With this post, I have zero intention to make light of poly cystic ovarian syndrome, endometriosis, adenomyosis, pituitary failure, hypothalamic amenorrhea, PMS, PMDD, acne, or any other of the myriad of health issues that can befall women. They are not funny. They are not good. They are not easy to handle, not in any sense of the word.
On the other hand, I cannot help my natural born instinct to analyze the Big Picture, and to think about what the glass looks like when it’s half empty.
A lot of health advocates say — and I agree — that most people don’t eat a good diet or try to be healthy simply because they have not been sick enough yet. Unfortunate as this fact may be, we are creatures of complacency and habit. If something is tolerable, we tolerate it. Only when it becomes intolerable do we often do something about it, which is why so many of the paleo dieters out there come from histories of obesity, diabetes, and the like. With rock bottom (though obviously not exclusively) comes great change, of that there can be little doubt.
For this first, simple reason, any health problem can turn out to be a good thing. It can bring you greater wellness in the long run. Awesome.
Yet all health problems demand more than simple hacks when you encounter them in real life. They require listening and troubleshooting and patience and often identity re-formulation. This is made all the more extreme in the case of female health problems such as PCOS, HA, cysts, and the like.
Working with hormones is hard. It’s complex. It’s tricky. It takes a long time. Moreover, hormones play directly into how we feel, who we are, and our fertility and femininity. To that end, suffering through hormone disruption awakens us to the power of these systems. It screams out loud and demands our attention. It makes our bodies so powerful that we cannot ignore them, so important that we must take the time to listen.
I have worked with or shared my PCOS book with thousands of women by this point in my career. Perhaps the hardest, but most beautiful and important, lesson I have learned is that while life has given each of us lemons in this respect, we inevitably always turn physical unrest into margaritas.
When we have problems such as PCOS and HA, the only way through them (naturally, at least) is to listen to our bodies. It is to respect them, to come to understand their complex power and beauty, and to provide them with the nourishment they require. It is to love them, to develop intimacy with them, and to work with them rather than against them. It is to learn what different signals mean, to react to them appropriately, and to constantly be on the alert for new needs, new desires, and new improvements. It is to do our absolute best to heal our bodies in partnership, and to come to greater health, relationality, self-love, and empowered womanhood.
Dealing with the instability of such a complex health issue is not a picnic. I have written extensively on the broken trust and frustration that almost inevitably accompany chronic health problems. But that doesn’t matter. Most of life isn’t a picnic. None of it is about how easy it is. Nothing worthwhile is free. We have to dig our heels in and push most of the time, and even harder for the things that count the most.
“Life is a journey,” they say, and much as I wish this were bullshit, it’s not. PCOS, HA, endometriosis, PMS, PMDD, acne, infertility, miscarriages… these are steps along your journey to greater health, vibrancy, and intimacy with your body. They teach us how to have patience, teach us how to heal, and teach us how to grow. They teach us how to be strong, how to persevere, how to trust our bodies even while our trust has been challenged, and teach us how to love and accept and forgive ourselves above all other things.
I hate my crappy ovaries, but I love them, too, so much. They have taught me how to forgive my body. They have taught me to have sympathy for and forgive my body. They have taught me how to be patient with myself, how to walk gently with my body and with my femininity, and how to accept the things I cannot change. More than anything, too, they have given me the strength and the pride and the allegiance I need to stand up to contemporary body image norms. They have given me a powerful and defiant relationship with my body, and they have put me firmly on the side of love, rather than that of objectification and war.
Sometimes I hate my broken ovaries, but I am so grateful for them, too.