This New Year I’m Focusing on My Mental Health, Not My Endometriosis
Last updated: January 2023
Seven years ago I got my endometriosis diagnosis. “Not the worse kind, but not the easiest” the doctor said.
It would take me a further 18 months to find out the real extent of the disease: deep infiltrating endometriosis (DIE). I had adhesions and scar tissue covering my ovaries, sticking organs together and populating random parts of my body, like my sacrum region.
Putting more emphasis on my mental health
After several surgeries, hormonal medications and a wide range of alternative treatments, my symptoms are, at present, "behaving". Bar the occasional flare-up, I can pursue a career, exercise frequently and enjoy a social life.
Yet, at it currently stands, my endometriosis is going nowhere
While I am responding well to my current line of treatment and the lifestyle changes I’ve introduced over the years, I am not cured. As it’s mostly the case with endometriosis, I still experience disruptive symptoms that need management and regular check-ups.
It was during a recent medical appointment to discuss my medication that I noticed a huge change. Throughout the appointment, instead of feeling exasperation and frustration like I normally do, I felt something else. I was incredibly conscious of what could cause me upset.
My experience of this disease is greatly marked by traumatic hospital experiences. So when I met the male doctor that was due to examine me, I took a moment to evaluate my feelings.
Within seconds, I knew that the situation could be triggering. Despite having never asked for one before, I requested a chaperone.
Having another person with me in the consultation room felt like the biggest supportive hug I could give myself.
Focusing on my emotional health gave me a new-found relief
During that same consultation, I was offered to have a coil fitted in. While that option could help my symptoms, I knew that the invasiveness of the procedure would be extremely distressing.
Despite my doctor’s insistence, I calmly voiced my reasons for refusing the coil and explained that I was guarding my mental health. As I walked out, I realized something had changed in my mind. Since there is no fix for my disease, my focus has shifted from my body, towards my mental health.
I could spent the rest of my days striving to banish this wretched illness from inside of me. My efforts could go towards seeing a myriad of specialists or trying new treatments. However, that would involve sacrificing my happiness.
I am caring for my mental health, more than ever
Mindfulness and meditation are also part of my toolkit for life with endometriosis. I meditate every morning, and whenever I am in a trying situation I practice grouding exercises, taking note of what I can touch, smell or see.
Exercise has become an essential part of my life. It is not about weight, nor about the shape of my body. Mostly, I exercise to care for my mental health, as it works wonders at easing my anxiety.
Keeping my stress and anxiety levels low is proving to be the best way forward for me. Flare-ups are at an all time minimum and I cannot help but think there's a connection there.
I am not dismissing surgical procedures or other treatments, but right now, I will not pursue them.
This may sound like giving up, but it is not
I continue to actively strive for my physical wellbeing, as symptom management is paramount for me. But I know my diagnosis. I have an incurable, chronic illness.
My mental health sits right at the top of my list of priorities. I’d rather live a happier existence, than one spent chasing something that may continue to elude me forever.
If a cure for my endometriosis is not in the cards for me, a more fulfilling life is. Because that I can control.
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