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How I Learned to Love Myself, Even When PCOS Convinced Me I Was Unloveable

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PCOS convinced me that I was unloveable, even before I knew what PCOS even was.

Over the past few years, symptoms started showing up that I thought were all completely unrelated.

When I was in middle and high school, I would look at at models in magazines and wonder, why don’t I fit any of the body types they show? Why do the “curvy” and “plus-size” models still look perfect, but I don’t? How do girls keep their stomachs flat and hair-free? I tried to convince myself it was because of puberty, and that I would grow out of it. I didn’t.

The summer after my freshman year of college, my mental health took a drastic turn for the worse. I started having panic attacks and intrusive thoughts and my anxiety went from being manageable to overwhelming. I chalked it up to the stress and pressure of college, that maybe it would get better once I really got used to college life. It didn’t.

The winter of my junior year, I went to the doctor for my annual exam and found that I had gained some weight in a matter of months. I blamed myself. I should have eaten better. I should have been more active. It was all my fault. Spoiler alert: it wasn’t.

Finally, Mother Nature decided to stop giving me my monthly gifts. I went without a period for seven months before I decided that I should see a doctor. It was only then that I learned about polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). My hormones were all out of balance, which explained the weight gain and the increased abdominal fat and the body hair and the mental health issues and everything.

One would think that a diagnosis would make things better.

It didn’t.

I was angry. I had absolutely no self-confidence. My mental health issues pushed many of my friends out of my life and has made making new friends difficult. I spent so much time trying to better myself and lose the weight, only to find out that weight loss is significantly more difficult with PCOS.

More importantly, at least to me, I felt that no one would ever be able to love me.

I dreamed of falling in love and getting married since I knew what romance even was. I would look through wedding decorations and dresses and videos, imagining what my wedding would be. I was a hopeless romantic, through and through.

But how could someone ever fall in love with someone with PCOS? I couldn’t think of a single good quality of my physical appearance. I was an anxious mess who constantly needed validation. I have a higher risk for health conditions such as diabetes and heart disease and for goodness sake, my chances of ever having a child were slim.

I come with far too much baggage for a single person to handle on a date, much less for the rest of his life.

Now, I wish I could tell you that I found my Prince Charming and that everything has a happy ending, but unfortunately, I cannot.

What I am here to tell you is that no matter what condition you have, the most important thing is to find a way to love yourself first.

I was angry for far too long. In fact, I am still trying to get over some of that anger I have at life for giving me these extra challenges. But staying angry only leads to regrets and more anger, this time at yourself.

You have to learn to accept your condition and you have to learn to love yourself. I like to think that having PCOS may be an extra challenge in life, but it also teaches me that much more and gives me a perspective that I would not have had otherwise. My condition is not who I am, but is a part of my story. The same thing goes for everyone reading this right now.

Naturally, I believe the right person will find you at the right time and will love you for every bit of your perfect imperfect self. They will be willing to work with you and help you manage your condition and find ways to work around any obstacles that might occur (i.e. consider adopting a child). Just remember, they are not the solution.

The absolute most important person to learn to love you, is you.

Once you learn to love yourself, the thought of never finding love will no longer be at the forefront of every thought and instead, you’ll find happiness within yourself where you thought you never would.

Getty Image by Elysart

Originally published: April 10, 2018
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