This Is Me
“I couldn’t understand why my body was like it was…”
My story is about the difficulties of learning to love and accepting my body.
I remember as a teenager being independent but also lacking confidence. In school I was mocked for being ‘different’ as I didn’t conform to what was seen as being ‘normal’. I dressed differently, I listened to different music, dyed my hair bright and had wacky hairstyles. On many occasions I was told by other pupils to “die”, purely because of my appearance.
Going through puberty, I noticed changes I expected like my period starting, developing acne, my breasts developing and body hair. I was a young woman, learning about myself and the world around me. Yet whenever I had a period, I would become weak and faint. I had however, noticed some alarming changes such as dark hair growing in places where I didn’t expect it to grow, like my arms and yet none of my friends had the same issues.
But PE was the worst.
I remember changing in the corner of the room so no one could see me. And I also remember sneaking glances at my peers, wishing I could be like them, wishing I could be care free and not worry about having my arms out or getting changed in front of people.
Even on holidays, I was always self-conscious, wearing clothes which covered my arms and legs. Even in the boiling heat, it never crossed my mind to change into a swimming costume or a bikini because everyone else was wearing one. I felt like I didn’t want to give people more ammunition than they had. And these looping thoughts resulted in me to constantly shave my arms just so I felt more normal and more feminine. As I grew older, my periods became more and more irregular. There were times when all I could do was curl in a ball to stop the pain. I couldn’t understand why my body was like it was, or why God created me as a joke.
I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) when I was 18, this is a syndrome that affects how a woman’s ovaries work, which at the time I was completely unaware of, and haunted by the fact there was a chance I could not have children. Since I’d planned on being a mum, the chance that it may not now be possible drove me to read everything I could on the syndrome and eventually to visit a specialist.
There have been quite a few difficulties throughout my life, living with PCOS. I’ve suffered with severe pain which has caused me to be in hospital, struggling to lose weight when it is advised that weight loss can help to ease symptoms. Having bad skin due to spots and being constantly self conscious, wondering if people can notice any of my side effects, such as the hair on my face.
I would say I spent years feeling like I was alone with this syndrome.
Things changed when I went to University. I finally began to accept myself more. I met people that had also been diagnosed with PCOS and I realised for the first time in my life that actually I wasn’t on my own nor was I abnormal.
It’s been nine years since my diagnosis. In that time, I have received so much support from my friends and family. More importantly, I’m also much more open about having PCOS, my symptoms and what I have to live with. During my journey, I’ve also found online communities who live with the condition and the support is amazing, particularly from a Facebook group called PCOS Support UK.
I understand now that I’m not alone with my challenges and that definitely does help. I do have bad days where I hate myself and I want everything to end (the joys of having hormonal imbalance) and there are days where the pain is unbearable, but what I can say is that over time, I am learning to love and accept my body for how it is. I now understand I am loved and people see me as being beautiful no matter what my appearance. There is no doubt I will face challenges in the future due to PCOS, but I know that I will be able to get through them.
To anyone reading this – particularly women who may suffer with the same condition or symptoms as me – know that you are not on your own, and that you are beautiful, you are valued and you are loved.