Managing Burnout from Endometriosis Treatment
Last updated: April 2023
Burnout is a concept that is mostly heard when applied to the professional environment, as a state of physical and emotional exhaustion, an inability to cope with professional demands, and long-term stress.
With endometriosis, lengthy periods of stress are not uncommon. After all, it is a disease that involves chronic discomfort.
Yet seeking treatment for this condition is a recipe for burnout. For many of us, finding an effective line of treatment becomes a life-long endeavor. When we find something that works, it doesn’t mean it’s going to do so forever.
Some surgical procedures can alleviate pain by removing adhesions or cysts through excision or using heat or a laser. There are also more radical procedures, such as hysterectomies and oophorectomies.1
But none of these guarantee long-term relief. I've had several surgical procedures, and while they temporarily eased most of my symptoms, these benefits didn't last.
Searching for effective treatment is exhausting
I am not symptom-free despite finding a hormonal treatment that allows me to live an active life. Yet when I consider looking for alternative treatment, I soon give up.
Currently, I am suffering from spotting and mild pain, but I am choosing to do very little about it other than manage the discomfort through painkillers and my TENS unit. While that may not be the best approach, it results from sheer exhaustion.
I have discussed my body with strangers long enough
I have lost so much trust in the system that whenever I meet a new doctor, I immediately assume they know nothing about endometriosis. Having experienced arrogant GPs who told me a baby would cure my endometriosis, I have developed a zero-tolerance policy for anyone who isn’t a specialist.
The burnout is real, and it’s OK if you feel it too
We are not bad patients. We are just exhausted from jumping through endless medical hoops.
Having blood drawn and experiencing invasive examinations for years is heavily taxing. We have spent years answering the same questions and receiving little to no effective treatment in exchange.
Yet, we need to fight to ensure a good quality of life. So what can we do?
When experiencing burnout, reconnecting with ourselves and defining our journey is key. In my case, I am OK with not pursuing the child-bearing route, so any treatments that prioritize my fertility are of no use to me.
This I will make clear immediately upon meeting any health professional to ensure they don't engage in a conversation that would only upset me.
I want a line of treatment that feels right to me
I am not opposed to discussing treatment options or making lifestyle changes. I am happy to chat with any health professional that is actively working to relieve endometriosis symptoms, no matter their approach.
I just want to ensure that whoever I talk to has a good grasp of the latest research on this disease.
For now, I am managing my own feelings of exhaustion by sticking to a line of treatment that, while imperfect, gets me as close as possible to an endometriosis-free existence. Being on progestin may involve occasional bleeding, but most of the time, it does its job.
Most importantly, it does not affect my mental health like other hormonal treatments.
We live with an underfunded, under-researched illness with no current cure. Feelings of exhaustion are not only valid, but they are also unavoidable.
While we may need a break from this disease, we cannot take a break from prioritizing our happiness. Listening to our gut, and choosing what works for us, is an essential form of self-care.
Which symptoms are you experiencing the most this week? (Check all that apply):