I’ll be honest with you, my Endometriosis pain has been rearing it’s ugly head since I have been back in New Zealand. It is kinda forgiveable considering all that is going on. My trip to South-Africa, a new job and the house is still only semi unpacked. It is frustrating but it does prove the close link between our stress levels and Endometriosis pain. The thing that I realised is that the pain itself, the Endometriosis itself actually brings with it some of it’s own stresses, which we perhaps don’t always acknowledge as stress. By recognising these stress thoughts, we can work on looking at more positive views on how to deal with them.
1. We can’t see what is going on
If you have an outside wound, you can see it’s progress. You can see if it gets infected or if it is healing. With Endometriosis we can only gage our healing by our pain levels and the tricky thing is, the pain level isn’t always true to what is going on inside. You may feel like you are in tremendous pain, decide to go for an operation and they barely find any Endometriosis scaring. Or you find none – which was an experience I had a number of years ago. I had to put it down to Interstitial Cystitis.
Unfortunately, what happens is, we go on a vicious cycle here. We experience some pain from Endo. So, we start to think the worst – ” It is spreading everywhere and it isn’t going to stop spreading!” “I feel it in my lungs or my bowels!” “I am always going to be in pain”. This in itself is stressful thinking. We start to imagine a life of permanent pain, of struggling of endless operations. The problem is that these thoughts create a chain reaction. We think them and our body cramps up from the stress of these thoughts. The more we cramp and get stressed, the worse the Endometriosis gets and so we start to think worse things…. and so we continue. We need to stop that cycle. Don’t assume the worst. Believe we can heal or get better and make sure we take concrete steps towards healing each and every day, which will help you psychologically in believing, there is hope and a way forward.
I find when I break the cycle of my “healing routine”, I do loose faith in healing. It is like the routine itself gives me a sense of control and proactive choice.
2. Help is rare and often unreliable
The biggest feeling with Endometriosis is this uncontrollable sense that no-one really gets it. Information about it seems so limited and so misleading. We try and find answers and it is often incorrect or not specific to Endometriosis. I have found there to be many assumptions with Endometriosis which are simply not true and upon digging further, can often be more harmful to Endometriosis than beneficial.Our mind starts to wonder how reliable our current source may be. Thoughts about whether we should trust information presented to us, start to overwhelm us and that doubt, that feeling of uncertainty, inevitably leaves us feeling hopeless and frustrated. We almost give up before even trying anything because information seems to contradict or leave us confused.
Thing is, Endometriosis will never be an instant or easy fix. We need to accept that. What we can rely on and know instinctively is that, the way we treat our body is ultimately going to influence our pain levels and healing – regardless of what supplements or external suggestions that are presented to us may offer. Eating healthy, exercising and finding a way to release our stress is going to work, on some level. That is obvious and you don’t need anyone to tell you this, as you already know this.
The other thing I know is that, for those women who keep searching and keep trying, they do eventually find a place of healing. For some this is a complete cure and for others it is just a way to live with Endometriosis without pain. The big thing is, they keep searching and don’t ever give in to a feeling of hopelessness. They want to get better and they will often do whatever it takes to do that. That choice, these powerful thoughts are within you and you should embrace them. They will help you find the answers easier and will guide you on what is right for you. Never be afraid to hope.
3. Being able to cope with whatever life throws at us
One of the things I used to worry about often, was a feeling of not being able to cope when I needed my body the most. For instance, when I had a big function on or there was a situation in my life I had to deal with, which was really important to me. Because I knew that these situations often caused extra stress on my body, I would worry that Endometriosis would flare up, due to the stress and make it unbearable to deal with that event or situation the way I wanted to. I would worry that I would just crumble or get through the situation, but then deal with days of pain after it.
The ironic thing was, the stress of “not being able to cope” was actually worse than getting through the function or situation!
The biggest lesson I have learned is that, we get through things in life – somehow we do learn to cope. We also need to trust in our own abilities in being able to do things. I recognised years ago, that most of my stresses in life were directly related to my own confidence levels and self-esteem issues. I realised that by believing in myself and trusting that I could do things, that many of the stresses I felt were alleviated. It is important to tell yourself that …”I can cope and I will be fine, no matter what happens.”
Trust in yourself and trust that you will be fine and believe in your own inner strength. You have been through worse or you have been through it before and you came out okay, so just let it go and trust in yourself.
4. Being Selfish
Somehow we are taught that by thinking about ourselves first, that we are selfish people. We are taught that we are not loving or caring people when we do this. So, we put others first. We give and help others where we can. Many times, to our own detriment. We want to make sure everyone around us is happy and looked after but many times, we sacrifice our own healing and relaxation time by serving others.
This inevitably causes stress. We worry that we can’t help those around us or give as much as we would like. We start to feel guilty. Guilty, that we are not doing enough, giving enough or being enough of “ourselves” – the happy fun selves – for others around us. We start to believe that others around us, have to “put up with us and our Endometriosis” and that we are a burden to them, if we are in pain or unable to do things with them. So, we push ourselves through this. We fight our natural desire to stay in bed all day or give ourselves space to heal. We push and fight and go against our body’s desire to heal…. to please others.
I know we want to love others and be there for others and in some cases we have little choice – if we have kids for instance, but the thing we need to appreciate is, that when we do this, we are building resistance within the bodies natural desire to heal. We need to accept that we need our own space. We need our own time and a place where we can be selfish. I found that I can allocate that time to myself each morning. By having that time allocated, which is “just me time”, I can allow myself to do whatever I like in that time and it is my space to do Yoga, go for a walk or just cry – if my body needs to release that.
It is also how we look at it. When we perceive others as an extra strain on us, like something we now have to worry about or feel guilty about, it builds stress. Rather than feeling guilty about not being able to do things and sharing that negative energy with those that you love, try embracing the things that you can share with them, even if they are not as much or as often. They will remember those days and moments more than you being irritable and drained and in pain 🙂
I am sure you will recognise many of these thought patterns in yourself as I know I have felt them over many years with Endometriosis. I know for me, learning to recognise them as stresses actually helped me tremendously as I was able to tackle each one individually and thereby reduce the stress they placed on my body and inevitably on Endo.
Feel free to share any others you may be feeling or have felt that could help other women. 🙂