As I look back at the 17 years of chronic pain and endometriosis I endured, I’ve asked myself, as many others have, how do you survive and carry on through everyday life? Beyond the obvious (pain pills!), it occurred to me that pouring my energy into academics and sports became my vice. If I could be just like everyone else, then I must not be that sick. Pushing myself physically not only proved I was fine, it helped me FEEL. It’s true, exercise produces endorphins that improve mental and physical health, but for me, it was the rush of competition and testing my physical limits that pushed endometriosis symptoms to the back of my mind.
At the time, I thought I was as healthy as I’d ever been, although, I was still experiencing physical pain and symptoms from endometriosis. I was psychologically convinced that being capable of physically draining feats meant I was fine and conventionally healthy. Having some activity or project to put my energy into was an escape. A break from the reality of painful menstrual cycles and exhausting back pain. Looking back it makes sense. All I wanted was for the pain to go away, it is survival mentality at its best.
Would I have arrive at a pain free life if I would have just stopped overexerting myself sooner? What if I had taken a moment to examine what my whole body and sprit needed to get well? It is certainly possible. But, I’m also not sure I was mentally or emotionally mature enough to make the choices I did at 27 when I was 19.
There have been days where I feel sad and guilty for avoiding the reality of endometriosis for almost two decades. Because, when you think of it in terms of ALMOST 20 YEARS, it seems like an eternity. But while I was living and surviving the disease, I was just doing what I knew to do. Put one foot in front of the other, and live each day as it comes.