my life around. I’ve had spurts of success with weight loss in between pregnancies. I’ve cleaning up my eating. I’ve cut most processed foods out of my life. I try my best to focus on what I read my body needs. I do not have a doctor who specialized in PCOS. I had a fertility specialist who specialized in it when we were suffering with fertility issues. I was educated on medicines I needed take to help possibly get me pregnant. At no time was I educated on how to eat, what exercises work best for women with PCOS (if you didn’t know some benefit us more than others). Once our fertility needs were met, I no longer saw that doctor. I need to find one. I need a doctor who is more interested in my overall well-being than my fertility issues. I am past that point in my life and now I am worried. From my personal experience, doctors familiar with PCOS see it as a fertility issue. It is so much more than that. Once you are past child bearing age what do you do?
This year I am turning 40. Three years ago, I thought I had my life under control. I was doing it right. I was dropping weight. I was eating right. I was exercising with a trainer 3x a week. I was running on my own another 3 days a week (Yes, that is the intensity it took for me to drop 40 lbs. of postpartum baby weight in 1 year). Now, it’s not going so smoothly. Having PCOS puts me in a precarious situation. For one, weight gain comes super easy. Weight loss is a battle. As I age, I’m at a higher risk than most to develop high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol. I was baffled last year with my diagnosis of high blood pressure since I’ve been keeping such a close eye on my health. It’s disheartening. I worry that a cause of it has been the weight gain from my most current pregnancy that I can’t seem to drop. I’m concerned about being obese and worry it will lead to being pre-diabetic. I have people trying to encourage me… “You’ll lose the weight, Ginny, don’t worry about it. It’s not a big deal. You look good.” Well, looking good isn’t feeling good. I know that weight is there. I know that until I hit somewhere around 212 lbs. my hormones won’t level out. It’s been my experience more than once. I’m stuck with nowhere to go at 235 lbs. I have been for over 4 months. It was a concern in September. So much so that my doctor ran tests on my thyroid. We tested my insulin levels. I was put on Metformin on my request as a last resort even though I didn’t need it. No one can figure out why I’m stuck. It’s not like the effort isn’t there.
This next part is difficult to write but I will. Women with PCOS are more likely to suffer from eating disorders. The emotional toll can be high because we can deal with so many different symptoms.
“A lot of women with PCOS have struggled with their weight for some or perhaps all of their lives and are unhappy with their bodies. In addition, most of the symptoms of PCOS such as acne, hair loss, excessive hair growth, can feel uncontrollable and have a direct impact on a woman’s body image and self-esteem. For this reason, many women with PCOS have learned to turn to food as a coping mechanism to deal with the emotional pain.” (From PCOS Nutrition Center, “Putting A Stop to Binge Eating”)
I have from time to time gone on binges. Bad ones. Ones where I know I have no business eating any more but I do out of frustration. I don’t do it often, maybe 4-5 times a year when I can’t take it anymore and have nowhere to turn. I’ve done it my entire life. I do it to cope. I do it because I don’t want to feel anymore. I do it because I don’t want to cry. I do it because I’m angry. I hide it from my husband. I hide it from my kids. I feel like crap afterwards. Not just “I ate too much on Thanksgiving full” but way beyond that. So much so that I feel nauseous and have even come close to puking. Then I feel guilty. I feel guilty because I feel like I undid weeks of hard work. I feel shame because I know I’m hiding. I don’t want this part of my life anymore. I’m learning to find other ways to cope. I’m learning to feel. It’s not an easy transition.
So where am I now? Well, I’m here writing to you. Rather than binging on a whole pizza, a pint of ice cream, a bag of Oreos or whatever else is in my way, I’m here. I’m moving forward. I’m sharing my story so that others like me, who live with the frustrations of PCOS daily know that they are not alone. Although this is only a piece of my story, it was a piece that was worth putting down on paper. So when you feel down, know you are not alone. There are others like you pushing through day to day trying to get by on just hope. Power on, ladies.