I didn’t think that discovering the cause of my health woes would change me as much as it has. Finding out that the cause of my extreme bloating, digestive issues, bowel dysfunction, painful periods and pelvic pain is due to endometriosis; was a huge aha moment. And, that specific moment has changed and shaped my entire summer. I’ve learned more about myself and who I am during this experience. And, as my journey continues, I’m still learning. But here are some pretty real things that I’ve learned so far.
Forgiveness is Key
Guilt was an unexpected emotion that I have encountered on this journey. It kinda doesn’t make sense considering I didn’t make myself have endometriosis. So, why am I blaming myself? Primarily, my guilt stems from the fact that I didn’t advocate for my health sooner. I mean I always felt like something was wrong. I’ve struggled with painful periods and recurrent episodes of pelvic pain since I was a teenager. I also had issues with digestive dysfunction and infertility for the majority of my adult life. Not to mention I even have a family history of endometriosis. All of these issues are classic symptoms of endometriosis. And, they are clear signs that something’s up.
Yet, I trusted the doctors when they told me that birth control would fix my painful periods and there was nothing wrong with me. I regret not trusting my gut and doing my research earlier and pushing harder for answers instead of simple band-aid solutions. So, imagine my shock when I went off the pill 6 years ago to start my family and was dealing with the same issues all over again. Now imagine my despair when I found out that I had 2 large endometrial cysts due to more progressive endometriosis that wasn’t caught earlier. I was so angry at my ignorance and lack of awareness. But here’s a truth I’ve had to come to accept. I simply didn’t know.
As unfortunate as it was, I didn’t understand anything about endometriosis or infertility. I put my faith and trust in my doctors and truly believed that they knew what was best for me. Whether that was right or wrong I did the best with the knowledge that I had at the time. And, I have to accept that and let it go. Carrying this guilt and anger isn’t going to help me now in the present. Guilt and shame have no room here.
Grieving is Natural
To properly forgive myself I’ve had to grieve for what my health could have been and accept what it’s not. Ok, perhaps this sounds weird but when you’re dealing with a chronic illness that essentially has no cure, is attacking your fertility, and requires invasive treatments it’s a rather tough pill to swallow. There is still a lot that is up in the air for me and that I’m working with my doctor to uncover. To be honest, it’s a really scary and painful process.
But, when I allow myself to grieve the life, I feel was stolen from me, and to grieve the pain, and frustration it becomes easier for me to handle. I’m able to manage my symptoms more effectively and make important decisions. In the past, I would’ve tried to bottle up these emotions and hide them behind fake positivity. But, there’s such beauty in releasing all the fear, frustration, hurt and despair. To allow the negativity to pour out from my body. So, I can make room for healing, grace, mercy, love, and faith.
Body Positivity is A Necessity
The bloating from these cysts is unreal and it’s freaking uncomfortable. I look pregnant and have to deal with uncomfortable questions from people asking if I am. I can’t explain how awkward and downright hurtful it can be. Even though I know it’s not done to hurt me it’s made me super self-conscious. I don’t like looking in the mirror because it’s a glaring reminder of what I’m going through. And, I’ve kinda become a hermit because somehow my ovaries and my condition will become the topic of conversation.
Needless to say, body positivity is a challenge right now. Yet, I’ve learned that changing how I view my body is an important part of the healing process. Increasing my awareness of my condition and charting my fertility is life-changing. Gaining clarity about my condition helps me understand my body. In turn, this influences me to make better choices regarding nutrition and movement. Also, discovering how to chart my cycle helped connect me to my body differently. I’ve replaced the anger and hatred towards my ovaries with grace and compassion.
And while I still don’t like the way my body looks, and I want these cysts out (Can you blame me?). I understand that it’s a process and it’s not going to be like this forever. My recovery won’t be pretty, easy or simple and it doesn’t have to be. I’m just grateful for where I am today and for where I will be in the future. Healed and whole.
Trust Your Intuition
Finally, the biggest lesson that I’ve learned is that gut feelings don’t lie. I felt in my heart for the longest time there was an underlying issue causing me so much pain during my periods. Coupled with my lack of awareness regarding endo and medical professionals not taking me seriously I doubted myself. And, while there is nothing, I can do about the past I can definitely be a better advocate for my health in the future. So, if something doesn’t feel right or gives me anxiety, I know it’s not the right option for me. If a doctor patronizes me and doesn’t take my concerns seriously; I immediately look for a second opinion. I make it a priority to educate myself on endometriosis and the various treatments available for me; including the pros and cons of each. From medications, surgeries, alternative medicine, lifestyle modifications, all the things.
Becoming knowledgeable regarding all things endometriosis allows me to be a better advocate for my health. And, most importantly it provides me with the tools I need to overcome the obstacles I face on my journey towards healing and restoration of my fertility. As my knowledge and awareness increase so does my power.
Indeed, I am still in the middle of my journey and have a long way to go. And honestly, I keep cycling through each of these lessons. And, I expect this will continue until I’ve found a way to properly manage my condition. I’m not perfect and I still have my bad days as well as my bad weeks. I still hurt and feel pain and have moments of despair. Yet, despite the falls and struggles I get up again and keep fighting. I refuse to give up and I refuse to lose hope. Perhaps that is a lesson in and of itself; to never give up hope.
Learn More About Endometriosis
Increase your awareness and aid in the process of early diagnosis and treatment. Educate yourself and learn more about this disease and how it affects the health and well-being of many women.
If you’re living with endo and need to learn more about how to properly manage it check out these blog posts.
About the Author.
Hi, my name is Kathleen but you can call me Kat. I’m a health and wellness professional turned freelance writer and content creator. My personal struggle with infertility, endometriosis and ovarian cysts made me realize that there just isn’t enough information out there available to women to help them learn more about PCOS, endometriosis, adenomyosis, or fibroids. Basically, there’s a serious lack of information concerning a variety of women’s health topics and issues and well I got fed up. I decided to be the change and created this blog to spread awareness and advocate for women’s health issues. It has now become my passion to educate and empower women to redefine their health and be their own advocate. You can find me on YouTube and Instagram. If you take the opportunity to visit me on my other platforms don’t hesitate to leave a message, I would love to hear from you!