Living and working with Endometriosis
After being diagnosed with Endometriosis in 2021, I could finally find an answer to everything I had been struggling with for a significant portion of my adult life. Endometriosis is a condition that affects 1 in 10 women, where tissue similar to the lining of the womb grows in other places, such as the ovaries and fallopian tubes. On average, it takes 8 years to receive a diagnosis, and for some, it may go completely undiagnosed. Unfortunately, there is no quick fix or cure for Endometriosis. When you suffer from a chronic illness like this, it is hard to be a 'glass half full' person as every aspect of your life is compromised.
During my lengthy process of being diagnosed with Endometriosis, my pain was often gaslit and downplayed, "everyone has bad periods, that's just how it is." These words hurt, as I am often bedbound, unable to carry on with everyday life, even if it's just a 'bad period.' Despite this being such a common condition, there is still much work to be done to get to a point where it is taken more seriously, especially in the workplace.
I have often found it hard to explain to someone why I cannot come to work because I am having a flare-up. Before my current job, I had only ever worked in retail, where you are on your feet for 4-8 hours a day, sometimes even longer. I have had both positive and negative experiences in the workplace; people can be more understanding than others, and I was often made to feel worse for letting them know I was struggling. There is such guilt in this because you feel like you're letting people down, and you're often losing money. I am very grateful that I am in a luckier position now with an office job, an incredibly kind and understanding team, and the flexibility to work at home if I am ever feeling unwell.
Endometriosis can feel very isolating, like all chronic illnesses. It is very normal to feel alone and anxious.
There are many things I wish I could have been told prior to and after my diagnosis, so if you are going through something similar, here are a few things I wish I could have been told:
Just because you can't see it, doesn't mean it isn't real.
It is not just a bad period.
No one's pain is less valid because they suffer different symptoms.
It's okay to grieve the body you had before you were sick.
Trust yourself; you know your own body better than anyone.
Do not feel guilty for constant GP appointments; you are advocating for a better life.
Ask for help when you need it.
Surround yourself with good people; not everyone has to understand what you are going through, but they can always offer you support.
Do not feel guilty if you cannot get out of bed; your body needs rest, and it will thank you for it.
I have learned a lot about Endometriosis through researching it myself, and following accounts on Instagram has been helpful. Sometimes it is comforting to know you are not the only person going through this.
These are the accounts that I would recommend following:
@endometriosis.uk is the UK charity for Endometriosis, and they do some incredible work.
Ciara Wilkinson O'Callaghan, Cohort 40, Content Creator Apprentice at St Rocco's Hospice