Now that I’m on the right path and doing all of the CORRECT things to repair my hormonal imbalance, I feel like my past life could have been the perfect manual on how to GET an endocrine disorder like Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. After doing things the wrong way for about, I don’t know, 22 years, I’m finally unwinding all that damage.
A few other examples of endocrine disorders include endometriosis, diabetes, hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, and hypoglycemia.
Let’s review how I believe I got PCOS. I think a lot of women can relate to my story — the type-A, dieting, stressed, out of balance person I once was.
Note: PCOS does not run in my family at all, and I probably come from the most fertile Irish Catholic family in history. My PCOS was caused by environmental and behavioral factors. I’m not focusing on this to be harsh on myself or live in the past. I believe to fix a problem you have to acknowledge one exists. And I had a huge problem, well, many huge problems. Anxiety, depression, insomnia, acne, candida are not things I wanted to, or anyone has to, live with.
Nutrition. Let’s go back, way back. My eating habits as a kid were the worst. Sugar, junk food, processed food, pasta, SLIM FAST (I swear, I’m not even kidding), ice cream, pizza were all normal. To no surprise to me now, as a teenager I didn’t get my period regularly. (Duh, I wasn’t putting anything healthy in it, of course it didn’t come regularly!) This was perfectly fine for me for a while, but in college when I did get it, it meant being in bed for multiple days and even needing help to get around. After seeing a nurse practitioner (nope not a doc), I was put on the pill at 18 years old. I did that for four years, and then used an IUD for another four years. I still ate the same way for the most part, except for dieting here and there (also the worst for period issues!). The dieting/eating junk cycle continued for years. The pill was regulating my cycle, but all of a sudden late in college my skin got bad. I was depressed and anxious for the first time and I was a total wreck. At this point, I was on the pill, on anti-anxiety meds and expensive acne products, and I was always sick with something. Awesome. Cue the candida. I don’t need to tell any woman that has ever had a yeast infection, that this is the absolute worst thing to ever happen in life. I got prescriptions, it would go away for a while. It’d come back, I needed two prescriptions and so on. See the spiraling?
Stress. I asked my parents to have a TV in my room when I was 10 or 11. My parents said, “Sounds like you need a job.” And so that’s what I did, I remember being a mother’s helper for family friends and cleaning around the house for the $100 I needed to buy that tiny TV (and the $30 to wire the cable in my bedroom!!). I loved earning money and doing things on my own. I loved WORKING. By the age of 13, I was babysitting for whole neighborhoods. At 14, I had my real working papers and answered the phone at my parish rectory. By 16-17, I had four jobs on top of school. Oh, and I was president of everything and running all the extracurriculars at my high school. I became a total adrenaline junky. I loved the rush of being busy, I needed it. Rest was for the lazy or un-ambitious. My hard work and leadership were praised by my teachers and managers, I was on top of life. In college, I had to work to live in DC. Rent, car insurance, bills, all had to be earned and paid on time. At 21, I was hired as a contractor on the Hill. Plus school and waitressing, I was busy. I coped with food and coffee as was my MO. I was tired all the time and was emotionally unavailable. This was no way to live, but I hadn’t learned my lesson yet. A few years later, after being laid off, I was enrolled full time in grad school, had two political internships and two waitressing jobs. I WAS A COMPLETE NUT JOB. Life slowed when I graduated and found a full time job, but I needed some serious healing.
Breathing. I don’t think I ever took a breath from age 16 to 25. I swear. I couldn’t relax to do yoga, my head was always going. I just decided slowing down just wasn’t for me. I was in full adrenal fatigue and didn’t know it.
Movement. I waitressed my ass off that’s for sure. But that doesn’t count as a physical outlet when your body needs it. I carried other people’s kids around and hurried from one activity to the next, but that was all done through pure adrenaline. I was in survival mode, not maintenance mode. I never really did anything for the sake of taking care of my body — that was a totally foreign concept. I would even go as far to say that it seemed elitist or excessive to really take care of yourself. But boy did that come back to bite me. While in certain “dieting” phases, I’d hit the treadmill or elliptical for as long as I could stand it — which we know now is NOT good for endocrine healing, BTW.
Relationship with my physical self. When we’re young, we’re stupid right? Hey, I’m only 27, I’m probably doing dumb stuff right now. But I really thought I could MAKE my body do whatever I needed it to do. I found out, it’s really the other way around. You take care of your body, and your dreams can be limitless. It’s really sad to say, but all I “knew” about the body from TV and magazines is if you put less calories in, you’ll get skinnier. HOLY SHIT WAS THAT WRONG.
Toxic environment. This is short and easy. Growing up in the 80s and 90s, I was exposed to lots and lots of plastics and chemicals in the food system. The meats I ate had hormones, I was constantly drinking out of plastic with many kinds of endocrine disruptors like BPA. I used tons of hair and makeup products like any modern girl without a second thought to what was actually in them. This is a huge burden on the body.
[box] How to get an endocrine disorder: eat junk. stress out. don’t breathe. take pills. break out. depression. more pills. coffee. alcohol. coping. adrenal fatigue. crash and burn. plastics. don’t exercise. ignore body. chemical exposure. “diet”. don’t sleep. even more pills. [/box]
Ladies, if you have crazy periods, or guys if you have weird symptoms like heartburn or headaches. LISTEN TO WHAT YOUR BODY IS TELLING YOU. Learn the root cause now.
Consequences of not caring for an endocrine issue include some if not all of these: continued weight gain; infertility; insane moods; bad skin, hair and sleep; diabetes and all its complications; heart disease; cancer; and general misery in life when you should be enjoying it.
Now that I’ve covered how I managed to manifest this lovely endocrine disorder called Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, I’m excited to share with you how much I have improved in my new life and found balance to all of the key points above….coming in the next blog.