Living with PCOS - A candid chat with Suchita A Mukerji
What does living with PCOS feel like? We had a candid chat with Suchita A Mukerji, Founder of The Basics, to understand how it has shaped her daily life and her methods to curb her symptoms.
What were the signs you saw that urged you to check for PCOS?
It started with hair fall for me. I noticed myself losing clumps of hair in the shower which was way more than just normal shedding. I also noticed my skin getting really oily. I would wake up every morning to a layer of oil on my forehead and T-zone. This was alarming for me since this wasn't how my skin always reacted.
I did have irregular periods, but since that was pretty normal for me it wasn't too concerning. I was used to getting my period once in two months. So, it was difficult for me to realise that it was PCOS.
I know that for a lot of women, weight gain is a symptom but since I have Adrenal PCOS and not Insulin PCOS, I tend to be on the leaner side so weight gain was not a symptom for me. But in a lot of cases, weight gain is one of the first indicators of PCOS.
What are the changes you needed to make to your life due to PCOS?
Personally, I'd always underestimated the impact of stress on my hormones. I would often think that it's just a jargon doctors would use and it had no weight to it. "Don't take stress", "Stress is a killer", were just words to me. Only when I put stress management into practice did I realise how much of an impact it had on my body. Again, this is very case-specific, but stress management was crucial for me when dealing with PCOS.
Even in terms of what I ate, I had to make a few changes.
I was always someone who ate for my tastebuds instead of my body and that had to change. I know it sounds funny coming from me but I'm sure a lot of people relate!
Looking at food as fuel for my body rather than a serotonin boost is something that is necessary. Adding 2 cups of veggies to my diet, whether it's in the form of a juice or as part of my meal, has done wonders!
Something I'm also actively working on is exercising more often. I know there are a lot of people out there who love working out and enjoy the process but I'm far from it. I don't enjoy the process or the after effect and dread it wholeheartedly. But whatever my feelings toward it may be, my body needs it and I just view it as medicine I have to gulp down.
So for me, stress management, eating healthy and working out are some key things I've adopted to manage my PCOS.
Even though PCOS is a term everyone is aware of, do you think people really are educated about it?
No, not really. Very often I'm questioned about my diagnosis since my weight seems "normal". So I think that there are lots of myths and misinformation going around. What I find most intriguing is that women, extremely educated women, are sometimes oblivious when it comes to PCOS. You'd think that in this day and age, even if you don't have PCOS, someone around you definitely is but the awareness is still lacking.
I also believe that a lot of women don't necessarily know what to do once they have been diagnosed with PCOS. I think this stems from the fact that a lot of times PCOS is stigmatized. It's high time we normalize it.
Men, women, kids, grandparents - I think everyone should be a part of this dialogue. This will help women become more aware and empower them with the tools they need to healthily deal with PCOS.
What inspired you to make the Herbal PCOS Tea?
Living with PCOS is not easy. You're always running to doctors and gynacs for appointments, while also dealing with the countless problems that the condition brings with it. I wanted something that was easy to fit into my routine and accessible.
Since I come from a family that has a deep understanding of Ayurveda, I'm aware of the healing powers and benefits it has and hence came up with my brand, The Basics. The entire ideology is to "go back to the roots" in order to heal your body from within using ancient Ayurvedic practices and modern science.
The Herbal PCOS Tea was just a by- product of this. My team and I did a lot of research, experimentation, and did in-house trials to make it a powerful blend that's effective, and tasty! It makes me so happy to see how this product has helped countless women, because this was the solution I was looking for when I was struggling with my PCOS.
What is the one tip you'd give women with PCOS?
To be honest, I'm still figuring it out myself.
I've heard tons of podcasts and motivational videos where they assure you that it's all going to be okay and that hope is all you need. Yes, a positive outlook is important but I don't want to tell you something like that.
I know firsthand that it's an incredibly difficult process. Standing on a scale day after day and not seeing results despite all your hard work, or losing clumps of hair- is really painful. Questioning your feminity every single day, it's a difficult place to be in. So I just want to tell you that you're not alone, there are others like you.
When I discovered that I had PCOS at the age of 19, which was seven years ago, I didn't have Instagram, I didn't know other people with PCOS who were going through the same physical and mental breakdowns I was on a daily basis.
So I'd just say, do your very best, but also know that there are other people out there who are going through the same struggle as you, and you're not alone in this. A lot of women around the world are managing their symptoms and we can learn from their experiences too.
Using the correct tools can take you miles. Whatever your route is, natural methods or allopathy, please know that there is a multitude of options. Knowledge is strength so educate yourselves.
That being said, please don't make Google your best friend because it is a dark place. Ask me! So just read up, visit a professional, talk to reliable sources, understand that each journey is unique and cut yourself some slack. You're doing great.