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When Doctors Brushed Off Concerning Physical Symptoms Because of My Mental Illness

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Recently I was diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). I have been experiencing the symptoms for years, but was largely ignored by doctors. Mostly I tried to ignore it because nobody else was worried about my symptoms.

While I ignored my symptoms, they continued to get worse. My periods became more irregular. Sometimes I wouldn’t experience a period for six months and other times experience one for months straight.

I also had issues with my blood sugar. I now know this is a symptom called insulin resistance. As a busy student, I often skipped meals or ate things that were unhealthy with lots of sugar. There are times I would pass out or get close to it.

Trying to talk to doctors about these symptoms usually got me one of two responses because of my borderline personality disorder diagnosis.

One. I was being dramatic and making a bigger deal out of things than I needed to be. Frankly, they thought I was lying. They may have thought I was trying to get more attention or medication I didn’t need.

Two. I was being anxious. Whatever symptoms I had didn’t actually exist. It was all in my head. This usually meant more psychiatric medication or a referral to a counsellor.

And for a long time, I questioned whether or not I was actually sick. Was it really in my head? Could I just make the symptoms go away with pure force of will?

After Halloween last year, I became extremely ill. I couldn’t sleep, eat or do much of anything without shaking, drinking water excessively or going to the washroom excessively.

I went to the doctor the next day and found out that my insulin levels were far too high. The way I was eating made my blood sugar go very low which is why I would pass or shake so much.

Luckily, PCOS is quite easy for me to manage. All I have to do is eat well and take birth control to level out my hormones. On one hand I’m happy it was such an easy fix for me. On the other hand, I’m angry at my doctors for brushing off symptoms that were scary for me and so easily managed.

Being mentally ill doesn’t mean that I can’t be physically ill as well. It would have saved me a lot of anxiety if this was dealt with sooner.

Getty Image by marzacz

Originally published: July 13, 2018
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