Singing On Steroids: What The Doctor Failed To Tell Her
The "S" word. It's a touchy subject to say the least. It's a subject I've even been told once to never touch with a ten foot pole. As bodybuilders, we're not really allowed to talk about steroids. If anyone asks us about it we know how to dance around the issue. Sure, it would be easy to simply keep my big mouth shut, but I've never been very good at that.
Now I'm not one to judge, nor do I want to sound preachy. I only want to share one woman's story in the hopes that it just might open a few eyes, especially if any of those eyes belong to someone who's voice is valuable to them.
The Story Begins With A Dream...
It was her dream. She'd wanted it from the time she was a child. The look of large muscles on a woman filled her with excitement and jealousy. She looked at the ladies in the muscle magazines when she was fourteen and for years tried in vain to figure out how to acquire their physiques. In her mind, there was nothing quite as awe-inspiring as a woman with a gorgeous muscular back.
But there was another dream she'd had from an even younger age. It was an impossible dream: to somehow be a success in the music industry. Perhaps she'd make it as a songwriter. Perhaps she'd make it as a performer.
She'd been writing and recording songs from the age of ten and even worked as a back-up musician/singer for over seven years. Despite what her mother told her, she didn't think she had the greatest voice in the world, but she did the best she could with it. Harmonies were her specialty. She'd record songs with layers upon layers of vocals to create the illusion of a choir. No one ever imagined her musical and muscular dreams were on a terrible collision course.
The Path To Collision...
After some serious training to compete in bodybuilding she realized the unfortunate reality of the sport. What she hadn't known when she was fourteen was that in order to achieve the sort of body she dreamed of and to be able to compete seriously at the pro level, she would need to do what the majority of those pros did.
It really didn't seem like a big deal. After all, she'd seen many women who used steroids who didn't look or sound like awful monsters. The ones with the crazy deep voices probably used way more of the stuff than she was going to.
She did her homework and researched every single drug she planned on using. To be careful, she even visited a doctor to find out the possible side effects. He told her the worst thing that might happen was she'd experience temporary infertility, acne and some water retention.
Feeling confident that everything would be fine, she started with an injectable drug, which she was told wasn't very severe. She felt she needed it to preserve muscle while she was on a powerful fat-loss drug to cut down. Her worst fear was losing muscle! After taking the injectable for a while there was no change in her voice, although after a while she noticed something seemed to be getting larger below the belt. This was certainly disturbing, but she shrugged it off.
When it came time for her first contest prep, she had to move on to the big guns. Again, she was under the impression that the amount she was taking was minimal enough to prevent any nasty side-effects. To her amazement, and after a very short time, her voice had dropped significantly. Alone in her kitchen she spoke out loud, testing the new pitch. She found she could impersonate her father quite easily. She laughed. It wasn't funny, but she laughed anyway. Her voice was scratchy and as low as can be. How did this happen, and seemingly overnight?
It wasn't long before she discovered not only had her voice dropped, but her singing voice had been permanently mangled. She could sing frighteningly low and moderately high, but her middle range had been annihilated. She'd open her mouth to sing and only air would come out, as if she were being choked.
She quickly shrugged this off, too. What difference did it make now? What was done was done. She couldn't undo the damage, so why get upset? Needless to say, her mom was in tears a few times when she'd listen to her daughter's old songs.
Three years later as she was competing in her fourth show, she witnessed a fantastic natural female competitor win it all. Something clicked in her head. If she were going to do any more competitions in the future, it would be naturally. Enough was enough. It wasn't worth it anymore. She was stuck with the voice of a man, the anatomy of a female-to-male sex reassignment patient below the waist, and she spent a good amount of her day with a pair of tweezers plucking at her face. She decided to quit before her jaw began to widen.
Why hadn't the doctor warned her about these side-effects? He'd seen her anabolic grocery list. Did he really think she'd only get a little puffy and miss a few periods?
As comforting as it would've been to put the blame on someone else, she knew she couldn't blame the doctor. She should've known that every human being reacts to drugs differently. What destroys one woman's voice, may do nothing to another's. She had taken a big risk and could blame no one but herself and her ever-present need in life to learn things the first-handed hard way.
A Personal Tale...
By now you've probably figured out who the woman in the story is. Maybe I'm nuts, but I felt an obligation to share my experience, however taboo the subject matter. Here's hoping you have the gift of learning from other's mistakes. It's a gift I hope to have someday.
In the meantime I can only learn from my own. I continue to record my music, making the best of the voice I'm left with. I still love bodybuilding. I always will. I plan to compete in a local show next year, drug-free for the first time.
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