I spent most of my life hating my body, hating PCOS, and hating my whole life with PCOS. I was awkward, embarrassed, ashamed, and frustrated pretty much all the time, but especially when I was a teen with PCOS. I thought being fat was my fault, and that I should be able to fix it. I was miserable, out of control (food binges, anyone?!), and felt like I was the only girl in the world with problems this bad.
Of course, I didn’t have a clue about what being a teen with PCOS really meant. Neither did any of my doctors, for that matter. Or anyone in my family. I wouldn’t get officially diagnosed for a decade more. And it wouldn’t be a thing anyone really knew about until decades after that.
There are so many things I wish someone had told me back then, but here are the top five:
- This is absolutely not your fault. Wait: THIS IS NOT YOUR FAULT. I probably needed to hear that every day for about five years, at least. You’re born with it. Life circumstances probably result in enough stress that PCOS symptoms emerge. We don’t even really know what causes it, and it doesn’t matter anyway. It’s not your fault. But you’ve got to deal with it.
- Mass consumption of carbohydrates is not going to fix anything. Cookies are not your best friend. For that matter, neither is a head of lettuce appropriate as your whole day’s food. The truth, as with most things, lies somewhere in the middle. Aim for balance, and you’ll be all right. Don’t forget to enjoy your food.
- Too much exercise is no good either. A little is healthy; five hours a day is part of an eating disorder. Especially with that “I’ll just eat lettuce” plan. And with PCOS, too much exercise actually causes additional stress on your body, so it’s totally counter-productive! Enjoy your life instead of obsessing about diet and exercise.
- The sooner you get this figured out, the healthier you’re going to be for the long run (like, maybe you won’t develop Type 2 diabetes after all!). Don’t mess around and think “I’ll worry about this later.” Waiting until you’re an adult, or you get married or decide you want kids, or whatever is just not going to cut it. It will be so much harder then. If you start to build good habits now, the rest of your life is going to be so much easier.
- You are doing the best you can, and objectively, you’re doing quite well. Enjoy that knowledge for a minute. You’re doing fine. Yeah, slowly enjoy that. Slow down in general. The stress and pressure to figure out a solution are also counter-productive. PCOS is a lifetime condition, which means you’re always going to be working on it. No need to over-stress yourself in this moment. If you’re having trouble with that concept, try meditation (with these apps).
In sum, then: chill out, apply the principle of balance to food and exercise, and seek your own answers. There’s far more expertise now, and far more support. You’re not alone. Come join us on Facebook at PCOS Wellness for Teens.