I’m realizing how far I’ve come in this short time on Paleo. I can hardly believe it!
On June 18th, 2012, I was feeling very down and probably just as miserable as the last 22 years, so I logged onto MyFitnessPal and wrote a blog post to describe how I felt. I was depressed, frustrated, and a little heart-broken that I ‘couldn’t’ lose weight anymore. I was eating well, but that diet consisted of gluten and dairy. For the longest time after starting my diet originally in April 2010, I was still feeling terrible.. just not as terrible because of the portion cuts. My calories went down, and I originally lost 26 lbs, gained 20 back, lost 30, gained 20 back, and then plateaued. I was working out, but I couldn’t ever really figure out the problem was. My research told me it was PCOS.. but I never really knew why. Well, here is that blog post from June 18th, 2012.
PCOS: The symptoms and how they are ruining my life.
What is PCOS, and why do people keep whining about it? PCOS, or polycystic ovarian syndrome, is a common hormonal disorder in women that with interferes with the growth and release of eggs from the ovaries, or ovulation. It is the most common cause of infertility among women. PCOS occurs when a woman’s body overproduces sex hormones, called androgens. The hormone imbalance prevents fluid-filled sacs in the ovaries from breaking open and releasing mature eggs. The fluid-filled sacs bunch together, causing many tiny cysts. Symptoms of PCOS include missed periods, abnormal facial and body hair growth, acne, and weight gain. PCOS may run in families. Source: http://women.webmd.com/pcos-directory
What does this have to do with me?
As you could have probably gathered at this point, I am a long-time sufferer of PCOS. I was diagnosed 9 years ago through a family gynecologist, a diagnosis solely based on hormone levels. After my very first cycle, I had two more and then they stopped. They warned me that might happen, and I had a mild form so I didn’t really do anything about the loss of it; in fact, I embraced it! It was amazing. I could do whatever I wanted and didn’t have to worry about spotting or bleeding through my white shorts and colored swimsuit bottoms. For relevance to MFP, I’ll mention that I was 115 lbs and loving every minute of it.
At my next annual visit, they asked the inevitable question: “When was your last cycle?”.. I had no idea. I couldn’t even remember! After surfing through my teeny-bopper beachy memories, we narrowed it down to two periods in a year! I was given Yaz birth control and told to follow up in three months. My doctor seemed to think that the progesterone would jump start a cycle. Three months went by: nothing.
At my follow up visit, I was taken off the Yaz and given lower-hormone Nuva Ring. It was very comfortable, I didn’t have any troubles. However, still no period. After six months on the Ring and no menstrual cycle, I decided to make a follow up appointment. This is when they had to ‘scrape’ my uterus. Shortly after that, I cancelled all birth control and decided that I wanted to test my body’s natural ability to be… well, a woman.
Let’s skip to a few years and unsuccessful exams later. I’m 16 years old at this point, and sexually active. In the last three years, I’ve had 2 cycles. Now that I’m active, I start to think I’m pregnant.. all the time. Every single test negative. So, I decided to go back to the gyno. We tried Nuva Ring again, still nothing. I’ve given up and realized that this is my life and went into grin-and-bear-it mode.
That’s when the ‘weird stuff’ started happening. I started getting disgusting hair growth. Though it wasn’t much, it was devastating to a teenage girl. I have not been on birth control since, after being told at this point that there was less than a 10% chance of being able to concieve.. ever. Not to mention that the chances of fertility will lessen every year.
I’m 22 now. I’ve been dealing with this for far too long, and it’s only the beginning. A sample of my symptoms include:
- Hair Growth on my jaw, neck, upper lip, chest, back, feet and hands. I have to remove this on a DAILY basis, just to feel like a normal person.
- Weight Gain. Mostly in my stomach. I’ve been asked “When are you due?” and “You’re such a cute pregnant woman, how far along are you?!” too many times to count. I went from 115 lbs to 105, then straight to 199 lbs with virtually no change in my eating habits.
- Uncontrollable Mood Swings and Depression. Every month, I go through bouts of depression that used to be suicidal. I ‘freak out’ at the smallest things, I’m extremely unpredictable. I have been on and off medication to control the hormonal discrepancies and have yet to find something that works.
- Adult Acne all over my face, neck and back. I have been using ProActiv and Clearasil spot treatment for ~4 years and nothing has ever changed.
- Hypoglycemia/Insulin Resistance that attributes to the weight gain. I feel lethargic after every meal, and have days where I can’t even make it through work. I was put on Atkins and other low-carb diets, none successful.
- Infertility. I can’t honestly say I’m too worried about this one right now, but I’m only 22. I can only imagine what happens when my already crippled biological clock starts ticking.
- PID (Pelvic Inflammatory Disease). Normally you get these from STD’s, so you can imagine the looks I get when I have to tell doctors and other relevant people. Essentially, the build up in my uteran wall becomes infected when I go too long without a cycle and causes extreme abdominal pain, vomiting, and muscle cramps. I have a PID flare every month, and my uterus is scarred from years of infection. I’ve never had an STD, but I am cursed with like symptoms and excruciating pain.
Most of the time, (in the words of my lovely friend, munkey418) I feel like a fat man. It’s humiliating, crippling and has forever ruined my self esteem. I’ve been on countless anti-depressants and even Metformin.. nothing has ever worked for me. My doctors are trying to hold off on further medications, because the insulin resistance has caused Auto Immune Liver Disease. Essentially, PCOS is trying to ruin my life.
I’m constantly working through this hurdle that life has thrown in my way, but it’s going to be a long process. It affects every friendship/family relationship I’ve ever had. I’m the only woman in my family with PCOS or PID, and often times have nobody to go to. I am too busy at work to go to a group, but I know that there are tons out there like me. Please feel free to share your stories in the comments for support!
Thanks for listening.. err, reading. -Jaimrlx.
This is how I felt after 2 years of dieting like a normal person. Eating ‘clean’, moderate calorie foods and exercising regularly. Let’s recap:
I feel like a fat man. It’s humiliating, crippling and has forever ruined my self esteem. I’ve been on countless anti-depressants and even Metformin.. nothing has ever worked for me.
I’m constantly working through this hurdle that life has thrown in my way, but it’s going to be a long process. It affects every friendship/family relationship I’ve ever had.
To compare, I’ve been eating primal for 11 days. December 26th, 2012 is when I committed to making a positive change in my life. But why is it so different? Because even though I was dieting ruthlessly, I was eating food that was bad for my system. Gluten, sugar, dairy; all things that I could have cut had I known that they were halting the process. The only question left, is why didn’t I know sooner?