Treat Yoself

It’s Saturday afternoon and I’m sitting here on the couch, drinking leftover iced coffee & constantly refreshing my USPS Tracking page. You’d think I was waiting on something special to get here, and I guess you’re mostly right. I’m eagerly awaiting a delivery of supplements today, because a) I’m kinda boring, and b) these supplements represent my first step toward finally treating my PCOS. I’ve done so much research on this crap over the years and know so many things that can potentially help ease my symptoms, but I’ve just never done them – or, I’ve never done them consistently. Weird, right? Stupid, right? Yup.

But finally, FINALLY, I am tired of just saying “I have PCOS” and then doing jack shit about it. I guess I thought if I pretended my body functioned normally for long enough, either my body or my brain would eventually start to believe it. Er, nope. Still have thinning hair, facial hair, excess weight (especially around my stomach, whew), dark skin patches, anxiety, mood swings, on & on – and of course, my ovaries still have that sweet string of pearls on them. (Yes, that is actually what some doctors call it when you have so many ovarian cysts, hahaha). I also have The Worst Cramps in the World and quite possibly The Heaviest Periods in the World if I’m not on birth control, which is why birth control has been the one thing I’ve done fairly consistently since my diagnosis back in the day.

Hell, that hasn’t been easy, though. When I was old enough to get kicked off my parents’ insurance, I had to switch prescriptions to something cheaper, which lead to taking Sprintec, the Devil’s pill. Really though, some women do fine on it – like any prescription, birth control is one of those things that is highly specific to the individual. But Sprintec was TERRIBLE for me. It’s the pill that made me start paying more attention to the possibility of side effects with future prescriptions. I became horribly depressed, and at times, suicidal while taking it. I remember driving home on the interstate late one night and just letting go of the wheel. Thank the LORD that didn’t last long, and the roads were mostly empty (I was depressed, not a dick – I wouldn’t want to take anyone else out with me).

And it didn’t help that I was taking it during a difficult time in my life, so the confluence of events brought me to the lowest point in my history. I cried all the time. No, you don’t understand – LIKE ALL THE FUCKING TIME. I was hopeless. I wrote some really great stuff then, so shout out to the writing catalyst, but I’d much rather be happy & healthy with writer’s block. One day I just randomly Googled that prescription, and lo & behold, I found so many accounts of other women pretty much losing their minds on it. So I stopped taking it and was honestly shocked to realize how much better I felt once I was off that shit. My life was still hard and I was still sad, but it was bearable. I started to become functional again. I also became really afraid of taking medicine.

Without birth control, however, my periods became unbearable again. Painful periods are one of the symptoms that got me to the doctor in the first place back in high school. I remember having such terrible cramps in band class one day that I got permission to go to the nurse’s office, but the pain was so intense I had to stop in a bathroom halfway there and lie down on the most disgusting ass floor imaginable for like 20 minutes before I could even finish walking to her office. It was that fucking bad. All of the basic stuff people suggest for cramps – heating pads, NSAIDs, etc. – none of that shit even touched the pain. All I could do was suffer through it.

I recently tried going off birth control again (NOT Sprintec, no worries there) and of course, the horrible periods came right back. So now I’m taking them faithfully, but I’m definitely monitoring the side effects. There are times when I feel a little more…uneven than usual, but so far, no major problems. Sometimes I do feel like I have to choose between my mental and physical health with birth control which isn’t fair, but it’s also not necessarily the truth. So far, I’ve been treating one aspect of my PCOS – painful periods. But what if I made a concerted effort to treat my PCOS in its entirety instead of just one symptom of it?

Which brings me back to this morning, sitting here and waiting for my supplements to arrive. I’ve got multivitamins, biotin, inositol, magnesium, fish oil. It’s a lot, and I know I’m going against that whole “change one variable at a time” principle. There are people who could undoubtedly find fault with what I’m doing, and they’re welcome to have at it. But for so long, I either willfully ignored my PCOS or got so overwhelmed by the conflicting information out there that I became apathetic.

If you want your head to spin, Google “which diet for PCOS.” One page will tell you to become a vegetarian, another will say to eliminate dairy, another will recommended a ketogenic diet, some want you to just focus on the glycemic index, others recommend whole grains & fruit juices. It’s fucking bonkers, dude. Everyone thinks they know the answer, but I’m a strong believer in bio-individuality. What works for you may not work for me, and vice-versa. I believe this so strongly for other people, but for some dumb reason, not knowing the “perfect” path for myself has kept me stalled for so long. I’m a perfectionist, which in turn makes me a procrastinator because literally nothing is perfect. It’s stupid. So, this time, I’m just gonna go with what I think will work for me. I know what I do and don’t like to eat. I have a pretty damn good idea of what I should and shouldn’t eat most of the time. I know I need to exercise. I know I have certain deficiencies and need supplements. I know I probably need to restart Metformin for my insulin resistance. I just have to actually fucking do these things and block out all of the static out there. And all of the fear.

I’m learning that it’s okay to not fully understand where to start, but it’s not okay to use that an excuse to avoid starting at all. That’s what I’ve done for so long. 10 years of ignoring something so important. I sometimes feel ashamed I’ve ignored it for so long. I think part of this is because it’s taken me so long to stop feeling ashamed of having PCOS & the symptoms that come with it. I’d worry so much about how my hair looked (is my bald spot showing?) and how my face looked (oh god, is my mustache showing in this light?) and on & on & on. I didn’t want to talk about my symptoms or my PCOS. I just wanted to hide it all & blend in, despite my body’s best efforts to do otherwise.

Eventually, you get tired of hiding. You get tired of worrying.

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Look, noticeably thinning hair! & grey hairs!

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And facial hair! (Sorry the lighting sucks, I’m flying solo on the photography this morning & my scalp was obvs closer to the light.)

Look at that. Two things I spent a decade trying to hide and now there are photos of them on the internet. And I’m still alive. But I spent YEARS worrying about the outward stuff and ignoring the inward stuff. I’d obsess over “how bad I looked” instead of thinking about my elevated risk of diabetes and heart disease and endometrial cancer because of this fucking syndrome. I didn’t take a prescription that would help my insulin resistance (a huge thing for many PCOS patients & the root of so many problems) because it meant I couldn’t have alcohol and I didn’t want to “miss out.” What’s more important? Occasional drinks with friends or my fucking health?! My priorities have been so fucked up for so long. I’ve ignored so much, and in the name of what? Fitting in? Insecurity? Laziness? Fear? I’m a smart, strong person. How have I put this off for so long?

So this is why I’m still refreshing that damn page, waiting to see when my Amazon delivery will get here. It’s a small step forward that represents a whole lot of bullshit I’m leaving behind. I’ve finally learned how to love myself, so now it’s time to turn that love into action. I’ve mentioned before that my goal word for 2016 is consistency, so I’ve gotta create my own little “health schedule” if you will and just stick to that damn thing. I don’t think it’ll be easy, but I know it will be easier than ignoring my PCOS for a freaking decade. It’ll be easier than letting myself willfully get all of the nasty diseases I’m predisposed to thanks to my PCOS. I survived my Sprintec depression. I survived people calling me bald in high school. I survived a transvaginal ultrasound when I was still a virgin. (THE HORROR.) So I’m pretty sure I can take some vitamins & eat better & move around some every day. I think I’ve got this. Now it’s just time to prove it to myself.

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