I noticed hair growing on my chin back in June of 2017. I didn’t think much of it. As a matter of fact, I thought it was just another eye-rolling task I had to deal with as a woman, like shaving legs and underarms. In July of the same year, I saw a change in my stomach, particularly in my lower area. The flap began to appear larger than my butt, and I haven’t been comfortable wearing jeans since. In October of 2017, I got let go from a temp job unexpectedly. Throughout the entire month up until December, I stayed at home, constantly ordering delivery from Chinese and Italian restaurants, just to cure my unhealthy craving for fast food. I still have that craving. This was a horrible time for me and my depression because I felt like only food made me happy. November of 2017, I came across this video on YouTube from BuzzFeed, and for some reason I felt like it was speaking to me:
December of 2017, I wrote a blog piece on my weight, and although I wrote about my ongoing struggles, particularly the rapid weight gain throughout the year, I had hope and certainty that I’ll get back on track. Now I know why it’s been so hard to lose this weight.
In March of 2018, I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, and I feel like I failed my body, my health, and my future.
PCOS in simple terms is an imbalance of reproductive hormones. Menstruation cycles are irregular, it’s hard for people with the syndrome to get pregnant, and there are noticeable changes to the body. Not everybody who is overweight gets PCOS, but there is a high risk.
Since that day at the doctor’s office, I’ve been feeling like a completely different person. I remember my doctor mentioning birth control, nutritionist, and therapist all in one breath, and I remember lowering my head to see my feet dangle off the examination table. I couldn’t look at her. All I could think in my head was the frustration of not being able to have children or experience love in my future. I’m only 24 years old, so I still have time to reverse this…right? I’m not dating yet already, so what man is going to want me now if I can’t have children? When will I feel attractive enough to even see if there is someone out there who would understand? Am I even attractive anymore? I don’t know.
So, I left the doctor’s office that morning with a three-month prescription of birth control, and a sense of hope, and rushed to the grocery store to buy loads of vegetables and healthy food options. A rush of positive energy filled me up, which happens when I’m in and out of depression, and I didn’t want this diagnosis to take away my joy. However, all that positive energy went out the window two weeks later when I started taking the birth control pills. The pills, by the way, is not for me to be sexually active, it’s to help my hormones get back in control and have regular menstruation cycles again.
I lasted about a week on it, and threw all its three-months worth in the trash. Although I did get my cycle back, the side effects made my depression horribly worse. Just before that, I signed up for the gym and lost about two pounds, I was making food from home and bringing it to my new job everyday, and I was staying active to keep my body moving. The type of pill was called “norgestimate-ethinyl estradiol”, and it was a generic brand that I got from my clinic’s pharmacy. While I took it, I had a horrible attitude, I was struggling to focus at work, and I stopped going to the gym. I gained the two pounds and seven more in that week alone. I felt disgusting. I felt like Nyla in the BuzzFeed video—I felt defeated and confused as to why I was given something that would make me feel even more worse than I did before the pill. Since March, I haven’t been to the gym, and that hopeless feeling that I’ll never lose the weight, has stayed with me.
To help me ease through this diagnosis, I joined a few Facebook groups with many other women and a few men going through PCOS. It hasn’t helped much, but there are success stories of women having children, losing all of their weight within a few months, and completely eliminating their diagnosis. However, the painful stories of women suffering from miscarriages, failing every diet they try, and craving every bad food that they could possibly think of, is what really scared me.
I went to one nutritionist appointment, and it felt like a waste of time—just like the other times I went when I was a teenager. I could literally google “what to eat for a healthy diet,” and everything she told me would appear. I want someone to literally tell me exactly what to eat, because giving me too many options, healthy or not, hasn’t helped me. I’m still trying to find a therapist, particularly one that takes my health insurance, and it’s hard. It’s even harder to find a therapist of color that takes my insurance in Massachusetts. I’ve been in and out of therapy since I was 15, and I have yet to find one that makes me feel like I’m not being judged. It could be all in my head, but everytime I expressed my pain and doubt to a therapist, I leave the office feeling lost. I just don’t want to go through that again, but at the same time, I know the only way I’m going to survive is adding therapy to my life.
So now what? I don’t know. I pray everyday to keep up with my faith, but I haven’t found the positive answers for this diagnosis. I don’t recognize myself in the mirror, makeup doesn’t even help hide my puffy cheeks and double chin, and I’ve ripped three pair of jeans within the inner thighs this year. I don’t have the motivation to work out like I used to, and I get more tired and tired everyday.
I guess the first thing to do, and what I’m doing now, is being honest with myself. This is the first blog post that I ever expressed pure doubt and hopelessness. PCOS is the one thing that I’m struggling to find the bright side for. All year, I’ve been trying to hide this part of me, but it gets rough when I reach up to two weeks without writing, and have to find yet another excuse why I haven’t been consistently writing as before. Thankfully, I’m glad I chose to write about this, but then again I honestly had no choice. I miss writing about topics that makes me smile, and in order for that to happen, I have to write about the struggles.
The second thing I hope to work on is my balance with depression and PCOS. If I leave all of the PCOS Facebook groups, or at least stay in one, maybe I’ll start to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Although I want somewhat of a community, it’s bad for me right now to read others’ stories, and not have a vision of my own.
I hope I get back into a healthy mental space at some point. I can’t even think of losing weight or going back into the gym until I feel like I’m worthy enough. I’m not there right now, and I don’t know when I’ll ever get there. Every once in a while, I look back at old photos, hoping that they’ll give me some hope and motivation. But, lately, it just reminds me of the woman that I feel like I’ll never be again. I know, I shouldn’t think like that, but I am, and that’s the honesty I have to face. I’m trying.
Life outside of my weight and PCOS has been great this year, and I don’t want to lose sight of the blessings I received so far. Living with PCOS feels like a death sentence, but I have reasons to fight it.