Guest post by Shelby Eckard
Being diagnosed with PCOS can be an overwhelming experience. With the disorder affecting so many aspects of our lives, it can feel isolating and scary. It’s very easy to slip into a negative head space. Staying in a confident and productive mindset can be done.
Here are my favorite tips to keeping the positive outlook despite your diagnosis:
Find Support– It is very easy to feel alone when diagnosed. With PCOS being greatly underdiagnosed and vastly misunderstood by even healthcare providers, it can leave you feeling like you are drowning. Seek out support. PCOS affects 1 in 10 women, possibly more- but most don’t know how common it is. Seek out support in forums and online communities. Take to social media and find other women sharing their stories. Contact a PCOS non-profit, who often have built in support communities. Although PCOS affects each woman differently and at different stages of life, there are worlds of support and community out there. You don’t have to face your struggles alone.
Be patient but persistent– After diagnosis, you can feel lost. I found myself saying, “Now what?” With the lack of resources and differing opinions within the healthcare community and beyond, I felt frustrated and eager to find answers. When you are given a perceived problem, we often want to ‘fix’ it-fast. However, it is not that simple. PCOS affects multiple aspects of your health and fixing one thing is often not the end all solution. It is important to be patient. Unfortunately, being a condition that affects many aspects of your health, it can take time to find what treatment is best for you and your life. But as a patient, you need to be your own health advocate and be persistent in receiving appropriate care and treatment for whatever you are dealing with.
Don’t forget to care for your emotional and mental health– It is very easy to focus on the physical health issues that may come along with PCOS- but we often neglect the other important components that create a complete health care plan. Losing weight and lowering BMI can do great things for your health, but if you are neglecting that uncontrolled anxiety or battling the demons of body image issues, your health can still feel out of control. Losing weight and lowering numbers are often important, but so is treating your mind and heart. I suggest valuing your mental and emotional health on the same level as your regular physical health.
Practice self-forgiveness- You have to just forgive yourself. So you’re 60 lbs heavier than you were on your wedding day? So you ate a whole pizza and drank a whole bottle of wine last night because they killed McDreamy on Grey’s? It happens. Everyone struggles. Everyone falls down. It’s not the falling down and failing and binge eating cheeseballs that makes it a failure. You’re human. Welcome to the club. There’s like, 7 billion of us. The failure comes in not getting back up. Wake up the next day, get your butt to the gym or get to the grocery store or quit rescheduling that doctor’s appointment you’re afraid to go to. Just keep going. And if you get stuck, find help to get you unstuck. We are not meant to be perfect. We are meant to be flawed, so quit beating yourself up and focus on your next step. Take it one day at a time.
Practice self-love- You have PCOS. So what? PCOS sucks, but you don’t have to. Your diagnosis doesn’t define you. Start with self-love. Loving yourself is not easy. Whoever says it is, is a liar. It’s a deliberate decision. And you have to work at it every day. And hating yourself is exhausting. But confidence is a decision, made daily. It’s not always an easy one-but a worthy one.
These tips are just a starting point to deciding to live positively with PCOS. We all have to find our own way to maintain a healthy lifestyle and mindset- and that looks a little bit different for everyone. Just remember your journey is your own. Stop comparing it to others. That is the first step to failure. I promise you.
You can survive. You can overcome. You can live life fully.
Shelby Eckard is a blogger, health and fitness coach, social media manager and advocate for women with PCOS. She has written for Huffington Post, The Mighty and Ravishly, discussing her journey to self-love and living positively despite her PCOS diagnosis. She is passionate in creating a community of women who empower and encourage each other to make positive change.