How Does Self-love Change Your Experience of Endometriosis?

How Does Self-love Change Your Experience of Endometriosis?

living with jessica d

You’re weak.

Your body’s failed you.

You’re just too lazy.

Are you offended? Good. You should be.

Here’s the thing. I don’t think you’re weak, I don’t think your body’s failed you, and I sure as hell don’t think you’re lazy.

I actually think that you’re inspiringly strong to deal with a disease that confuses and surpasses the intelligence of pretty much the entire population and medical industry. I think that your body is doing the best it can to fight off a disease and keep you going every day of your life, functioning as normally as it can, breathing, moving, thinking, being. And I also think that you’re amazing for getting through life to this very day — even if by the skin of your teeth — despite the fatigue, pain, and countless other symptoms you’re fighting. I think that takes motivation, perseverance, and determination.

So why am I saying this?

Because, many mornings, when I roll out of bed at 7, 8, or 9 a.m., that fleeting thought, “You’re just too lazy,” stirs in my mind. I swallow my guilt, I tell myself tomorrow I’ll do better, I try to fight off the feeling that I’m a failure.

Because, although I don’t believe my body’s failed me, I have been there. I have felt that I picked the short straw of health. I have hated my reproductive organs and fantasized about cutting them away. I have looked in the mirror every day of my teenage life and wished I saw something else. I have punished myself through starvation, hours and hours of exercise, deprivation, hateful self-talk, and isolation.

Because I compare myself continuously to others. How have they moved so fast up that ladder? How comes they’re so much farther ahead of me in life? Why don’t I have the energy, strength, and stamina that they have?

It’s February. The month we’re supposed to shower love onto our partners, if we have them. And if we don’t? Well, many of us can feel bad about it, even though we’re completely content being independent every other day.

But I want to move away from the romantic kind of love that we see all over the shops right now. I want to get back to one of the most complicated types of love out there: self-love. The relationship you have with yourself.

All of the above: I do think it, I do go through it. But I know deep down it’s not the truth. I try to remove myself from these thoughts; I try to fight back. But does having an intellectual understanding of what being kind to yourself means translate into actually loving yourself? I’m not so sure.

Over the past two weeks, I’ve had some hormonal breakouts in the lead-up to my period. I had an event at the end of one of these weeks, and I wanted to feel confident about it. This confidence was conditional. I based the confidence on whether my skin was clear. And as the week went on, I became more stressed, more anxious, more depressed about my appearance. I picked at my pimples, I caused scabs and scars, and I felt ashamed of facing even my partner.

And it dawned on me. I talk about self-care and self-love. I truly believe that to aid our bodies in the healing process of feeling good and healthy, we need to be sending love and positive energy to ourselves. I don’t mean this in a hippy way. I mean it from a logical point of view. How can we feel good, how can we reduce feelings of depression, anxiety, and stress when we’re beating ourselves up, day in and day out? Did hating my skin make my skin any better? No, it drove me to picking and despairing and wanting to hide from the world. Does telling your body it’s a failure and faulty make you feel better about having endometriosis? Does it help you manage your symptoms? Personally, no, that route didn’t work for me.

Painful and destructive thinking often leads to painful and destructive paths.

And so I realized: Just because I understand self-love and preach self-love, does not mean I’m experiencing it. And so this month, I’m extending the olive branch out to myself. I am teaching myself what I teach others: to show kindness, self-care, compassion, and empathy for myself.

Those things I said at the opening of this column? I would never really say those things to you, and I doubt you’d say them to me either. So, why do we say them to ourselves?

Let’s make friends with our bodies this month, and battle endometriosis together — as a team, not as enemies.


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.