It was late last year when a mutual friend suggested I reach out to a colleague she knew for advice on working and living with endometriosis (endo).
A week later, over a coffee and cake, the colleague and I began to share our health challenges. Despite the fact that we were at different stages in our respective endo journeys; her having just had a hysterectomy and me having had my first laparoscopy five years prior, this was the first instance since being diagnosed where I felt understood and less alone.
We left this meeting feeling optimistic and promised to keep checking in on each other. Gradually, through word of mouth, we met other people at work who also had endo and before we knew it, our Endo Support Group (ESG) was formed.
Our ESG meets each month and provides a safe space to share our stories, validate our symptoms and help each other with new tips and tricks! Learning about what works for others has motivated me to keep pushing to minimise the impact endo has on my life.
What started as a casual coffee catch-up has evolved into a caring, comforting network of women who appreciate the experiences of one another. I am so thankful for the friendships I have formed through our ESG and would encourage others living with endo to create one in their own workplace.
Top tips for starting an ESG at your work
- Keep it low admin: make it as easy as possible for people to attend – we have ours during lunchtime and provide dial in details for those out of the office.
- Schedule the catch ups ahead of time: life can get busy and it’s easy to ‘de-prioritise’ additional commitments when you’re juggling work and endo – we’ve put a recurring calendar invitation in the diary for every four weeks, so know in advance how to structure our weeks.
- Create a group chat on a non-work related platform: when members are recovering from surgery or having time away from work it’s great to have a forum you can go to – we use Messenger which allowed us to stay connected over the recent Christmas and New Year break.
- Don’t underestimate your potential reach: at least one in ten women are suspected to have endo – spreading news of your ESG by word of mouth or more formal channels could create a bigger support network than you initially think!
Navigating life with endo is an ongoing balancing act and can be difficult to find the “right” information with still so much about the disease being unknown. Surrounding myself with others at work who can empathise and understand this experience has made me feel optimistic and supported in my workplace.