4 Ways Endometriosis Can Affect Your Mental Health
Endometriosis can take a toll on a woman’s body physically, but many women with the disease may also experience various levels of emotional distress. At times, this can lead to forms of trauma. Below are four things about endometriosis that can have negative effects on mental health.
1. High pain levels.
Many women with endometriosis experience high levels of pain. For many, the pain is present daily. Others may only have excruciating pain during menstruation, but it can be so severe that it causes vomiting, fainting, panic attacks and other terrifying symptoms. The monthly burden of expecting the pain can be enough to lead to trauma. The anticipation of these symptoms each month is enough to take a huge toll on a woman’s mental health. We aren’t weak; we just know what we’re up against, and it can be emotionally and physically challenging at times.
2. Non-stop symptoms.
For the first few years, I only had symptoms during the first couple days of my cycle. They were severe, but it wasn’t until about 10 years into my endometriosis journey that I began to have lasting symptoms. This was a sign my disease was spreading and worsening as time passed without proper treatment.
My symptoms increased overtime to where they were non-stop: full-body pain, cramps, inflammation, gastrointestinal (GI) distress, bladder pain, weight loss, infertility and a miscarriage, to name a few. For about two years before my surgery in 2018, I was in constant discomfort and barely able to move some days. This was a very traumatic time for me, and I know that many women deal with the same kind of emotional distress from the severity and seriousness of this disease.
3. Declining abilities.
The pain and symptoms are difficult enough, but some days looking in the mirror and realizing you can’t do the things you used to be able to do can be very difficult. Some women struggle to perform daily tasks because of declining health due to endometriosis. Working out, going to the grocery store and even just taking a shower can be physically draining. (Read about the “spoon theory” if it’s difficult to understand why these tasks would feel impossible for us some days.)
4. Dealing with the reactions of others.
If you’re like me, you can take the words of others pretty hard. For instance, calling into work and getting a negative reaction from your boss can be very discouraging. I remember many years ago calling into work because I was vomiting and was physically unable to stand up or drive myself to work due to an endometriosis flare-up. My boss told me to bring a bucket to throw up in and get my butt to work. I will never forget that moment, and I still have the emotional scars from not being taken seriously by her.
Women with endometriosis can have difficulty with people believing them, whether it’s by doctors, bosses or even family members. If you are reading this and you do not have endometriosis, please believe us when we say we do not feel well. We’re telling the truth! Your words can be extremely damaging. By not believing us, you are kicking us when we’re already down.
Follow this journey on Pretty Gutsy.