Using the Kubler-Ross model of grief to identify the 5 stages of PCOS

If you’ve ever taken a Psychology course, you’re more than likely familiar with “The Five Stages of Grief/Stress” model penned by Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross.  Dr. Kubler-Ross identified five distinct phases that all people go through when they experience any kind of grief.  Grief does not necessarily always follow a physical loss, i.e. the death of a loved one.  Grief can also be caused by a severe disappointment or psychological trauma.

Make no mistake about it – a diagnosis of PCOS is just as emotional as it is physical.  The thought of having to deal with this condition, and all it brings, can sometimes feel overwhelming.  Being diagnosed, while often bringing a sense of relief by giving a name to the problem, can cause a whirlwind of emotions.

It is important for every woman with PCOS to know that we are not alone.  All of us have gone through the initial shock, the feelings of hopelessness, the anger.  For those we love, our diagnosis can be just as confusing.  However, by using the “Five Stages of Grief” model, we can shed some light on our emotions.  Using this model will not only help us, but also help our loved ones better understand the kind of emotional reactions we may be having.  Below, I’ve outlined the Five Stages of Grief as they relate to PCOS.

Stage 1:  Denial

Poly-what???  Is that even a real disease??  Are they just making up diseases now?  I know – it’s the Insurance companies.  They’ve put so much financial stress on physicians that they’re actually “creating” new diseases so that they can charge you their appointment fees, and then bring in more money when you have to come back for medical monitoring.

What do you mean it’s a real disease?  I’ve never heard of it!  I know – I’ll look it up online.  If there’s any truth to this “mystery disease”, there’s got to be evidence of it on the internet, right?  I’ll go to one of those medical sites – you know, the ones where you type in all of your symptoms and wait for the word “Cancer” to pop-up in the “possible diagnosis” box.  I’ll bet money that I don’t have that they’ve never even heard of this “Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome” mumbo-jumbo.

Are you serious???   Over 1,000,000 hits on Google for Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome?

Well, whatever it is, I don’t have it.  Sure, I may be a little overweight, I may have acne in my thirties, I may have so much body hair that I feel like Sasquatch, and I may not be able to remember the last time I got a period.  Most women I know are jealous that I don’t have to deal with a visit from “Aunt Flo” every month.

And, I’ll tell you one more thing.  There’s no way – no way in Hell that I’m going to take 10 different medications for the rest of my life. Nope.  Not me.  Forget it.  Not gonna do it!

Stage 2:  Anger

Pardon my French, but this really sucks!

It’s not fair – what did I do to deserve this?  The Universe hates me.  Well, that’s fine, because I hate the Universe.  This has to be some kind of sick joke or something.

Sure I was born a woman.  But I don’t feel like one now.  I don’t even look like a woman.  I’m completely round in the middle, my boobs are shrinking, I’m losing hair on my head and it’s sprouting up everywhere else.  I shave my face more often than most men I know!

Sure, I have all of the “girl parts.”  But what good do they do when they’re not working???  And what the hell is that pain in my side?

Pardon my French again, but this is complete bullshit!

Stage 3: Bargaining

I swear to God, whichever God will listen, that I’ll do anything he/she wants – as long as this goes away!  I’ll become a nun – well, maybe I won’t become a nun, but I’ll go to services every week.  I’ll feed the hungry, give money to the poor, shelter little abandoned animals – just make it stop!!!

And, if you’ll just let me get pregnant, I’ll be the best mother in the world!

I’ll never let another carbohydrate pass through these lips again – honest!

PLEASE – I’ll do anything you want.  Just let me be healthy!

Stage 4:  Depression

I don’t even bother shaving all of the hair anymore.  What’s the point?  It’s just gonna grow back.  It never stops growing.

I have dry skin, acne, these little “skin tags” and patches of darkened skin popping up in weird places.  I’ve been on every diet known to man, but none of them work.  I feel like Santa Clause and his belly that shook like a bowl full of jelly.  How can I leave the house looking like this?

I found a bald spot on my head today.  Women aren’t supposed to have bald spots.  Am I even a woman anymore?  Sure, the anatomy points to female, but I don’t feel like much of a woman these days.

I’m never going to have a baby.  I don’t ovulate – isn’t that kind of vital to the whole conception thing?  Even if, by some miracle, I do get pregnant, there’s a huge list of things that can go wrong.

I can’t deal with this anymore.  I think I’ll just go have a plate of spaghetti, some chips, and a pint of ice cream and go to bed.  What’s the point when this is never going to end?

Stage 5:  Acceptance

Okay, so it’s not the end of the world.

It still sucks, but it is manageable.

I found this depilatory cream that works really well on the hair.  Sure, I have to use it more often than my friends, and in more places, but it’s okay.

I started the meds my doctor prescribed.  Sure, I have to go back every 3 months for more blood work and another ultrasound, but if I stay on top of this, I can manage the symptoms with my doctor’s help.  I’ve even found out that there are natural remedies that I can try if I don’t want to feel like a walking-talking-pharmacy for the rest of my life.

I went online again, but this time I found a support group.  It’s a group just for women with PCOS.  We may all be different, but we’re all battling the same demon.  It’s such a relief to know that I’m not alone, I’m not a freak, and, above all else, I am still a woman.

Closing Remarks:

PCOS is an emotional roller coaster ride.  For those of us with PCOS, it is important to know that we are not alone.  Every woman is on that ride with us.  For those we love, it is important to know that we need your support.  We need you sitting beside us in that cart, holding our hand, if we are to make it to “acceptance.”  We need you to laugh with us, cry with us, hurt with us and celebrate with us.  We know that you will never fully understand what it feels like to deal with PCOS.  That’s okay – we wouldn’t wish this disease on our worst enemies.

We have this disease.  But we are strong – we are going to deal with it head-on.  We’re going to fight like girls!

We have PCOS.  PCOS does not have us.

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