Empowerment: I am worth it!
I suffered with extremely painful periods from the very beginning. I complained about them for years to various doctors but it was always brushed off as normal. I was offered Ibuprofen and sent on my way. When I was 17 I went on birth control and since it helped, I remained on it for the next decade.
When I finally got off of the pill my painful periods returned with a vengeance. I was guaranteed to be bed ridden with the arrival of flow, as horrible labor like contractions struck through me.
This pain progressed to where I was suffering most of the month with pain in my pelvic region, my hips, my lower back, all the way down my legs to my toes. I was exhausted, depressed and well aware that something was definitely wrong.
A co-worker mentioned endometriosis to me. I started to research it and spent some time in support groups. It didn’t take me long to see that this was a very viable possibility.
I sought out a surgeon who had experience with women with endometriosis and I was officially diagnosed via laparoscopy in April 2011. The surgery definitely didn’t help things. On the contrary, it made things worse.
I fell into a pretty deep depression fueled by chronic pain and sheer exhaustion. I spent most of my time in bed, cuddled with my heating pad. Negative thoughts dominated my mind, radiated by what I’d been told… there is no cure for endometriosis, it is going to spread if you don’t get back on the pill, the pain is only going to get worse, you may never get pregnant….
A voice whispered within me to not give up hope. There had to be another way. I couldn’t imagine a life where this pain never ended. I couldn’t imagine not being able to bear a child.
I took to the Internet and found several stories of women with endometriosis who were able to control their pain through changes in diet. With little other options, I decided to make some of these changes in my own diet.
It didn’t take long for the pain to improve. And as I started to feel better, I only wanted to continue to feel better. I continued researching and digging into the root causes of many chronic illnesses and experimented with different alternative methods of healing.
I wasn’t always disciplined, but when I slipped up I felt it. Having experienced a new life with limited pain, I didn’t want to go back. I realized that I wanted to feed and nourish my body and soul because it made me feel good. And I deserved to feel good.
I am worth it!
In the decision to follow a natural route to healing endometriosis, I found that I could control much of my pain with the choices that I made. This discovery prompted self-awareness — a re-connection with my body.
I discovered that certain foods triggered pain, bloating and fatigue. I recognized that stress made my pain worse. I found that getting enough sleep and going to bed earlier really impacted the way that I feel. I started to chart my monthly cycles and built awareness about the ebb and flow of my cycle and my emotions during certain times of the month.
I think of most vital importance, however, was the awareness of my breath – the connection between body and spirit. I found that I could shift negative emotions and lessen pain with focused, deep breathing.
I found meditation to be very powerful. In periods of silence I focused on my breath. I stopped to listen to my body and to my soul. It helped me connect with a higher sense of self, while restoring calm and clarity in my life. When I feel calm, collected and willing to surrender, then I feel in control, aware and willing to let go of that which is out of my control.
Another important factor that has helped keep me positive in bad times is the support I’ve received from other women with endometriosis. I think it truly healing to have a support network of women who understand the pain and are there to lift you up when you feel down.
I think empowerment comes from setting a clear intention and moving towards making that intention a reality. For me, empowerment came from setting an intention to heal my endometriosis.
With this intention came changes, some of which have been hard and uncomfortable at times. Empowerment meant making a decision to feel better and having discipline to say “no” to certain things that cause me pain. It means standing up for myself.
Empowerment has come from the decision to want to heal, to want to feel better, and doing whatever I can to make this a reality. It comes from healthy action and a positive outlook.
Someone wise once said, “If you believe you can, you’re halfway there.” This is so true. Empowerment comes from believing you can and taking action!
Empowerment has come from speaking up and telling my story. Writing has allowed me to better formulate my thoughts and provide an organized trail of the research that I continue to do. It has also allowed me a chance to spread a positive message and perspective on healing endometriosis – something I was told was not possible.
Empowerment means putting this task of healing primarily in my own hands – not in the hands of a doctor or a magical pill to take all the pain away. Having empowerment over my own health has truly been life changing.
I feel so much better than I did three years ago. I’ve reduced my pain to a day a month and most of the time this day is pretty manageable. My mental wellbeing has improved ten-fold. I’ve managed to find an inner calm and a radical shift in perception.
This is a reality because I was empowered for change.
View Angela’s story of empowerment
Read tomorrow’s story of empowerment from Meredith Gersten
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