The Nearly Invisible Battle with Endometriosis
I may look healthy, but am I really?
Endometriosis, in short, is a disease in which the uterus lining grows outside the uterus on other bodily organs. While this condition can be seen during surgery, surgery is the only way it is visible.
Some very technical individuals may say this means endometriosis is not an invisible condition, but I disagree.
Invisibility of endometriosis
Endometriosis cannot be seen during a pelvic exam or on tests, such as MRIs or Ultrasounds . The only way a doctor can be 100% sure a woman has endometriosis is to perform some type of surgery on her.
Logically, doctors treat surgery as a last resort treatment option. This means that women can be seen for years by a doctor for endometriosis symptoms without being properly diagnosed or treated.
It can take years and many different doctors for a woman to be diagnosed with endometriosis. The lack of diagnosis and proper treatment can have negative effects on the individual, including creating mental health issues.
Newly found mental health symptoms can compound the difficulty of receiving an endometriosis diagnosis.
When my fight with endometriosis started, I was blessed to have my mother stand by me. Everybody else told me the pain I was feeling was normal and I was just being dramatic.
Even doctors would not believe me because their thought process was that a teenager could not have endometriosis. I cannot tell you how many doctors told my mother that I was just depressed.
While endometriosis brought my mother and me closer, it placed a drain on all my other relationships. I struggled to simply live, much less do anything else.
This meant that I did not feel up to spending time with friends and I would sometimes miss family functions. Since my condition was invisible to them, they would believe I was just making excuses to not see them.
Issues like these can cause feelings of isolation. These feelings of isolation can lead to depression, which can be its own invisible condition.
Stigma of having an invisible illness
Living life with an invisible illness can easily become overwhelming. I cannot count the number of times that somebody told me the pain I was feeling was not legitimate.
To this day, I physically cringe when somebody tells me that my pain is “in my head.” I was not prepared for the judgmental looks and comments from strangers when I started using my handicap placard.
Initially, this made me not want to use the available spaces. But I cannot help how badly I hurt some days.
People assumed the placard was not mine because my disability did not come from a visible issue, such as a broken leg. Since I looked healthy to them, I must have been perfectly healthy.
Sadly, occurrences like this can cause daily life to be more difficult or stressful than recovering from surgical procedures. Some people are so quick to judge others, without knowing any part of the other person’s story.
This makes battling an invisible illness so difficult and disheartening. Since people cannot see any obvious evidence of a serious health condition, they tend to not believe the symptoms.
Health issues are so hard to manage when nobody believes you.
The holiday season is among us and can be so stressful! Do you experience more flares during this season?