Four Affirmations That Help Keep Me Grounded
When I am having an endo flare, my abdomen isn't the only thing that hurts. Endometriosis can impact my entire body, including my brain.
Some of my excellent colleagues have written about endo brain fog, body image issues, and feeling like a burden to their loved ones. When I'm exhausted from my painful cramps, I may feel undesirable because of my bloated belly. I may feel self-conscious when I have to miss important meetings and deadlines because I'm in too much pain to go to work. I may feel FOMO (fear of missing out) when I see my friends posting on social media about their evenings out when I'm cradling a hot water bottle against my tummy.
Over time, these feelings chip away at my sense of self-worth and my self-esteem. People who have chronic pain often struggle with feelings of depression or anxiety, and endometriosis has taken its toll on my mental health.1
Affirmations for improving self-confidence
Affirmations empower me to stay hopeful when I'm having an endo flare. I write and recite positive affirmations to remind myself that I am so much more than my endometriosis.
Of course, the power of positive thinking can't cure endometriosis or completely take away my pain. However, some medical studies do indicate that affirmations can help decrease some of the stress and temper some of the adverse judgment we feel toward ourselves.2
So, when endometriosis has me doubting my sense of self-worth, these affirmations help me be gentler to my body and my mind.
My pain is real and valid
One of the most frustrating things I've experienced during my endometriosis journey is having my pain dismissed by doctors, employers, or loved ones. When people ask me, "Are you sure you're not just having bad period cramps?"
I sometimes begin to doubt myself. I wonder if I am too weak or sensitive, and my inner bully whispers to me that I should be able to overcome my symptoms. Ironically, this urge to power through the pain can make people feel even sicker.
When we are in pain, we need to rest so we can give our bodies the time to recuperate. But I know that many other people suffer for years before their menstrual health concerns are taken seriously. It takes many patients an entire decade before they are finally diagnosed with endometriosis. When I remind myself that my pain is real, I can give myself permission to heal.
My body hurts, but I'm grateful for its resilience
When I have a flare, I wish that I didn't have to live with the complications of a chronic illness. Sometimes, I hate that I have to live in a body that causes me pain. I wish that I could trade out my body for one with healthier tissue, one that doesn't bleed so much, or one without tissue that becomes inflamed each month.
When I resent my own body, I take a deep breath.
I remind myself that no person's body is perfect. Instead of blaming my body for the pain I have, I try to give my body extra love. I think about how my body has let me taste my favorite foods, listen to my favorite music, and visit my favorite places.
I thank my body for fighting so hard so I can continue to have those beautiful experiences.
I am more than my productivity
When I have a bad endo flare, I may not be able to get out of bed. Normally, I'm a busy bee, and I've always been a Type-A perfectionist.
When I was young, I celebrated my perfect attendance and honor roll awards, and I was the student who earned the "Most Reliable" superlative in high school and college. But when my periods became more painful in graduate school, I had trouble attending all of my lectures.
For the first time in my life, I had to ask for work extensions or time off work. I often feel guilty about letting my coworkers down or missing out on professional opportunities. This guilt can make me feel like I have to take on additional work to "prove" that I am still capable and responsible.
Yet this inclination can quickly tip into self-sabotage when I inevitably have to take more time off work during another endo flare. In these moments, I remind myself that I am worth more than my productivity.
Being productive does not automatically make me a better, kinder, or smarter person, and this affirmation helps me be more realistic about my workload. When I recite this affirmation, I feel empowered to protect my work-life balance.
My body is not wrong or embarrassing, and I don't need to be ashamed of my endometriosis
When I have told employers or family members about my period pain, I've often heard the response, "That's TMI! I don't need to know about that." Periods are stigmatized as being gross or taboo.
The period panty company THINX commissioned a study to ask 2,000 Americans about periods. 58% of women who participated in this survey reported that they felt embarrassed about their periods.3
Many of these women avoid telling other people that they're on their period. They might use a euphemism like "being on the dot" or "shark week" to describe their period. They might prefer to wad toilet paper into their panties to make a makeshift pad rather than asking someone to share a spare tampon or pad. In other words, over half of the women feel at least a little ashamed of their menstrual cycle.3
But when I feel self-conscious about my body, I remind myself that my menstrual health is nothing to be ashamed about. I remember that half of the adult population has also experienced periods.
Specifically, 10% of menstruating people have endometriosis. This affirmation reminds me that period stigma discourages many people from reporting their pain or seeking help for their symptoms.4
When people feel ashamed of their bodies, they may not feel comfortable having open and honest discussions with their doctors. When more people have unfiltered, unapologetic conversations about periods, we can work together to help correct medical misunderstandings and raise much-needed awareness about endometriosis.
Do you have any affirmations that you use to cope with endometriosis? Please share them in the comments below.
Have you had any of the following surgeries for your endo?