I often get sympathy or pity when people find out how I manage endometriosis. They believe I suffer because I have to eat certain foods and be in bed by a certain time. But contrarily, I would suffer if I didn’t do these things. Most of the time, I’m more than happy living my life in a way that manages endometriosis.
Managing endometriosis through diet, exercise, plentiful sleep, supplements, and prudence about energy expenditure has meant that I’ve been able to put one foot in front of the other. It’s meant I live a life that’s almost free of pain if I stay on top of it. Admittedly, what that also means is that I can never really forget I have an illness when I feel the constant pressure to stay in line with this lifestyle.
Now, please don’t misunderstand me: I am far, far from perfect about symptom management. This past weekend, we had my partner’s brother down and I ended up consuming gluten, sugar, and alcohol. Sometimes it’s just easier to enjoy brunch out with friends rather than spend time working out what I can and can’t eat. Plus, sometimes I just want to let my hair down a bit and not be the only one without a glass.
But honestly, I’m quite happy to seem a bit fussier at brunch or to be the only one who’s sober if it means that the next day I feel healthy rather than in pain. Occasionally, peer pressure does get to me, so sometimes I make calculated decisions about how much I want something versus how much it may affect my health. I’m prepared to live with my decision.
The obvious benefits are that I live a life that’s more normal in terms of health, though it can feel a bit regimented. It also means that my life experiences may feel a bit repetitive. For example, “safe” activities for me are cinema dates, eating out, and catch-ups with friends — things that aren’t too strenuous. I love it all and generally enjoy doing these things, but it can mean that I fall into a bit of a routine rut if I’m not making an active effort to experience new things.
This is even truer when I’m busy with work and it takes up all my efforts. When that is the case, I preserve my energy for work and looking after myself, and my social interactions and time for interests are sacrificed. This can make me feel stuck in one state of emotion; life can feel a bit mundane, and I find that the main thing I miss out on is a feeling of joy or excitement.
While I am happy to look after my mind and body with endometriosis, I do have to be proactive so that I can continue to have fun and find adventure.
Recently, I have been experiencing this kind of rut. This mainly happens when other stressful things are going on in my life (which they are). I find myself just making it through work and day-to-day life, and everything else falls to the wayside. Eventually, it catches up with me and I realize I’m no longer happy or content. So, it’s about me being proactive once again.
Perhaps you don’t need to do this and your temperament is always quite joyful, but I find that because of my history of depression, I have to actively work to feel excited and happy. It is a struggle to manage this disease, even when doing well with it. I’m with you, so don’t feel alone. Know that you can’t, and shouldn’t have to, manage it all perfectly.
While this subject deserves a separate post, I find my way back to joy through meditation and yoga, but also in doing things that are interesting and make me feel alive. I don’t feel controlled by endo when going to supper clubs with friends, heading to the latest exhibition, pop-up, gig, or film festival, or even just breaking the endo diet once in a while. Yes, occasionally I might have to pay for the fun the next day, but if I made the choice willingly, the joy I experience often gets me through.
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.