It Takes a Village: Finding Support for Endometriosis From Multiple People
Last updated: May 2023
Living with a chronic invisible illness like endometriosis has taught me many powerful lessons. One of the most important lessons I learned was not to expect everything you need from one person.
I believe this lesson has taught me how to be a better friend by not expecting too much from one person.
My early symptoms and diagnosis journey
My endometriosis-related issues started shortly after my first period. This means by the age of 14 I was having symptoms such as extremely heavy bleeding, intense pain that would hinder my ability to function, and persistent cysts that would rupture.
Endometriosis quickly took over my life. The extreme pain would send me home from school early and prevent me from dancing.
My mother had endometriosis herself. This meant she believed in my pain and started helping me see doctors.
Reframing my sister's support
Initially, I felt very dismissed by my sister. When I would try to express how much pain I was in, my sister would basically tell me to suck it up.
I quickly realized that I could not vent to her about my pain or the challenges I was facing due to endometriosis. This was devastating to me.
As time progressed, I started to notice that my sister was a pitbull when it came to dealing with doctors and nurses when I was in the hospital. She was also very vocal when she felt like the doctors were not up to the challenge.
My sister was also great at dealing with the insurance company to find new doctors.
Once I realized how helpful my sister was when dealing with my doctors, I had an epiphany. My sister was not disregarding my pain or my condition.
In her own way, she cared about my health and tried to help me.
I began to understand that by expecting her to listen to me complain about my situation, I was trying to force her into a role that she was uncomfortable with being in. This put us both in a situation where we were not happy at the end of the day.
On the other hand, she was very comfortable dealing with my doctors and the insurance company. That was how she stepped up to the plate to support me.
Creating my own village
The realization that I could not expect everything from one person helped me realize that I needed a village’s worth of support. The challenge has been to learn what type of support I can expect from those in my support system.
While it may take some trial and error, this approach prevents me from expecting too much from one person. It also helps prevent me from feeling like someone does not care about me or the endometriosis that I am battling.
I also believe it helps those in my support system not feel overwhelmed since I am not making them wear too many hats.
Applying lessons to strengthen friendships
This lesson is one that endometriosis has taught me that I have been able to apply throughout my whole life. I truly believe that this helps friendships flourish.
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