Happy Sunday, world!
March marks the halfway point in my 23rd (or technically 24th?) year of being alive, and the 3rd month into 2018. On that, I do know I was meant to document my Joyful January, and got a week in and kinda lost track of scribbling any thoughts down. For the record, I got through 3 weeks of January reading and meditating on God’s joy each day, and then, if I’m honest, life and my health got in the way.
But anyway. I’ve been wanting to write this post for a little while now but wasn’t quite sure what to say. About a month ago, after a series of either missed, seriously late and/or incredibly painful periods I decided to go to the doctors to see if everything was alright. Ever since I can remember, my periods have been horrendous – and anyone who’s known me long enough or lived through it with me will know that around that time of the month, I turn into a bit of a psycho. I’ve been trying to get on the pill for ages, but after being told I was too fat or it was a ‘last resort’, it seemed like it was never going to happen for me. Yet here I am, after what feels like a million blood tests, a fascinating ultrasound scan (ladies – have you ever looked at your uterus? It is SO COOL), and a seriously uncomfortable internal exam, I was called in to the doctors to chat through some abnormal results.
I have polycystic ovary syndrome.
What that means is, I have a hormonal imbalance in my body that will stick around pretty much for the rest of my life. I have too many ‘androgens’ floating about in my system (so basically testosterone), and that’s why my periods are irregular and generally more irritating that they should be (ladies who have heavy periods and don’t have PCOS, I know you’ll understand how annoying they are too!) Too much testosterone also means that I’m susceptible to something called hirsutism which means I get facial hair where it shouldn’t be, my skin is super spotty – and to quote Bridget Jones, “I’ll always be just a little bit fat”. And if you’re wondering, it also means that there’s a chance I might not be able to get pregnant, because I don’t ovulate properly, or sometimes I don’t even ovulate at all. But, I’m not writing this to talk about that, because that’s not really where I am and quite frankly, sorting out my chin-beard is more of a priority for me right now.
I’m writing this post to you, not so that you can have some weird inside knowledge on my life, or so that I get messages saying that you feel sorry for me or that its pretty rubbish – yes, it is pretty rubbish having to spend up to an hour plucking out hair from my face before a night out – I don’t need to hear that. But I am writing this to you as an encouragement, and as something that I needed to hear when I had that chat with my doctor. As brilliant as Christian bloggers can be at times, when I went searching for some encouragement from my fellow online writers, all I found was story after story of how God healed infertility, and how someone who thought they could never have a baby now has a brood of 17 children and happens to be expecting another one. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not discrediting stories like that at all, and if you’re reading this and that’s the situation you’ve found yourself in then please don’t read this as that I don’t care or believe God can get involved in whatever way. It’s just not where I’m at with this, or what I needed to hear in this.
What I wanted to read was someone saying that they completely get the frustration of having spent ages sorting their chin beard out to have it grow back seemingly overnight. Or to be constantly dieting and the weight does not seem to be shifting. To have crazy out of balance moods and expectations of the world because their hormones are out of whack. To be seeking skin treatments from everywhere possible to try and find something that their androgenic friends won’t scare away. What I wanted someone to say, was that despite having polycystic ovaries, I am still beautiful, and I am still just as much of a woman as someone else who doesn’t have PCOS.
I didn’t find that message anywhere. What I should’ve done was go straight to Jesus with it and ask Him for His take on the whole thing. But since having got my diagnosis, and since having taken the time to look for (and having found!) helpful voices or some tips and tricks, I’ve reflected and prayed and asked God to reveal to me what having PCOS can mean for me, not what I worry that it will mean for me.
So here goes.
1. My body is still a temple of the Holy Spirit.
Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honour God with your bodies. – 1 Corinthians 6:19-21 NIV
The English Standard Version (ESV) says: “…so glorify God with your body”.
The Holy Spirit does not shy away from me because I have PCOS. The Holy Spirit doesn’t remove himself from me because my ovaries have extra follicles on them that stop the eggs popping out each month. The Holy Spirit doesn’t recoil in horror at my chin-beard (even though I might/do). I think I’ve almost made my peace with this – and if God can be glorified through my sad ovaries, then so be it. I’m no less loved, or treasured, or gifted from God because of this.
2. I am still fearfully and wonderfully made.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place; when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. – Psalm 139: 14-16 NIV
I don’t really want to go into the whole ‘if God knew about my ovaries, why didn’t he stop it?’ conversation, because that’s not really what I want this to be about either. But what I do want to say is that God’s plan for my life is bigger than spotty skin and too much testosterone. He sees the spots and the surging testosterone and it doesn’t take away from the time and the effort and creativity he had in putting me together. It doesn’t make me a mistake, or ‘wrong’ – I’m not a defect of a woman, even when I feel like I am, and I don’t really think that’s how God wants me to feel either. I’m his, first and foremost, and my frame is just as precious to him now as it was when I was formed in the secret place.
3. I am still beautiful, and I am still a woman (and wannabe woman of God)
She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. – Proverbs 31:25 NIV
The Message Version puts this verse like this:
“Her clothes are well-made and elegant, and she always faces tomorrow with a smile”
Reading that did make me smile a little, because I spent a serious amount of time earlier looking through the ASOS sale (the fact that I don’t really like getting out of my pyjamas at the weekend at all isn’t all that elegant, but you get the idea).
The fact is, when we look over the Bible and particularly at biblical women, there is always something wrong with them – Eve was a sinner; Sarah was barren; Mary Magdalene got about a bit; Mary (as in Jesus’ mum) was too young; Bathsheba was too married and too cheeky having a bath outside apparently; Rahab was too much of a whore – the list goes on. Whatever way we look at it, there’s always going to be something ‘wrong’ with us because of the somewhat ridiculous standards we set ourselves and that which we set for others around us. I’m not perfect, and I’m not going to be – but to join in with the long list (as in, longer than the list I just gave!) of biblical women who all had a defect or two but still got to be a part of God’s story is a privilege. Just like them, I can choose to put on strength and dignity rather than self-doubt and worry about what a ‘real’ woman is and whether I can join in with that.
I’m still working through all of this and I’m going to be trying out the pill (finally, hooray!) pretty soon and seeing where that takes me. But there’s no pill or treatment that can make me feel more womanly or like I fit. I wish there was. Yet there is always the love of those around me, my nearest and dearest as it were and those who look out for me and care about me – you know who you are, and I appreciate and love you more than you know.
And there is always Jesus, and His unfailing love for me.
So, PCOS, take that. You’re not going to take anymore woman out of me.
Get in touch if you want to chat – you know the drill. Praying for all of you ladies who might be on the verge of finding this out or have just found this out for themselves, or who have been living with it for a while. You are amazing.
(and here’s a few sites I actually found helpful!)
Peace and blessings x