For some women, dealing with endometriosis feels like being in a state of perpetual PMS. For others, it becomes a game of Jekyll and Hyde during that time of the month. Or during ovulation. Or all the time.
It is different for each woman but I would think that all woman with endometriosis would say that there are moments where they feel that endo has turned them into a monster.
As you probably know, endometriosis responds to hormones. It is the estrogen produced by the ovaries that cause the endometriosis to grow and spread. As your body responds to signals from your hormones, endo does the same. When you bleed during your period, it bleeds and spreads within your body. Eventually it can begin to produce its own hormones and become almost self-sustaining.
So as we think about all of the hormones that are involved in endometriosis, think about the top treatments for endometriosis – hormones! A vast array of birth control pills, patches, and rings are available. Don’t forget Lupron and Syranel (both of which put you into a menopausal state). Both of these options are often used as first line treatments for endo. No wonder we can feel like a monster! I don’t know about you but I have sampled my share of birth control and there were definitely a couple that made me feel like a complete madwoman! And don’t get me started on the speed of my mood swings on Lupron!
In addition to lovely hormones involved with endometriosis, the daily pain itself can add to feeling like a monster. The burden of chronic pain is more than physical, but it is also emotional, social, and spiritual. You feel isolated when your pain keeps you in bed. You feel frustrated because no one seems to understand what you are going through. You feel like you are going to punch the next person who says, “I understand – I have bad cramps, too.” You feel defeated when your doctor suggests that its all in your head. You want to lash out and cry at the same time.
You also sometimes see this monster when you look in the mirror. When you see your reflection, you see the shadow of what was once a healthy and vibrant young woman. Your physical appearance may not have changed but inside you know you are not the same. You may feel like the mirror is playing tricks on you. You may also feel that your body has betrayed you.
So how do we fight this monster? The answer is simple: day by day. Ok, its not really that simple but I think the first key to battling the monster is to understand that it is going to be a daily battle. There have been many times that I fooled myself into thinking that one day it will all just disappear and *poof* the monster will be gone. And you never know, maybe we’ll get extremely lucky and they will find a cure in our lifetime and we will get to slay the monster once and for all. But in the meantime, we will have to fight this monster daily. And we can because we’re warriors!
Some suggestions of things to keep in our arsenal to tame the endo monster:
- Find an outlet– whether it be blogging, journaling, painting, or music, find a way to express yourself. Allowing yourself to express yourself enables you to name what you feeling and own those feelings which in turns allows the opportunity for healing and growth.
- Open communication lines– have a sit down with your loves ones. Allow time for each party to share. While its frustrating for us to have endometriosis and deal with it day in and day it, it is also frustrating for our loved ones who often feel helpless to help us when we hurt and the frustration of both sides often causes tension and even division. While its hard not to just shut down at times, remember that we have friends and family that want to support us through our illness and love us (monster and all) if we allow them.
- Try different treatment options– Treatment for endo often leaves you feeling like a guinea pig. What works for some does not always work for others. If you feel like your brand of birth control is making you overly irritable, talk to your doctor about switching to another brand. Or try a low-dose birth control or a progesterone-only pill. Or try skipping hormonal treatments all together and try altering your diet, acupuncture, or physical therapy.
From one warrior to another – battle on!