It is scary, I know, we have all been there! When you are told you are not crazy and the pain is not in your head but rather the result of a chronic illness called endometriosis, a flood of different feelings invades you. The funny thing is those feelings never leave you, rather, you learn to control them, and they flourish at different times throughout your journey, but they all are there to stay. I remember coming out of the effects of the anesthesia on my exploratory laparoscopy and as I was gaining consciousness I began to listen to the doctor next to my bed telling me that they confirmed endometriosis stage 4, even though I was half asleep I remember the feeling like it was yesterday.
It started with tears for sure, at first, they were tears of relief, knowing that I finally had a name and a face to what I been going through for the past 17 years. I was in relief because I finally had proof that the pain was not all in my head and now, I had a reason to feel sick. It was like a burden was lifted off my shoulders and now I had permission to feel the pain. I felt sadness and confusion about the unknown, I was diagnosed with an incurable illness that had a name but not a cure and I was already aware of the long road ahead of me to feel somewhat better. I felt alone and a sense of unfairness because I had been battling with this for so long without having anyone pay attention to me, I told my parents, doctors, gynecologist, coaches, teachers, partners, family members and no one listened and therefore my illness was more advanced than it should have been if I had treated it earlier. I wanted to blame others, I was angry, and I wanted to victimize myself but after the shock wore down as the days passed, I started to feel more positive about it and with a different light.
I remember a doctor telling me that endometriosis is like a cancer that doesn’t kill you and it truly is… including the grief it brings. Be prepared to cut all gluten, cheese, lactose, red meat, sugar and many other pleasures of life. You start to grieve an old life to welcome a new one that is more conducive to a healthier you. It is important to feel all those emotions including a sense of chaos and uncertainty but believe me, it is all worth it. You were told a diagnosis that changes the course of your entire life, from something as small as the way you eat to big decisions such as career paths or having children.
It took me a few days to get out of bed and start walking again and during those days my mind changed from thinking “Why is this happening to me?” to “This is happening for me”. It was a huge shift because I stopped being the victim and turned into an advocate for myself. As soon as you start seeing the possibilities of your journey, you start to see a light at the end of the tunnel. It was during those days that I planned for this blog, I became part of many other amazing groups and connected with other amazing women that understood what I was going through. I created various virtual friendships and endometriosis started to bring purpose to my life, not everyone is able to endure such pain for so long as I had, and it made me invincible.
I decided to change my life from the day I was diagnosed, from changing jobs, my diet, and incorporating exercise. I decided to tackle my illness head-on and overall, that changed the way I thought about myself as well. I felt hopeless for so long that knowing what I had empowered me for the first time to act and to do different things that could help me feel better. Hope was reborn and it was no longer in the hands of others, knowing my illness gave me the responsibility to change my habits to healthier ones. I was no longer unaware of why I was so sick and with knowledge came the power to change my life. I am broken that is true, but this is exactly what makes me unique, I have a story to tell to other amazing women out there that are going through the same things that I went through and I want to be the voice to tell them that they are not alone.
There are days that I feel pain and anxiety and I crumble at the thought of this illness. It is hard to stay positive on this long healing journey, the small sign of pain can send you backward in a matter of seconds. But staying positive is your end goal after I feel those emotions of chaos and frustration I go back to my happy place. I go back to being grateful to my body for carrying me so far, for pushing above and beyond on those painful moments, for still allowing me to smile on the good days, for allowing me to walk, dance and LIVE even if it is for a few days in the month. I give my body thanks for staying strong even when my mind breaks, for recuperating after all the operations and procedures that this journey entails. My goal is to feel better and my body fights along with me every day towards this goal and for that, I am forever thankful.
Accepting your endometriosis diagnosis is learning to be vulnerable and accepting all the different emotions that come with living with a chronic illness. Accepting endometriosis is trying to make the best and healthier decisions possible but also understanding that you will make poor decisions and if that happens just get back on the train, like everything else in life, you move on and try harder next time. Accepting endometriosis means that you have to constantly weight things in, you might eat an unhealthy cake but if you are having fun and are spending time with your loved ones eat the cake and then count the loses later but do what your heart desires. Most importantly, remember that you and I are not alone, and even when it is dark and we don’t see light at the end of the tunnel, know that we are 1 in 10 women in the world fighting this “invisible” illness together.
Please feel free to share your journey with endometriosis in the comments below, I can’t wait to read them all.
Until next time endo sisters,