I’ve put off this post now for a month and a half and y’all I have been dreading it. Seriously. Dreading it.
Before we get too far into it, here’s the background:
In December of 2015, I was diagnosed with PCOS, hypothyroidism, hashimotos & pre-type 2 diabetes. My journey has been filled with “highs” and “lows” not just figuratively but literally as my weight fluctuates an obnoxious amount. I’m pretty open about my health journey, so talking about weight isn’t too difficult for me. It’s my life. Weight’s a number that affects it. But in these past almost 3 years, I’ve had my fair share of challenges within them. Just because you have a diagnosis doesn’t mean your problems go away.
I have no shame in writing about my health. None.
I actually worried during the college application process & now in the future finding a job that me being so dang open about my health will hinder my chances. What’s sad is that talking about one of the biggest parts of my life is taboo and could hinder my future. And what’s sad about that is that I’m scared to in some capacity.
PCOS affects all areas of my life: my health, my eating, my mental health, and my social life. It’s not an easy one to manage and consistency is both scary and necessary. Most people don’t get it and I don’t expect them to. How do you explain a difficult situation regarding women’s health to guys or to other females who have never had to worry? You can educate and hope that they respect you, but people aren’t going to fully understand. And that’s ok.
It’s my life, I’m just trying to manage as best as I can.
Throughout high school I ate pretty low-carb, low-sugar at least that was the goal. Eating LC/LS is difficult in that carbs and sugars are addictive so having one bite of absolutely anything spins you into what feels like a restrictive cycle. (In no way do/have I had an eating disorder nor judge how/what people eat, that’s not what this is about at all.) For me, you could see the results in my physique but it was still difficult to maintain. It spun up this cycle in high school where I’d “eat really really really well” for a certain period of time and then fall of the cycle and consistently live in this limbo state of eating how I was supposed to/eating “bad.”
Within this, my biggest challenge was my face. And no, not my acne. My literal face. Some girls care about their thighs or their calves or their stomach. Some worry about arm fat or their bottoms.
And ya girl is crying in her dorm room writing this because as someone who gives out the most compliments and is an advocate for female empowerment, it pains me to say this: I hated looking in the mirror because I hated my face.
With PCOS/every other issue I have, my body swells an obnoxious amount. And not in some “oh PMS bloating.” Like some days I couldn’t wear my favorite ring on my finger and my face was so swollen I’d cry. I learned how to contour my sophomore year, not because I liked wearing makeup (which now I do) but because I contoured my face daily to hopefully hide all of the “fluffiness.” I hated most of my prom photos because I was considerably swollen the day of.
But it was life and that was living.
And then came some more doctors appointments, more bloodwork, more questions, more this and more that.
More crying in my car during the drive home from the doctor’s office. (I tried to video the process to serve as a resource for other girls but it is actually too painful to edit.)
So they took me off of dairy and gluten entirely. No dairy at all, no gluten at all, but oh a lot of tears. How do you tell a girl who is leaving for college in two weeks that she can’t have dairy or gluten, at all?
But they did and it happened and here I am.
I moved into college, a transition that I thought would be easy but it definitely has not been, a story for another day. I love my school and the community on campus but living with my conditions, not at home makes an already new campus even less like home. It’s having to explain that I have a “dairy and gluten allergy” when I’m not technically allergic so that people will take me seriously. It’s having to explain to people why I am the way I am. I’m not my health conditions but it is so much of me that it makes me, me. I don’t have my mom by my side, who is my best friend and the only other person I know who shares my diagnosis and challenges. I’m trying to build a schedule while still having no schedule whatsoever.
Being completely dairy & gluten free for now a month has radically changed my health. My moods are more manageable, my period wasn’t as hellish but most importantly: ya girl finally has an actual chin and that is something to throw a party.
So what’s wrong with me?
We don’t know.
I’m still a P.C.O.S. Fighter with hypothyroidism, insulin resistance and maybe something else.
I’ve put off writing this post for the past month because I can’t help but cry. Not that I’m trying to play the victim but because I’m doing my absolute best & still feel alone. Yes, my friends and others on campus can say they “understand” and that they “are here for me” of which I absolutely love them for, but no one gets it. Chronic & autoimmune illnesses are isolating. But that is the life that I live.
I love my school, I love the college experience and I love my community here but y’all this is definitely not easy or fun. But this is life and that is ok. And even better, ya girl isn’t as swollen or puffy. So I’m choosing to celebrate the goodness: a month of positive change despite the transition to a new city. Making lemonade out of lemons and doing my dang best to embrace it all.