Hiya – my name is Laura Faulkner, I’m 33 years old and I’m very excited to have been recently appointed the Information Production Manager for Verity. I am also the group leader for the Lancashire, Liverpool, Merseyside and The Wirral support groups.
I’ve written this blog to introduce myself and to share my PCOS story with you. I became a volunteer and Verity ambassador five years ago as a thank you to Verity for supporting me through a difficult time when I struggled to accept my infertility. As an extension of my gratitude I have decided to walk 100 miles with my 1 year old baby girl in tow as part of the #MakeAMove campaign to raise awareness of PCOS and funds for Verity during PCOS awareness month.
I found Verity over seven years ago when I was really beginning to mentally struggle with the burdens of PCOS. I had just moved more than 100 miles away from home in Nottinghamshire, away from my family and friends to start my new life with Frazer. He and I had been together for almost three years when he accepted a job in Preston, Lancashire. I realised then that I would be moving with him, as I knew he was the one for me. I began to think about our future, but I was scared because I had to have the difficult conversation with him about the uncertain details and complications of having PCOS.
After many tests, scans and being poked and prodded in 2004 I was diagnosed with PCOS. I was 17 years old and at that young, tender age I was told by my GP that I may never have children of my own due to a number of large cysts on my ovaries. He detailed how I would always have irregular periods, mood swings and acne and there wouldn’t be very much they would be able to do to help me as PCOS is incurable and treatments are very much trial and error. I struggled for years with this information as I had always wanted to be a Mummy. I have amazing role models in my own mum and my nan, and I grew up wanting to be just like them, so motherly and nurturing to my own children but in my eyes this dream had just been shattered.
Mood swings are a major symptom of PCOS and although I don’t think my mood swings have been particularly bad over the years I’m sure the people closest to me may beg to differ – haha.
I’ve always been very self conscious about my weight as I have never been a size 10. I’ve always been bigger than I have wanted to be, and always envied my slimmer friends. Despite being unhappy with my weight, it’s been extremely hard for me to stick to a diet as I am an emotional over eater. When I’m happy – I eat, when I’m sad – I eat, when I’m stressed – I eat. I eat as healthily as I can a lot of the time, lots and fruit and vegetables, I just eat a lot of it! When I eat too much chocolate, which can be quite often, it affects my skin.
As a teenager I always had bad acne that impacted on my self esteem and confidence, I wouldn’t leave the house without wearing foundation to cover up my spots which of course only made it worse. As I got into my twenties my acne became quite severe and really affected how I saw myself. It would flare up with stress which caused me problems at university. Over the years I tried everything from tea tree, face scrubs, lotions and potions prescribed by my doctor but it wasn’t until I was getting married in 2015 that it really affected my confidence. I couldn’t bear the thought of how my face would look on my wedding photos. Feeling desperate I did my own research and found a controversial medication called Isotretinoin (Roaccutane). I had to be referred to a specialist dermatologist to be assessed for it and I had to sign a number of disclaimers to be prescribed it as it really is a serious drug. It has a number of serious side effects such as headaches, nosebleeds, it causes your skin to be sensitive to light, causes extremely dry eyes and depression. Isotretinoin has even been linked to suicides! So as you can imagine it was a big decision to take it and it was only right that I discussed my thoughts and decisions with my mum and my husband-to-be too as these side effects would impact them! I was monitored closely on the tablets each month and had to have monthly tests for pregnancy at the hospital as the drug would have had unimaginable effects on an unborn baby. After months of taking Isotretinoin and suffering with bad headaches, nausea and nosebleeds I noticed a huge difference in my skin and my confidence. I felt so much better about myself. The results are long lasting as apart from being left with acne scarring, to this day, 5 years later, my skin is much better and I no longer get bad breakouts, just the odd spot here and there when I am run down or stressed.
If this is an option you are considering after years of trying prescribed treatments, I strongly recommend that you get as much support and advice from medical professionals as you can, and do your own thorough research as it be quite dangerous and doesn’t suit or work for everyone. I was lucky to have a good, knowledgeable consultant guide me through my decision.
Around the time of my wedding was a naturally stressful time with all the planning and preparation and nerves too but the added burden of potentially not being able to have our own children. My husband to be was so caring and understanding but it was something that hurt me everyday.
Fast forward six months and by some miracle I was pregnant! It was the happiest and scariest time of my life. I now have a two gorgeous girls aged 4 and 1. It’s very cliché to say but I do see them as my little miracles because I was led to believe that I would never have them.
My eldest has now started school, my husband works long hours and with playgroups still on hold due to our current Covid lockdown, myself and my littlest have extra time on our hands so I thought it would be poignant for us to get out together and walk 100 miles for Verity. We have just passed the half way mark and have so far walked 64 miles and raised £475 for Verity. I really have been blown away by the messages of support I have received from family, friends, strangers and fellow PCOS sufferers. Messages which spur me on, especially on the days when I really don’t want to walk; when I’m tired from sleepless nights with a teething baby and walking with PCOS related cramps.
By being involved with Verity, I am constantly reminded that I am surrounded by amazing, inspirational people who suffer much more than I do, both mentally and physically and it’s you that have been my motivation to do this, and raise as much money and awareness as I can along the way. I’m doing this to give hope and support to those that need it the most; those whose battles with PCOS are much greater than mine, because although you may not feel it, or believe it, you are amazingly strong, and you are an inspiration to me.
If you’d like to donate to my fundraising page you can donate here: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/laura-faulkner-walk
To share your PCOS story email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.