How I Learned To Love Myself With PCOS
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Health and Wellness

How I Learned To Love Myself With PCOS

The navigation of finding strength and acceptance with a chronic illness.

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How I Learned To Love Myself With PCOS
Brianne Johnson

If you were to look through photos of me as a child for the first ten years you would’ve seen a big eyed, messy haired, often dirty little girl with a permanent lopsided grin whose knees and elbows were often skinned up. As you move closer to age thirteen however that same little girl begins to look unhealthy; my midsection grew to more than just baby fat, I was having to cover hair on my neck with concealer, my hair started thinning and graying on top, and I looked and felt tired constantly. We didn’t realize it at the time but I was beginning to show symptoms of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS for short.) If you’ve never heard of PCOS you’re not alone, like most things in women’s health it is often hard to diagnose and considered taboo to talk about but that is another topic for another article.

As you can imagine the physical changes that came with PCOS took an emotional toll and it was coupled with being bullied throughout middle school. I look back on it now and realize that those kids who made fun of me weren’t really bad people, some of them even became my friends in high school, they were just kids who noticed something strange about me and ran with it. Thirteen-year-old Brianne however did not have that presence of mind, I would go home and cry myself to exhaustion because someone had asked me out as a cruel joke or because someone had pointed out that I had hair on my neck or had called me fat. The non-cosmetic side to my illness was probably the more difficult; my bones ached, I never felt fully awake, and the worst was not having an answer as to why it was all happening to me. I know that this reads as if I want pity or I want to condemn the kids that made me so miserable but the truth of the matter is that this was my reality and it continued to be until I was a junior in high school.

I want to take a minute to thank my family, even when they didn’t understand what exactly was happening no one ever tried to give it up as hopeless even when I wanted to. In the summer before my junior year my Mamma took me to a dermatologist to try and get some answers for my hair growth and graying, the dermatologist finally gave us information we could work with. He recommended we find an endocrinologist because he suspected it was a hormone problem. We finally found the doctor who I can honestly say has made my quality of life so much better, I had to take a year’s worth of different blood tests, hormone tests, and a myriad of other things I wont get into but finally by July of 2012 we had a possible answer and treatment plan.

Giving a name to the disease that had plagued my entire life was a large part in my healing, I knew now that I wasn’t alone and that it wasn’t my fault that my body decided to create too much testosterone. I take a bunch of different medicines, it sometimes feels like a pharmacy, and every six months I have to get my blood taken and tested but honestly even with all of that I’m the happiest and healthiest I’ve felt in a long time. The medical aspects of PCOS have been dealt with but even as I began to physically feel better I realized that the emotional and mental toll hadn’t disappeared yet.

Any time I looked in a mirror instead of seeing progress I would feel like that thirteen year old crying herself to sleep because she was too fat for anyone to love. College was a Godsend, I left home and left everyone who knew me, everyone who used to make fun of me, behind and began crafting the person I wanted to be. I still have bad days from time to time, I still sometimes look in the mirror and see that sickly, scared little girl who just wanted to look like everyone else but those days have gotten fewer. I wear dresses now and clothes I never thought I ever could, I don’t wear ten pounds of makeup because I don’t have any hair to hide, and I don’t look down when I pass mirrors and windows. I feel more whole now then I ever did and I hope that I will only continue to make progress in loving myself as the years go by.

I’ve thought about scrapping this idea entirely but I realize now I’m not only writing this for others but I’m also writing this for myself. I am the person I am today because of my struggles with PCOS, I have let go of the bitterness I felt towards those who made fun of me without realizing what was going on, and it has kept me from being cruel in turn for things that other people cannot help. I would go through it all again because I came out stronger in the end. PCOS is just another small part of who I am and I’ve learned now that I have to embrace that and love myself through it. So if you’re reading this and you have hair you’re ashamed of or discolored skin or weight gain or even just acne please know this; you are not alone, you will make it through it, and you will come out of it stronger. You will find the strength to love yourself one day too.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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