Did Stress Cause My Endometriosis?

It’s suggested that stress-related illnesses can drive as much as 9 out of 10 doctor’s appointments. Wow! That’s humbling, in my opinion. Our stressful lifestyles are literally making us sick.

Unfortunately, the source of the stress is not always in our control, but I know this connection of stress to illness has been true for me.

My experience

I was diagnosed with endometriosis when I had the biggest project of my corporate career. I was so excited to be selected to be on the project, but it was intense. So, it was no surprise that just before the project culminated, I had to take time off for the laparoscopic surgery.

I remember trying to keep it under wraps, because although I worked for an incredibly supportive team, I didn’t want anyone to think that my aspect of the project was going to be compromised. I had the surgery on Friday and went back to work on Monday... It was way too soon.

Although a laparoscopic procedure, the reality was my body was under such a state of stress going into it, coupled with the fact that I have a history of not responding well to aesthesia, my body needed rest that I wasn’t willing to give it... and I paid for it. Years later, my mom was at the end of a 10-year battle with cancer and I was once again in a stressful work environment. The stress I felt in my body then was one I hope to never experience again. Six months later, I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

The role of epigenetics

I can’t say that stress created endometriosis or multiple sclerosis in my body. However, I do believe in epigenetics. This is the concept that the body is predisposed for a particular illness. However, our diet and lifestyle determines if and when those genes actually turn on and present the disease. Now, I have a much greater “respect” for stress and am faster to respond with strategies to manage it.

How I manage stress

For starters, my non-negotiable is sleep. I’ve discovered how much healing happens in our body during our sleeping hours. I strive to be in bed by 10 pm and wake up before 6 am. Possibly the hardest one for me is getting on electronics before I go to bed at night. I know how much it affects the quality of sleep, but I still catch myself on social media or texting close to bedtime. I’m happy to say that this year I decided to take my first vacation in five years. It was greatly needed.

It doesn’t have to be fancy, but finding small breaks in your day and in your year overall can certainly help manage stress and your health.

Have you experienced a connection between a stressful event and an illness in your life? What do you do differently now to best care for yourself?

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