If there is any advantage to living with an invisible illness, it is the invisible aspect. While this element often comes with more challenges than benefits, there are still a few benefits. However, with an illness like PCOS, there are outward signs that will give an indication that something is going on in a woman’s body. All of my Reproductive Life, I’ve had issues. From the very young age of 11, my period became my enemy. On the other hand, it was my period or should I say the disappearance of my period that told me something abnormal was going on in my body. It would take years and several doctors before I was diagnosed with PCOS. Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome(PCOS) is a hormonal disorder of the Endocrine System in women. Women with PCOS suffer with internal issues like ovarian cysts, infertility, irregular periods, much more. Unlike diseases such as, Endometriosis, Adenomyosis, Menorrhagia, etc; PCOS does have a few “tells.”
Image really is EV…ER…Y….THING, to women. We take pride in how we look and how we present ourselves to the world. Our looks play a role in our careers, relationships, and self-esteem. It has been proven that when we look good, we feel good and when we feel good we are more productive. If appearance wasn’t important to us, cosmetic companies, hair distributors, and the fashion industry would collapse. With PCOS protecting and preserving our looks becomes a much more consuming task. Some of the physically visible symptoms of PCOS are: Weight gain, Hirsutism(excessive hair on face and body), thinning hair, and dark patches on skin. Unfortunately, I am no stranger to these PCOS related issues. I understand the blow that a woman’s femininity takes when she has hair growing in places that are not normal for women, I know the embarrassment of having dark spots appearing on your face and neck and the painstaking effort put into hiding them. I know the utter despair that comes when your hair begins to thin, break off, and stop growing. I completely understand the dip that a woman’s self esteem can take when she has to deal with the effects of PCOS.
For many years, I hid my shame, I cried at night, and kept my fears to myself; I am excellent at hiding. I didn’t tell anyone how horrible I felt. Turtle necks and scarves became my best friends. I suffered in sadness, depression, and isolation; I put myself in prison. There was no one there to build me up, there was no one there to reassure me of my beauty, there was no one there to tell me that I am more than my flaws. I was sick because the secret that I was keeping was making me sick. One day, I don’t know how nor when, I remembered EVERYTHING that my grandma taught me about loving myself and loving who I am. I found my self-esteem again. The more I stood up the stronger I became and one day, I bumped into liberation. I had to accept that I had this illness and that because of it, I had some flaws. I reminded myself that these flaws don’t define me, they are simply an artistic part of my story. These flaws give color, visibility, and meaning to my struggle. While I still have my days of frustration with the skin and hair issues, those days don’t hold me hostage anymore, because I firmly believe that I am stunning! It’s nice to hear compliments, we all want our ego stroked now and again, but I am the majority on how I feel about me. This is the message that I want to share with women living with PCOS.
I asked my cyster Shawanda if having PCOS has impacted her physical appearance and she said, “yes and no, I know this is not a typical answer but PCOS isn’t typical. As women we sometimes wear our insecurities on our sleeve. Physically, most days I feel sexy but I have other days where it is time to pluck chin hairs or I have gained weight that I don’t feel so pretty. On those days, I struggle and I feel as though the world is judging me.”
Living with PCOS will vary from woman to woman but I think it is safe to say that we all have dealt with the outward effects of this illness. While living with any sickness isn’t ideal, we can find strength and confidence in our journey. I encourage you to fall in love with Y.O.U and live! Onward ♥