Hallie’s wonderful PCOS journey
Eight years ago in my late twenties, my entire body seemed to go haywire as if from out of nowhere. I suddenly had crippling anxiety for no reason, acne for the first time in my life and periods so painful that I was throwing up (the months when I actually got them). I went to a dermatologist for the acne, she put me on the pill and everything seemed manageable for the most part. Over the next eight years a lot of my symptoms started to slowly creep back in and get worse. I went to the OBGYN every year for my annual check up, but she did not seem concerned.
I went off the pill in the Fall of 2016 in the hopes of getting pregnant, but instead I could not get out of bed for six months because of the incredible amount of exhaustion and brain fog I felt. I also didn’t get my period for this entire time and my cystic acne was so bad I didn’t feel comfortable leaving the house. I knew something was very wrong, so I finally went to my OBGYN. I had never heard of PCOS, but I had all the classic symptoms that were further confirmed by my OBGYN with a vaginal sonogram. I’ll never forget the day I got that diagnosis and then falling into an Internet research black hole. I never thought hearing four little letters would have such an impact on my life and I felt completely hopeless and went directly into victim mode as I kept reading there was no cure for PCOS.
From there I was sent to a reproductive endocrinologist, who also confirmed I had PCOS. For the past year my endocrinologist had me on a cocktail of drugs to try to regulate my ovulations and I have never felt so sick in my life. Every month it was crushing when I would get my period. My endocrinologist seemed perplexed each month I would not get pregnant, which made me feel completely hopeless. After a full year of treatment, she looked at me and simply declared, “There is something wrong with your head.” I was shocked at that answer and asked her about lifestyle changes, which she quickly dismissed and said she would fix it with medication. I was already 35 at the time and made the decision to freeze my fertilized embryos.
I was a women possessed at this point to get to the bottom of what was causing my PCOS. Through research online, I found Clare and the PCOS Protocol Facebook group. I finally did not feel crazy and alone after seeing an entire supportive online community with women who had the same problems as me. I signed up for the second round of the Protocol and it has been one of the best decisions of my life!
The first improvement I noticed while doing the program was that within a month, my period came back and then regulated itself for the first time in my entire life off the pill. I was completely shocked! From that point on, I was completely committed to the protocol and felt like I was taking control of my PCOS for the first time since I was diagnosed.
I am in my twelfth week of the program and have gotten amazing results! Using the program to identify my PCOS type as Adrenal and Inflammation was instrumental to my recovery along with extremely helpful, well-sourced information that I did not find anywhere else. In addition to my period being regular for the past three months, I have gotten rid of the debilitating exhaustion, brain fog and anxiety that I didn’t realize was seriously affecting every part of my life. I’ve also been really surprised about how much better I’m sleeping, my skin has cleared up and I am totally out of victim mode.
The hardest part about doing the protocol is that you realize that treating your PCOS means looking at every part of your life (not just diet) and the changes seem overwhelming at first. I overcame this feeling right in the beginning when Clare asked us to sit down and identify why I wanted to get better. I use that mantra every day and it really gets me through. Also to Clare’s credit, she breaks everything down into manageable parts every week, checking in with the group to make sure we’re not feeling overloaded and we can always ask her questions directly.
I am really proud of how empowered by this program I have become. I am now a PCOS advocate and recently went to Washington, D.C. to help pass legislation (H.Res.864) to recognize the seriousness of PCOS and for doctors to receive better education about how to treat and diagnose PCOS. I am excited about the future for the first time in a long time and confident because I feel so much better about revisiting trying to have a baby soon.
To anyone on the fence about joining the protocol, I would say that this is the best support system you could hope for with a compassionate expert that has PCOS herself leading the way. Trying to navigate PCOS recovery can be completely isolating and scary, I tried to fix it by myself and with a team of doctors with no success. This is the only thing that has worked for me after almost a decade of suffering and I feel like I finally got my life back. Clare is a life saver!
*Hallie has chosen to blur her image for her privacy.