From Pain to Power
This year has been an exciting yet hard year for me. I've really worked on going from pain to power. I've done my best to transform some of my life's more difficult challenges into some of my biggest successes and ways to help others.
Two years ago, I sat with a life coach. It was the first time we met and I threw everything at her. I was feeling more and more unwell, mentally and physically and I was struggling to get through the working week. Without knowing it, back then, I created for myself an ultimate goal. I knew at some point that I wanted to work for myself again and manage my work life balance better, so I could stay healthy. I wanted to help women, I wanted to learn about alternative therapies and I wanted to bring out the creative in me (who had been hibernating whilst charity me was in full swing). Two years later - though I am not an expert in any of these fields - I write about alternative therapy, women's health and rights and get to be creative with my photography, recipes and writing. I have a podcast on the horizon and another, even bigger project, which I still can't talk about yet (ugh). To me, things feel tough but rosy. I've taken some really intense suffering and made it work for me and for others. I feel proud of myself and excited by the future.
But, it appears that there are not many who see my life with the same rose tinted glasses. Comments have been made ranging from "Every time I hear about you, it's "Jess isn't good'" to "How unfair life was to you!". My awareness raising around endometriosis is by some not seen as fighting for a voice, showing the world how strong we can be, supporting other women, but in fact a continuous reel of my ongoing 'suffering'. Whilst it's essential for me to talk about my everyday challenges and struggles, because I want the reality of our lifestyles to be seen and heard and I want others to feel less alone, what I don't want is people mistaking my honesty and voice as a continuous cry for help or yearning for sympathy.
Endometriosis Calls for Strength, not Sympathy
Endometriosis is incredibly difficult, there is no denying that. The side affects and symptoms that come with it, such as depression, can make it even harder and can and often does, in many, cause suicidal tendencies. But do not mistake our hurdles as our weaknesses, or that we are unlucky or that our life is hopeless. My life is full of hope - the hope that I'll change lives, the hope that I'll heal my body, the hope that the world will take notice. In fact, there is a part of me, that feels privileged to have encountered such a misunderstood disease with all its many sides - I feel like this is life saying to me 'Go on, see what you can do about it'. So the rebel in me decided to turn endo on it's uterus. I could see the disease was beginning to engulf me, so instead, I engulfed it. Going to give me insomnia? Fine, I'll write about it. Make me depressed? I'll find inspirational women and interview them about how they cope with it. Throw a load of food intolerances at me? Cool, let's see what endofriendly recipes I can make.
Just because nearly every aspect of my life is affected by endometriosis, doesn't mean that my life is just endometriosis. It fills my Instagram feed because that's what I write about, that's what I feel strongly about - not because that's all there is to me. Women with endometriosis and chronic conditions have found a community through social media and so yes, we project and we share and we comment, but because it gives us understanding, strength, power and motivation to push forward. Not because we're all congregating in a pit of despair together.
Make no mistake - there is a reason This EndoLife's motto is what it is - I am not suffering and surviving with endometriosis. I am living and thriving. Yes there are moments when the woman/women in your life may feel weak, when they may feel like giving up, when they feel like they're cursed - but they carry on. Your sister/friend/colleague/mother/girlfriend is living and she is fighting and has an eternal strength that is only ever found when faced with such pain. Do not discourage by telling her how tough life is for her, or feeling sorry for her or telling her how awful it must all be. See how far she's come and help her go further. Support her in raising her voice, in finding life outside of endometriosis when she's feeling good, in helping her to find the best way of managing the disease. Raise her up rather than bringing her down.
Endometriosis doesn't need to be met with sympathy, it needs to be met with strength.