H E L L O E V E R Y O N E! I’ve just finished my last exam for this semester and I am so relieved to have completed this first semester back at university. It’s been two years since I was last … Continue reading One Semester Closer!
I always seem to write on this blog when there is something else that I should be doing. Tonight, (this morning, idk.. it’s 1:28am) I should be working on my other blog, the “real one”, the blog I’ve been putting at least 60% of my brain towards (of that 10% of our brains that we actually use). I should also be sleeping as my mom just texted me from one room away to say. I’ve got a safety at sea course tomorrow morning but for now, I just want to say a little something about goals.
Not the football/Waterpolo ones. The ones that we neglect because we do not have sufficient time. Or the ones we pursue for a while, then lay to rest. You know them, you have those goals too. For me, those goals are simple: sail and travel. However, like most of us, I was having trouble making them a reality. (Read: things take time)
Anyway! Thanks to Tumblr pictures of cute bedrooms and DIY projects, I felt compelled to ‘decorate’ my room a few years ago. I got some pictures printed and strung up with cord and clothespins (It’s a thing). Then I went a bit further. I created a stencil and decided that I put one of my favourite quotes on the wall. The plan was to use some of those Tumblr photos that I printed and to cut the letters out of them.
Said quote was one of my favourites, here it is:
“Though my soul may set in darkness, it will rise in perfect light;
I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night.”
It is from Sarah William’s book Twilight Hours. I’ve never read the book but this quote was on every third teenager’s Tumblr page at the time. You see, I’ve discovered that I’m what one would describe as a “Highly Sensitive Person”. That would take two years worth of blogging at this pace to properly explain. However, what you get from it at face value shouldn’t be too far off.
I ran to my parent’s room when I had nightmares well into my twenties. If I have one in a week’s time, I’d do no different. The things that my mind conjures, along with PTSD from a gun robbery and anther incident I’m not yet ready to share, plus (less so now) crippling anxiety, often leaves me stunned. Bad dreams are one thing but waking up in the middle of an anxiety attack which then continues… WTF!?!
Yet, on the other hand, I have sailed under new moon skies. I have seen more than one hundred shooting stars in a single night. I have watched the moon rise and set and now I’m left with seemingly endless mental photo albums of magnificent nights.
So, it perplexed me that that which would bring me so much joy would also bring me, abundant terror. (I was a couple years younger, now I understand that this is how life works… what fills you also hurts you). As such, I decided that this quote would hang above my bed.
Only, even after stencilling and cutting out all of the letters, I didn’t get the exact clothespins I wanted to hang up the quote. In the meanwhile, I did a different project. It’s been four years now but I remember it so well. I decided that I’d stick one word onto my walls. I cut it out, like the others from the pictures. Then I rolled some tape and stuck the letters in as close to a straight line as possible without being certain (and you know, measuring!)
I didn’t realise and it wasn’t my intention but that one word was the first thing I’d see when entering my room. It was at one of the highest points of my room. It was neat and beautifully done. It was a simple word with nothing explanatory to assist. Depending on how I rearranged the furniture in my room, it would be directly above or opposite my bed. In some ways, it “became a piece of the furniture” and I didn’t really notice it anymore.
Then, this summer, in late June I moved back to Trinidad from France where I’d spent the last nine months. Upon arriving home and walking into my room, I instantly saw the six letters and was immediately overcome with gratefulness and a sense of realisation.
There are these things called “vision boards”. I don’t know if they’re a new thing, or if they’ve been around since the hippie days. In any case, they are boards or pages where you put words, photos, clippings, stickers, etc. of things you want to achieve. They’re all the rage! Beach bum, hippie that I am, I still never managed to make one myself. In fact, they’re one of those “hippie things” which make me so uncomfortable. They’re usually accompanied by quotes or statements from people who used vision boards to achieve their goals large and small alike.
I suppose this is the part in which I apologise to the people I’ve silently judged in the past.
My word was “travel“.
To be clear, I’ve been travelling since I was six months old. However, since putting up this word on my walls three years ago, I’ve experienced the world and life through travelling in a manner beyond my dreams. I’ve lived, studied and worked abroad for the better part of the last three years. I won scholarships, I met amazing people, fell in love with cities and I experienced life richly.
I think it would be foolish to say that somehow, even if subconsciously, reading and seeing that word every day didn’t impact my life. So now, I’m going to put a new word on my mind. I’ve travelled, now my plan has come to fruition. I have an old goal that I’d like to achieve in 2020.
I think it should get a spot on the wall.
What’s your “goal”? Do you have a vision board? Do you believe that these things work?
Let me know down below.
I have hair on my chin. No, not fine and fair baby hair. I have actual hair on my chin. And my jawline. And I could grow a beard if I wanted.
PCOS a.k.a. Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, a.k.a ‘root of 50% of my problems’ is the bane of my existence.
What is PCOS?
Well, it is a hormone imbalance that affects females during their reproductive years. You can read more about it over here. I don’t feel like explaining, I’d much rather complain. Maybe there is someone else out there with the same problem. In fact, I know that there are others out there. About 12% of women have PCOS.
You’d think with approximately 12% of women having this problem, that there would be some sort of, I don’t know, appropriate treatment, a solution perhaps. Well, wrong. No. There isn’t.
When you’re finally done the run around between doctors and specialists and blood test labs, oh! and that one GP who DOES NOT KNOW HOW TO READ THE TEST RESULTS (so many women have this experience it is not even remotely funny), the doctor, most likely a gynecologist, will confirm what you’ve been suspicious of for the last couple of years.
Hooray!!! You have PCOS!
Your next conversation will be the one in which you’re offered birth control pills. You’ll ask them to explain this suggestion. They’d say that it doesn’t actually deal directly with the problem BUT you’ll bleed once a month so you don’t end up with endometrial cancer down the road. Maybe you’ll take it, maybe you won’t. At this point, you’ve probably already read endless reports which confirm that all of the infertility problems associated with PCOS will show up the second you’d like to get pregnant and so stop taking the birth control. Maybe you don’t want to be pregnant anyway so you take the pill.
Oh right, I didn’t want to explain the whole PCOS thing because I just wanted to complain. Yikes! Because now you don’t really know the complications of what I’m talking about. Ugghhh! Start from the beginning Rushell, start from the beginning!
Okies, here are some of the most common symptoms:
- Irregular periods. A lack of ovulation prevents the uterine lining from shedding every month. Some women with PCOS get fewer than eight periods a year.
- Heavy bleeding. The uterine lining builds up for a longer period of time, so the periods you do get can be heavier than normal.
- Hair growth. More than 70 percent of women with this condition grow hair on their face and body — including on their back, belly, and chest.
- Acne. Male hormones can make the skin oilier than usual and cause breakouts on areas like the face, chest, and upper back.
- Weight gain. Up to 80 percent of women with PCOS are overweight or obese.
- Male-pattern baldness. The hair on the scalp gets thinner and fall out.
- Darkening of the skin. Dark patches of skin can form in body creases like those on the neck, in the groin, and under the breasts.
- Headaches. Hormone changes can trigger headaches in some women.
Sounds great right? This isn’t cancer, nor is it anything that has you in constant pain. However, it disrupts your life in so many ways. Of the eight symptoms listed above, I’ve got five. Plus there is the depression, anxiety and poor sleep quality (many people also have sleep apnea- I’ve never checked).
Up to two weeks ago, I was “overweight” like 80% of women with PCOS. I try so freaking hard to eat well, reduce and limit my sugar, and to exercise frequently. I was 198lbs at my heaviest weight (maybe more but I avoided the scale so, that’s the highest that I have recorded). I’m now under 165lbs. Guess what’s changed? … That’s right, nothing.
In fact, the older I get, it seems to be the worse I sleep and the more hair I have on my face. Oh, and umm where are my periods?? Is it even a period if I bleed for one month straight or is that just a prolonged period of bleeding?
Once while living in Montreal, I walked 2 km from the uni library to my home in -15C. I was wearing gym shorts and a jacket. It was at 2 am. Why were those guys pulling up next to me on the sidewalk offering me to hop in? That’s because the period which hadn’t shown up in heaven knows how many months, appeared miraculously. Not only did it appear but it decided to gush out of me. Goodbye, 2nd favourite jeans. Thank you emergency pads, you’ve been rendered useless. Sorry, library chair. Oops, I couldn’t even call a taxi because I couldn’t sit anywhere in that state. So, that’s the night PCOS had the men of Montreal thinking that I was a “working girl”.
Then there are the regular days. The days when after sleeping poorly, I go brush my teeth and look into the mirror. I’m greeted by a hairy chin. A beard in fact. A freaking beard that I plucked out with a tweezer, just two days ago. If there is enough time, I’ll tweeze it all over again. If not, I go through my day with endless stares, a couple comments, and a truckload of false confidence which I think just makes me feel even worse about myself. On days like today, when I can’t find the freaking truckload of confidence I just end up crying in public. Random people approaching me to talk about my facial hair, as if I didn’t realise it was there, just takes it out of me.
I feel so self-conscious.
I don’t even want to go out. On weekends I work at a farmers’ market and from Wednesday I begin feeling anxious. Yes, yes, it’s purely cosmetic, this part of it. In fact, I’m going to start laser treatment soon. BUT (and there is always a but) laser isn’t that great for people with PCOS. In fact, when you’re going to do laser hair removal treatment, they let you know that if you have any hormonal change (pregnancy, menopause, etc.), the hair can/will come back. Darling, PCOS is hormonal changes. So, like many others have experienced, I could do a course of 12 treatments, then end up with a beard again seven months later 🙂
I could also take medication to reduce the androgens in my body, you know, all of the testosterone and friends which are causing all of this hair. Yea, my doctor told me about it. She also told me that if I accidentally get pregnant while on that medication, it would lead to the feminisation of male embryos… read that again. WHUTTTTTT???!!!! My doctor explained that this could result in a baby girl (based on the expressed genitals) who was originally a boy. Or, a baby boy, who grows to experience the development of breasts, or a sense that he is a girl. (Aside: Think again about your stance and feelings towards trans people.)
I hadn’t yet had sex at that point. Yet I still could not imagine myself putting another human being through that experience ‘just so that I wouldn’t have hair on my face‘. I barely had two seconds to contemplate before my doctor continued and said that she would not be helping to terminate such a pregnancy if it occurred.
There’s something else! I could take drugs for Type 2 diabetes patients. For the rest of my child producing years. It’ll help me lose weight, make me more responsive to insulin (currently resistant) but I’ll also be taking it indefinitely for three times a day, (if I don’t throw them up) with lots of hope and side effects. This is “great” because I won’t end up with diabetes but, I’ll be taking the meds just as well.
Oh and if I go back to my pre-PCOS diagnosis dream of wanting eight children, then, I can take another drug that women with PCOS use in attempts to having biological children. It’s called Clomiphene and it would be very likely that I have all eight of those children in just two high-risk pregnancies.
Eventually, all of this got me beyond frustrated. I decided, screw this, I don’t want children, I don’t want a period, I just want this to be done and over with. I want a hysterectomy. Long story short, I didn’t get it. I am young and haven’t had any children (hmm I wonder why). Plus! Getting one at 24 (if I somehow convinced some doctor) would launch me into another arena of problems.
It gets better.
Oh, sorry, I lied, it doesn’t. You know what is great for getting through tough experiences? A clear, strong mind. Do you know what makes getting through a tough situation tougher? Depression! If you’re a longtime reader of this blog, you know how that has plagued my life. It makes me dysfunctional and PCOS makes me frustrated.
So, I sit in my misery, and sometimes my blood, and I feel hopeless. There are so many drugs with perhaps equally undesirable side effects, which don’t go to the root of the problem. There are so many pathways to nothing. There is nothing to be done. Besides staying away from foods with high glycemic indexes & doing lots of exercising. Lots of people (myself included) often suggest ‘lifestyle change’. You know, lose weight, etc.. but really, none of this ever stops PCOS and it’s symptoms. Even slim and skinny women still have PCOS. It’s like Hotel California, you could check out at any time you like but you can never leave.
So I sit in my misery and try to carry the legit trauma that this thing has caused me. And some times I laugh, and sometimes (often) I cry, but mostly, I just keep on doing that draining fake truckload of confidence thing because regardless of the situation, life goes on… until it doesn’t.
PS. It’s more than “just hair”. It’s being teased by your ‘best friend’ growing up, it is never knowing when you’re going to start bleeding or stop bleeding or develop diabetes or cancer, or if you’ll have children, or if your brain could make it through that episode of depression. Or so many other things which just wear down on the awareness and energy that any person has available to them on any set day.
Coming from an island Christopher Columbus arrived at on his third voyage, and having spent much of my formal education dutifully studying history, such an in depth report and retelling of Columbus’ journey was enticing enough.
and time, what is it?
a medium? the water in which the pigment is suspended until you’ve painted your illustration and the water evaporates, leaving only the markings you’ve left behind?
For the first time in twenty-two years, I haven’t been measured, evaluated and given feedback about my performance. There haven’t been pop-quizzes, there haven’t been finals nor mid-terms.
This started as an experiment, a log, diary sort of thing, turned into a travel blog, a public place to share private emotions. It was a place where I connected with so many people whose feelings at some point or another matched mine. It was … Continue reading Five Years