I’ve been put down, cussed at, and kicked all because of my chronic pain that I’ve been living with for the past four years. You’d be surprised who the culprit is.
I constantly belittle myself for not being able to struggle through the pain somedays. Then you add anxiety and depression issues on top of the pain issues and you have one big ball of wonderful.
That’s the life I’ve been living with ever since I found out that I have PCOS, or polycystic ovarian syndrome.
Let’s get real for a moment. You don’t want to hear the gory details of my life, but I’m going to tell you anyway.
Ever since I was in middle school, my periods were irregular. We never thought anything of it, because my mother’s were the same way. They were very painful at times, sometimes causing me to miss school because I didn’t want to be there while I was in so much pain. I’d fake sick to my parents so they’d let me stay home. I didn’t think they’d let me stay home just because of “female issues.” It wasn’t until I was 25 that I found out what was the true cause of all this pain and frustration: PCOS.
PCOS is a syndrome in many women, especially obese women, that causes elevated androgens or male hormones. To be diagnosed, you must have three of the following issues going on: no ovulation, high androgen levels, and ovarian cysts. The cysts are detected by an ultrasound. I found out I had one because a cyst burst in one of my ovaries, causing me great pain, so much pain in fact, that I didn’t sleep at night. It took doctors three weeks, two different doctors, blood tests, urine tests, a CAT Scan, and an ultrasound before they could diagnose a problem. I thought that I was experiencing a miscarriage because there was so much pain and blood, but it turned out that it was a cyst burst.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for PCOS. My doctor put me on birth control to help regulate my periods. It took a year and a half to find a birth control pill that would work for my body. I ended up taking myself off my first set of pills because I was tired of having a period for six months straight (I wish I was joking). Recently, I was put on Metaformin to help with ovulation for when my husband and I are ready to start having children, as well as regulate my blood sugars, another unfortunate side effect of PCOS.
The worst side effect of PCOS?
It’s the pain and sickness you get the week before, during, and after your period. Mine is escalated by other issues i.e. my thyroid and a metabolic syndrome. Of the three, my PCOS is the worst. Most the time, I can work through the general nauseous feeling and headaches, but sometimes the pain has me struggling to get out of bed, much less make it to class.
It makes it hard to concentrate on what’s going on in class, to figure out what the professor wants, much less make sense of what’s being presented when you’re in a constant state of pain. If you’re paining attention, it’s about one week a month that I don’t have to deal with the pain of it. That small time frame is not enough to catch up on things I’ve missed.
Now, let’s bundle this chronic pain with depression and anxiety. It’s not a fun combination at all.
You’re constantly worrying about what others think about you or if you’re letting them down by not being able to attend class or meetings. You wonder how this will affect your homework and participation grades when you have a day that you just can’t “muddle through” the pain. The depression makes you constantly tired, yet keeps you up at night thinking about how you could have handled a certain situation better that happened six years ago. You are so exhausted, yet you work through that exhaustion and pain, forcing yourself to just keep going and not give up. You keep fighting although all the odds are stacked up against you.
You deal with the look on your family member’s face when you tell them that you’re dealing with a painful day. The friends and family that know about the condition always ask you how you’re feeling before they ask you to do something so that you don’t have to be put through more pain. You stress out about having to tell your friends or family “no” or cancelling something because you’re just in too much pain or too tired. You worry that you’re not a good friend. The look on your nephews’ and niece’s face when you tell them you can’t play because you don’t want to feel any more pain hurts you more than the physical pain ever could thus bringing you further into the pit of despair.
Sometimes, your worst fear happens.
People give up on you. It’s not that you don’t want to, it’s more that you can’t work through all the pain, exhaustion, and despair you feel. You lock yourself up in a bubble to keep from crashing further down. Your friends and family eventually stop asking because they know the answer will be a no. Your haven becomes a cage, and you desperately try to claw your way out, but you don’t have the strength or energy to do it.
I do what my doctor tells me to do: lose weight and eat healthier. I’m a picky eater, but I work on portion control and eating more fruits. Yet, the doctor forgets to tell me that it’s extremely hard to lose weight with PCOS, so although I feel like I’m doing a good job, I see little to no results. Thus, I give in to my cravings and go on living my fate.
I see a therapist for my depression and anxiety. As of right now, I don’t have to take anything to regulate either one. My therapist and I are working to make sure it stays that way, as I don’t want to be on any more pills. There are still days where I experience extreme lows; days I call “bad days.” It almost feels inedible that it’ll happen after a “high day.” I seek out things that make me happy: reading, writing, Disney movies, and music. Sometimes they help, other times staying in bed and binge watching a show is the best call, especially on days that I’m dealing with the pain. I live through it, and I accept it.
I’m not writing this for sympathy, I’m writing this for awareness.
You never know what a person has to deal with. After being diagnosed with PCOS, Metabolic Syndrome, and thyroid issues, I had to take a long, hard look at how I lived my life. I may never be able to live without pain for the rest of my life, but I deal with it.
It’s not fair to judge others when you don’t know their story. Therefore, I make it a point to help people out and understand them rather than judge them. It’s easier to be nice than to be mean. The world is filled with too much hatred the way it is. I’d rather spread love, peace, and understanding.