The Unusual Coping Mechanisms That Come from Living with Endometriosis
Most people describe themselves as “completely normal”, when in reality, what does normal even mean? And also, who is so perfectly average they fall under that category? As an endometriosis patient, from the outside, I look like everyone else. Yet upon closer inspection, I have some behavioral traits that for anyone living without this disease can seem a little unusual.
All of my “strange” habits are coping mechanisms. Many endometriosis patients have their own. These are tools and practices we have developed to navigate life when in pain or feeling under the weather. We also reach out to them when social situations are challenging for the way in which our bodies behave.
Endometriosis shapes every side of each patient’s existence, how we organize our day, the order in which we carry out daily tasks, or how we behave socially. Here are some of the things I do.
I overpack my handbag with endless supplies
My handbag is full of medication, hormonal pills, painkillers, and, let’s not forget, panty liners. It doubles in weight when I am on holiday. That's when my TENS machine comes along too, nestled right next to my heating pad. I am a walking pain-management center and most of my friends happily benefit from this.
I’ve also been known to take my hot water bottle to restaurants, and quite often, to the movies. While I know this method of pain-relief should not be abused (especially at high temperatures), there are times in my life in which I need a little comforting outside of home, whether it is because of a flare-up or a case of the endo belly.
I regularly plan my life around the availability of bathrooms
This comes from a deep-seceded fear: I hate sharing bathrooms. Because of some of the symptoms of my disease (hello, IBS), I sometimes have to sprint to the nearest bathroom. Worrying about the possibility that said location could be busy can develop into anxiety. I hate going on holidays with other people because that means sharing bathrooms, and you definitively won't spot me on any camping holidays.
Whenever I’m in public, I check every surface I sit on
I may not even be bleeding, but whenever I get up from a restaurant table, a cafe, or public transport, I will check my seat several times. I will do this until I am satisfied there are no stains.
This relates to my reluctance to wear light colors of clothing. Tops are fine, yet I never, ever, wear white trousers or skirts, not even dresses. Light textiles are my kryptonite. I am especially panicky of other people’s sofas, and I avoid white bed sheets like the plague. I once slept over at a friends house, and he generously let me use some expensive white linen sheets. I woke up in the middle of the night bleeding heavily, unsurprisingly for no reason at all. This happened years ago and I haven't yet recovered from the embarrassment.
Anyone living with a chronic disease does things differently to the general population. It’s perfectly OK to tweak our lives to make them work for ourselves. I for one, don’t intend to change in that respect.
What are your unusual habits? Please share in the comment section below.
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