I’ve loved watching the online presence of endometriosis communities grow over the last few years. When I first started looking for help online, a lot fewer groups and blogs existed than there are now. Instagram had only just been created, so there were no social accounts like you would find nowadays. Women coming together in times of need, to get help, and to share their own stories to help others — there is a real sisterhood with this disease.
One thing that has been very blatant, though, is the competition within this community.
You might think I mean between websites, blogs, or social accounts. And, yes, competition definitely takes place there:
- “Why does this account have more followers than me?” Maybe because they can devote more of their time and energy into gaining those followers, interacting with them, and sharing content.
- “Why has that blogger been sent products to review and I haven’t?” Maybe that company hadn’t stumbled upon your blog yet or maybe their item is more relevant to the other person.
- “Why is this person getting media attention and I’m not?” Luck?
But the competition doesn’t just stop there.
I so often see women competing within groups online. “I’ve had X number of surgeries.” “I’ve got endometriosis here, here, and here.” “I’ve been in hospital X number of times.” “I’m in constant pain.” While it’s important to share your stories, you must remember that you are not the only person to have felt this way. By implying that you have it worse than anyone else only causes other women to silence themselves. I’ve seen it happen so many times. “I’ve only got stage ‘whatever’ endometriosis and I’m only in pain during my period, so I can’t even begin to imagine what you’re going through. …” These feelings shouldn’t be apparent in a chronic illness community.
I started writing because I felt alone and no one understood the complexities of this illness. When I started speaking out, I found hundreds of women in the same position. We all needed support and reassurance. And that support empowered so many of us to continue raising awareness, whether by speaking more openly to friends and family, re-sharing the odd news article online, writing a blog about our experiences, or creating support groups or meetings.
We need to stop competing and start listening. We might be sharing similar content but our audiences vary. We might think we have the worst case of endometriosis but I can almost guarantee someone else has it worse. And we all share the same objective: to get our unified voice heard and to help future generations. Does anything else really matter when it comes down to the nitty-gritty? No. We are all hurting. We all have days when we think we can’t go on. We all want to be heard and for someone to say, “It’s OK, I’m here for you.”
Endometriosis isn’t a competition
If we begin fighting one another, we lose focus on the one connection we all share. We should all be working together as one stable community. There is power in numbers, so don’t fight against other voices working hard to bring understanding and support to the table. Endometriosis is such a diverse disease. Very few (if any) of us have had the exact same experiences. If we are to ever get the help that every single one of us deserves, the world needs to know this.
Join forces, ladies. Support your peers. Speak up. Be heard. Become one powerful force that the world cannot ignore.
We are not one person. We are the 176 million.
You can follow more of my journey over at www.emlwy.com.
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.