Annika's BodyPositive Story: Polycystic ovary syndrome
If I could say one thing to my younger self it would be this: You have PCOS (Polycystic ovary syndrome), but PCOS doesn't have you - so don't worry, because everything will be okay.
I can remember, growing up, that my body didn't seem to develop like everyone else's.
I was always bigger than my other friends at school and from the age of 13/14 I never had regular periods.
Sometimes I would go well over a year without having one.
When I did have them they were very painful - I felt like no one understood how bad they were for me.
At the time I didn't know why they were so irregular and would be told again and again by doctors that it was something that would settle down with age… it never did.
I was put on countless contraceptive pills, but each seemed to have a worse effect on me than the last.
Some would make me angry and emotional, others would give me terrible acne all over my face - but none of them seemed to be helping.
I used to get picked on because of my size, and it meant I spent most of my teens and early twenties as a very unconfident and shy person.
I was officially diagnosed with PCOS when I was about 18 years old.
I had been for some blood tests at a new surgery and a doctor announced it as a fly-away remark - she assumed I already knew. Apparently it was in my notes, but I had never been told.
I remember feeling quite scared about the future.
How much would this impact my life? Would I still be able to have children if I wanted them? How would my future boyfriends react when they found out?
At the time there wasn't a lot of support around for the condition and I found it a real struggle to be taken seriously.
It was so new that even if doctors knew about the condition they didn't understand it.
However, I found support with a group called Verity - a charity that promotes awareness of the condition.
From this I learned that eating a healthy low GI diet and fitness would improve my condition.
Over the past 10 years I've worked really hard to improve these areas of my life and have taken up running, pole fitness and burlesque dancing.
This hasn't just helped me manage the symptoms of my condition - it's made me feel feminine again.
Now at the age of 29 I feel in control of my body.
Although I still have my bad days and it is an on-going battle, being body positive has changed my life and given me hope for the future: I hope it can do the same for you too.