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Putting on a brave face

Chronic fatigue washes over me and it is only 11am. Another night spent with sharp dagger pains radiating through my pelvis and down my legs, every move feeling like every inch of my body is being ripped apart, body covered in sweat as my temperature goes to an all time high, then the anxiety and insomnia kick in. No this is not the symptoms of a common flu this is what I go through every month when I am menstruating with thanks to Endometriosis and Adenomyosis.

This silent inflammatory disease affects 1 in 10 woman in New Zealand and unfortunately at this stage there is no cure. Endometriosis occurs when tissue which is similar to the lining of the uterus, starts to grow outside of the uterus creating adhesion’s, nodules and plaque to build up on the muscles surrounding the uterus and or other organs. It can be found to develop from stage 1 through to stage 4, and Symptoms vary from person to person which can make it hard for a health care professional to diagnose you. Symptoms mainly consist of pain during menstruation, bowel irregularities (bloating, diarrhea, constipation,irritable bowel syndrome etc), painful intercourse, fertility problems, fatigue/low energy/brain fog, pain in other places (lower back, legs) and can also occur outside of your period. The problem is most of us think these are normal symptoms that come along with menstruation, but in fact they aren’t at all.

It all started for me back when I was 14 years old. I would get the most horrific periods resulting in having to take time off school and barely being able to leave my bed as the pain was unbearable. My GP put me on the contraceptive pill to stop my periods and to help ease the pain. This did help for a few years but the negative effect of the pill was it messed with my mental health severely. The mood swings would become uncontrollable, depression washed over me to a point that I didn’t know how much longer I could cope and then the anxiety started. This went on for years which impacted my life in many ways. I ended up dropping out of school, it destroyed relationships and I lost who I was as a person. To make matters worse when I turned 20 my symptoms came back 10 x worse and the pill had stopped working for me. I bleed continuously for months on end, I was in pain everyday and the fatigue took over. Up until this point I still had not been diagnosed with what was wrong with me, it drove me mad to a point where I thought it was all in my head.

I started doing research on endometriosis as I had seen it had started being more talked about. You see woman’s menstruation seemed to of been a taboo subject for so many years that we wouldn’t ever talk about it, so how were we to know what was normal to experience and what wasn’t. After researching all the information for years and finally finding a specialist in woman’s health I was diagnosed at 26 years old.

12 years I suffered with no explanation. People telling me that I am a drama queen and that I need to deal with the pain as it is normal, that I was crazy and that I was just being lazy because some days I couldn’t get out of bed.

I have learnt to manage my symptoms in my own way now. I went off the contraceptive pill, I use natural remedies to ease the pain and to try balance my hormones, I ensure I try and maintain a healthy diet, avoiding foods that create an inflammation response in the body and I aim to exercise regularly. I will never rid all the pain and horrible symptoms that come along with it, but I have learnt to accept what is going on in my body and I don’t try fight it anymore. Unfortunately at this stage surgery is an only option to help rid or ease the disease but I choose not to go down that path yet.

I am now proud to say I am an endo-warrior, as we now have a community of beautiful woman who support each other, we help each other know we are not alone in this.

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Strength through support - mā te tautoko, ka whai kaha, ka ora

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