I have endometriosis in both of these photos. But here’s the difference.
In one photo I’m struggling, uneducated about it and completely derailing myself. The other, I am actively working every single day to fight it whilst simultaneously being at peace with it. – Not to mention, I’m very proud of how far I’ve come with body acceptance. These photos feel like two different people and honestly, they are. I found that first photo whilst packing to move late last year and it absolutely shocked me. It made me feel all sorts. Embarrassed, ashamed but mostly importantly, pride.
TW if you have endo and are sensitive to other’s experience with it, I urge you to click off. We are all in our own race, lane and have vastly different experiences with the same devil. Knowing what you’re willing to consume around the topic is crucial. *Graphic photos included*
For those of you who have been following along for a while, you will know that in 2018 I was diagnosed with endometriosis. I had the surgery, did the whole rehab thing and have since spoken about its very quick re-emergence into my life shortly after.
I have also spoken on the benefits I have witnessed through lifestyle changes like diet, stress management and fitness. Heck I went out and studied both these during COVID because I just wanted to know as much as I possibly could to help myself in any way I could.
For those of you who may not know, here’s a very quick recap of something that cannot be condensed into a blog post nor fully understood, but enough insight to get the general gist.
I had been battling chronic fatigue, extreme sciatic pain, mental health issues, poor immunity and abdominal pain for most of my adult life. Prior to this, I had been getting inconsistent migraines throughout my teens, having me hauled up in a hospital bed until the pain subsided and my memory came to, after nights of singing Britney Spears to nurses and forgetting who I was. I believe the two to be linked, my hormones just had a rough start and inevitably grew into a bigger beast *this is not medically checked or studied, but after the migraines stopped my day to day symptoms grew more prominent, don’t quote me or sue me, it’s just an observation of my experience with my body/ periods.*
Fast forward to being diagnosed, I saw 3 doctors before I was told that It wasn’t ‘in my head’ or ‘just a bad period’.
To finally going in for my surgery, which mind you, I was lucky enough to have parents in a financial position to pay for it because this is not covered under general health care or private health care and is actually considered ‘elective’.
After my surgery, getting the confirmation felt like a weight off. I actually started to believe that it might be in my head and that I’m over reacting. No sir.
The rehab process felt long and was more mentally challenging than anything. I had a lot of existential shit going on in my head, I think the build up of the whole ordeal really hit me and the aftermath of this lasted for a while. 6 months later, my symptoms began to come back. I was mad. Furious. I felt like my body had failed. Money wasted. I was mad that I was put in this broken body that couldn’t give me a break. I felt like it kept me from ‘normal things’. Even if I showed up to things in pain I would mask it or be completely detached from everything because I couldn’t concentrate on anything else.
That point was a huge turning point. I Had to really begin to look at myself. It was a time that took a lot of stopping and starting, trial and error but the pain forced me to try fucking everything to get better. I used it as fuel to move me forward. I got to a point where I simply refused to be sick.
And it magically went away. The end.
I didn’t out run it, or out think it, but I did find myself living alongside it rather than bucking up against it.
I did however have to change every single aspect of the way I lived my life. It took 2 years of trying and failing. Trying to eat better and exercise right. Trying not to drink or indulge in bad habits and lifestyle choices.
Then 2020 hit and I had no choice but to sit with myself, my symptoms and my shit. Don’t get me wrong, I failed a bunch during the pandemic too. The general nature of the pandemic had this theme…
I had to stare at it and make friends with it. My mental health, my physical health, my body. All things that I would have previously popped into the ‘I’ll get to it one day’ category.
For something that was once the most pain in the ass, vile thing to have hit my physical body and changed me for what I could only understand to be for the worst, it turned into the biggest blessing that could have possibly graced me. I have turned it into this through years of work around it.
To seek the perspective shift. To count my blessings, to utilise my privilege and take advantage of my options.
Let me tell you why. By changing my life in my mental health, physical health through diet and movement, spiritual health and looking for more purpose and meaning for myself, I was able to truly understand what it means to be alive. I began to understand the way I was living, this empty shell of a person who was a magnet for the dark alleys and monsters under the bed, she needed to be punched in the face to learn how to fight. It’s the harsh way of saying sometimes we need to give ourselves tough love to see the light.
What I didn’t realise was that you can give yourself some tough love, lovingly.
My endo is still here. I still experience chronic fatigue at times throughout the month, my immune system still isn’t crash hot and every symptom I had creeps back in if I don’t stay on top of my regimes. Things that a lot of people see as over the top and prohibit me from ‘living life to the fullest’ I see as a lifeline. I have two options every single day. I choose to get down on it or I choose to fight. Somedays, the fight ain’t there and I hand myself over. I stay in bed for some extra hours and take it easy. But most of the time, I’m up and I’m refusing to allow it to affect me.
IF you are experiencing symptoms or have endo, I don’t have a cure for you, I don’t have a quick fix but if I can tell you anything it’s this.
Let yourself get angry at it. It’s as emotional as it is physical. Let yourself have shitty days where you just feel it all.
Then step forward. I’m not telling you to get over it, quite the opposite. The best we can do is allow it to have a place in the house without letting it take up the entire lounge room.
You won’t find motivation to do the right thing for yourself, most of the time, you have to actively make it happen. This gets easier.
People will look at you like you’re a freak. The hidden illness, the ‘yeah but you look fine’ so if you look fine, you must be fine and they assume they can make judgements, critiques and lump you into a category. You are more than the perception of others. A big thing I’ve learned here is that they don’t and won’t understand and it is not our responsibility to make them. We just have to do what we have to do.
Tips that might have a beneficial, positive impact on your life:
If you have not fully looked into the power of a healthy anti-inflammatory diet and a good exercise routine, please do this for yourself. – It does not fix it but fuck it helps I promise and not only helps physically but also mentally. It might feel hard at first but it will slowly become a part of your day like brushing your teeth and you WILL notice a difference. (If you need guidance for this, please let me know and I can point you in the right direction)
Before I move forward it is my responsibility to say, get medical assistance. See a doctor until your suspicions have been confirmed if your experience has been met with doctors who don’t understand or believe you. The other thing with treatments and medication, they work a hell of a lot better with a solid foundation of healthy lifestyle.
Learn about how to utilise supplements – see a nutritionist or naturopath for this
Cut out shitty stuff like alcohol and anything that is toxic to your body. This includes fast food – you will notice the difference if you have a burger once you are predominantly eating healthy, your stomach will FLARE.
Low stress is best. I know mine flares up when I’m stressed. – In fact, it will only flare up when I’m stressed.
These things whilst not the only things as I won’t share details because all circumstances are different, have helped me immensely. They have been a gateway drug into seeking more for myself and opened my life up to so much goodness I can’t even tell you.
There’s no shame to this. I’m still learning and failing and learning. I’m still getting it wrong and I’m okay with that. Whatever phase you’re at with it, know that you aren’t alone and that it takes time. I was diagnosed in 2018 and it’s taken me 5 years to come to terms with how I personally best operate and deal with this.
It’s about finding the balance between knowing when to rest and knowing when to fight, when to push on. It’s about knowing when to give yourself over to the emotional fatigue of it and knowing when to find something that gives you perspective and gratitude. You can do this simultaneously and you can attempt it and not get it right and this is okay too.
I’m at a place where I have a deep appreciation for my body, which is huge for me. I’m at a place where I also still at times get sad at it but bringing myself back to perspective and gratitude always shifts me back into place. This thing has changed my life, whilst still a silent burden that no one else can see, for me it has put me on a better path. It’s given me understanding and is teaching me compassion.
There’s no one way to do this, handle something like this, but I find a balance of grit, determination and self compassion is the best way to move with it.
Love to my endo sisters. XX
November 2018 post- surgery
Results of endo removal.
November 2018 pre- surgery