In talking about my experiences, I find myself constantly walking a fine line. On one side, by sharing my successes, I run the risk of coming across as a perfectionist regimented in controlling my endometriosis. On the other side, by sharing my struggles, I run the risk of looking like I am trying a whole heap of things and not making any progress.
The truth is, I’ve come a really long way with endometriosis. The other day, I interviewed my boyfriend for my podcast, This EndoLife. Without my prompting, he commented on how bad my endo was at the start of our relationship and how I’m pretty much just a normal person now — though to be fair, he doesn’t experience how tired I am!
And it’s true. I have regular periods with normal flow, and my pain level is between 0 and 2 on the pain scale (maybe 4, if I’ve gone hard on the sugar in the month before). I do still struggle with a few things though: fatigue, brain fog, and some stomach issues.
My work is all about communicating to the community what has worked for me. It’s about sharing ideas, tips, and knowledge on endometriosis management, so I spend a lot of time talking about my own experiences: the good and the bad. These days, my stories are often about how I once was (in pain) in contrast to how I am now (pain-free), and the changes I made to get there.
The response is always positive, and people find my work helpful (or so it seems), but I want everyone who reads or listens to my work to know that I’m not perfect. I don’t ever want to make an endo warrior feel guilty for eating a slice of cake or drinking a coffee or getting really drunk with their best friend.
In fact, last week I went for a quiet, pampering night away with my best friend, but ended up getting drunk on Prosecco and espresso martinis. And last weekend, despite promising myself I would only ever drink decaf coffee for the rest of my days, I drank a normal coffee my boyfriend made me because the nearby options for a good decaf were dire and the weekend just felt wrong without one. And on top of that, I spent Sunday eating my way through a vegan chocolate bread and butter pudding we had made, and indulging on way too much bread (yes, the gluten type!).
Can you tell it was my ovulatory phase?
Yes, I’m pretty damned disciplined, and when it comes to my premenstrual and menstrual phases, I batten down the hatches and get the endo diet going in full swing, but I’ve been known to indulge just a tad (or, you know, a lot) when it comes to my “safer” phases, like ovulation.
I know my PMS, period, bloating, anxiety, etc., etc., etc., is probably going to be a bit or a lot worse for those indulgences, but when that caffeine or sugar or gluten passes my lips, it’s like all hell breaks loose in my brain and I turn into Cookie Monster.
To be clear, I personally want to get on top of this. For the sake of my hormones and health, I don’t want to go on sugar or gluten binges, especially when I have such intolerance to gluten and celiac disease is still very much on the cards for me. (Both my siblings have the disease, and I’ve been told to be tested again. I’m just putting it off.)
Yet, I don’t feel bad about that weekend. I don’t judge myself for the lapse, although I have struggled with doing that in the past. I’d had my estrogen-tinted glasses on and everything seemed good in the world, so of course, I could rationalize some coffee, some cake, some alcohol. And I bloody well enjoyed it. Did I take it too far with the constant slices of toast and half a tray of bread and butter pudding? Maybe. OK, yes. But by Monday, I was back to an anti-inflammatory diet and looking after my body as I normally do.
My point is, you’re going to make choices sometimes that are more about taste or fun or just really needing some chocolate than they are about endometriosis or hormone health. That’s OK. We’re human — a break or a treat every now and then can be motivating and rewarding. My goal is to make it that: a break or a treat, rather than a crash-and-burn kind of indulgence. But you work out what’s good for you and do what’s right for your body, rather than what works for others.
Be kind to yourself. This is a tough battle, and you’re doing brilliantly.
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.