How to Support Your Friend with Endometriosis
Having endometriosis is difficult for a number of reasons. There is the obvious problem of being chronically ill, being in near-constant pain, and, in some cases, being infertile. As if that’s not enough, I’ve found endometriosis also very isolating. And no, not just during these times of lockdown.
No social life
I used to be very social when I was younger. I loved going out with my friends, either to the bar or to parties. I didn’t mind the late nights and I loved dancing until my feet hurt. But as my endometriosis got worse, I had to cancel plans with my friends more often. Exhaustion could strike at any time, and when it did, I often had to call my friends last-minute to tell them I couldn’t make it. Flare-ups were similarly unpredictable and I would have to leave a party early to deal with it.
My friends had shown me a lot of support and understanding when I had bad periods, but these unpredictable cancellations proved too much for them. They stopped inviting me as I’d cancel anyhow. And so I became isolated, missing out on fun times even though I would’ve been able to attend some of the parties my friends were going to.
Support your friend
I get that it’s annoying when people cancel last-minute. We like people to be dependable and it’s never nice to go to a party with a friend who leaves less than an hour later. But suffering from endometriosis is already horrible in and of itself, the last thing we need is friends who abandon us. So here are a few things you can do to support your friend with endometriosis:
Instead of shaming them for cancelling plans, offer sympathy and be flexible
We don’t cancel plans because we “don’t feel like going out”. We’re cancelling because we’re likely unable to walk from pain, or exhaustion has left us unable to even get off the couch. Being impatient or frustrated with cancelled plans only makes us feel worse.
Celebrate the good days with your friends
Days in which we feel great are rare. The worst reaction I’ve had when I finally felt good enough to go out with my friends was, “Oh, so now you feel good? Why couldn’t you feel good for xxx?”. We can’t control when we have our good days and our bad days, so celebrating the good without making us feel guilty for the bad will go a long way towards making us feel less lonely.
Make your plans inclusive
If your friend finds it hard to keep plans which mean they have to go out, maybe make plans which are more inclusive. Plan to stay home and watch a movie (staying on the couch with a hot water bottle is perfect for the flare-up times) or offer to hang out at your friend’s house if they find it hard to leave the house.
Having endometriosis can be very isolating, but it doesn’t have to be. If you love your friend who suffers from endometriosis, you can make their life a lot better with little effort.
Do you know what your endometriosis phenotype is?