A few weeks back, I wrote about the invasive side of endometriosis treatment. There’s no avoiding feeling cold when you’re half-naked, but it also entails elements of shame, a feeling of powerlessness, a bored despair, and a desire to be left alone.
Also present is the fear that it might hurt more than you anticipate. All of this can contribute to a heightened level of stress, which, unsurprisingly, can affect long-term mental health.
When this column is published, I will be at the osteopath for a treatment that currently has me a tad uneasy. I am a master at over-worrying, and naturally, I am anticipating every negative outcome, every embarrassing possibility. Yet, because I am also a pro at being poked by doctors, I have developed some coping mechanisms.
Talking about it with others
Chatting with someone I trust helps immensely, especially if they have a good sense of humor. Laughter is an effective de-stressor. Whenever I am about to see a doctor or have a procedure, I need all the jokes I can get.
Additionally, things tend to feel less intense once I get them out of my system. Left to my own devices, my overactive brain can do more harm than good, and bottling it up has never worked for me.
Anything that can steal the focus away from my appointment will stop me from worrying. It may be work, catching up on daily chores on my to-do list, walking the dogs for an extra hour, or taking up a new creative project. A focused mind is a mind less prone to anxiety.
Treating myself right after the appointment
“Mimosas, treat yo self! Fine leather goods, treat yo self!” I may have watched a certain “Parks and Recreation” episode so many times I can quote several of its lines, but doing something nice for no one else but yourself is a healing practice. In my case, I plan to reward myself with chocolate cake — the most decadent one I find.
Having said all of the above, nothing will completely erase the feelings that come to the surface when I am in the hands of a health professional. They may be the friendliest of doctors or the most approachable nurse. They might really strive to create a safe and calm atmosphere. Yet what goes on inside each patient’s head is deeply personal and specific to our own experiences.
Like every endometriosis patient, I have done this so much I am jaded
On one hand, I’m sort of used to it. On the other, it never gets easy. I can be super brave, do all my breathing exercises, eat all the cake, and probably be OK after every appointment. But I do worry about the younger girls right behind me. With doctors finally acknowledging that endometriosis can occur at a young age, I can only hope that teenage patients receive the utmost care. And that their mental health is seen as a part of treatment that is just as important as any polyp, endometrioma, or adhesion.
What are your coping mechanisms when dealing with scary appointments? Please share in the comments below.
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.