Normalizing Conversations around Pain with Your Loved Ones
My partner and I are very open when it comes to discussing all things endometriosis related, and this includes discussing her pain and discomfort levels. She is very vocal about how much pain she is in that day, and I will often ask. We evaluate how the pain was compared to yesterday, what might have triggered a flare-up, how the constant pain is burning her out. But even though we can discuss this openly, I know there are times when she plays down her pain for my sake.
Of course, this talk of her pain worries me and makes me feel helpless, and I’m in the loop so to speak. I know that she is doing her best to manage her endometriosis symptoms, and I know she is looking after her health. Even so, endometriosis (and associated conditions) is chronic, and there may always be some level of struggle involved.
We don't want our loved ones to worry
So, it’s obviously to see why both of us will sometimes downplay her pain and experience to other people – people who don’t know all the hard work she puts in to managing her symptoms. Sometimes when we talk to family members, we downplay the pain, because when we don’t, they become worried, anxious, start giving uneducated and obvious advice, and my partner ends up having to reassure them that she’s okay, and making them feel better, rather than the other way around.
Similarly, if I’m speaking to a friend who isn’t close to my partner, I might downplay her pain – they don’t understand endometriosis or her journey, and often the responses they give are uninformed and not helpful.
Now I’m rethinking this
Perhaps we should be honest with everyone. Perhaps being honest about the pain experienced by someone with a chronic condition will serve to normalise the experiences of people with chronic conditions everywhere. Perhaps by staying quiet and pretending everything is fine we are doing more harm than good, silencing the experiences of those who are suffering every day.
It’s a difficult tight rope to balance
Between keeping your friends and family worry-free and blissfully unaware, but also keeping them informed and being honest. In the end, it is completely up to my partner how she wants to share what is, after all, her experience – whether that means being completely honest with everyone about what living with endometriosis can be like or not. Either way, we can always confide in each other.
Do you know what your endometriosis phenotype is?