My PCOS: “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade”

This week is Amy’s first blog, discussing PCOS…

I guess I always knew something was wrong with me. I remember being sat with my Mum as she got out one of her big medical books (seriously, she must have had about three) and explaining to me that I might have Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. I had irregular, sometimes non-existent periods and I had also really struggled with my weight, a problem which built insecurities that still resonate today.

At that age, I wasn’t really ready to confront it. Perhaps due to my family’s bad record with health or just through my naivety, I never faced my problem until I found myself helping a good friend of mine deal with some of her own inner demons. There I was telling someone how important it was to face her fear, that she needed to be brave and seek help; I would have been a hypocrite if I didn’t take my own advice.

I booked in to speak with a nurse. After explaining my situation, she thankfully advised me that I needed to have a scan, an ultrasound is actually what it was, something I never thought I would have to do until I got pregnant. For me this was a terrifying experience in itself; I was very insecure about my body at this time and the thought of anyone seeing my bare stomach unearthed many anxieties.

One of the distinct memories I have from the diagnosis is how I looked at children differently. Due to the fact that when you have PCOS you ovulate irregularly or fail to ovulate at all, many (not all) women find it difficult to get pregnant. I think deep down it was always something I expected to happen in my life, but when I thought that the option could be taken away or made more difficult for me, all of a sudden it hit me how much I wanted it in the future; I looked at children and I saw an extension of their parents, a beautiful infusion of character and appearance. That was something I wanted to have a go at creating.

Since the diagnosis over 3 years ago now, my outlook on life has changed. Not in any sort of dramatic fashion and it didn’t happen overnight, but it forced me to think about my health differently. Weight control is one of the most difficult aspects of PCOS, but something that can really improve your condition. It is something I have discussed with every woman I have met who suffer with it, and it’s also all over the online forums.

My weight was always something I struggled with and it was something I was highly sensitive about. But since my diagnosis I have been forced to recognise that it is something I will always have to control. Seeing my weight as a health problem rather than a criticism or measure of my attractiveness was a positive step for me, a step that in many ways has changed my whole life.

I was a bottom set P.E group type of girl and I spent most of the week trying to think of a way of getting out of swimming. After my diagnosis I started to swim three times a week, a routine that has led me to now be a paying member of the gym and as of this year, a runner (a sentence I thought I would never type). This has not only helped me slowly lose weight, but has also aided me mentally in my most difficult times.

my run

From left to right: Myself, Sophia and Hannah after Race for Life. I finished the 5k in 34 minutes.

It comes with frustrations of course. I can exercise up to 5 times a week now and every day I have to watch what I eat and live with the guilt when I let myself slip, which for a foodie like myself is quite often (at the moment I have a real weakness for Reese’s peanut butter cups). I am increasingly aware some people, including my GP, will never quite understand how hard I work to maintain even the weight I am.

But without waffling any further about exercise and self-esteem (it’ll come up in another blog most probably) the point I really wanted to make with my initial post is how important it was for me to face up to my health problems. I am a great believer in the phrase “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade” and although the diagnosis was difficult to take and although I realise suffering with PCOS will raise challenges in the future, it’s better to know this and confront the fear, than live with the anxiety of not knowing. Since beginning this blog for example, I have looked more closely into the condition and discussed future options with my GP on Monday and I tell you what, I walked out of that surgery sky blinking high.

For more actual info on PCOS, head over to NHS Choices here.

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