Before the Train Hits

I’m going to paint a picture for you, and I want you to really immerse yourself in it.

Imagine standing in the middle of a train track, with a rope almost cutting into each arm as it’s pulled taught and tied to a column on each side. You’re in the middle of no where.
You have no where to go, no one to hear your cries – no white knight to save the day as we’re so often told in fairytales. None of that, because this is real life.

You stand there, dread settling in your stomach, your mind racing as your fight or flight response kicks in. Wanting, NEEDING, to live, to be okay, to be safe.

Then you hear the distant sound of a train approaching… Panic replaces dread. Your heart rate reaches inhuman speed, your breathing all but stops in your throat. You feel the need to escape, to do anything possible to get out of that situation. You cry, you want to throw up, pass out, or just crawl out of your skin.

You lose track of everything around you except the feelings your body is drowning you in. Taken over by an inane instinct to survive.

Now, the train becomes visible, heading straight towards you with no signs of stopping. That panic you were feeling? You are consumed by it ten fold. Your body is your enemy, your hostage… And you? It’s prisoner.

That feeling of terror right before the train reaches you? THAT is exactly what a full-blown panic attack feels like.

Anxiety is bad enough, but it’s not panic, it’s not the same. I’ve had many painful surgeries, I’ve suffered a lot of loss. But nothing can compare to that inescapable feeling of terror. Inescapable because your own mind is causing it, inescapable because you can’t detach from your mind or body.

It feels like every nightmare, every fear you’ve ever had, rolled into one moment of pure, crushing terror.

So, why do people panic? Why do we actually catastrophise everyday situations until we feel like we’re about to be hit by a train? Why does our fight or flight kick in with little-to-no apparent danger?

Because that’s what anxiety is. It doesn’t make a lot of sense, and it’s causes are different for everyone.

Does that make them weak for suffering through that? For needing medical intervention to treat this issue? No. Having experienced this panic first hand, I’d say with full conviction that those who suffer panic attacks are some of the absolute strongest I have ever known.

I witnessed my friend ride the waves of panic and anxiety for a full half hour on a boat. I saw her fear, I felt it… And I felt pride at what she was surviving. Her mind and body were fighting her to basically jump off that boat, to escape the situation… But she didn’t. She mentally fought the battle, survived it, conquered it, and rode an easy ferry ride home on the way back.

If you’ve been through that, you should never feel anything other than pride.

The different faces of anxiety are interesting, and the way people react when faced with panic. The fight, flight, or freeze response kicks in, and it’s like internal torture.

When I have a panic attack, it’s invisible. No one has ever been able to tell (unless I faint… Whoops!) I sit there quietly, desperate to catch my breath and slow my heart rate. And I fight the urge to run from the situation, knowing that running only feeds the panic. With my friend, her panic was utterly palpable. You could see it, feel it. The sobbing, the shaking, the hyperventilation. We’re feeling the same things, but wearing it completely differently.

So, before you call someone dramatic or weak, because they didn’t ‘look’ like they were having a panic attack, or because you don’t understand why they were having one in the first place. Stop. Take a look outside yourself, and realise that even if you can’t understand what they’re going through, your steady support is all they need in that moment.

Mr Puppeteer

One month – that’s all it took. Four weeks, thirty days, to see a new romance with a seemingly nice and normal guy sour to a tumultuous storm of intimidation, emotional manipulation, volatile emotions, and controlling behavior.

One month, and you became my puppeteer. And I, a slave to your emotions.

It happened quite suddenly. Once we were official, you visibly changed. I felt the strings tie around my wrists and feet, one by one, as you made me move and dance as you pleased, pulling the strings from your seat above me. My body became made of wood – not my own and completely out of my control. My face was a mask of a smile, of perfection, never letting my true emotions slip through my puppet facade for fear that Mr Puppeteer would come out to play again.

Today I feel raw, fearful… But mostly confused and sad. Sad because you were not who I thought you were, and I still like the guy you were before you became my puppeteer. I’ve made excuses for you that you didn’t deserve, because I couldn’t see you standing above me and pulling the strings in everything I said and did. I couldn’t see the little dance you had me doing until I took a step back.

My friend could, she could see it all. And she feared for me, for my safety. And I started to as well.

Things took a turn when you told me how you felt, that you were falling in love with me after only a few weeks. My response upset you, then angered you. Sitting up while I pretended to sleep as you talked to yourself and hit your bedroom wall. I felt scared, not completely sure if you were angry with me or with yourself. I wanted to hide under the blanket, under the bed… I just wanted to be anywhere but there with you in that moment.

I was scared for the rest of the weekend, scared to say anything or even move or breathe for fear that you would lash out again.

On Monday I brought it up, that your reaction concerned me… I was being polite. Again, not realising I was scared of you, not realising you had purposely made me feel that way with the pull of your strings.

You apologised, you said all the right things that you knew I needed to hear in order to forgive and forget. But I never forgot, I never really even forgave.

Yesterday things turned quicker and harder, your strings couldn’t control me any longer and things turned… Volatile. Mr Puppeteer, how did I not see what you were doing sooner? How did you make me feel SO trapped so quickly? I understand now, I understand how women get caught in abusive relationships, constantly making excuses for the man they used to love. To those women, I see you… You are not alone.

Yesterday I told you I was going to WA for a holiday, to visit my family friends. Your mood soured after that, with hidden demands of how long you wanted me to go for. “No longer than a month.” The next demands came with who you wanted me to stay with. “Stay with Jess, not with Andrew.” This required a two hour deep and meaningful conversation, leaving me feeling caged and drained. Like you had pulled your strings and put me back in my box and taped it up, trapped in the dark and unable to move until you decided to pull your strings again.

Then you became clingy, again asking me to tell you how I felt about you and us, wanting those words from me that I wasn’t ready to say. Making me feel like I couldn’t breathe as you leaned over me, my arms trapped underneath you, as you stared into my face. Leaving me vulnerable and exposed in so many ways.

The day worsened from there. I was ill, in pain, cramping (most ladies will understand this.) You wanted me to meet your family and I didn’t feel up to doing so, so asked if I could go home. (Yep, you heard me, I had to ASK.) You did not like this, not one bit. For I’d stepped out of line with the little string dance you had me doing. You became angry, then upset… You cried. Don’t get me wrong, men are allowed to cry – but in this situation, really?! You did and said everything you could to make me stay. I was scared, genuinely scared for my safety. As were my friends who were frantically trying to get in touch with me. But I couldn’t touch my phone, couldn’t respond unless you weren’t watching. You wanted, needed, to know everyone I was talking to and everything I was saying.

I was scared of you. That was hard to say at first, hard to admit, but it’s true. I felt the need to do and say everything you needed me to in order to keep your mood level, to prevent you from lashing out. Where volatile emotions come into play, so does violence.

I drove home in a numbed state, feeling completely drained of life, completely empty inside. I’d stopped doing your puppet dance, and finally my mood and body crashed.

This situation taught me a lot, it taught me I have some amazing people who have my back no matter what. That even though you made me feel trapped and intimidated, I still had my safety net of support. Willing to hide me safely if need be, willing to do whatever needed to save me from any potential emotional or physical abuse.

I’m safe from you, because I chose to be. Mr Puppeteer, I cut those strings the moment I left your puppet house. Your constant calls and messages tell me that you’re aware of this, tell me you fear that you’ve lost your hold on me. Because you have.

I don’t write this to put you down, to be mean. I write this for exposure, for awareness. I won’t be a slave to someone else’s emotions, and neither should you.

Please, I implore every woman to watch, to notice even the littlest of red flags in your relationship, in the relationships of your loved ones. Please watch for abuse before it happens. Please tell someone and get out. Be safe ladies, be loved. We all have your back. ❤

We Need to Talk

Let’s talk about chronic pain. I mean, big whoop… Man up, right?

NO!

Let’s go for some empathy here… Ladies – imagine having bad period cramps all month long. Guys – imagine being kicked in the balls and being told that lingering pain is going to stick with you every day for the rest of your life. Ever broken a bone? That pain is here to stay! Got a bikini wax? Yep, you guessed it, that pain becomes chronic.

Now, that’s not reality (praise Jesus!) But let’s just think about a pain that we get, and then imagine it never going away… Ever.

Enter stage left – chronic pain! Enter stage right – medication overuse syndrome, causing even more chronic pain. A vicious cycle of pain.

Pain, pain, pain.

… Did I mention pain? 😉

It’s something so easy to overlook. I even did it myself for many many years, before the universe kicked me in the ass and said “Dear Laura, we think you could use some daily pain. Please see attached. Kind regards, The Universe.”

Slowly, but surely, I started to understand. And regretted every single day that I lived in ignorance, that I scoffed at people ‘complaining’ about their pain. Well, I got my comeuppance for that, let me tell you!

But in all seriousness, the affect that chronic pain has on all aspect of a person’s quality of life, as well as mental health, is a really freaking huge issue. It SUCKS! 

I’m a happy, positive, and bubbly human. But when that pain hits… BAM! I’m irritable, down in the dumps, and straight up pissed off. Not to mention the anxiety and panic attacks! Because being able to do everything I used to do on a daily basis would be pretty darn sweet, but apparently too much to ask.  *Face palm*

The frustration is real, it’s constant, it’s debilitating and confusing. Do I stay in bed and rest? Do I try walk it off? Do some stretches? Heat therapy? Magnesium oil? Pain killers…? All of the above (most likely?)

Let’s talk about loss. Every little thing that you stop being able to do, or stop being able to do as often. Loss of jobs, ability to exercise, ability to socialise, ability to drink a bottle of wine and not pay for it for a whole week… Let’s talk about relationships – the ones who have stayed and the ones who have left. The friends and family that patiently sit on the sidelines, trying to be supportive, while also incredibly frustrated.
And I feel for them – because we all want so desperately to have someone to blame, but lacking that element. Wanting to point a finger and scream at someone until all that frustration is out and you feel SO much better. They wish they could blame me, but know very well that it’s not my fault. I often wonder if I’d feel better if they did blame me – if that would ease the inexplicable and unrelenting guilt I feel.

What about all the times that I wish to God that I could work off my frustration and anger during a flare up by going for a jog or bashing the crap out of my boxing bag, but my pain prevents me… LOL – universe kicking us in the balls again, am I right?!

So, you lie there, resting, using any type of therapy possible to get through the pain, while suffocating in a plastic bubble of frustration and anxiety. You literally can’t breathe, can’t think, can’t focus, can’t even verbalise how you’re feeling to your loved ones – because you’re being thrown around in a huge dumping wave, thrashing, trapped in a reality that not only isn’t fair, but should never have been yours to begin with.

I’m in pain almost every single night when I’m trying to sleep – did you know that? My hips, my knees, my legs in general… Occasionally my elbows and/or my head. My medications make the day time pain less of an issue, but it’s always there. Simply being repressed by medicine.

Does that sound restful? Let me answer that for you… It’s not.

Guys, how are your balls feeling? Ladies, picturing that bikini wax? I hope you’ve kept that in mind while reading this. I hope it’s given you even a small amount of understanding for what chronic pain sufferers deal with almost every single day of their lives – all while attempting to act normal, for fear that everyone will abandon you if they knew the truth.

Because those people? They’re what keeps them going. Don’t forget that.

How Am I Supposed To Love A Body Like This?

If you want to include both my battle with endometriosis and with an autoimmune condition, I have been fighting my body, and medical professionals, for ten long years. Ten years of chronic pain, chronic illness, and chronic anger towards my body for never giving me any relief.

With Endometriosis comes not only extremely painful periods, but also back pain, urinary tract infections, diarrhea, constipation, nausea, extreme mood swings, pelvic pain all month long, fatigue, general malaise – and the list goes on and on.

With my autoimmune condition comes chronic fatigue & malaise, severe chest pain & palpitations (occasionally landing me in the ER,) tachycardia, panic attacks, muscle pain, joint pain, chronic migraines, brain fog, muscle weakness, rashes, and just a general lack of discomfort and feeling like shit to be honest.

So, how does one love their body, when their body only ever causes them distress and discomfort on a daily basis? It’s not easy – it usually feels impossible. I spend so much time pushing through the pain and illness every day, that I’m left feeling extremely pissed off and frustrated with my body. Why can’t you be pain free for just one day? Why can’t you let me live my life? Why do you have to take everything from me? Why can’t you give me a break?

One day it occurred to me, as I looked at myself in the mirror, that I had started feeling separate from my body because I spent all of my time fighting it. It was no longer a part of myself, but instead a monster that I had to slay. That one thought shocked me. This sounds ridiculous, but I stood there and had to touch my arms, my face, my neck, my stomach, and my legs, just to feel connected to my own body again. To remind myself that it’s a part of me and that I still need to love and care for it.

So started my self care regime. Pilates twice a week, higher quality skin and hair care, meditation, walking every day, and most importantly, attending each doctors appointment with the goal to fight FOR my body, rather than against it.

It’s not really enough just to dutifully take our medications, just to push through pain and deal with the frustration and anger, to let ourselves hate the very part of us that keeps us alive and who we are. Our broken bodies aren’t actually stopping us from living our lives – they’re giving us the ability to keep living it, even if limited.

So keep caring for your body, no matter how broken it may seem. Stay connected to it and keep loving it. Nobody can love and fight for our bodies like we can. ❤

The Social Anxiety that comes with Chronic Illness

I don’t trust my body – not even a little bit. I don’t know how I’m going to feel at any given moment. It’s unpredictable, to say the least.

Now, you might be thinking, “isn’t that the same for everyone?” To some extent yes, but not like this. I’m sick every single day to some degree. Maybe it will just be mild fatigue and a lingering headache, maybe my chest pain will get so bad I’ll end up in hospital, maybe my fatigue will leave me bed ridden… I have absolutely no idea.

I can’t make plans, not really. I accept plans with the usual “but it all depends on how I’m feeling on the day.” Because, let’s be real, I have NO idea if I’ll be able to make those plans or not. In fact, I’d say it’s more likely that I’ll have to cancel. Which fills me with no end of anxiety and guilt.

I love my friends, I love my family, I love my boyfriend. I WANT to spend time with them – and yet, my body doesn’t always let me. My Pilates instructor even took me off weekly lists, and assumes I’ll just turn up when I’m able.

This is frustrating for everyone, including myself. ESPECIALLY myself. I’ve seen friends distance themselves, stop inviting me anywhere, and just lost friends in general. They’re not bad people, they just didn’t understand and took my flakiness for not caring, and I don’t blame them one bit. I understand that chronic illnesses are hard for people to understand unless you’ve been through it, I really do. BUT, it doesn’t make it hurt any less.

This is the social battle every person with a chronic illness must go through at some stage. Do we go to that social event, knowing that we will pay for it tomorrow, and probably for days to come? How do we pick and choose which social engagements to go to each week, how can we spread them out? Why, oh why, can I not just have my body back so that I can go to ALL social engagements and not have to lose sleep over this petty shit anymore?

It really goes beyond that though. It becomes a deep fear to even leave the house. You start thinking about things no one else would. Like – how can I leave at any given moment if I need to without drawing attention? How far from home is this plan, if I get a migraine how long will it take me to rush home? If I go to that persons house, will my stomach rebel against me and leave me in a deeply embarrassing situation? Do I have all my medications, comfy clothing, water bottle? Then if we do end up going, it’s rare we even have fun because we’re too busy worrying or pushing through whatever symptoms we’re dealing with that day.

It is so damn EXHAUSTING!

And so, we stop planning anything. We stop even accepting plans that are further than a half hour drive from home, or any plans that might be over night. We simply stop making plans.

How lonely is that?

To the Chronically Ill Mother

Yesterday I was babysitting my niece (1) and nephew (3) all day. I loved hanging out with them, but I got a new insight into what it’s like to have kids when you have a chronic illness.

Children never stop. Ever. They’re little balls of energy, addictive and adorable, but oh so exhausting after a while! I can honestly say that the longest and most stressful day at work never amounted to a full day looking after little kids. Not in the sense that it was stressful, but just how much it takes out of you.

Now, my glimpse at life as a mother was tiny, but told me so much. I probably managed to go to the bathroom once all day, and had to eat quickly while they were distracted with their own food. I cooked dinner with my niece in one arm while trying to allow my nephew to help prep the veggies without hurting himself and without actually letting the food burn. Then I gave them both a bubble bath after changing the nappy of my 1 year old niece, that was so full that I just couldn’t believe such a little human could produce so much poop!

The noise – they were ‘chatting’ and making noises all day, while constantly demanding attention and forever moving. They wanted to go outside, then inside, then outside. Then eat, poop, play, watch TV – rinse and repeat!

For all mothers out there – I have the utmost respect for you. I can’t wait to become a mother myself, but man I could see the struggle you all go through on a daily basis. Any man that says “you were at home all day, why didn’t you get anything done?” – I will personally kick you all in the balls.

Now, to the mother with chronic illness – that’s a whole other level of respect I have for you! To the mothers suffering with an autoimmune condition, chronic fatigue, diabetes, arthritis, even cancer – you are an absolute SUPER MUM! To suffer through daily fatigue, pain, nausea, digestive issues, chest pain, dizziness, insomnia, and a whole other gigantic list of issues, and STILL be able to push through all that and look after your children in the way they deserve. You deserve a god damn medal!

You don’t have time for yourself, not even a second. Not when your little babies are demanding all of it. You put yourself second ALWAYS, and I think that takes incredible strength. Self care has probably become a distant memory for you, but I still feel like it’s so important, no matter your circumstances. You need to look after yourself, to be able to look after your little ones.

For everyone else out there without children – I think it’s important to offer some support and have some more understanding on what mothers in general go through, let alone mothers who are chronically ill. Offer them an extra hand, watch their kids for half an hour while they shower and wash their hair – every little bit helps. Offer them the self care time they so desperately need. This goes for all mothers, not just the chronically ill.

But pay extra attention to those with chronic illness or pain. Extra attention to how they’re coping mentally as well as physically. I myself spent the entire day today in bed recovering, and my condition is no where near as severe as some others.

To the chronically ill mother – I see you. I think you’re incredible. Please don’t feel guilty for something you cannot help, please see that you’re doing an amazing job and pushing through so much more than anyone should have to. You’re a good mother and you’re a strong woman.

Feeding the Stigma

This is entirely my fault. For two years I have been suffering with health issues and chronic widespread pain, spending thousands of dollars on appointments, tests, medications, hospital visits and surgery. Unable to work full time or have a normal social life.

And apparantly unable to let my own family in on this huge life changing illness. Whoops! 🤦‍♀️

I made an assumption. A stupid one. You know what they say when you assume, right? I did that. I made an ass out of u & me. Or them and me, if you want to get technical.

My mum and dad knew most of the details, so I had just assumed they would have let everyone else know. I kept the details close to my heart, not wanting anyone to know how much I was really struggling, but hoping my parents would give them the general gist.

Apparently they didn’t. And so, two years after this all started, my brother and sister-in-law asked me why I had resigned from my job and what was going on with my health. When I mentioned my migraines, my possible Lupus diagnosis, my brother asked if that’s the reason I go to bed insanely early, like a light bulb just went off in his brain and everything suddenly made sense. Because guess what? Everything suddenly DID make sense! When you actually explain the facts to people, first hand, everything falls into place. Funny that!

Now, after that conversation, I realise that I’m guilty of exactly what I’ve been ‘preaching’ against! Not talking openly to my own family for fear of judgement and simply hoping someone else would do my dirty work hasn’t done me, or them, any favours. Sure, judgement is a part of life. So why are we so scared of it? I think that’s a hard one, because we don’t want to know the people we love the most don’t understand what we’re going through. That’s so damn isolating!

But they didn’t judge, even if they didn’t fully empathise with my situation. They just wanted to know, to understand. Because they’re my family, and they love and care for me. It seems so crazy to me now that I didn’t trust in that.

I’ve heard people say there’s no stigma with chronic illness, only with mental illness. But I disagree. There is a stigma, if there wasn’t I wouldn’t have been so scared of judgement. That fear had come from somewhere, and it caused me to hide what I should have been sharing as abundantly as possible. The stigma is based around chronic, invisible, undiagnosed illnesses. Am I making it up? Bunging it on?

Every time someone asks me how I am, genuinely wanting to know if I’m okay, my response is always “I’m okay. Same old.” I kick myself every time. What does that even mean?! Same old? REALLY? Just tell them the truth, that I’m struggling with migraines and I’m tired of pushing through. That I’m desperate for a break. That I’m trapped in a body that’s constantly in pain and all I want to do is live my life. That I HATE that I had to quit my job.

THAT’S the truth I should be telling. So why is it so difficult? My fear is damaging not only to myself, but to everyone else.

I’ve been totally honest with all these strangers via my blog – but not with my own flesh and blood. Maybe it’s easier to face being judged by strangers, than by those we love. Maybe it’s less scary – less hurtful. But I am causing harm nonetheless. I am unintentionally feeding a stigma.

Well… No more. I AM SICK. I am a barely functionally, chronically sick person. I go to bed at 5pm because I’m bone achingly tired and I’m trying to beat my migraine by going to bed before the pain gets too bad. I avoid social outings because I’m scared I’ll have to leave early which either forces my boyfriend to have to leave early with me or forces me to either explain the truth to everyone or make up a lie. I’m not sure which is worse. I can’t work full time because I’m physically and mentally exhausted from having to push through daily pain. I’m terrified of doctors visits because I’m tired of being told that they can’t figure out exactly what’s wrong, and I’m embarrassed every time I have to explain that fact to everyone else waiting to hear my diagnosis. I’m dead broke, partly because I can’t work enough and partly because doctors, medications and tests are SO expensive. I hide my pain and fatigue until it’s really bad simply because I’m tired of complaining. I hide pain from my own boyfriend who just recently said “how come you don’t get migraines on weekends?” Ha! Well, I do. I just medicate more and push through it more so that he won’t see the full extent of how broken his girlfriend is. Even though I know he’d understand, I’m scared that maybe one day he won’t anymore. I work every day to protect myself both physically and mentally.

I’m a sister, a girlfriend, a daughter, a friend. I’m a person – and I’m chronically ill. Welcome to Laura in real life.

I don’t want to complain…

I don’t like complaining, and I don’t want to complain anymore. I really don’t. I don’t like seeing the looks on people’s faces thinking “she’s complaining yet again.” Seeing the looks of frustration and simply being ‘over’ hearing about my health issues. But guess what, feeling sick every day has become my life at the moment, and I didn’t choose it, nor do I enjoy it. And sometimes, I just need to vent and complain. Because it downright sucks!

Feeling sick or being in pain every day isn’t something I EVER wanted. It’s exhausting and frustrating to say the least. Especially when all I want to do is live my life, to be the bubbly and energetic girl I used to be. I’m a ball of energy trapped inside a failing body. I suspect this is a lot what prison feels like, an actual life sentence.

All that being said, let me rephrase my earlier statement. I don’t want to HAVE to complain anymore. You’re tired of hearing me complain? That’s NOTHING compared to the frustration I feel on a daily basis.

I can see it when people ask me how I am. They sound sincere when they ask, and I’m simply a really honest person, an open book really. So I answer them. “I’ve been better. I had a migraine all night.” And I see their eyes glaze over. They don’t want to hear that, they wanted me to say the perfunctory “I’m good thanks, how are you?” They want me to pretend so we can move on to more interesting topics of conversation, like hair and nails and which party they went to on the weekend.

So I started doing that. I started saying “I’m okay,” even when I’m not. Even when I’m home, achingly exhausted, dizzy, overcome with nausea and trying desperately to push through this migraine. I’m still “okay.” Every day that I work is a struggle. Staring at a computer screen all day under constant fluorescent lighting, struggling through fatigue and fighting off the pain with medication that is only going to cause worse side effects later on. But I still answer “I’m okay.” When I finally complain, it means I’ve really hit that wall of not being able to even pretend anymore.

But this tactic is damaging. It isolates those of us suffering with any kind of chronic illness, whether it be physical or mental. Anxiety or migraines. Depression or Chronic Fatigue. It applies to all illnesses. The less we talk about it, the more the stigma grows, the more people think we’re just bunging it on. It’s not good for us, and it’s not good for them. How can they understand better, how can they gain any awareness, if we’re constantly holding back what we’re going through?

That being said, we have good reason to hold back. Because of those people who don’t actually care to hear how we’re going, those people that instilled that fear in us.

You think I like the attention? Here’s the truth, I would give ANYTHING to not be sick anymore. If I wanted attention, I’d just run down the street in the nude, I wouldn’t need to be ill to get it. I’ve had to quit my job, a job that I loved that had become like a home and second family to me. I quit, purely so I could focus on my health and attempt to get it back on track. So that I could go back to living my life. It was not an easy decision, or a happy one.

If I just wanted attention, do you really think I would have done something so drastic? My complaints are annoying for you, but the reason I’m complaining is a LOT more ‘annoying’ for me. So remember that the next time my need to vent is a drain on your day. Remember that any time ANYONE with an illness of any kind is needing to vent. They’re struggling hard, the least you can do is endure listening to them, and maybe, just maybe, giving them some semblance of relief because you ACTUALLY cared. It’s not hard to be kind, especially if you just put yourself in someone else’s shoes for 5 minutes. Especially if you step out of your bubble and see the pain that surrounds so many people in the world.

Let’s be real. Speak up more when you’re struggling, break the stigma. Complain whenever you feel the need to complain. Vent, get it all out. Force people to hear you and to see the truth. Help them understand. If they get bored, if they don’t care… Well, fuck em! From here on out, I make no apologies for voicing my pain.

The Mirena

For lack of a better way to describe this, let me tell you about the time my body tried to give birth to a Mirena. That’s right, I was suffering contractions for 2 months because of this apparant magical Mirena that was supposed to ‘solve’ my Endometriosis for the next 5 years. Winning, right?

I’ll start by explaining what a Mirena is. A Mirena is a hormonal IUD, which us a small device that is placed inside the uterus to prevent pregnancy. Or, my my case, prevent endometriosis from growing. Pictured below. You really wouldn’t think something so small and unassuming could cause so many issues!

I’d just gone through my 3rd surgery for Endometriosis, and while the surgeon was in there he’d inserted the Mirena, after explaining to me that this would be a great solution to keep my Endo at bay for the next 5 years.

After the surgery I felt a lot more ‘cramping’ than usual, but didn’t question that it could have been from anything other than the surgery.

A week after surgery I was in so much pain that the only relief I could get was through morphine and lying on my side with a pillow in between my legs. I called my surgeon the next day and got no answers or sympathy there. Everything looked fine in surgery, so everything therefore must be A-OK! 👍🏻

I continued on with life, all the while getting excruciating pain every single night, along with most days. I could be at work doubled over in pain, high as a kite on morphine and seriously considering pulling the damn thing out myself. I didn’t have the pain before this, so what else could be causing it? My gut was, quite literally, telling me that this ‘amazing’ device was the root to all my recent issues.

That being said, the Mirena is so effective for so many women. I just happen to be one of the unlucky ones because, as it turns out, you’re more likely to get issues and pain from it if you haven’t had kids, which I have not. My uterus was too tight and did not expect to have a sudden foreign object in there, and simply wanted it gone.

And so began the contractions, which is exactly what I was having for those two months. My uterus was trying to push it out, with no such luck. I was depressed both from the pain and from the hormones being pumped directly into my uterus. I was bleeding none stop. So I made the very easy decision to get it removed.

Doctors don’t warn you of these things. The likelihood of mood changes from the change in your hormones, the possible pain from a device if you haven’t had children. My GP, who is an awesome doctor, was actually the one to finally explain this to me when she removed the device.

I truly believe that the hormonal treatments women go through for conditions such as Endometriosis, need a lot more light shed on them. I truly believe that doctors should warn us of these possible downfalls, especially for hormonal treatments such as the Depo Provera injection, which once given, you cannot take back for 3 months. For me that ended with months of severe depression (which you can read about in my post ‘The Depo Darkness’.) Yes, I most definitely should have been warned about that!

And what about the rest of the population? What do you really know about the treatments for Endometriosis? Since awareness on the disease itself is pretty sad, I’m guessing not much at all. Surgery is the most well known, but there’s definitely a lot more to it. And NONE of it is pretty or easy.

So… let’s talk about it more. Start a conversation, tell people what you’re going through. Or better yet, ask another woman what they’re going through, ask them if they’re okay. Be open, be real. Because, at the end of the day, we’re not doing ourselves or these diseases any justice by hiding it.

“If you gain 3 kilos, all your problems will go away.”

“I truly believe that if you gain 3 kilos, all your problems will go away.”

That’s not something I EVER expected to hear from a doctor. Especially a very experienced professor in Endocrinology, highly recommended by a few of my other specialists. Especially after I had explained in detail over the course of an hour that I had always been this shape and that the rest of my family was the same.

I’ve always been a skinny girl, and trust me, it’s not from lack of trying to gain weight. My diet has consisted of carbs and chocolate since I was a little girl. Pasta, bread, potatoes, bagels, rice, they’re all my favourite things! I’ll choose a burger or a pizza over a salad any day! And yet, here I stand, 172cm and 52 kilos.

Growing up I had several doctors ask me if I eat. And that ALWAYS confused me so much. Of course I eat, what a ridiculous question! In fact, I never stop eating! I graze all day long, and that’s never changed. Though when I look back at photos, I do see why they were concerned at the time. I was VERY thin.

But looking at myself now, I don’t think I look sickly skinny to the point where a doctor would blame all my health issues on a measly 3 kilos!

When my health first took a turn for the worst, I lost 6 kilos. I dropped down from 54 to 48 kilos. It was noticeable to everyone and I often heard people talking about how thin I’d become. But there wasn’t much I could do about that. My GP told me to eat whatever I feel like whenever I feel like it to try put the weight back on until I could yet my appetite back.

And I did. I became a huge fan of cheesecake, and relished in the idea of being able to eat it all day guilt free. And I put 4 kilos back on. Back to an average weight for myself. Awesome! Now if I could gain those extra 2 kilos back, it was really just a bonus, but no biggie for the moment.

So when I finally saw this professor, back at my normal weight, and explained all this, hearing him tell me that all my health issues would go away if I gained an extra 3 kilos brought up a lot of questions for me.

Why 3 kilos? If I’ve always been this weight but been healthy previously, why is my weight an issue now? Are you really allowed to promise me such a thing? Are you dense?

All those questions and more were running through my head. It was absurd to me! And yet, when I got home and mentioned this seemingly crazy doctors prognosis to a few people, they agreed with him.

WTF?!

Suddenly everyone around me was telling to me gain weight and then I’d feel all better, watching what I ate and telling me to eat more. Like I hadn’t spent years trying to gain weight with no success, like I could just force myself to shovel in more food, like my metabolism would just change in an instant. Had everyone lost their god damn minds?! I couldn’t figure out what on earth was going on.

But later on I realised. These people care about me, and saw me go from a healthy and energetic 28 year old, to a sick girl who barely had the energy to go to work, kept ending up in emergency, had shed 6 kilos in no time at all, and suddenly had a whole other list of issues that no one could understand or explain. And they hear me come home and tell them that a doctor gave me an answer, and they clung to it. I understand that.

What I don’t understand is a highly experience professor making false promises to a woman with health issues simply because it would hurt his ego to admit he couldn’t figure out what was going on. What’s more is that it’s dangerous for a someone in his position to ever do that without the relevant tests to back up that claim, and to rule out anything sinister.

Guess what Dr Dense, I went to Fiji and gained those 3 kilos, and not one thing changed (shocker.) If anything, my health has deteriorated in the last year since I’ve seen you.

It truly scares me that he dismissed me so carelessly. How many other people has he done this to? With a reputation like his, I like to hope it’s very few. But with a reputation like his, it makes it all the more dangerous if he was saying this to other people. Other people who might believe him and not look further into their health.

There’s two things I took from that experience. Doctors are human and make mistakes too, and second opinions are not only acceptable, but crucial.