The Long Haul

When I was 16 years old I was diagnosed with PCOS. By that time I was already overweight, I had massive facial hair growth, and was struggling with depression. I was put on birth control pills and metformin. I had already created a habit of waxing my facial hair as soon as it grew long enough to do so.
I remember boys making fun of me, in sometimes subtle, but hurtful ways. They rhymed my name (Denisse) with obese and would mention that I needed a razor as much as them. It was bad enough that I already had little control and no knowledge of what it even meant to have PCOS, but the constant insecurities it created had me in, what I would later discover, to be the most challenging realities of my life. That was over 20 years ago.
Today, we have a lot more studies and resources to at least, try to manage most, if not all of the symptoms. But it does not stop us from constantly learning new ways and discovering new things about PCOS as a whole.
6 years ago, I suffered a miscarriage. I was certain that having lost weight (abt 60 pounds) had been a key factor in me becoming pregnant without any medication or help from doctors. I felt so happy and blessed to finally prove my doctors wrong about the reality they drilled into my mind since I was a teen. That I may never have children. But within weeks I had lost my baby and all my dreams of ever becoming a mother were shattered all over again. It became the most heart breaking experience of my life.
I fell into a deep depression lasting a good 2 years. I was existing, but not living my life. I was unemployed, homeless, broke, and slowly gained back all of the weight I had previously lost.
I can’t say exactly what shifted in 2014. But it had something to do with a friend of mine observing that I had lost my passion for life. That my writing and my demeanor had changed to be that of a somber, complacent woman. And it hurt my soul to hear the words being spoken of the truth I knew I was living.
Within weeks I was back at the gym. Setting goals and working on fixing my life. And it worked!! For 2 years I was studying and learning about PCOS management. What I should eliminate from my diet, what exercises I should be doing, what tests I should have. But it wasn’t an easy task. The struggle of having a metabolic disorder would have me up and down with motivation and results. People I knew were losing weight at a rapid pace as I slowly lagged behind wondering if this was always going to be as difficult as it was proving to be. I stayed on track though because I was not in a race. I knew that I wanted to lose weight but I also knew that I wanted to heal my PCOS more. And I was. At least I felt like I was. My fasting blood sugars were finally in a normal range and so were my testosterone levels. It wasn’t until about a year into my low carb diet and exercise routines that I began to learn about insulin resistance and what it meant for me in the long term.
I would NEVER be able to go back to, even occasionally, having a cheat meal or a snack that wasn’t full of sugar. And I don’t know of that answer made it better or worse for me because I knew it meant that letting go of my comfort foods and the emotional pain that came with it, would be a lifelong challenge.
In 2016 I went to NYC to pick up my ultra sound from my pregnancy that I never knew existed. I wanted to see my baby for the first time and I was certain it would help me get through my difficult moments of missing him. Instead, it debilitated me. I started to feel less energetic. Less enthused to work out. I started binge eating in order to comfort the pain in my heart not realizing that I was opening a door to yet, another struggle and symptom to PCOS. I didn’t feel good enough to be this woman I had been discovering myself to be. I felt guilty for being happy in my life, while my son did not make it to meet me.
Its been a year and a half now. I have gained back 30 pounds. I start over every 2 days trying to let go of my addiction to sugar/food. I feel anxious and depressed more often. Most times lonely because no one can truly understand or support me in these times. I isolate myself. I try harder at truly loving myself. I write. I pray. But nothing has been able to get me back to healthy state of mind. I even went on depression and anti anxiety medication for the first time in my life. (I stopped after having strong suicidal thoughts). Most days I am okay. But all it takes is one emotional moment and I’m back to binge eating because my diet seems too hard. It took me 3 years to lose 80 pounds and a year to gain back 30.
Today, I’m starting over. (Again) I wanted to share my story because as much as I had inspired so many women to lose weight, I felt inadequate to be held in such high regard. It has made me feel like a failure. To them and to myself. But I want my story to keep going. Because ultimately, I will get to a good place in my life while living with PCOS. I have come to far not to believe it. But I also know that my struggles aren’t only mine. There are so many of us who grow endlessly tired of trying to feel normal. To live our best lives and to not allow PCOS to take up so much space in our lives that we forget to love ourselves through the process of learning. In the deepest part of me, I want to be healed.

Follow @DenisseOcasio on Twitter

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3 thoughts on “The Long Haul

  1. 5 miscarriages and years of infertility. We are now pregnant. 14 weeks. I attribute it to choosing a more healthier lifestyle. Kicking the sugar habit. Living a more vegan lifestyle. It’s amazing how food choices and healthy eating can affect fertility. Good luck to you friend

    1. Thank you. I have already decided not to have kids at this age and stage in my life but am always so excited to hear when a woman who has struggled with fertility and PCOS can finally have her dream of becoming a mother. God bless you!!

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