Managing Stress to Avoid Endometriosis Flare-ups

Managing Stress to Avoid Endometriosis Flare-ups

It’s been three weeks since I arrived in Madrid, my temporary new home. Madrid is a huge city and quite majestic, with historic buildings and a gorgeous park called El Retiro. But it is also a city swamped by hordes of tourists and so much noise. The constant urban rumble is not doing my overactive brain any favors. I find myself struggling to walk my dogs, prevent them from being trampled by swarms of human beings, and avoid mopeds and delivery guys on bikes like a shaky ninja.

My anxiety levels have skyrocketed. My sleep patterns are disturbed. I have acne on my cheeks and forehead. To top it all, every day something inside me hurts. There is no way around it: I am stressed.

I spoke to my therapist who immediately reminded me how I’ve coped with similar situations before. It was time to put into action all of the tools in my arsenal. So I set myself to recovery mode by trying to sleep as much as possible and keep my heart rate low when resting.

Yet, I still feel as if the world is swallowing me whole.

I tried meditating and finally understood those who hate this mindful practice. Struggling to manage my thoughts was making me anxious. Keeping my eyes closed felt like being trapped. I think it’s fair to say that my meditation app and I are on a break.

I attempted to find some solace in reading, but paragraphs flew by and I wasn’t retaining anything. My eyes were scanning the pages but my brain was not absorbing any information. There is now a neat pile of wonderful books next to my bed, untouched. 

Eventually, running was the only thing that seemed to have a positive effect. During the run, I had to focus on my legs, my breathing, and the roads I was crossing. There was very little space in my head for anything else. I arrived home exhausted and craving comfort foods. This gave me the excuse to sit under a blanket, rewatch “Avengers Assemble,” and eat all of the gluten-free cereal in my cupboards.

Sunny Madrid during an afternoon run. (Photo by Jessie Madrigal)

The connection between endometriosis and stress is strong. In trying times, it’s no coincidence that flare-ups happen more often and with increased severity. In my case, my insides begin to hurt nonstop. Whether it is the sharp tailbone pain that starts up or a tug from my right ovary, I am constantly feeling something. It’s exhausting.

Yet stress is a tricky creature. We know it’s coming, we feel its presence, but it is tough to make it go away. All we can do is resort to things that lessen its effects, and super importantly, that don’t make matters worse in the long run. There is little point in comfort eating if it results in a flare-up of irritable bowel syndrome. 

I wonder how I will face the next few months with just my dogs.

Thinking about the near future exhausts me. Too easily, I find myself crying if my mind doesn’t find something positive to focus on. Garbage, one of my favorite bands from my childhood, said it best: “The Trick Is to Keep Breathing.” I may need to tattoo those words on my forehead. 

These two are clearly not stressed. (Photo by Jessie Madrigal)

This month is Endometriosis Awareness Month, which gives me many reasons to ask you to reach out to those you know who have this disease and offer to make their existence a little easier. For some of us, seeing all of the articles online and the sudden increase of news features on a disease that haunts us daily can be quite trying. Maybe you could remind us to eat well, take us out for some cake, or offer to walk our dogs when our strength fails us. 

There is no shame in admitting we need all the help we can get to beat the stress monster. 


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.