FIONA Peters describes her teenage self as an “odd little creature”.
She remembered putting on weight around her waist, being moody, being depressed, always being tired and experiencing extra hair growth.
As normal as that sounds for a teenager, at the time Mrs Peters was experiencing symptoms of a pituitary disorder called Cushing's syndrome.
Now 40, and with the annual Pituitary Awareness Week held recently, Mrs Peters is encouraging people to listen to their bodies.
She said before being diagnosed with the rare hormonal syndrome she thought she was just experiencing “normal teenage stuff”.
“It was my mother who thought something wasn't quite right,” Mrs Peters said.
“She had an intuition.
“I was very moody, was putting weight on my body and not my arms or legs, my growth was slow and I was hairy.”
At the time, unbeknown to Mrs Peters, she had a benign tumour on her pituitary gland which affected levels her body was producing of the hormone relating to blood pressure, immune function and the body's anti-inflammatory processes.
She was 17 when she was diagnosed and at the same age she had part of the tumour removed.
“Then the real fun began after that,” she joked.
“The next five years were interesting.”
The syndrome is lifelong and despite it being manageable Mrs Peters said she had trouble coming to terms with the diagnoses, especially at a young age.
“It was hard once I was diagnosed,” she said.
“I was in denial.
“It wasn't until I hit rock bottom and wasn't managing my condition that I learnt to manage it properly.
“Pituitary conditions are very complex.
“They don't just impact you physically but also mentally.”
If people with Cushing's don't manage their condition they can find stressful situations harder than normal to deal with, experience inflammation of the face and body, bruise easily and experience unstable blood sugar levels.
At rock bottom Mrs Peters said she didn't feel like she was in her own skin and it wasn't until she got consistent help from practitioners and specialists she was able to pull herself together.
“One day I snapped out of it and worked really hard at managing my Cushing's,” she said.
“I realised as long as I took care of myself I had no problem.
“There's no reason for a pituitary condition to stop someone living a happy life.”
For further information on pituitary conditions go to pituitary.asn.au/