Health is not a badge of honor. Good health empowers us to live out the callings of our life with energy and passion. There was a time I did not understand what it meant to be healthy, but now frequently speak to groups and individuals about how to regain or improve health in order to fuel the callings in their life. Sometimes that means encouraging and resourcing a wife and mom that struggles with migraines, low energy or post-natal depletion. At others it means helping athletes fuel their performance to be at their best when their training is put to the test. And it can even look like helping someone change their life outcome by helping them walk through a door that would not be open to them without good health, which is the case for the sweet and wonderful woman you get to hear from today. This is just ONE story that displays why I love what we do…it’s not just selling health products. It is truly changing the world, one life at a time.
When I was fifteen, I was diagnosed with PCOS.
PCOS, or Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, is an endocrine disorder that affects 1 in 10 women. Because it’s a syndrome, not a disease, it is inherently defined by its symptoms, which include things like insulin resistance, weight gain, irregular periods, infertility, hair growth, anxiety, depression, insomnia, and digestive issues. Though I was diagnosed fifteen, I had spent the previous two years taking maximum-strength birth control and living with six-week-long periods instead of answers.
Shaklee didn’t cure my PCOS. The reality of my PCOS is still present in my body. Harper didn’t promise me healing, but she gave me something else.
When I first met Harper, it was during my Junior year of college. The symptoms that I’d been battling for the previous decade were magnified, as my stress levels continued to increase. Surrounded by pressures and diet culture, I drove myself into the ground with restrictive eating and exercise. The stress of being unable to lose weight, magnified the stress that my period hadn’t come in months, which also compounded the stress that my medications were making me feel sick. Not only did it feel like my body had given up on me, it felt like my doctor’s had as well.
Before we looked at addressing any of the symptoms, Harper did something that most of my previous doctors had failed to do: she listened. She believed me. She validated that my symptoms weren’t in my head, something that people often do with PCOS. She affirmed the legitimacy and difficulty of what I was going through. For the first time, someone told me that my body was not only made to function better but that it could function better. After years of false promises, I had given up on believing that I could ever feel better, normal, or whole. I wasn’t looking for a cure for PCOS; I just needed to know that I could live with some measure of abundant life.
I hadn’t just lost hope in feeling “normal” during day-to-day life; the way PCOS was manifesting in my body had me questioning things related to my future. Since highschool, I had felt called to overseas ministry. This wide-eyed, naive, teenage dream of loving people overseas began grinding against reality. If I couldn’t make it through a morning without being sick or needing medication to get my period, how was I going to move overseas? More than that, I had questions of how I would convince an organization to take me on, given my current emotionally exhausted state.
We started with the Vitalizer strips, adding GLA and shake powder, since I’d been undercutting my calorie consumption for a while. With each physical symptom that improved, regardless of how minor, I noticed new emotional levity. I was no longer consumed by medications or weight loss. I can’t overstate the value in finally having an advocate in my health corner. She wasn’t trying to heal my PCOS; she was giving me back some freedom and normalcy in my life.
Since that first meeting with Harper, I have graduated with my M.A. and am currently raising support, to live overseas and start an English program for refugees. Looking back, I cannot imagine doing the work that I’m doing now, if I was still in the emotional and physical place of my Junior year. Everything feels more livable.
A few years ago, my body felt like the enemy; it was the thing that was thwarting my attempts at a beautiful, sacrificial life. Now, my body is the vehicle that I’m using to live that life. It’s not perfect; there are times when PCOS and past traumas rear their ugly head. But the GLA vitamins are still going strong. More than that, the hope that Harper catalyzed will always be another part of my redemption story.