I remember one of my first jobs. It was really a great job, on the surface. I was working in advertising. Heaps of glamor, prestige and money. I would spend many days working overtime and there was always an incessant pressure to finish something. It was absolute hell for my endometriosis. I would try to call in sick, because my pain was so severe I could barely walk, let alone get in the car and drive to the office! Inevitably, my boss would ring up and say that I was needed and that the work that needed to be done could not wait a day or two! I would do it… you know… I would drive in, completely dosed up on painkillers, get to work and push myself through the pain. I would get the job done, under pressure and ultimately, the endometriosis would flare up even further. I would then spend most of the weekend in bed, just to recover to do it all over again the next week. I did this for two years. I just thought that with endometriosis, this is what I had to do.
It was only when I visited my gynecologist and expressed that my pain wasn’t getting any better and he recommended doing a course to control my desire to do things “perfectly and quickly” all at the same time that I started to open my mind up to the potential of what my job was really doing to my health. I was completely running on adrenalin. My entire body was exhausted on the inside but my mind wouldn’t let it go… I wanted to be the best, successful and be all that I could be, and this stupid endo was not going to stand in my way!
It took a complete mindshift for me to realize that my job was causing the high levels of pain I was experiencing. I would never had thought it. To be honest, I didn’t want to see that. I eventually quit the job and really evaluated what was more important to me—my health or my prestigious career in advertising?
I chose my health. It took years for me to learn more about the connection between my health and my endometriosis and working alongside both to achieve that wonderful work/life balance we all so desperately desire. I no longer took my job as a form of recognition for who I was as a person. The title, the company and all of that stuff, you know the stuff that sounds good, when you tell someone, was no longer my focus. I took my focus on life into other areas: making others happy, my relationships, and really finding the more simple things in life to enjoy: nature, art, dance and experiencing life. I made my life simple and as stress-free as I could.
The other thing I chose was to find something to do in my work that actually made me happy. I made it my mission to find a job that didn’t just provide me with money. It needed to give me something deeper. Something which ignited a light inside of me that made me excited to get up in the morning. To me, this makes a massive difference. When you are excited about your life and what you are doing in your work, it is amazing how little endometriosis flares up. It all comes back to being aligned with what you truly want, deep within your soul. It is also amazing how much easier you seem to deal with stress, when you are excited about what you are doing. The alignment somehow allows you to know that everything will work out, in the end.
So, there are really three elements to finding a way to work with endometriosis:
1. The stress element
Choose a job which isn’t as stressful. Avoid jobs where there are time constraints or pressures—typical roles are in the field of hospitality, events, advertising and public relations. If you are excited about a job in these fields and you still feel it is your true calling, then look at how you can reduce how you react to the stress in the job. Maybe you are creating stress for yourself unnecessarily? Maybe you are over-thinking? Over-planning? Will it really matter in two weeks’ time? Can you take a 5-minute meditation or breathing break once a day?
Stress is all relative. Some people don’t react to stress in these roles much at all and others of us simply can’t cope. Figure out where you lie on the stress line and decide if the stress level you are on is worth aggravating your health.
Sometimes, we don’t even realize how much our jobs are impacting our endo, until we quit the job and do something completely different. This is what happened to me!
2. Find something that makes you happy
Being happy in your job is incredibly important. You spend over 40 hrs of your week in that job! That is a massive part of your life and you want to make sure you are enjoying it. Initially, this might be a hard question for you, but really try and find something that makes you happy. Maybe you are happiest with animals or children, maybe you enjoy helping others. Whatever it is, find it and do that. When you actually do what makes you truly happy, you will be aligning yourself with your true calling and it is amazing how endo just becomes a secondary consideration.
3. Make healing your priority
There were times in my endometriosis journey, where I couldn’t even tackle the idea of starting a whole new search within myself of what I really wanted to do or being aligned to my true self. I just needed a way to make a living! So, I got a job, which had very low physical and mental demands and just needed me to answer the phone and process bookings—I ran a small Bed and Breakfast with my partner. I didn’t have to worry about pressures and just had to be friendly to the guests. I had the whole day to research more about my body and to eat heaps of organic foods, smoothies and make all sorts of creations in aid of healing my body. I made healing my focus. The job was merely a means to an end.
What you need to find is a job where you can do this. The best jobs are the ones where you just have to man a stall, stand or shop. They just need someone to be there. This gives you plenty of time to recoup your body and focus on healing.
Here’s the thing that I never realized. When we feel better, we feel better in all areas of our lives. We have more emotional strength, we have more energy and our whole outlook on life changes. Things become possible again. I know you might not be there at this moment but know that when you start to heal and feel better, you will! Money will flow back into your life naturally, when you have the energy and outlook to find it.
Here is a great article by ZenHabits, which will get you started on how to enjoy life more: The 10 Essential Steps to slowing down and enjoying life.
I know endometriosis can often leave you struggling to find work—bosses don’t always understand why you are not coming to work so much and claiming disability can be just as challenging. Thing is, you don’t need to go there. You don’t need to be that weak person! You can be strong and vibrant and healthy! Just give yourself a real fighting chance. Do all that you can for your healing for one year—a full year of powerful nutrition, smoothies, more vegetables, walking each day, meditation, yoga and all the good stuff you body really craves and then… see where you are!
What is your situation? What job do you do? Do you think you might be stressed out for no logical reason? Are you looking at doing something else?
This Post Has 13 Comments
Thank you so much for your wonderful advices. I’m 32 yrs old. I have endometriosis and facing infertility from last 3 yrs. My boss and colleagues is not understand my problems. They forced me going to adaption. I have been dealing with a lot of stress, and I’m having trouble decreasing it. Thank you so much for the inspiration!
I’m 24, deaf and living in a council flat by myself in the uk. I was diagnosed with retrograde manstruation at age 15, basically your period goes up into your body instead of out. It’s the stage before endo. It causes the same pain and I live with the knowledge that i will have endo one day. It’s a medical certainty. I’m studying to be a massage therapist, it’s something I love, it’s relaxing and calms me. Only problem is my college are total arses about my attendance it’s at like 76% right now. Any tips on how to get myself stronger so I can finish this damn course?!
I have endometriosis and it has ruined my life. When you are a single person who does not have a partner or parents who can not help you what do you do? I just want to know. I understand trying to find a job that makes you happy, but when you don’t have money/or a job to support yourself how are you suppose to be happy. I had to move back in with my family, because of medical bills/having no money. I was waiting tables to pay my rent and medical bills. I was barely getting by and was unhappy. Now I can not find a job and still have medical bills. I’m sorry your article was not helpful and it sounds like you have the money to goof off.
It is my pleasure Emmery 🙂 I am glad I could offer such resolve with some words 🙂
I’ve been dealing with pain that, according to my OB-GYN may be endometriosis. I find myself worrying day in and day out about the pain that never seems to go away. I’m so glad that I found this website- extremely inspiring. I have been dealing with a lot of stress, and I’m having trouble decreasing it. Thank you so much for the inspiration! In fact, I could feel the pain melting away just reading that I’m not the only one. Just reading that I can change it by focusing more on my health. Thank you so much. 🙂
You touched on so many important points with this article! I couldn’t agree more. Changing jobs and focusing on healing as a top priority has made the biggest difference for me. And the funny thing is, even though I make less money now, the bills and everything seem to get paid easier than before. It pays to just go with the flow of life and not fight against it!
Wow Gretta! That is quite the decision to make! Well done! It is like a giant weight lifted when you actually do it! Go with your heart and your instincts 🙂
Thank you Iarri,
You are a great sister to help and recognise the strengths in your own sister. It is all about us listening to our bodies and also being strong enough to say: I just can’t do this anymore! One of the key lessons I have learnt is that my emotional strength has heaps to do with my stress reaction stength 🙂
I am still in university completing my degree, and I have realised that I too am such a perfectionist. Any time I don’t receive an A+ I feel like I’ve failed (which is just ridiculously irrational, yet I still feel it)! All through schooling I received good marks, was dux of my school etc, and in a way I think this set up an expectation in myself and others that I would achieve a lot later on, and this pressure does get to me. I think that the grading system takes the joy out of learning for many students, as the real spontaneity of personal learning is thwarted by the extrinsic ‘pleasure’ of receiving a good grade. The reason this ties into your wonderful article is that I need to really evaluate why I am in this line of study, what I want to do with it, and really think about what is best for me, rather than simply striving to be ‘the best’. The latter is really a hollow goal, and I think it has been distracting me from looking after myself. At the moment my partner is working in a ‘means to an end’ job part time and the other half of his week he focusses on his true passion – art and drawing (and teaching others to draw). I think this is a beautiful set-up, because he can pursue what makes him happy without having to make money the bottom line. Thanks for giving this prompt Melissa! 🙂
this is some amazing advice… Even if you don’t have a horrific disease Endo. I know there has been times in my life that the jobs I had were killing me slowly. I would use meds to get up and have energy and then meds to calm me down so I could sleep…a roller coaster of ups and downs. I would think really this is what my life has come to. I could feel my body tremble with the adrenaline rush and wonder how am I pushing through this fatigue? How can I keep this pace up? We as women put so many demands on our lives and bodies. trying to be a great mom, wife, sister, coworker, boss, friend, and at the end of the day if we don’t listen to our bodies needs and take the time to connect with our inner voice we are giving from empty and when we crash and burn is anyone there to help heal and bring us back from the death we feel… I’ve had to learn this the hard way and at times have to relearn this lesson… No is getting to be an easier word for me… boundaries and knowing my balance is been a blessing. Peace of mind and having a full tank to give to those I love is a happier place. love and light to all the Endo women out there… My sister Christin is fighting the battle with this horrific disease and I lift her up and commend her for not giving up and having the courage to share her story with others… She’s my angel and I’m forever grateful for the lessons she has taught me in courage and strength… Thank you Melissa for sharing this story and giving of yourself in this fight of Endo…
Another great article Melissa 🙂 This really rings a bell with me, as I am out on sick leave due to stress/pressure from work. I have decided that I’m going to hand in my notice when I get back & am now in the hunt for just the type of work you describe with little stress and no deadlines!
I am really looking forward to the change, and feel a lot better for making up my mind to do this 🙂
Thanks again for all your wonderful insight 🙂
Thanks Emma. Glad you enjoyed it! It is great when we find that right thing to do, that works around our life 🙂 Glad you found it!
This is such a great article Melissa! It really is very important to try to find something work-wise that fits into your life, not to struggle fitting a life around work. It has to work for you on some level. I quit full time english teaching to kids with a company that had me commuting for hours each day. Now i’m employed by a handful of different companies for part time stuff that i can take or leave, & i’m enjoying it! Plus it’s close by mostly, so i can cycle someyimes. It’s changed everything for me.