Viva logo

PCOS and Me

Learning to love my 'broken' body

By S. A. CrawfordPublished 2 months ago Updated about a month ago 6 min read
Top Story - October 2023
Photo by Karolina Grabowska via Pexels

I never wanted children. That's the cosmic joke; as a teenager, and even a young adult, I was decided against the idea of having children. Not because I dislike them in any way, but because I was certain I was not mother material. Then, after years of work on my mental health, after getting out of a bad relationship, after calming my fears I had a thought -

It would be nice to have children.

I thought about the joy of giving a child what I didn't have; an ostensibly 'normal' childhood, present and mentally and physically healthy parents...

And then, almost immediately, I noticed something was wrong. I was tired, so dog tired that my body ached, I had acne, worse than it was when I was a teenager, I gained weight and for some reason I couldn't lose it. No matter what I did, it wouldn't shift; I paid for a personal trainer, ate well, swam three times a week, jogged... and somehow gained weight. Most telling of all, my periods just stopped. For six months I had no menstrual cycle... and I knew I couldn't be pregnant. I couldn't place it, but I had that bone deep feeling that something was wrong.

The Long Road to Diagnosis

Photo by Jan Kroon via Pexels

There's nothing worse than the condescending smile of a stick thin GP whose eyes always travel to your belly while you talk. I got to know every doctor in that surgery over two years, and quite frankly I hated them all by the end of it.

"Are we aware we're a little heavy?"

"It's probably a weight issue."

"Being overweight can cause menstrual disruption..."

"Have you tried exercising?"

"Your BMI..."

I wanted to scream. I wanted to claw my own eyes out; for the record, I knew I was fat. I knew that being fat could cause health problems. I also knew that unexpected weight gain and difficulty in losing weight could be symptoms of deeper problems.

This was the stumbling block I faced with doctors. Every appointment I had to cover the measures I was taking, reaffirm that yes I knew I was fat, yes I was working on it, and give them a run down of the measures I was taking before asking for help. Each time, they told me to lose a little first.

It was a nurse who stepped in to help me, a mental health nurse. We fought side by side for two years, asking for test after test until the results came back;

A nice, potent cocktail of hypothyroidism and PCOS compounded by, previously diagnosed, depression; no wonder the weight wouldn't shift. At first I was just happy to be vindicated.

I told you there was something wrong.

Those words seeped out of my pores every time I had to see a doctor. Then reality started to sink in.

PCOS: Causes, Symptoms, Treatments

PCOS, or Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, is basically caused by imbalanced hormones. Androgens to be specific. It can be caused by inflammation, insulin resistance, and genetic predispositions. Common symptoms?

Well, weight gain (shocker), excessive hair growth, acne, headaches, irregular or skipped periods, darkening of the skin (particularly around creases such as those at the groin and neck).

More than this, it increases the likelihood of ovarian cysts, endometrial cancer, sleep apnoea, long term issues with weight, and increases the chance of developing diabetes.

Ironically, the best treatment for PCOS is losing weight (fucking shoot me, right?) so my doctors were right to recommend it. To be fair, I knew that; losing excess weight is always a good idea health-wise, but it's definitely been easier since I got thyroid medication and went back on the pill.

So, diet, exercise, and take your pills - story of my life.

All signs point to increased difficulty when it comes to having children, however, and for some reason that hit me harder than any amount of fat rolls, excess hair, or body issues. I hated my body for the first time in my life. I hated her with a kind of dead, cold wrath that I had never felt before.

War... Then Peace

Photo by Tim Mossholder via Pexels

It was a war of attrition, at first; I slept too much, then too little. Ate too much, then not at all. I pushed myself past my limits at the gym, then spent days in pain. I hurt myself, indirectly and directly, until a child called me beautiful.

I had long, blue hair once... then I shaved it off for charity.

But the pictures are everywhere. I showed an acquaintance a picture of my hair the way it used to be. I was sick in that picture, though no one would admit it and I was heavier than I had ever been in my life. Her daughter craned over her arm to see the picture and declared that I looked like a mermaid.

A mermaid.

It was the blue hair, I know; to an eight year old, blue hair and mermaids go together like strawberries and cream... but she didn't add anything. No "pretty for a fat girl" vibes, no "you have a lovely face".

Just that statement, and then,

"I want to be a mermaid. Mermaids are pretty."

Some people say children are kind, others that they can be cruel. In my experience, young children are just honest. They say what they think, without consideration for the way that truth will impact people. Maybe that's why it meant more coming from her.

I sat, naked, in front of a mirror and cried. I forced myself to look and become familiar with the body I was now living in. Then I took a long, hot shower and cleaned every inch of myself with the lights on for the first time in months. I smoothed cocoa butter onto my scars and stretch marks, shaved, and treated myself gently. I ate something healthy, and then something enjoyable.

I slept for eighteen hours... then I woke up and gutted my wardrobe. I threw away the old, the tatty, the things I knew I would never fit into again. The things that were designed to hide my body. I split it all up into three piles; rubbish, charity shop, sell.

And I started to climb out of the depression pit I was in.

It began with a clean room and some clothes that fit well, looked decent, and weren't designed to disguise my body. I went for a long walk with the dogs, then another by myself. Day by day I pushed up hill; one step at a time, one pill at a time. I even bought a book called Meals She Eats to help me gear my diet towards helping my body (disclaimer: this link is an affiliate link, but whether or not you use it, I recommend the book. It's kind, insightful, and the recipes are pretty good). I lost two stone (around 28lbs for my American friends, or roughly 12kg for those in the EU) and started to see the shape of the muscles in my calves and arms again.

Then it happened. One day, I realized that I felt... fine. I wasn't tired and aching and bloated. My skin was decent, my hair had started to grow in a little thicker. Then I looked in the mirror and didn't hate what I saw.

Some days are better than others; I won't lie to you. Some days my skin is a wreck and my body hurts, I'm depressed and bloated and I'm sure it will never get better. But I don't hate my body on those days, now; she's my ally. My oldest friend. I appreciate her; she's working so hard with so much against her.

I love her... and that's enough.


About the Creator

S. A. Crawford

Writer, reader, life-long student - being brave and finally taking the plunge by publishing some articles and fiction pieces.

Reader insights


Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

Top insights

  1. Compelling and original writing

    Creative use of language & vocab

  2. Heartfelt and relatable

    The story invoked strong personal emotions

Add your insights

Comments (40)

Sign in to comment
  • Cheyenne DeBorde17 days ago

    Fabulous message and , as always, such an entertaining and evocative writing style. Really enjoyed this!

  • Rachel Deemingabout a month ago

    What an honest and uplifting story. I really felt for you throughout. I hope that you are in a place where you can see yourself clearly and not through the eyes of others. And well done for pursuing and pushing but also for taking charge and helping yourself. That takes enormous courage. Congrats on TS.

  • Heather Hublerabout a month ago

    The lack of knowledge and consideration by 'professionals' towards women's issues is appalling. I am so glad you pushed and pushed and found someone to stand at your side through it, bless that nurse! This hit me so hard as myself and my best friends commiserate all the time about this new phase of perimenopause we're in. There are no answers, no one cares, no one helps and everything out there is contradictory. It's so frustrating. But I'm genuinely glad that you've found a way to be gentle with yourself and show yourself the self care that only you can give. I'll be here cheering you on your journey :) Wonderful article, thank you so much for sharing and congrats on Top Story!

  • Kayleigh Fraser ✨about a month ago

    try to take a hard look at what you are eating. One of the best teachers I could point you in the direction of for this is sadhguru. Another is Joe Dispenza (in relation to healing the body via the mind) The truth is, if you want to get better, you can and will. If you don’t, you won’t. It is a choice. A choice you have to practice and repeat for a long LONG time but it is guaranteed to set you free of suffering. But it’s going to take an immense amount of self love and self cheerleading. You have to re parent yourself. To look at why you eat what you eat and choose better. And it’s not about weight as much as it’s about eating what the body NEEDS. Which means stop eating for the unbalanced emotions. Everything falls into place when you decide to get walking the right path. Everything falls apart when you stay still

  • Babs Iversonabout a month ago

    Loved this line, "I also knew that unexpected weight gain and difficulty in losing weight could be symptoms of deeper problems." Wonderfully written article!!! Congratulations on Top Story too!!!💕❤️❤️

  • Shanon Normanabout a month ago

    You are a great writer and this is a great article. The blend of relatable and personal are stylistically enjoyable and praise-worthy. I'm so glad I stumbled upon this. Thank you for sharing.

  • I am so frustrated by how the medical system treats women :-( xx

  • Amanda Starksabout a month ago

    Oh my god, your experience is almost word for word the same as mine. I got diagnosed with PCOS back in 2020 after YEARS of frustrating appointments with various doctors and OBGYN's. ( I literally had a doctor tell me to my face that self-harm was a fad made by teenagers on the internet after I showed him my scars after a bad episode. ) I've also been on the pill the entire time, and that seemed to be enough for everyone until I told my current doctor I was still having symptoms ( pimples, hair growth, painful bloating, weight gain, ect. ) and that I felt like I needed more help. I'm now on an anti-androgen pill that I'm hoping will help ease some of these symptoms. Already I'm noticing some extra energy in my reserves and have begun going on longer walks. Reading this gave me a lot of hope for the future, and it also made me really happy that I wasn't alone. I'm so very glad you have reached this point on your journey!!

  • SC Wellsabout a month ago

    This was a wonderful read! I’m so sorry for such a painful and frustrating experience —It would have got better so much faster if the GP had just listened to you. Thank you for such an interesting and educational read!

  • Lamar Wigginsabout a month ago

    This was a testament to the power of change. One day at a time... I'm so glad this made the front page. It's humbling yet empowering to share intimate details of one's life. It is definitely therapeutic to see all the positive feedback from the community! 💖

  • The Dani Writerabout a month ago

    This story needs the ability for a reader to leave a thousand hearts. That's the minimum I need to give it. It made me smile from my heart, feel rage from the inside out cuz I've KNOWN moron doctors who don't know how to talk to patients, and then 'entire-body-melts' from that one child's statement of your beauty. I'm super-pleased that you made top story but even more joyous that you are winning in life. YAY YOU!!!

  • Judey Kalchik about a month ago

    The thought that my body can be my oldest friend. Wow. That is a gift I didn't know I needed. Thank you for sharing your story. I hope it touches people for a long long time.

  • Cathy holmesabout a month ago

    Congrats on the TS.

  • Lena Folkertabout a month ago

    P.S. I went to tip you for this, then remembered I'm a couple hundred dollars in the whole in my account. But you deserve lots of love for this one. <3

  • Mariann Carrollabout a month ago

    Congratulations on Top Story 👍🎊Sea Food is very good for this issue. Seaweeds and shrimp

  • Lena Folkertabout a month ago

    I'm not going to lie. I had to stop reading half way through. I will finish it when I can. But it's just. Yes. I can barely form the words. I'm so EFFING tired of doctors saying this BULL! I went to a thyroid doctor (I'm so tired and upset I can't even think of the word for those guys right now) and he was awesome with my mom who was thin and had hypERthyroidism. But every time he saw me, "Well, you know you have to stop eating McDonalds and you need to work out, and if we can just lose some of the weight, then maybe we can see what the problem... BLAH BLAH BLAH!!!" Every time I went to him I was SO furious! I told him over and over and over. I don't eat McDonalds or any of that crap. I'm like playing basketball 24/7 when I'm not working, and I'm ALWAYS working. On my feet. I was A FREAKING DECKHAND in the gulf of Mexico while working three other jobs (waitress, busgirl, nanny, and oh ya, tutor and community service) while maintaining a 4.0 and being my HS valedictorian. He never listened. Never cared. I've been a crazy active person my whole life. I grew up so poor food was literally nonexistent (my mother breastfed me til four and my sister til 6 because it was ALL WE HAD TO EAT). And he just never stopped. and that was his SPECIALTY! I saw him in walmart one day... he didnt recognize me after being my ENDOCRINOLOGIST ( i remembered) for FIVE YEARS... I pulled him over to me and showed him my shopping cart on a poor college kids stipend... salads, celery juice, organic everything. no sugar. no frozen or boxed food. no carbs. and i was like THIS IS WHAT I EAT!!!! he just gaped at me! ARGH!!!! And all the doctors since. I started gaining weight when i was eleven, when my boobs came in, two years before my period, and multiple years before we had food to eat. I was active literally all day and night. I literally slept with a basketball (I still love that smell). I've spent my whole life eating better than even my healthiest friends and being WAY more active than all of them, despite immense pain, cramps, exhaustion so deep I can barely keep myself standing, and depression so bad I want to die. Literally everyone calling me fat, and doctors telling me to eat better and exercise more, talking down to me and mansplaining it to me like I'm either lying to them or so dumb I don't know what a carb is. People wonder why i don't go to the doctors. They wonder why I'm fat. I'm SO TIRED of people. Of doctors. Of men. Of thin people honestly. It's so exhausting. I'm not gonna lie. Lately, I've topped over 300. I swore my whole life I'd kill myself if i hit 300. And if I didn't have so mjany people relying on me, i probably would. My god. I'm so sorry. I shouldn't have commented now. But man. It's like I wrote this myself. I knew there were people who got it, but to read it so precisely. Not gonna lie, I'm often like, "WTF this is a top story!?" But, girl... you nailed this. You deserve it. You deserve a million reads. I want you to get them. Maybe just maybe one day a fat girl will go to a doctor, and they'll say, "let's get your hormones straight so you can live again." FFFFF I'm so tired of doctors!! I did all my research and diagnosis myself, and I take supplements, but honestly the depression and adrenal fatigue is so real, im like why the f bother anymore. (I just ate a whole bowl of corn flakes with brown sugar :( Sometimes, I just dont care anymore. But it wasn't like that before. Doctors should heal us. But they're killing us. Especially in US WOW. I'm sorry. Like i said, really really triggered by this. but its good. I'm sorry i word vomited on your story. but really glad you shared it, and I'll finish reading it when i can. HUGE, FAT, SUGAR-FILLED HUGS TO YOU!!! You can do it. Keep it up. Inspire us all so we can too! <3

  • Hannah Mooreabout a month ago

    I LOVE this story. That is all.

  • Matthias Evans about a month ago

    Not to love but to take care of yourself

  • weight loss solutionsabout a month ago

    thannk you

  • A. Lenaeabout a month ago

    What a beautiful, personal piece. Your descriptions of the mental anguish, the ways your self-advocacy morphed into action and continued to evolve into self-love is so artfully written. This is a powerful reminder of the strength we can possess. Depression and PCOS can be debilitating, so reading the ways you fight for yourself and recount it all with such grace and insight is inspiring and moving.

  • Caroline Cravenabout a month ago

    I’m really sorry you had to go through so much just to get a diagnosis. Sometimes knowing why you feel so rough is almost as healing as the medicine/ process. Good on you for fighting back and getting yourself well.

  • Mackenzie Davisabout a month ago

    Oh I wanted to hug you when you said you sat naked in front of a mirror and cried. I've been there, hating myself, treating my body terribly, having hormone imbalances that doctors don't care to investigate. I'm so happy reading about how you got back to loving yourself. A truly inspiring story, and one that will stick with me.

  • Emily Aurelienabout a month ago

    It's not impossible if you want a family. Pray to God if he thinks your ready he will give you a miracle child. Don't give up your journey isn't over I promise you. And tell your husband that too.

  • Kamabout a month ago

    I went through the same thing with doctors for years before a diagnosis with a cell disease and hypothyroidism as well...and then years later, got the actual correct diagnosis. I'm so sorry you had to go through it as well, it's horrible and so disheartening. I'm glad to hear you've made the journey back to self-love and feeling good about yourself. This is so well written <3

  • Alexander McEvoyabout a month ago

    This was a very powerful story. I'm so sorry that you went through that malarky with the doctors, in far too many ways they tend to be... let's call it unhelpful to be polite. I'm really happy you've found a way to be comfortable in your skin, to even love your body. I'm told that's a very important part of life. To be happy in your body and learn to love it. Personally, I've never felt anything but the deepest loathing for my whole self, body included so it's a strange concept to hear about. "How can anybody love their body?" I ask myself. "The notion is as absurd as the sun rising in the west." Congratulations on Top Story! I'm so happy that your journey so far has seen some pretty remarkable success and I hope your battles going forward are easier. If we're lucky, people who need to hear your story are going to click on it and hopefully give them hope for their own futures <3

Find us on social media

Miscellaneous links

  • Explore
  • Contact
  • Privacy Policy
  • Terms of Use
  • Support

© 2023 Creatd, Inc. All Rights Reserved.