How Endometriosis has affected my mental health.

I’ve been putting off writing this. It’s been something I’ve wanted to write for months but I’ve not been brave enough. As I’m writing this it’s currently day one of mental health awareness week, and already I’ve read so many amazing blog and social media posts from everyone about their own mental health stories. This has given me the kick up the arse I needed. I specifically wanted to write about the effect a chronic pain condition has on my own mental health.

I’m going to be honest. Until about twelve months ago, i considered myself to be someone with an understanding of mental illness and what it could mean but not someone who suffered with a mental illness themselves. Endometriosis has changed that.

Over the past few months I’ve found my mental health deteriorate. I had my first panic attack not long after my last surgery that involved nearly five weeks of sick leave. I’ve often heard people say they were convinced they were dying, what else could make you feel as if your heart would beat out your chest, convince you you were hyperventilating or make you shiver and sweat?   Since then they have become more and more common and when they’re not around anxiety I would never have normally experienced before remains. I’ve been taking Sertraline for several months now, things aren’t better but certainly more manageable.

I’ve not been able to put my finger on what exactly triggers them. I’m happy (mostly) in social situations, and find I’m at my worst at bedtime and into the night, meaning insomnia has been a common symptom for me. I have found that my anxiety peaks when I’m coming out of an endo flare up. Often where I’ve been stuck in bed for days in severe pain. My thoughts become more negative, I’m often full of guilt, and that’s when my anxiety says hi.

I spent so long fighting for a diagnosis, once i got it I think I didn’t know what to do next. I struggled for quite some time with the idea of being sick (potentially) forever. How am I to be realistic and positive, how am I to live my life to the fullest whilst being mindful of the constraints of my body?

So much time and focus is given to our physical health and very little to our mental health. This includes our gynecologists, our GPs or primary care doctors and ourselves. This disease can affect our relationships, careers and personal identities but until I approached my GP myself about my issues with sleeping and panic attacks no medical professional EVER discussed my mental health or checked in with me. Don’t get me wrong my GP is ace. She is lovely, takes my pain seriously and identifies when she’s unable to help me and refers me to someone who can. This just shows that there is a massive hole in the current treatment of endo.

A study published by The Australian and New Zealand journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology identified the perceptions medical professional had regarding women’s phycological care with endometriosis. If you have a bunch of time here’s the study! https://obgyn.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/ajo.12571

One of the biggest conclusions of this study was that gynecologists and other consultants treating patients with endo had less consideration of a person’s mental health that GPs or primary care doctors, either not treating it as something to consider at all or as something better dealt with by another health care professional.

I think it’s so wonderful that mental health awareness week exists, a time when we can encourage everyone to either have more consideration and empathy for others or in fact themselves. BUT. The truth is we have so far to go. I’m sure stigma is a contributing factor as to why women still find it easier to discuss their endometriosis than their mental health. Talking and acceptance is so vital, but so are adequate mental health services. Here in the UK these are often the services that are eroded and cut first. Let’s talk about how government cuts affect those with mental illness this week?

Anywho thumbs up to anyone currently struggling with their mental health, or who has managed to overcome it! Let’s talk about mental health this week in all its forms, but let’s remember to carry on talking about it and not stop.

24 Comments »

  1. I know this is an older post, but I wanted to tell you that this post is inspiring. It’s important that we can work as an #endowarrior community to support one another and build awareness for less discussed topics. It is very brave of you to share these experiences. I too suffer now and then mentally from it all. How can you not when your body goes through such trauma? Thank you for sharing ❤️

  2. I agree so much that mental health should be treated at the same time as physical health. These two can so often go hand in hand.

    Thanks for sharing your story

    Heidi
    splitthenight.com

  3. I’m so sorry that you are going through this but keep going girl! You are strong! I’ve always struggled with mental health but I know that going through issues in regards to your reproductive health can be even more devasting. Certainly not what you need when trying to get better mentally in the first place.
    Thank you for sharing pet. This is such an important topic!
    – Nyxie
    nyxiesnook.com

  4. I love this! I have suffered with Endo for over 30 years. I have had 5 surgeries. It definitely effects your mental health, and how could it not. But, GYN;S do not want to discuss those topics. If anything, they will refer you to someone else, as if Endo has nothing to do with it. You did a great job…keep talking about it!

  5. I got so many panic attacks a few years ago. I got them at least 3 times a day. It took a while, but I feel a lot better now. Don’t get a lot of panic attacks anymore, only on my ‘bad’ days. But it just takes time.

    And it is so sad that a lot of people don’t understand how terrible a panic attack can be. I also thought that I was dying.
    The only thing is that this is just your current situation and this will pass. What helped me was: meditating and finding out what triggered them. I was in a very stressful situation and I was doing a lot of things that I didn’t like to do.

    x
    Bettie
    http://www.thewildflowerhippie.com

    • I’m so glad things are getting better for you 😊 it’s so frustrating that not only the general public don’t always get it but our doctors have a hard time getting it too. I’m trying to stay positive. X

  6. Brilliant post! My anxiety heightens when I try to go to sleep too – I know this is due to events that took place last year. I associate my bed as a negative place to be but I’ve learned to overcome it by making sure I have Positivity within reach. For example, my dogs always climb into my bed and snuggle up with me. I have a Positivity calendar on the wall which my bed is against. I have a bedside table which have items on that bring me joy.

    Might be something worth trying and changing the area, where you rest the most, into a positive place to be 🙂

    • I know how you feel! Yes I think I need to change how I use my bedroom, often when I’m I’ll it’s the only room I see all day which then makes it a negative place for me. Also my cat is always a massive help during a panic attack. Pets rule!! Thanks so much for your comment ❤️

  7. I think that there is a huge gap where Doctors no longer treat holistically (whole body plus mind) and seemingly forget the mental health impact of physical illness.
    The cuts to the mental health services…..just don’t get me started. I am so so angry with how mental health services are right now. They went too far with “care in the community” without funding it. My experiences were at their best around 2008 when there were lots of “assessment wards” for short term stays of up to 28 days where they would quickly adjust medication while you were in a safe place to stabilise you so that you were able to then return to the community for the waiting lists for psychological therapies to deal with the underlying issues. (not that I think medication is the answer to everything, but it can help level things out while waiting for long term treatments – when my mental health took a dive I was begging for a short term stay (I react to meds so badly they can’t get me on them in the community – we’ve tried) just to get me stable enough on meds to enable me to function and get back to work while I waited for the therapy that would help me in the long term).

    • I agree with you! Our society tends to treat the human body like a machine that needs fixing and that’s about it. That sounds really tough! The cuts to mental health care are terrifying! I don’t think those that aren’t affected understand how those cuts and lack of services can affect those that try to access them!

  8. A wonderful post – so brave and open. I can totally relate – I was recently diagnosed with endometrial cancer although fortunately it’s stage 1 and everything is under control. I completely get what this all does to your mental health and it is so draining to suffer. Big hug. Yaya x

  9. Excellent post. There is hope. My wife had endometriosis and that really did increase her anxiety. 35 years later she has a strong handle on both. You will get there too.

  10. Thank you for sharing. I’ve had a couple of panic attacks, when I went through puberty. I never understood why, hormones are a B. I remember them very vividly especially the very real fear that I would die. I really feel for those that experience them regularly. 💜

  11. I’m so glad you wrote this but I’m also so sad you feel like this. I’m the same and although I’ve always struggled with my mental health, since having suspected endo I’ve seen my depression and anxiety get so much worse to the point where some days it’s unbearable. So, so many women with endo, or any other chronic condition find that it effects their mental health so it’s something that needs to be spoken about more than it does.

    Coralle x
    onlycoralle.wordpress.com

    • Thanks so much for the comment ❤️ I’m so glad I wrote this! Sad to hear you’ve been suffering. You’re right though the more we talk about it the better it will be! Hope you find some relief soon! ❤️

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