WHY IS THERE A LINK BETWEEN PCOS & MENTAL HEALTH?
Well, if you think about it the reasons are, unfortunately, plentiful.
Firstly, and to put it bluntly, once you are given a reason for being “different” it’s hard to ignore because someone has confirmed to you that you are in fact different and not in the “I have pink hair and it’s cool kind of way”. I’m not saying we all should or even want to conform but this isn’t about dressing a certain way, this is biology gone rogue. Your body is not working in the way you thought it was or should be, and some things we learnt in high school science do not apply to us PCOS Princesses.
You may have just been told any/or all of the following:
- You need to lose weight
- You will find it hard to lose weight
- If you don’t lose weight it may cause health issues
Like any of the above statements are going to make you feel good about yourself. Understandably, you may be feeling pretty down at this point. Then your doctor continues with this…
- You may find it difficult to have children
- You may need fertility treatment
- This is why you haven’t fallen pregnant already
Now, if you are wanting children or have been trying to conceive, then this is the bit where the knife really stabs in deep. Even though no blame is given or intended by the doctor, being told you have an issue is difficult to digest.
I think women in particular are very quick to take responsibility for things. It’s in our nature and when someone hands it to us on a plate, well, we just gobble it all up don’t we? What greater responsibility do we put on ourselves than becoming mothers? Hearing that our own bodies stand in the way can cause a downward spiral that can very easily lead to diminished self-worth and depression.
BUT I’M A HEALTHY WEIGHT & I DON’T WANT KIDS
While the two topics I mentioned above are certainly ones that touched my heart, as I mentioned in my previous posts, not all women who have PCOS or PCO are overweight nor do I assume every walking female wants children. However, there are other health risks that come with PCOS including painful periods, blood sugar issues which can later cause diabetes and potentially being more at risk at some types of cancer, to name a few.
MENTAL HEALTH & THE DIAGNOSIS
I believe that, at the very least, a counselling service should be supplied or at least suggested as a standard referral when a woman is diagnosed with PCOS and especially if a woman or couple are given the news that they may struggle to conceive.
Seeking counselling or noticing yourself feeling down are not a weaknesses. While PCOS is not immediately life threatening and can be somewhat managed, you still have every right to be impacted by the diagnosis so please do not diminish it.
MENTAL HEALTH & ME
One feeling that has stuck out for me more than any, is the one telling me that I am different as well as the, perhaps illogical, feelings of being inferior to other women. I don’t ovulate and therefore my body isn’t “normal”. I have excess hair where beautiful women don’t. I have the worst kind of body shape (the apple) when hour-glass or pear is seen to be more pleasing both on the eye and health-wise.
It’s true that when I have a period I want to tell everyone. I’m beyond excited that my body has WORKED! ON IT’S OWN! OMG! This is something women who complain about the monthly visitor probably won’t understand, but for me, it’s like Christmas morning only with more chocolate. On the darker side, when I don’t get my crimson visitor I can start to lull into a spiral that questions why my body is just so stupid. From here it’s just a short trip to lowered self-confidence.
MANAGING MENTAL HEALTH
I cannot stress this enough but talk, seek help if you’re not coping – there is no shame in it. If you find yourself feeling uncharacteristically down, please talk to your doctor during your next appointment, whether it is your OBGYN or family GP. Hopefully both will be able to give you appropriate referrals.
There is also lots of information out there so I suggest to research as much as possible about PCOS so you can be armed with questions for your doctor. After all, knowledge is power and the more you know about something the more you can try to combat it. During your search you will find great resources and communities where you can connect with other PCOS Princesses. I’m fortunate (probably not a great choice of word!) to have a BFF with PCOS where we talk openly about our ailments and what is and isn’t working for us. It feels great that I can talk to someone openly who gets it.
Until next time,
Disclaimer : I am not a doctor and I do not intend for any of this and/or future posts to be read as medical advice. I’m happy to talk about PCOS from a personal point of view but anything more than that is out of my comfort zone. If you have any concerns about your individual situation then I respectfully suggest you seek medical advice.