My name is Brigitte Warne, and I am a Sydney-based model, entrepreneur, plant-eating foodie and as of Nov 2017, official 'cyster'.
I recently started an Instagram account called @pcos_to_wellness and within a couple of weeks had hundreds of followers, and so many people asking me to share my story.
Sooooooo here it is! My very first blog post (so please forgive me if it is terrible!).
Up until recently, I had spent my last ten years working as a professional model in Australia and internationally, while also completing a double degree in Health Science & Commerce and setting up several start-up businesses along the way.
I have always been passionate about healthy eating (I eat a mostly whole foods, plant-based diet); I love animals (I am a qualified Equine and Canine Sports therapist and fur-mother to two French bulldogs and my horse Tully), and I love the outdoors and the ocean.
2017 was always set to be a big year for me, but it turns out it was bigger than I could ever have imagined - and by big, I mean life-changing.
On February 4th 2017, I married my soul mate, and we headed off on our honeymoon, for a month-long surf trip around the beautiful Hawaiian islands. #couplegoals
When I returned from my honeymoon (and back to reality!) I decided to make two very small decisions, which unbeknownst to me would result in one of the biggest rollercoaster rides of my life.
The first decision:
After seeing the success of one of the businesses I had co-founded, I decided to stop everything else I was doing and focus all my attention on it. As the months went on, we watched it scale and grow very quickly, which was as just as incredible as it was stressful at the same time.
As much as I loved my business and watching it grow, it also consumed every aspect of my life, and I found myself working from 6 am until around 10-11 pm each day. I was physically and mentally exhausted, but I couldn't stop now knowing how much the business needed me in order for it to continue growing. This sent me into a vicious cycle of stress.
The second decision:
After noticing some minor pigmentation on my forehead after spending a month in the Hawaiian sunshine, my beautician told me that it could be a hormonal reaction to the sun which was often linked to taking 'the pill'. This was the first time I had ever heard this, and it really got me thinking about the pill in general.
With that knowledge in mind I went home and weighed everything up- I was now married and focusing all my energy on the business rather than modelling gigs (so I no longer needed to worry about getting my period during a shoot or the odd pimple lol) I also figured that at some point after being on the pill for 10 years my body could probably use a break from the synthetic hormones, especially if I was even slightly considering the idea of getting pregnant in the next couple of years. On paper, it seemed like the perfect time to stop taking the pill; what was the worst that could happen? If only I knew!
Within three weeks I had started experiencing migraines so extreme that the pain would cause me to throw up and my affect my vision, my hair started to fall out, and I started to get hundreds of tiny little pimples underneath the surface of my skin. The weeks went on, and although the migraines subsided, my little pimples turned into cystic acne on my face, chest and back, my hair started to fall out, I started to get very itchy dandruff, and my energy levels plummeted. I went from being wide awake and ready to seize the day at 6 am, to struggling to even open my eyes by 8 am.
As the weeks turned into months, I went to see three different doctors, all of whom told me my symptoms were very common after coming off the pill, and to wait three months before worrying. The three-month mark came and went, and my symptoms stayed the same. I started to get really depressed and stressed about the whole situation, I buried myself in my work and tried to hide my face from the world... which was becoming increasingly hard as the bigger our business became, the more I was forced into the spotlight - TV shows, interviews, blogs, events, videos etc... it was sooooo HARD! I just wanted to cry and run home back home to bed. My anxiety got so bad I didn't even want my husband to look at me, let alone the rest of the world.
After about six months of living in a constant state of anxiety and stress, I decided I was going to make it my mission to find a doctor who took me seriously enough to give me more than just a prescription medication for my acne and send me on my way.
I know my body, and I knew that something was not right.
So after eight months of battling with nausea, migraines, hair loss, fatigue, memory loss, no periods and acne so bad it made me want to hide away from the world, I finally found a doctor who allowed me to get a full set of blood tests done.
Within a few short days, I was diagnosed Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome, told that I wouldn't be able to have children, AND that there was no cure. GAME OVER.
As you can imagine, my world shattered around me, and my eyes welled up with tears. The doctor tried to console me by telling me that the best option for me would be to go back on to the pill to help my acne, or to start pumping my body with some other synthetic hormones to try to induce ovulation artificially.
I told her I would think about it and went home to tell my husband that the one thing I should be able to do as a woman, I couldn't do.
My body had failed us both.
So I went home, told my husband, my mum (who is a nutritionist) and my dad (who is a pharmacist), and they were all devastated for me; But they also all said, don't let this define you, and look more into it first.
SO I DID.
Long story short, I decided to make it my life's mission to learn EVERYTHING I could about PCOS.
After hours, days and weeks of research using my health science background, I finally felt I was equipped with enough knowledge to start making some changes to my diet, lifestyle and supplements.
Within less than a month of implementing these changes (with a couple of fails along the way) I had not only cleared up my skin, I had my energy back, my hair stopped falling out, and I GOT A PERIOD!!!
This is my journey to wellness, and if it helps just one other woman struggling with PCOS, then it will all be worth it.