What we see in the mirror isn’t always what other people see.
Most people know this.
Some people are vocal about the varying degrees of body issues, how it affects them and how they see themselves.
Others are not.
I’ve had varying views of myself, each of which have become more and more ingrained as I’ve gotten older.
1989. I was three. My cousin Catherine is 3 years older than me and we were practically the same size. We were/are still incredibly cute.
Anyway, I never really understood why I had to be the one to grow insanely tall. By 5th grade, I wore the same size clothes and shoes as my mom and was nearly the same height. Getting teased about my height has always been something I’ve encountered, even now at 27. “Wow you’re so tall.” is something I get more often than I’d like to admit. It’s one of those comments that you don’t really know how to react to because it’s not like you don’t know how tall you are, but you don’t want to be rude.
I still don’t really know why I grew so fast. I guess my body knew it was meant for big things? Growing that fast hurts, literally. Growth spurts, growing pains, all those things people talk about are real things. My joints ached, my body hurt so bad I could barely walk at times and there were many years of just general discomfort. I still have a lot of those same pains, partly due to so many injuries, which can come from growing so fast. My limbs are extra bendy and like to sprain themselves or dislocate for fun. Luckily not as often as when I was still playing sports, but often enough that it’s annoying. Either way, I have always had an issue with my height. Sometimes I feel like I’m too tall, sometimes like I’m not tall enough. No matter, it’s always been a struggle. In addition to my height, I have shoulders like a lineman, calves for DAYS that never fit in pants or boots and big feet. I don’t like it, I still struggle with how I look a lot, and like most, have good and bad days. A lot of how I view(ed) myself comes from a feeling of inadequacy, something that haunts me even still. I’ve never felt good enough. I used those feelings to drive myself deeper into sports, practicing longer and harder than my teammates, measuring success anyway I could until I would get hurt. Without that to identify with any more, I don’t feel whole, and that inadequacy comes sneaking back in. I beat myself up for a lot that I shouldn’t, but I’ll never really say what or when. Just know that it’s a lot. Like, a lot a lot.
Fast forward through puberty when things didn’t seem to be going like other girls I knew, if you get my drift. Everything odd with my body was blamed on the fact that I “was an athlete” and the constant practice and exercise was affecting how my body was developing and cycling away. Okay, that’s fine, no 15 year old wants to have her period anyway. As I got older, especially after I stopped competing when I was 21, I knew something was up. My body was not doing what it should, what it should self-regulate to do after a decrease in strenuous activity, something wasn’t right.
Go to the doctor, right?
I was 24 and no longer covered under my mom’s insurance. HOORAY. So let’s fast forward again, after college when I was employed at a (terrible) place that offered insurance. As soon as my insurance papers were turned in, I started researching local doctors because I had to find out what was wrong. During that last fast forwarding, I researched different things that could be wrong with me, scaring the bejesus out of myself in the process. I scheduled my physical and waited what seemed like forever until the appointment.
My doctor is amazing, and upon hearing the details of how things had never really be consistent and what I had been told (the athlete comment), she wanted to run a wider scope on my blood panel and see if that would tell us what was going on. Well, it didn’t. Along with the fact that I’ve never really been able to lose weight, she was tipped off by my slightly off cholesterol levels and high triglycerides. She explained what she thought it might be, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. I had seen this diagnosis thrown around when I was looking things up, but steered away from it because I didn’t have a lot of the outward symptoms (Mayo Clinic description). She requested that I get a pelvic ultrasound (ugh) to see if that could tell us anything about the state of my ovaries.
It did. When I got up from the chair, the screen was still up and I saw a version of this:
I knew exactly what that meant.
Here’s some reference for you healthy ovary folks or the ovary-less:
This post is getting insanely long, so I’m going to stop here, because I think it’s a good stopping point, and I need to get back to work. I’ll add to this soon, probably in a second post, because there was a lot that came with finally being diagnosed.