I’ve been sharing my journey to health and wellness since early 2013. For most of my life I hid the fact that I suffered from endometriosis and chronic pain. The choice to begin sharing not only my stories of pain, but also my journey to heal has been to inspire other women to find their path to wellness. Overcoming physical and emotional pain is a continuous decision and life choice. I want the isolation of chronic pain and disease to be eliminated. I want the shame of emotional trauma to no longer carry a social stigma. I want women to feel the power of loving and accepting themselves in the current moment. I want women to feel they are worth the time and effort to become who they were meant to be.
I was officially diagnosed with endometriosis at age 14, however the pain started much before then. Menstrual cycles were always painful, and back pain seemed ever present. On the evening of Thanksgiving 1995, a cyst ruptured and sent me to the Emergency Room. This started my parents and I down the course of diagnosing and treating endometriosis. Over the next 12 years I would go through 4 laporoscopy surgeries and 2 rounds of hormone injections forcing me into menopause. By the time the third round of Lupron shots were suggested, I would also be facing bone density tests to ensure my body could handle the intense hormone treatment. I decided I had enough. I was 26 and considering medically induced menopause for the third time. I felt like a rat in a wheel. Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Something had to give.
This was early 2008, I was married and had a career. I felt stuck and frustrated. I had done all the things doctors told me to do. I was used to surgery taking my pain away, but when it doesn’t, where do you turn? The physical pain was debilitating, and took over my life. 2008 turned into an emotional downward spiral of hopelessness and helplessness unlike I’d never experienced, and I hit rock bottom.
The next 5 years were a journey of self-discovery and a path to healing. These years took me down a road to loving myself, healing my mind, body and spirit, and celebrating life. Today I am pain and symptom free of endometriosis. Self-care and inner reflection are a part of my daily life as it is essential to maintain balance. Keeping my body, mind, and spirit free of tension and negativity is a daily practice. In 2013 it became clear that sharing my journey to wellness and helping women discover their path to wellness and happiness is my life work. By connecting through writing, speaking, and coaching I am one by one helping women discover their power.
After hitting rock bottom in 2008, it became obvious to me that continued medication was not working. I had been taking pain pills, muscles relaxers, hormones, and mood stabilizers for almost half my life, and I wasn’t any better than the day I was diagnosed. (read the blog post – The End of Pain Pills) My mindset shifted from “just make the pain go away” to dealing with the many layers of physical and emotional pain endometriosis has caused for me. It was a process of looking inward and embracing the idea that doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results is the definition of insanity. – Albert Einstein. Intensely focusing on making the pain go away had been my approach for well over a decade, and now, I needed a new game plan.
Instead of longing for the day and believing my life will be fixed when the pain goes away, I chose to set smaller, more attainable goals. (check out the post – I’ll be Happy When) I started looking at everyday life, and asking myself, “what can I choose to do today, that will create a healthier lifestyle?” I found diet, sleep patterns, physical activity, relationships, and self-confidence (to name a few) all had room for improvement. My team of therapists (Physical Therapy, Acupuncture, Chiropractic, Medical Massage, and Kinesiology) and I got to work. As we made changes and improvements, they supported me physically and emotionally. Breaking down the disease into smaller, more manageable pieces helped me see improvement. For example, after cutting out Burger King, soda, and candy, I could see my digestion improving. Let me tell you, when going number two improves from once every 4-5 days to once every 36 hours, you’ve got something to be excited about!
This regimen of self-care and inner reflection continued to address low-hanging fruit, and find easy improvements. From diet, to daily routine, to self-forgiveness, every aspect of life was up for transformation. Anywhere I found tension, negativity, or pain, I questioned what I could let go of, acknowledge, or change. An amazing thing happened. While I was focused on creating a better me, pain slowly dissolved. Tension left my body.
March 2012 is my line in the sand, and the end of endometriosis symptoms. I let go of the last crutch and connection to medicine. I had been on birth control for almost 20 years and I was terrified of letting go of my daily dose of safety. I thought, I can’t stop taking birth control, what if my body needs it to stay regular? What if I quit and the heavy, awful periods came back? What if… My fear of the unknown kept me stuck in my current situation.
And then, one day in the middle of March 2012, I recognized my fear and changed my verbiage. If after quitting birth control, the pain returns, I will be ok. I have a team of therapist ready to help me, and am in a better place now than I was 5 years ago. If, in fact, my body NEEDS birth control, I will just go back to taking it. My perspective changed to come from a place of curiosity. What if I experiment with the idea for 2 months? Two months. I can handle that.
That day came and went like any other day. And the next 3 months came and went. I was fine. I WAS FINE! My massage therapist and acupuncturist both commented on how relaxed my body felt. The weight of the world had been lifted. I was free.
What Life Looks Like Now.
These days life is much smoother. Emotional stress easily passes through me, tension no longer gets stuck in my body. I am no longer angry or resentful about endometriosis, or the layers of physical and emotional pain it caused. I have learned to love myself and my body, and have reconnected with who I am. I’ve gained self-confidence and found power in my voice.
I am grateful for my past, and grateful for what I have learned. Endometriosis made me who I am.
These days taking care of myself looks like this; slow mornings, leisurely waking up, and snuggling with the cats. I find a cup of coffee or tea and nibble on a small breakfast as I start the work day. I take afternoon breaks and will go for a walk. Once a week I see one of my practitioners, rotating between Acupuncture, Chiropractic, Medical Massage, and Kinesiology. I allow my body time to integrate therapies by resting and remaining relaxed. Listening to my body, letting go of tension, and forgiving myself and others allows me to continue to love and accept myself. In the process relationships have blossomed, and I get to authentically express myself.
I love spending my day connecting with the EndoSister community, and having incredible conversations about healing, self-care, and discovering your path to wellness. Educating women about the emotional cycle of endometriosis and chronic pain brings me joy as I get to watch pain and tension fade into the background of life.
I believe everyone deserves their own health and wellness. I believe our bodies are the message board to our psyche, and if we can get quiet enough to listen, there is infinite knowledge for us to learn. I have a strong desire to help women with endometriosis and chronic pain discover their path to wellness. And second, I believe in celebrating life and all the beauty the world has to offer. Now, I get to spend part of my day talking with amazing women who are ready to begin making small changes, and start their journey to wellness.
Together we can love ourselves, heal our mind and body, and celebrate life.