We offer free support groups for those looking for a friendly space to discuss their difficulties and get help from others. See our current groups below.
It is estimated that 2 out of every 10 women have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a hormonal and metabolic condition which can lead to a variety of not so pleasant symptoms. I am one of those women. It is also estimated that a huge proportion of these women, despite struggling with the symptoms, are undiagnosed.
I experienced a range of hormonal issues and symptoms a few years ago, and spent a difficult and frustrating amount of time searching for answers and seeing several health professionals and specialists. Due to this, I have become really interested in the huge psychological toll that such a diagnosis, and troubling symptoms that don’t seem to make sense, can have on someone.
The journey for me included the following:
Gosh, it was a really awful time, and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. But I also know that my story isn’t uncommon, and a lot of my clients have reported very similar journeys.
Whilst most people have likely heard of PCOS, my experience is that it is widely misunderstood and sometimes even exploited by those trying to make a profit out of women’s fears in terms of diet plans, exercise plans, supplements etc. I found the irony of professionals telling me that stress exacerbated symptoms, before going on to give me a list of foods I must not eat, foods I must eat etc, INFURIATING! A hugely underestimated issue is the impact that experiencing lots of symptoms, and/or receiving a diagnosis like PCOS can have on someone.
With this in mind, I am offering a support group for women who have PCOS, or suspect they do, with a focus specifically on the psychological impact of such symptoms and diagnoses. My hope is that the group will be a supportive and open space for women to start to realise that actually they aren’t broken or different, at all.
If you are a bit concerned about joining a support group or you have joined some before, let me tell you a bit about my experiences of this. I joined around 20 PCOS forums and groups when I was diagnosed, and what I found was thousands of women asking for advice about food, exercise and supplements to help them, and lots of discussions about how bad people’s symptoms were. I found myself feeling more and more anxious when I was on these groups, and I realised that this is because they were focused on symptoms and possible solutions. Being the psychologist I am, I now can imagine how my stress hormones were reacting each time I was on these groups, and noticed how my mindset would change from feeling hopeful to feeling completely scared and hopeless within 10 minutes!
In my opinion, what is often missing in groups and forums is the psychological component of dealing with, and thriving with, a diagnosis. Thankfully, I am now pretty much symptom free and happy, and the absolute biggest thing that changed that for me was letting go of a lot of the ‘rules’ and ‘plans’, and shifting my mindset completely.
Therefore, in the support group that I am offering, we will not be talking about diets, exercise plans or supplements – instead it is a space to think about the impact of our diagnosis and what we have been through, how it has perhaps shaped our thoughts and narratives, and to share information between ourselves about how we can thrive!
If you would like to join the group or have any questions about it, please contact me using the contact form here.