What is the group about?
I decided to start facilitating a free PCOS support group because there is SO MUCH information (often conflicting) about PCOS diets and supplements online, but not much support in terms of the psychological impact of PCOS. Being diagnosed with a condition like PCOS, and experiencing symptoms can really affect our self-esteem and can cause us to feel different, anxious, confused, stuck, and scared. In my experience, these feelings can cause us a lot of distress.
Therefore, the group is designed to be a space for people with PCOS to meet and discuss their experience and how it affects them psychologically. Sharing stories and experiences with others can be helpful, and we can also learn from each other about what things might help us to feel better emotionally.
I feel worried about joining a group full of people I don’t know – do I have to speak?
The short answer is no! I understand that joining a group of people you don’t know, especially when it is about a topic that might have been distressing for you, can be daunting. There is no obligation for you to contribute to the group, you can simply come along and listen in. As you get used to the group, you may feel more confident to speak, but you don’t have to.
Even though all group members have a shared experience of PCOS, our stories will be different, and that is ok. Some people will feel confident talking about themselves, and some won’t.
Do I need to have a diagnosis of PCOS to join?
Research shows that there are a huge number of women who have PCOS but are undiagnosed, despite experiencing symptoms. Therefore, the group is open to anyone who either has a diagnosis of PCOS, or who suspects they may have PCOS.
Will I receive psychological advice in the group?
As the group is a support group, not a therapy group, I will not be able to give professional advice. However, I am happy to discuss my journey with PCOS and what I have found helpful, and for others to share theirs too.
What is the format of the group?
At the start of the session, I will briefly cover the expectations from group members –that the group is expected to be confidential, that people don’t have to speak if they don’t want to, and that everyone’s views will be respected.
Then I will see if there’s a particular topic that anyone would like us to think about – which could be anything such as our experience of medical professionals, talking to friends/family about PCOS, the conflicting info online, how our identity or self-esteem might have been affected. If no-one volunteers a topic, I will suggest some topics.
We then spend most of the session thinking about the topic, but it’s also ok if we end up going into other topics – in fact, we probably will!
I’ve purposely not made the group too structured, as otherwise it becomes a ‘class’ rather than a support group. The purpose of this group is to share experiences, and share things that we’ve found helpful as well as things we’ve found difficult.
Will we be talking about which diet and supplements to take?
No! I found that most of the information about PCOS available online relates to new diets, plans, supplements, workout regimes etc. What is missing is some understanding and space for the psychological impact of the diagnosis, and this is the focus of the group. Of course, someone may mention a diet or supplement they take, but that will not be the focus.
Instead, we will focus on how PCOS has affected our identity, self-esteem, and thoughts, and what we have found helpful in coping with this.
Do I have to attend every session?
No. Whilst it would be great to have some familiar faces each time, I understand that life can get busy and people won’t be able to come to every session. So just come along when you can. Each session is different, so you don’t need to have been to previous sessions to come along.
Are you trying to sell me something?
No! I also have PCOS and the reason for the group is that I feel that the psychological impact of PCOS is a really neglected area, so I wanted to offer something that helps create space for this.
If you have any other questions at all about the group, feel free to drop me a message via my website.