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When Endometriosis Caused Me to Face My Body Image Demons

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Editor's Note

If you live with an eating disorder, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “NEDA” to 741741.

I admit that I have never had a true healthy relationship with neither food nor my body image. While I will be the first person to support someone else’s journey to body acceptance, point out a negative comment about weight/appearance or push someone else to love themselves as they are, I am the last to practice what I preach. Talk about hypocritical, right? I know this about myself and I won’t lie about it but let me shed some light on how my own struggle with body image along with my chronic illness has made accepting my body a true journey.

I was a chubby kid. I grew up in a complicated household so no one truly monitored what I ate, myself included. The “baby fat” that was easier to brush off in my younger years became a health issue when I started to become an adolescent. I started to get that “look” from nurses and doctors every time I stepped on the scale and the number got higher and higher. It didn’t help that my primary care doctor’s nurse was a real peach… a very slim peach that liked to point out weight loss isn’t very difficult (insert eye roll).

So, at the ripe age of 13 I decided “screw this,” and began to change my diet and started exercising at least three to four times a week. I discovered I loved yoga and was good to go. After losing some weight, the nurse at my doctor’s office stopped giving me that “look.” Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough for me. I kept thinking about how great it would be to lose more and more weight… how awesome I’d look at this weight or that weight. I was obsessed.

Enter stage left, endometriosis. I was diagnosed at the age of 22 after continuous issues with my periods, bladder pain and ongoing pelvic pain that persisted outside of my cycle. After my diagnostic laparoscopy, I was put on the birth control shot. I’m ashamed to admit I was more concerned about the weight gain than if it would actually help relieve my pain. The numerous birth control pills I had been on in the past never really affected me as far as weight, so this was new territory. I only gained maybe a few pounds, but it felt to me like I was blowing up like a blowfish. Luckily though, it helped with my pain for around two years – until it didn’t.

The beginning of 2016 started with another laparoscopy surgery and continued with treatment, after treatment, after treatment. In that July I was put on leuprolide which puts a woman’s body into medical menopause. While I was told it doesn’t cause weight gain… it did for me. My body changed and I gained weight until I couldn’t do the treatment anymore. I had another surgery mid-2017 and continued to gain weight thereafter due to recovery and trying another round of the birth control shot.

A couple months into 2018, I had gained every pound back that I lost. Exercise was too painful and I had some days where moving was pretty much impossible. I quickly was falling into a downward spiral of self-hatred. No matter what I ate I kept gaining weight due to the hormone fluctuations and it just made me angrier. My body was my own enemy. So, then I said “f*ck it,” and didn’t care what I did, ate or what happened. Now with endometriosis, diet can affect your symptoms, and it does mine, so I was only making things worse.

Fast forward to now. I ended up going to my primary care doctor – not the one I mentioned before FYI – and actually reached out for some help. I knew how to “diet” but talking to a nutritionist helped show me how to eat healthier and actually eat. So, now I’m eating right to (hopefully) get me where I need to be weight-wise. I also plan on seeing a counselor regarding my ongoing negative self-image since it has always been an issue for me.

Focusing on my weight with this disease has brought out old demons. As I write this I am emotional and just yesterday I was so frustrated because the scale had fluctuated a few pounds. I am older and so the weight isn’t going to come off as easy as it used to and my expectations are always unhealthy and abnormally high. I question myself every day, wondering if I’m doing enough, eating well enough and crunching calories over pretty much everything I eat. I realize I have to take a step back and not basically punish myself for gaining weight. Endometriosis took away what I considered a huge victory for me by causing me to gain the weight I originally lost, but in the end, it has made me face the reality of my broken relationship with my body. We all know loving ourselves – not just our bodies, but as a whole – is not just something you deicide one day and then magically do. It takes practice, patience and a willingness to accept not just our imperfections but the obstacles in our journey to acceptance.

Getty Image by borojoint

Originally published: July 9, 2018
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