Sometimes it feels as if everyone has an opinion about how you cope with endometriosis, and sometimes, it feels like they don’t care at all. These conversations and emotions can feel amplified or more concentrated over Christmas. It can be tough, but there are ways to get through.
Food is always a tricky one. People like to have an opinion about what others eat; who knows why?
If you follow the endo diet and you’re worried about what you can eat on Christmas Day, try to think of possible solutions. Are you able to chat with the host and ask what kind of dishes will be served? Can you suggest you’ll bring some bits to make it easier for them to cater to you, such as gluten-free crackers and vegan cheese?
If you feel like you can’t talk to this family member, and you’re really worried there won’t be anything much for you, Jessica Murnane always has the brilliant suggestion of bringing a dish or two. As it’s Christmas, the likeliness is you’ll be able to eat the vegetables and potatoes, so maybe bringing a nut roast and a side could help. Make enough for others, and just offer it up as a thank you to the host and let people try it if they like.
For those who think you’re exaggerating/They know better/They can heal you
You could do a couple of things here. In some cases, it might be best not to breach the subject at all. This can be tricky if you’ve been really ill or you’re clearly in some discomfort. If that’s the case and they bring it up, a lot of progress has been made on endometriosis this year, and you can use this to show them that the problem is real and very painful.
Period pain has now been cited as being as painful as a heart attack in some cases, and endometriosis has been listed by the U.K.’s NHS as one of the top 20 most painful conditions to live with. Even just the trailer for “Endo What” demonstrates the severity of endometriosis and also the stigma and disbelief associated with the condition.
If you’ve tried these, and you’ve armed yourself with facts and they still don’t believe you, it might be time to shut down the conversation. Unfortunately, some people have a narrow view of certain areas of life, and it can be difficult to change these views. By sharing the facts, you’ve done what you can, but don’t stress yourself further trying to convince them when they refuse to be convinced. End it as politely as possible, even if it means accepting that they still don’t believe you. So many of us are out there who know your story and believe you, so try to take comfort in that.
It’s tough when your family can’t accept your truth, but we all know how much stigma still exists and how much work remains to be done. But it is changing.
Boundaries can mean so many different things in this case.
You might want to set yourself boundaries to conserve your energy. Commit to a time that you’ll arrive and leave. You don’t have to stay all day and night if it’s going to wear you out. If you can explain it to your family, that’s great. If not, make an excuse. If they still argue, it might be time to be assertive. No one can force you to stay and no one will remember in the long run that you left early. There are so many Christmases gone and yet to come.
You also may want to make boundaries with people. If certain people stress you out and cause you an endo flare, keep boundaries. Don’t sit near them at the table, make an effort to reduce your conversation time with them, and sit across the room when socializing. Do what is right for you, because you’ll be the one living with your condition after they’ve caused a stress-induced flare-up.
Finally, try to relax. Christmas can be a stressful time for everyone and many probably are dealing with their own difficulties. Work out what you can let go of, what you can let slide, and try to focus on the positives of each individual and of being with family at Christmas. Families aren’t perfect, so try to enjoy the parts that are real and loving when you can.
Wishing you all a merry Christmas…
Note: Endometriosis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Endometriosis News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to endometriosis.