“It’s a difficult thing to sit with pain and just be. To sit beside it, acknowledge it and be whole in its presence. To experience pain in that way, I had to constantly remind myself that it wasn’t me. It was just a sensation. I was bigger than the pain and I could withstand it, it wouldn’t kill me. I would survive it.”Quote by Awdish, Rana. In Shock (My Journey from Death to Recovery and the Redemptive Power of Hope) (p. 106). St. Martin’s Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
Endometriosis is a physical defect in the body. However, over the years I’ve learned the emotional toll that chronic pain can have. Growing up with two sisters who I could compare life experiences with, I knew when it came to periods that my body was different. Bleeding heavily and almost constantly was both physically and emotionally draining.
For a long time I was very good at hiding my endometriosis, the bleeding, and the pain from everyone around me. I was also good at hiding the toll it was having on me and my body from my own self. However, as the years went on with little to no relief I found myself regularly crying in the bathroom, in the shower, or in bed. I used to think “Why is this happening to me? Why won’t my body work? Why won’t my body do the one thing it was meant to do as a woman correctly?” It made me sad. All the fear, doctor’s appointments, failed treatments, and no answers – it made me sad.
I also never wanted to admit that the birth control pills and hormone injections that I was prescribed were affecting me. It’s pretty well known that taking medications with hormones can effect the body and mind, possibly making those taking them emotional. Yet I wanted to believe that this would not be the case for me. I thought I was stronger than the medication and I could control my emotions when taking these strong hormones. Plus, I hated when someone would say to me that I was “being emotional” or “acting crazy”. It would make me so mad. I felt insulted and just wanted to say to them, if you’ve never gone through it then please keep your thoughts to yourself. A couple of years ago when I was going through the Depo injections, I found myself crying every day. Every. Single. Day. And I didn’t even know why I was crying. I just could not make it through a few hours without getting upset and down. I never wanted to admit it was the medication coming over me until my family members told me I was not my happy, light-hearted self. I then realized they were right. I was not myself. The medication and injections were causing me to take a hit to my emotional well-being. Since the meds weren’t even controlling my endometriosis symptoms that well and they were making me emotional I knew those management options were no longer right for me and my body. The failed medications and treatment options led me back to the same line of thinking: “Why doesn’t my body work?” But I would go out into public and go to class with a smile on my face, acting like I was okay, and accepting that this was my body’s reality.
Before starting medical school this past summer, we were given a reading assignment. I was tasked with reading In Shock by Dr. Rana Awdish. The book is about her experience with a life-threatening illness. She provides insight into having a near death experience while also providing some reflection on her own career as a physician. Dr. Awdish is very inspiring and so many of her words resonated with me – the following quote possibly the most. “It’s a difficult thing to sit with pain and just be. To sit beside it, acknowledge it and be whole in its presence. To experience pain in that way, I had to constantly remind myself that it wasn’t me. It was just a sensation. I was bigger than the pain and I could withstand it, it wouldn’t kill me. I would survive it.” Looking back I do think about how strong I was. I was a young girl living in constant pain and constantly uncomfortable. I pushed through it. I got through some of the worst days of my life. Dr. Awdish’s words remind me that its not me. I did not bring this on myself. It’s not my fault. I am stronger than the pain I have and will endure. I think thats extremely important to remind yourself, whether you have endometriosis, another illness, or any hardships in your life. It’s okay to be sad and allow yourself to process what you and your body are going through emotionally. Most importantly is this: You are stronger than the pain you are going through. You will persevere through your worst days. You will survive.