Author Topic: The Worst Years of My Life: Growing Up with Gynecomastia  (Read 14379 times)

Offline bdj148

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Let me preface this long thing by saying that, like many other people here, that this has been a long and hard road for me to go down.  Being able to write my feelings about the situation has taken a lot of time and strength, and I'm still not quite to the point where I can talk about it to anyone without breaking down in tears.  It's okay though, because I'm getting better.  Talking about it with the people I'm closest to has been very therapeutic.  This website, namely the documentary, has been immensely helpful in the process as well.

My name is Brian.  I'm a 19 year old college student, attending Emory University.  I'm 6'4", roughly 200 pounds, in pretty good shape in the grand scheme of things, and a slightly above-average student.  I suffer from gynecomastia, to a very severe degree.  I have rather large, puffy nipples as well.  It's been the source of nearly all the misery, lack of self confidence, and lack of self-esteem in my life.  I developed it when I was about 11 years old.  The first time I ever thought I was different was when my sister, her friend, and I were watching TV.  I forget the name of the show we were watching, it was a game show I believe.  One of the contestants was a little overweight and had gynecomastia too, and I vividly remember my sister saying "Ew, that guy has manboobs!  That's so gross!"  I got really quiet, and thought maybe something was wrong with me.

My family sent me to an all boy's college preparatory school after that.  I was excited about going because there would be a lot more people for me to meet, and the school was a lot better than my old one.  I really wanted to fit in and feel normal there.  It was going okay until my first PE class, where I was immediately targeted by every other middle school boy in the room when I took off my shirt.  The harrassing I got could almost be called attacking.  It was one of the worst days I can remember in my life, I sat in a room by myself crying during lunch for nearly an hour straight.  I called my mom and went home sick.

The intense cruelty that I underwent continued on.  In 7th grade, I mustered up the courage to ask out a girl and had my first girlfriend.  The first response that I got from everyone was "You have bigger breasts than your girlfriend!"  I felt horrifyingly ashamed of myself.  My girlfriend caught wind of what was being said, and broke up with me because of it.  I felt like a complete and total freak.  I had no idea what to do or how to make them stop, so I did the only thing that I knew how to.  I shut myself in.  I stayed in my room, and I stopped seeing and talking to people.  I avoided taking off my shirt or being seen with it off in any way possible, and not even just in front of them.  I never wanted to go to the beach or to the pool anymore, which alarmed my parents because I loved going when I was younger.  They never understood my hatred of those places.

I started to become incredibly depressed about my gynecomastia when I was about a freshman in highschool.  I was slightly overweight, but not too much so.  I was shorter than a lot of the other guys because I hadn't hit the main part of my growth spurt yet.  My grades were horrible because of my depression.  I didn't see a point in doing work.  I broke down in the car with my mom once on the way home from school and told her that I was depressed.  Being a pharmacist and the wife of a doctor, she overreacted and got my doctor to prescribe me Zoloft, and took me to a psychiatrist to see if he could give any additional help that my parents couldn't give.  I, of course, was so ashamed of myself that I couldn't bring myself to mutter a word of it to him, nor to my parents.  I stopped seeing my psychiatrist because it wasn't helping, and my parents did everything in their power to help me.  They couldn't help much, seeing as they didn't and couldn't know the source of all of my pain.  I wasn't strong enough to tell them.  I wanted to be normal so badly that I felt like telling anyone about it would be me giving in to whatever was causing me all of this pain.

I started seeing more girls, who all noticed my condition and made fun of me for it.  They called me gross, they called me a freak.  They told everyone else about me, so I never had a girlfriend again for years.  The summer before my junior year, I had the grand idea that maybe, just maybe, if I lost weight that it'd go away.  I became anorexic.  I went days at a time without eating.  My mom began to notice and tried to make me eat more, but I kept telling her that I wasn't hungry.  I hit the main part of my growth spurt then, and I shot up 4"  before I went back to school.  As you can imagine, going from ~5'9" and 180 lbs to 6'1" and 160 lbs was a HUGE change in my look.  A lot of people didn't even recognize me because I looked so different.  I was different, save for one thing:  the gynecomastia was still there.  Worse than before, in fact, thanks to the fact that the massive amount of tissue never went away.  I was now slightly above average in height, skinny, and I had a nice B-C cup.  I was in despair, I felt like there was no way to fix it.  I started to work out a lot, thinking maybe if I built up the muscle and burned the "fat" that it'd go away.  But the condition got even worse, since the muscle pushed it forward and made it more prominent.  I was in utter despair at this point, I felt like I had no way out and I would forever be stuck being a freak.  I got made fun of less frequently by this time, but it still went on.  The worst of the damage had been already dealt to me psychologically, however.  Any time a comment was made to me about it, it felt like I was getting stabbed.

I threw for my school's track team, and while I was mediocre at it, it was something to do and gain confidence in myself for.  Whenever I ran on the track, I kept pulling at my shirt to try and make it less noticeable, but to no avail.  I got a lot of hell for it there, and I cried and told my mom I wanted to quit track because I hated my coach so much, but that wasn't the real reason.  I went into seclusion again, focused all my energy on my school work.  I was happy that I started making straight A's for the first time since before I developed gynecomastia, and my parents were thrilled.  My doctor then noticed the breast tissue at my next checkup, and told my mom and I that it usually goes away in most men before they hit 18.  I was thrilled, maybe there was light at the end of the tunnel.  I started to have hope.

But my 18th birthday rolled around.  I still had the condition.  Still had the large breasts, and large puffy nipples.  I began to feel lost again and hopeless.  The only hope I had left was that if I went to college, I'd meet people who would be more mature and not attack me about it like I had been my whole life.  Thankfully, I was right to a degree.  People didn't mention it to me much, but they did make a scathing/teasing remark every now and then.  The remarks brought all of the feelings of pain and insecurity immediately to the forefront of my mind every time.  It felt horrible.  Whenever it happened, I went completely silent because I had no idea how to respond.  They were right.  I have huge nipples, I can't deny it.  My breasts are really big, especially since I'm of an average/slightly athletic build.  My second semester of college rolled around, and in my fight to be normal, I decided to rush and try and pledge a fraternity.  I got a bid from a house, and I pledged.  I'm sure you can only imagine the kind of torture that I went through about it.  It was pretty hellacious, but I felt like dropping out would be me giving in to this condition.  I wouldn't admit to being a freak.  I made it through, became a brother, and I get teased about it to this day as I am about to enter my second semester as a sophomore.

I went on a diet about a month ago because someone told me that I eat way too much chinese food.  I laughed, because I have a huge metabolism, and I said that I can eat a whole hell of a lot and it won't show, so it's cool.  He then said, "Yeah right, you're up to, what, a B cup now?"  I felt so ashamed of myself.  I went into my room after I gave him a look of utter loathing and pain.

I went home for Thanksgiving break.  I found the documentary that was made from gynecomastia.org and watched it.  I was in tears the entire time, especially at the beginning when the guy in the first interview said, "I hated myself, I wanted to feel normal."  My mom's 50th birthday rolled around in the middle of the vacation, and we had reservations at a really nice restaurant.  I put on a long sleeve polo that masked the condition pretty well, and went downstairs.  My mom said that my shirt was dirty and covered in dog hair, and gave me a new shirt to wear.  I went into the bathroom, changed, and looked in the mirror.  It was absolutely horrible.  It was a shirt I liked, but I couldn't bring myself to wear it because my huge, puffy nipples protruded out.  My chest looked enormous.  I broke down into tears right then and there.  It was the lowest I had felt in a very, very, very long time.

During dinner, my mom and dad noticed something was wrong.  I stared intently into the candle in the middle of the table.  My mom started asking me what's wrong, and I told her to not worry about it.  The whole time I was at the table, I was nearly on the verge of tears.  It was too much for me, it was way too painful.  No matter how hard I tried to act happy for my mom, I couldn't bring myself to act it.  My dad took me aside and asked me what was the matter.  I immediately broke down sobbing.  After nearly 30 minutes of him trying to work out what was wrong with me, I uttered to him:

"I have a condition called gynecomastia."

He took a half step back, completely startled.  He said that he had it too, and everyone in his side of the family has it.  He said my uncle used to put his arms up over his chest when he ran on the track so people couldn't see.  My dad said his doctors removed his when he was 16, which is why he has the huge scar.  I was shocked, because I didn't know that so many people in my family had it.  He said that they had tried endocrinological treatment for my uncle and it didn't work, and he finally stopped caring and decided to live with it.  He told me that if this was really hurting me as much as I said it did, and as much as it seemed like it did, that we could fix it.  And he hugged me.  I hadn't cried so hard in years. He took me to the bathroom, and I washed my face and went back to dinner, feeling like a weight had been taken off of my shoulders.

I want to get back everything that was taken from me when I was growing up.  I want to go to the beach, to the pool, and feel normal.  To have fun like everyone else.  I want to be able to wear the clothes that I like, the things that I want to wear, not the things that I have to wear so I don't look ridiculous.  I want to be who I really am, not someone who has carried the painful psychological burden that has hidden the real person within.  I wanted to tell my story to you all because that documentary, and thus this website, gave me the strength to finally tell someone.  To get help, to realize that I'm not giving in to this, that it's just something that I was unfortunately born with.  To all of you who have lived with this horrible condition longer than I have, I can't imagine the pain you went through, and the strength you have to have come out of it.  I admire each and every one of you.   I want to thank all of you for what you gave me, even though none of you have ever met me.  I want to thank you, most of all, for giving me the spark to get help, and for giving my life a second chance to be what I've always wanted it to be:  normal.

My surgery is scheduled for December 29th, 2006.





Linkback: https://www.gynecomastia.org/forum/index.php?topic=7866.0
« Last Edit: December 08, 2006, 06:37:13 AM by bdj148 »

Offline zidane7

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when i read your story, it was like reading my lifestory..not that it's identical, but a big part of it really covers my life, i'm only one year older.

i'm glad your dad understands what you're feeling, and what kind of pain it brings with it.
did you tell anyone else about it?
i told my parents and my GF, and i felt like they didn't realize what it kind of mental pain i went through, they believed i had 'some problems' with it, but that's it.

my operation was 2 days ago, and i can tell you the feeling is great, and knowing that you'll feel the same way in less then a month is a great thing.
i hope everything will go well for you.

Offline bdj148

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when i read your story, it was like reading my lifestory..not that it's identical, but a big part of it really covers my life, i'm only one year older.

i'm glad your dad understands what you're feeling, and what kind of pain it brings with it.
did you tell anyone else about it?
i told my parents and my GF, and i felt like they didn't realize what it kind of mental pain i went through, they believed i had 'some problems' with it, but that's it.

my operation was 2 days ago, and i can tell you the feeling is great, and knowing that you'll feel the same way in less then a month is a great thing.
i hope everything will go well for you.

Yeah, I've talked to several people.  My best friend Ellen was first, then my sister, then 3 more of my really good friends and one of their girlfriends.  I've only told people who I see all the time and will notice that I've undergone surgery. Thankfully, they're all people who I know care about me and will support me in whatever it is I do.  My friends have told me they're gonna come take care of me once I get out of surgery  :)

I'm planning on asking my dad to go to an endocrinologist after I get out of the surgery, just to make sure that my hormones aren't so out of whack that the condition will reappear quickly.  I don't think that's the case for me though, I think it's something that everyone in my family develops when they enter puberty that never goes away.  Once my dad had the surgery, he has had no signs of gynecomastia for the rest of his life with no further treatment.

Knowing that my dad relates to what I've been going through has helped me immensely.  He, and my mom, would do anything (within reason of course) if it would make me happy.  They recognize that this is something that has stunted my growth emotionally and socially my entire life, and they know that it's the reason why I haven't been able to walk with my back straight, or keep my chin up.  I love my parents, I don't know where I'd be if they weren't as supportive as they are.

Offline wolfman

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WOW, What a fantastic story, when i read the part when u told your dad i got goosbumps on my entire body. :'( Thanx so much for sharing your life story THANK U.
i finally feel like im a man

Offline headheldhigh01

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i was kind of surprised if your dad had had it too that he wasn't recognizing it earlier in you, but congrats on figuring it out and welcome.  what i would have given just to know what it was back in college let alone high school.  i think high school counselors should be more aware of this and required to give out exemptions to p.e. for it on request.  a lot of our lives are cut from the same cloth, aren't they. 

« Last Edit: December 08, 2006, 10:42:56 PM by headheldhigh01 »
* a man is more than a body will ever tell
* if it screws up your life the same, is there really any such thing as "mild" gyne?

Offline Mr_Nip

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i was kind of surprised if your dad had had it too that he wasn't recognizing it earlier in you, but congrats on figuring it out and welcome.  what i would have given just to know what it was back in college let alone high school.  i think high school counselors should be more aware of this and required to give out exemptions to p.e. for it on request.  a lot of our lives are cut from the same cloth, aren't they. 



Headheldhigh01, that's exactly what I was going to say.
MR. NIP

I come from nowhere
And you should go there.
Just try it for a while.
The people from nowhere always smile.  -  Frank Zappa

Offline bdj148

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i was kind of surprised if your dad had had it too that he wasn't recognizing it earlier in you, but congrats on figuring it out and welcome.  what i would have given just to know what it was back in college let alone high school.  i think high school counselors should be more aware of this and required to give out exemptions to p.e. for it on request.  a lot of our lives are cut from the same cloth, aren't they. 



Headheldhigh01, that's exactly what I was going to say.

I don't blame my dad for anything.  I was always pretty good at hiding it from my family, they never saw me with no shirt on, and I almost always had sweatshirts on.  Even my sister hadn't noticed until I told her.

Offline Mr_Nip

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I didn't read headheldhigh01's post as saying your dad deserves any blame.  It's just remarkable how hard it is for people to talk about this condition.  After 30 years of gyne I have told both of my sisters and my mom about my surgery.  My mom saw it in me and didn't want to make me feel bad about myself so she kept quiet.  Both of my sisters have told me they didn't ever really think much about it.  My dad isn't living now, but he never mentioned it either.  I don't hold any resentment or blame toward them either.  Heck, I didn't talk about it either, so I'm just as much to blame.

Knowing what I know now, I hope I can see it in my son if he develops it.  I'll definitely communicate with him about options if he does.

I don't believe that Headheldhigh01 wasn't saying anything about blaming your dad, rather that it's remarkable how often silence prevails over communication with gynecomastia.

Offline headheldhigh01

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you're right on, i just was surprised reading it didn't occur to him to wonder if he knew what it was.  i hid mine like crazy from everyone too, but knowing what it is now, i'd be watching a kid for any shirt-tugging or swimming shyness or the other symptoms we all know too well. 

Offline Grandpa Bambu

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bdj148...

Thanks for sharing your story.

Dude, I can totally relate. Especially about when you were in college and the teasing was less but when someone did made a crack about your m(o)(o)bs, it hurt bad.  :'(   It seems to hurt more comming from adults than it does from kids.

Also, when you got your first GF, people said that you had bigger breasts than her. When I was about 15 or 16, I got up enough courage to ask a girl out and we started dating. One of my friends mentioned to his dad that I had a GF and the dad said "That's nice, they can grow breasts together".   :-\

Good Luck with your surgery dude!  Who is your Surgeon?

John.


Surgery: February 16, 2005. - Toronto, Ontario Canada.
Surgeon: Dr. John Craig Fielding   M.D.   F.R.C.S. (C) (416.766.8890)
Pre-Op/Post-Op Pics

Offline bdj148

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bdj148...

Thanks for sharing your story.

Dude, I can totally relate. Especially about when you were in college and the teasing was less but when someone did made a crack about your m(o)(o)bs, it hurt bad.  :'(   It seems to hurt more comming from adults than it does from kids.

Also, when you got your first GF, people said that you had bigger breasts than her. When I was about 15 or 16, I got up enough courage to ask a girl out and we started dating. One of my friends mentioned to his dad that I had a GF and the dad said "That's nice, they can grow breasts together".   :-\

Good Luck with your surgery dude!  Who is your Surgeon?

John.




My surgeon is a family friend of mine.  He isn't listed on the site, but my dad has known him for years (they're both physicians, though my dad is an OB/GYN).  He's performed the surgery many times, he's an incredibly successful and talented surgeon, and performs both the lipo/excision.  I voiced concern to my dad about it, but he said he wouldn't send me to him if he thought that he couldn't give me the best possible result.

Even so, I plan on asking him a bunch of questions for my pre-op appointment, and I plan on asking if I can see pre- and post-op photos of his previous patients.  Another bonus will be that he'll probably give us the surgery for a lot cheaper than most would. :)

Offline Grandpa Bambu

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Another bonus will be that he'll probably give us the surgery for a lot cheaper than most would. :)

Awesome dude....

Good Luck!

John.

Offline bdj148

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Just a quick little update.  I went and talked to my surgeon today.  I had no idea just how much the surgery was going to cost us, seeing as my surgeon is very experienced with breast reductive surgeries (on women, but does and has performed them many times on men as well of course).  He was very nice, very reassuring about the whole thing, made sure I had no doubts about what to expect and that it's possible it can recur.  He does the lipo + excision, which I, of course, definitely want.

The best part of the trip though was the bill.  $1400 total.  $1000 + $400 for anaesthesia.  :o

I have my preop appointment on Friday.  I'll be sure to post an update after that.  I go under the knife next Friday. 

Quick question though, for those who have already undergone the surgery... how noticeable is the compression garment (without the foam)?  My surgeon told me that I'll have to wear it for several weeks after, and I'll be at school again during that time.  Thankfully it's January, so sweatshirts are still cool to wear...  he told me when I asked him what it's like that it's about like wearing an undershirt.  Do you guys agree with that?
« Last Edit: December 20, 2006, 04:21:32 PM by bdj148 »

Offline wolfman

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i had a t-shirt over the vest to hide it and u couldnt see i was wearing it.

Offline bdj148

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i had a t-shirt over the vest to hide it and u couldnt see i was wearing it.

Awesome :)  I was just hoping that I could wear t-shirts and not look like i had something huge on underneath it.  Good to hear that's possible.


 

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