Six tools am using to cope with Endometriosis
Yes, there are so many women talking about endometriosis that its been done to death. Regardless, I plough on.
Its cathartic. Its healthy to do so. It benefits me and those around me, as I have less to vent and more to enjoy. It might just help someone else like me out there, who’s too scared to talk about it and is searching MEDIUM right now for stories tagged as “Endometriosis”. So its a no-brainer that my first tool is as follows :
Sharing my story
Write about it , talk about it, make a podcast about it or form your own community of Endo warriors. Enlist support from different sources and own your journey. Dealing with chronic illness makes us tough , compassionate and emotionally flexible. We are there for others as they are for us and for those who aren’t there for us, we make them aware of what we go through.
Win — Win !
We encourage people to not dismiss our story as
“Oh , so you have a painful period. Its a woman thing!”
Seeking a counselor
My counselor is there as a sounding board when dealing with pain and knocking on several hospital doors emotionally and physically depletes me. Counseling has been a strong cathartic outlet for me, and has encouraged me to find other self sustaining ways of relieving anxiety and increasing my self-awareness. Everyone around me benefits when am a little bit better off.
But that’s besides the goal. Its just a network effect. The main goal is to heal and rejuvenate myself. Examine my pain and take a pause. I get to allow myself to wallow in experiencing the after effects of a surgery. Emotional healing is a critical part of recovery that can often be sidelined when the immediate pressing problem is treated through surgery.
Eating well and treating my body with respect
Throwback to 2014 when I was a fresh yoga teacher training graduate in Austin, full of energy and endurance and self confidence. My diet was healthy, I had positive body image and NO ENDOMETRIOSIS.
I do not mean to suggest that diet reverses endometriosis, but I reflected on my most creative, productive time in life as an ardent yogi and realized I had disconnected from that person. I was vegan at that time, and worked out at the gym every weekday after work and then went for yoga. My teacher training schedule was intense. Every other weekend , for two days, I had twelve hours of training. Twelve hours without caffeine and only with healthy snacks to nibble on, really felt tortuous at that time. But guess what, it kept me from over-indulging over brunch with friends in Austin, literally the food paradise of Texas. Looking back now, am grateful. I hope to introduce the same changes in my diet. I referred a lot of blogs and Facebook groups to come up with the list of anti-inflammatory foods and obsessed over it. But now, I think am ready to keep it simple. Am vegan since a month, and have very little dairy , in the form of milk in my two cups of tea a day and some home-made yogurt with lunch, occasionally. I am focusing on whole grains , plant based meals with legumes for protein and taking my multi-vitamins.
Here’s a vegan salad I had along with my lunch today. It was the yummiest meal I’ve had in a while.
Focusing on physical well being
Since I just got out of surgery two weeks ago, I can’t restart my yoga practice or going to the gym for a few more weeks. Once my healing period is over, I plan to get back to a more sustainable workout regime. Before my surgery, unaware of a large endometriotic cyst in my ovary, I was playing badminton four times a week, doing Ashtanga yoga and going to the gym. The surgery and this healing period is making me go back to the basics. My body and my flexibility won’t be the same for a while. And that’s okay.
Not isolating myself
This one can’t be stressed enough. I was diagnosed three weeks ago with a large ovarian cyst and underwent surgery two weeks ago. Until then I was never diagnosed with endometriosis.
Everything around me changed in the spur of a moment. My axis tilted, the world looked different.
Casual friends who are just “pocket friends” on Facebook and Instagram started dropping like flies or maybe it was ME who isolated from everyone.
I stuck to a few friends, vented out , cried on the phone and even asked them to text me ever so often to check in on me. Yes, I ASKED them. The value of asking is profound. I was expecting some of these awesome people to be mind readers. To just KNOW when to reach out to me or call me.
Being vulnerable and stating my needs made me less combustible. It provided my immediate caregivers, my rockstar family, a break from my emotional outbursts. So yes,now that I know I have to live with this, its easier for me to ask for help when I need it. Asking for help is very brave.
And finally, an internet quote I read somewhere :
Online Support Groups
A huge factor in my well being has been online support. Here are a few groups am a part of , and it prompted me to start my own group for fellow endo warriors, to get together, share and provide emotional support or bonus: even do yoga together! Yeay! Maybe life is coming full circle for me. Am turning to tools of well being which were always accessible to me, but I valued them less.
Nancy’s Nook on Facebook : A great , highly moderated community discussing Endometriosis treatment options. They even have some OB/GYNs who are endometriosis specialists in that group. The group’s files are extremely informative to start with. Its a complete primer on Endometriosis.
The Uterus and The Duderus Podcast on iTunes : Paige (the uterus) and Nik (the duderus) are amazing ! The season 2 of the podcast starts with endometriosis and how it affects relationships and I think they’ve got it spot on. Their fun, casual banter takes away from the lack of humor associated with chronic illness and self pity , and focuses on actual tools and resources you can use in your own journey. I wish more men were like Nik. Sigh…. !
Here’s their iTunes link. I realized I’ve referenced their Facebook page above. My bad. They are amazing. Go check them out.
Endometriosis and Me : Slightly less moderated, but a good resource.
Endometriosis India : To connect with my local endo sisters.
And Finally, remind yourself. You aren’t alone.
I saw this quote somewhere on Instagram today, and I can’t find its source anymore. But here goes.