PCOS Awareness Month

Don’t be ashamed of your story. It will inspire others.

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September is recognized as PCOS Awareness Month. A rather complex disorder with limited research for its cause and cure, PCOS affects many undiagnosed women.

The awareness of PCOS is not about identifying the disorder but focusing on the advantages of healthy and holistic living, and the impact it has on your quality of life to promote longevity.

I was diagnosed with PCOS at the age of 25. A few days before my 25th birthday, a cyst in my ovary ruptured causing extreme pelvic pain and hemorrhaging. I was unaware of what was happening and let it persist until I woke up on my birthday and realized I was forming blood clots. After speaking with my sisters in a state of panic, they told me to go to the ER and so I did. And on my 25th birthday, I spent 5 hours in the ER, received a referral to a GYN and was diagnosed two weeks later after blood work.

What is PCOS?

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a genetic, hormone, metabolic, and reproductive disorder that affects 1-in-10 women. It is known as the leading cause of female infertility. Currently, the cause is unknown and there is no cure for this disorder. With an overproduction of male sex hormones, the common signs and symptoms can destroy any woman’s self-esteem.

common signs and symptoms:

Irregular periods

Excess facial and body hair

Severe acne

Small cysts in ovaries

Insulin Resistance

Anxiety and depression

Infertility

Weight gain

Male pattern hair loss

But wait, there’s more! If the symptoms are not bad enough, the lifelong conditions that may develop from PCOS are even worse.

These conditions include:

Severe anxiety and depression

Obesity

Endometrial cancer

Type 2 diabetes

Liver disease

Cardiovascular disease

But there is good news…

With the proper attention to your overall health, PCOS can be managed and I am living testament of that! Thankfully, my symptoms are not as severe as other women I have come across with the disorder. But this was not always the case. When I was first diagnosed, the main symptoms I suffered from was severe acne and weight gain. The doctor suggested that I start taking birth control and it helped me lose weight, but the acne remained, and the birth control had a ripple effect of new complications, so I decided to stop using it. Instead I started researching other alternative methods. By changing my diet, replacing dairy milk with almond or oat milk, regularly taking vitamins, and creating an active routine of regular exercise, I started noticing positive changes in my symptoms. As for my acne, I am very particular about my skin care routine and have spent years researching my skin type and the appropriate products to use for my acne prone skin.

Here are some ways to manage PCOS naturally:
Change your diet.

Some tips may include eating whole foods, balancing your carbs and protein intake, and eating foods that are natural anti-inflammatories. PS. Dairy is not your friend. It causes major inflammation.

Take your supplements.
Some supplements to consider:

Inositol- may help improve insulin resistance and infertility.

Cinnamon- also may help improve insulin resistance and regulate menstruation

Turmeric- serves as an anti-inflammatory

Maca Root- can boost fertility and libido by balancing hormone levels

Ashwagandha- balances cortisol levels which could improve stress and other symptoms of PCOS

Balanced exercise.

Exercise can help you maintain a healthy weight which may alleviate symptoms of PCOS. But too much exercise or strenuous exercise can disrupt your hormones. Some exercises to consider is low impact ones such as yoga, swimming, and light aerobics. High intensity interval training may be helpful as well.

Make sleep a priority.

No sleep = higher stress levels, which is no good for PCOS. Sleep disturbances are more common for women with PCOS, says the woman who could not sleep for 28 straight hours once. To help with this, I have made my sleep routine a priority. I try to aim for 7-8 hours of sleep per night and I try to wind down for bed no later than 8:30 pm (yes, I need that much time). I also take a warm shower beforehand, drink calming tea, and use a salt lamp and a diffuser by my bed. Lastly, no caffeine past 2 pm!!

Stress Reduction.

Reducing stress helps balances cortisol levels, which in turn, helps alleviate PCOS symptoms. Consider nature walks and yoga for reducing your stress levels. Also, there are other alternative methods such as acupuncture and reiki that may help reduce stress levels. Set time aside intentionally for your self-care.

There may not be a cure but with a healthy, balanced lifestyle, you can manage PCOS effectively and live a fulfilling life. But you still may have some questions…

Does PCOS go away?

Unfortunately, no. It is a lifelong condition, even if symptoms lessen over the years.

Can a woman with PCOS get pregnant naturally?

Yes, with proper health and weight management. Plenty of women with PCOS have carried pregnancies successfully and without any fertility treatments.

Can you use laser hair removal for the excessive facial hair?

There is no concrete answer for this one. It helps some women and others spend the money with little results. Laser hair removal may not leave you completely hairless, but it will decrease the amount of hair.

Male pattern hair loss??!

Yes, thinning of the hair will occur. You can try using hair products with black castor oil or adding flaxseed into your diet for the promotion of hair growth.

Does PCOS really cause anxiety and depression?

Absolutely, mainly because this is a hormonal condition. Hormone levels are all out of whack and certain neurotransmitters are blocked. Pair that with the insulin resistance and unstable sugar levels, cue the mood swings, anxiety, and depression. It is a recipe for disaster, trust me. More reason to focus on your physical and mental health.

If you are suffering from PCOS, I hope you found this post useful and informational. If you feel you may have PCOS, please get checked out immediately. It is better to know and find solutions on how to manage it, rather than prolong the effects. And if you would like to use any of the tips above, always, always, ALWAYS check with your physician first. I am not a doctor ya’ll! Sending you all lots of love! If you have any questions regarding this post or suggestions for future topics, don’t be a stranger 😊

Mother’s Day: This Day is for You Too.

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle.”

Plato

I look inside our bedroom…

and draw my attention to the bed I made this morning. It was the first thing I did…after I sobbed upon waking up. I told myself that if I do not accomplish anything else today, at least I accomplished that.

Mother’s Day is a particularly rough day for me. Has been for years. With a strained relationship with my own mother since the age of 9, I struggled celebrating with loving intent and honor. But when you lose your own child, that initial pain transforms into a pain that feels unbearable to carry at times. With the loss of my baby last year, every holiday serve as a painful reminder, no matter how much I try to convince myself that I have come to terms and accepted it.

Funny enough, or maybe not funny at all, I almost forgot about Mother’s Day this year. Every month I organize my dry erase calendar, adding important reminders to the days of the month. When I organized the calendar this month, it did not even cross my mind. I honestly did not realize Mother’s Day was approaching until last week. I guess it makes sense in a way. How the subconscious tries to protect you from the pain lying dormant, deep within. Even after my realization that Mother’s Day was approaching, I felt fine. Realistically, most days I feel fine, even with the thought of my baby crossing my mind daily. I really thought I would be fine today.

What I forgot is grief has no expiration date.

I forgot that some days are much harder than others to operate ‘normally’ in society. I forgot how lonely it can feel in the isolation of pain, especially when it comes to loss. I understand the discomfort people feel with this topic. I understand the dismissiveness. The lack of compassion and understanding. I get it. Because unless you experience something like this, you truly do not understand the weight of this pain. How it sneaks up on you in the most inconvenient times, or especially in my case, on holidays when I should be celebrating instead of grieving. And I think the scariest part of all, is realizing that this pain may never go away. It does not get easier, no matter how much you try to adapt.

As my heart breaks with every word I type within this post, I do not ask for pity. I do not even ask for sympathy. Let this serve as a gentle reminder to give those who are grieving today a little extra love and care. Check up on them. Let them know that you are thinking of them. Praying for them. That they have a shoulder to lean on during this difficult time.

I think the biggest misconception people have…

is that it is better to remain silent when it comes to a loss like this. I am here to tell you it is not better. Do not be afraid to wish a bereaved mother a Happy Mother’s Day. Do not be afraid to contact the daughter or son who has lost her mother. Do not be afraid to send love to a woman who yearns to be a mother but has not been granted the opportunity. A person who yearns for a relationship with their own mother. Small acts of kindness such as this shows that you see this person and their pain. That they are not alone. That their pain is valid and acknowledged. For me, it means more than any of you could ever possibly know. The greatest gift that could be given to me from a loved one today is to honor the memory of my child along with me. Thank you to those who have contacted me with kind and loving words. I know I have not responded…but I will. Thank you for granting me time and space today and for not taking my distance personally.

To all of you experiencing pain and sorrow today, I am here. You are not alone. I see your pain and I am thinking of you.  It is okay to acknowledge your own pain and process it however your spirit sees fit. And know that when you are ready, you will find many reasons to celebrate and cherish a day like today. Rather than focusing on the entire day, I am going to take it hour by hour, minute by minute, and celebrate the small wins. I guess I have just accomplished something else today. Sending so much love to all the mothers and to those who may need it today. Happy Mother’s Day to all.

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Approaching 30…send help.

“you have outgrown this skin. stop trying to hold it in. stop trying to hold it together. let yourself break.”  ― AVA., you are safe here.

When I was younger, I was positive that I would have it all figured out by the time I hit 30. I was going to be married, with kids, have my own home, take family vacations at least once a year, and thrive in a career I absolutely loved. As I am currently in the last 5 months of my 29th year, I laugh hysterically at the idea. And then I cry. And then I get annoyed with myself for being so damn emotional. You think you have a certain plan for yourself and you believe you can execute that plan flawlessly. In that moment, you become so comfortable with your life. Plot twist: life senses the complacency and laughs in your face while throwing a slew of obstacles and curve balls. And in this moment, you have a decision to make…do you sink or swim? I’m a magician- I’ve done both this year. Everyday feels like a struggle to swim to the surface, gasping for air…reaching for land. At 29 years old, nothing makes sense. And at some point, I’ve stop looking for explanations. I just…live.

My 28th year was AMAZING. It was a happy time in my life filled with travel, brunch/dinner dates, new friends, new higher paying job, and a WHOLE engagement. I thought “Wow, can it get any better?” I thought for sure the next year would be even greater with all of the blessings that had been bestowed upon me. New Year’s came along… and I don’t know, I didn’t feel excited. There was a sense of dread and urgency in it. In hindsight, maybe it was my intuition mentally preparing me for what was to come.

My 29th birthday in January was the first one I couldn’t afford to travel anywhere, and I’ll admit this bummed me out to a certain degree. But I also had some pretty amazing friends who threw me a surprise party. I quickly realized how spoiled I was and to stop being ungrateful. Trust me, I put myself in check, A LOT. I’m human… Shortly after my birthday, in February, I found out I was pregnant and no, it was not planned. The thought of carrying a child scared the shit out of me. I was in the midst of planning a wedding. I had more travel plans. Financially, I wasn’t where I wanted to be. I had to change my whole lifestyle and I don’t think I was ready. After a few days of initial shock, I accepted it. I told very few people because of obvious reasons- it’s usually best to save announcements after the first trimester since it’s high risk. I prepared for this life change and even got in contact with a realtor to look into buying a house. I wanted my baby to have an environment that he or she could thrive in and have a happy childhood. In March, I went to my first sonogram and found out the baby was abnormal and I would miscarry soon unless I have surgery to physically remove it. And so I did…and then I barricaded myself in the house for weeks. Ashamed, grieving, and self loathing. I still blame myself. There’s not much anyone can say to make me feel better about the situation and NOT blame myself. It’s a harsh realization I’ve come to- I simply need time. I never did follow through with the home buying process. (For anyone who wants to read more about this, check out my post https://angiesoul.home.blog/2019/04/24/my-heart-stopped-the-moment-i-found-out-yours-did/).

Upon my return to work in late March, I’ve noticed a change in my boss’s behavior. Quite frankly, she has made my life at work a living HELL for the past 4 months. Still holding strong until a better opportunity comes along, but it does mentally take a toll on me. We spend so much of our time at work, you know? And constant negativity, day in and day out, is just draining. This situation has caused my anxiety to get worse. Some nights I can’t sleep just because of the dread for the upcoming work day. Sunday nights are the worst. I take it all as it comes because honestly, I have no other choice. Each day completed is a personal victory. (For anyone who would like to read more about this, check out my post https://angiesoul.home.blog/2019/05/29/lost-com/).

In June, a friend of 7 years, decided that we were not friends anymore. There was no real reason behind it. She claimed she felt like this for a while and that we were just going ‘in two separate directions.’ That was heartbreaking. Extremely unexpected. I never saw it coming and in some way, I felt betrayed. She decided upon herself, that OUR friendship was over and didn’t even bother giving it an opportunity to work itself out. With everything I have gone up until this point, my response to her was “I see.” I was stunned. I didn’t have the energy to address it or ask for an explanation. I accepted it and let go.

This year has felt incredibly lonely. People have faded out of my life, friends and family. It feels like I’ve lost a great deal. During this process of healing, I have isolated myself. I have cried more days than I can keep track of. I’ve been angry and confused. I have not been very lovable, and some days I’m not even tolerable. It’s difficult to sit in your pain and accept that there is not much you can do to relieve it. I mean, I try. I eat healthier. I exercise. Meditate. Journal. Paint. Bubble baths with bath salts, heavy on the essential oils. Spend time outside. Hell, I even started a blog in April; a canvas to pour my feelings into. I try it allllll 😀 A lot of the time, especially as of late, I shut off my emotions, merely for survival. Because it’s easier to bury the pain. But when it comes up…man, it’s heart-wrenching and it knocks the wind out of me. In those moments, I just sit with it. Wait it out like it’s a passing storm with its roaring thunder and lightning that illuminates the night sky. Not all days are bad. Some days I am vibrating so high that it seems like I’m glowing; I physically see it. When those days come around, I cherish it. It’s a nice reminder that eventually I will be okay. I might even be…happy lol like on the regular?? What a thought! Until then, I am patient. Patient with the process. Patient with myself. I’ve learned to find the beauty in each day, no matter how minuscule it may be. And as I am writing this, the song ‘Beauty Hurts’ by Jack Be pops up on Spotify. Ironic. I’m back to my travel plans kicking off with Hawaii next month. Super looking forward to that! I’m back to planning the wedding; the venue is booked 🙂 details will come soon. I’ll be looking into therapy; I think it’s safe to say I need it. I continue to push myself out of my comfort zone by being openly vulnerable and being unapologetic about it! Throughout the year, I have felt like I was being punished by the universe. My faith with God has wavered. All of this time I have looked at this year as a conspiracy. A ploy to guarantee my own failure. Realistically, it’s the opposite. I’ve been stripped down to my very core, have shed many layers. It’s a new start. A caterpillar transitioning to a butterfly. As my 29th year begins to approach an end, I’m in awe of myself and my resiliency. I don’t give myself enough credit. I look forward to a new chapter and I welcome a new decade with open arms. If you currently feel like you’re failing at life, or nothing seems to be in your favor, just hold tight. It just might be a blessing in disguise. I’m patiently waiting for mine. And when that day comes, when it all finally makes sense, I’ll be sure to share. Stay easy, friends.

My Heart Stopped the Moment I Found out Yours Did…

“There is a unique pain that comes from preparing a place in your heart for a child that never comes.” – David Platt

The most difficult burden I have ever endured is the loss of my child. The most hardening and possibly the loneliest part of this burden, is the disappointing fact that I suffer in silence. Because God forbid I place that burden on others. God forbid I place a dark cloud over their day, even if it’s just for a brief moment.

This experience as shown me the ugliest parts of “humanity.” The way people overlook and ignore my grief. I had a missed miscarriage, and somehow people feel that my grief is not valid. The way people get so uncomfortable that they think it is acceptable to change the subject. Because they lack the “proper” words to say to me. Or maybe because their responses can be so cold, it’s enough to break your heart repeatedly in a split second. I’ve been told that it was not even a “baby” yet. I’ve been told that I can always try again. I’ve been told that at least I am capable of becoming pregnant. Or my personal favorite, (rolls eyes), “Everything happens for a reason.” Lol. Are you kidding me? I feel SO much better now, thank you! That amount of pain in such a short period of time after hearing responses like this…I would never wish that on anyone. I try to keep my composure when I hear things like this. I might even agree at the moment, when honestly, I just want to rip the person’s head off with my bare hands. I would never wish this on anyone. I pray no one experiences what I have experienced. But unfortunately, it happens so often. 1 in 4 women to be exact, according to various statistics. Yet, it is still considered taboo…in 2019…mind blowing. And women around the world are forced to suffer in silence as they question their self worth, unable to do the one thing a woman’s body was created to do.

Yesterday, I would have been 14 weeks. I would have been announcing my healthy pregnancy. I would have been planning a gender reveal. My belly would have been growing at a rapid rate. I would have felt my baby move. I would have talked to my belly. Put headphones to my belly just to see how my precious baby would have reacted to different genres of music. All of this would have happened in a perfect world. But instead, I was at my annual exam discussing birth control because I am not ready to try again. Because the fear of experiencing this again is crippling. Because I wish I could just move one from this and continue to live my life. It’s surreal. Sometimes I forget, and I’m okay. And other times, I am reminded. Scrolling through my timeline and I come across a video of a gender reveal. Shit. Fulfilling my HR duties and sending a staff announcement to congratulate a couple on their new addition to the family. Here comes the waterworks. A day in the park, as the children carelessly run and laugh with joy. My heart. A celebration of a 1st birthday party. What an amazing blessing. I am constantly reminded and it feels as if the wind is knocked out of me. Every. Single. Time. But I should just “get over it,” right?

I’ve been through some pretty difficult times in my life and I usually overcome them. I suppose this situation should be no different. But it hurts different. It changes the very core of who you are. It questions your faith, your existence, and your reasoning for all things. I’m not sure if I will ever get over it. I’m not sure if I ever want to forget. What I do know is that I will continue to spread awareness. For the women who can’t speak up. For the women who feel alone. For the women who is currently going through this horrible situation brought on by unfortunate circumstances, with no control or choice. For all of the people who think this is easy, simply because they judge what they do not understand. Because it matters. Whether it was a miscarriage or a stillbirth, it matters. PREGNANCY LOSS MATTERS. My baby mattered. And I will grieve for however long it takes. I will not apologize for it. I will always talk about it. I will never stop caring. NEVER. My grief is valid. Women, our grief is valid. And I am so sorry that we have to deal with the stigma and cruelty from our peers. I pray there are better days ahead of us. I pray there is life after death. I pray that we find ways to heal. Ways to honor our babies. We don’t have to be alone in this.

I refuse to suffer in silence.