‘I felt sharp, throbbing pains on my ovaries. I was told this was ‘common’ in women. My body completely changed. I was terrified.’: Woman with PCOS details mental health journey, ‘I knew I had to take this seriously’

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“I was first diagnosed with PCOS at the age of 18, when I was living a teenage life with no worries or bills, just simply having fun without any awareness of my diagnosis. I guess I was not worried at first, particularly because my doctor said is was common in women. At that time, I was not prescribed any medications or birth control. However, my body completely changed and I became alertly aware after having my first and only child Amanda in 1993; I was experiencing PCOS symptoms, emotions, and pelvic pain. I knew I had to take this seriously in order to be the best version of myself mentally. I also wanted to be the best example of a happy mom for my baby girl.

After giving life to my child Amanda, I began feeling sharp, intense, throbbing pains on my ovaries both left and right before my menstrual cycle, to the point where my body was in cradle position. What helped relieve my pain was Aleve and a hot pack. But most of the times I just had to wait it out. Not to mention my emotions of anxiety, depression, lack of focus, and my negative self-image. I felt I was heavy and not beautiful anymore. I wanted to sleep all the time, but I was unable to while raising my baby as a single mom.

In 1994, I felt the need to seek help from my gynecologist who then referred me to an endocrinologist for a sonogram of the pelvis and thyroid. The wait for results took a toll on my mental health, as it was the first time in life that I was actually seeing a specialist. When the results of my sonogram came in, I was called in for a follow up with my gynecologist only to hear what actually scared the living daylights out of me. Diagnosis: PCOS and Insulin resistance. Higher testosterone level and 6 fibroids. 1 Thyroid Vascular Nodule.

Courtesy of Delilah Beltran

First thing I thought was cancer. I almost tuned out my gynecologist while she was speaking because I was so shocked and angry. The only things I remember hearing clearly were ‘birth control, metformin, and thyroid Nodule biopsy.’ Later that day, a call from my endocrinologist confirmed my results and an appointment was made.

I was terrified. The ‘why me’ took a toll on me emotionally, but I knew that I had to be stronger and follow my both doctor’s orders. Especially for my growing child. I did not want her to see me in such a sad mental state. I began reading uplifting books and focusing on my health by eating better, staying active, and taking the metformin. I began seeing some weight loss, which made me believe it’s what my body needed for regulation and my insulin resistance diagnosis with PCOS.

Courtesy of Delilah Beltran

The day came for my thyroid needle biopsy and, for the first time, I had my first panic attack. I remember it so clearly. The nurses were guiding me on breathing techniques to keep me calm. I was scheduled for my 9 a.m. which turned into a 10 a.m. due to my panic attack. The nurses were so compassionate and did not leave my side during the procedure. As I continued to take deep breaths in and out with my eyes closed, I could feel the needle jiggle, but I maintained a state of calm with my nurse’s help. Five minutes felt like 20, but it was over and done with.

The wait for my results was frightening, but I was able to keep calm and pray that all will be well. I continued to read a self help book for anxiety: Overcoming Anxiety by Helen Kennerley. This helped me with coping mechanisms. I have to say this book was read all in one week and helped me drastically. But then I realized that I do have an issue with anxiety. Why did I not seek help for that when I began experiencing it? I decided to take the next step to seek help immediately. Raising my daughter all alone with no financial help, working in the medical field, and waiting for my results was not easy to cope with.

I began seeing a therapist, then a physiatrist, and was given some prescriptions for my anxiety attacks. This has helped me be more calm and actually sleep better, without waking up every hour because my thoughts and worries were so uncontrollable. I did not plan to be on these medications for a long time, and it was my goal to find something more natural with continued therapy.

Courtesy of Delilah Beltran

The Thyroid Nodule biopsy results finally came in and I was in the clear! Noncancerous nodule. The endocrinologist told me that we would keep evaluating this every 3-6 months to see if there was any growth. He said not to worry. I kept his words in mind and tried to continue my life with less worry.

Throughout the years, I still experience onset anxiety. I believe it stemmed from my childhood, but I never really paid it any attention because it was not as intense as it has been over recent years. Through reading information on PCOS websites, I’ve learned that anxiety and depression are often part of the diagnosis. Understanding PCOS (like what to avoid and what is healthy for people with PCOS) became an obsession of mine. Joining Facebook communities and following Instagram women with PCOS has made me feel that I am not alone. I support them just as they support me. We are not in this alone. It is a true diagnosis. Sharing my story and finding support has become my ultimate outlet and source of empowerment.

Fact: I have PCOS. I am 1 out of 10. I have learned to accept it and learn from it. I have begun living a healthier, holistic, and active life. Some days are harder than others, but, with the support of these communities, I have become a stronger person. There were moments where I felt as if nobody understand what I was going through. There are ups and downs in my mental health, but I continue. Even at my crying moments or when I feel my self image is not where I want it to be. 

I’ve learned self love and self acceptance throughout my journey as well as self healing. Knowledge is power and self-awareness is vital in anyone’s journey. I started using my page to promote PCOS awareness due to the communities I fell in love with, reading informational books about PCOS and books of self love. Throughout much of my journey, I have gained an enormous amount of self love and the strength to push forward. I decided to share more of my PCOS journey on social media because that is where I learned I was not alone.

I am a PCOS fighter still, but I have learned to not let it take over my emotional state and wellbeing. Life is precious, we have to live each day and make it count even with a fight. I can relate with so many that have this diagnosis and have experienced health scares of their own. I will continue to share my authentic self. To inspire and motivate women like myself. Together we are stronger.”

Courtesy of Delilah Beltran

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Delilah Linn Beltran of New York City, NY. You can follow her journey Instagram. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.

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‘I’m 30 years old, I’ve never had a child, and the first thing they say is, ‘We need to remove something from your body.’ It was completely crazy.’: Woman diagnosed with PCOS, endometriosis determined to conceive through IVF, ‘He gave us back the hope we had lost’

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