In February this year I published a post about my goals for the coming year, and while there were a few specific goals it all really boiled down to being kinder to myself.
I talked about not beating myself up so much and giving myself time to rest, which became part of my need for a diagnosis around my chronic pain.
Validating what I was feeling enough to go through the process of finding an OBGYN and putting myself out there at risk of not being believed or having my pain trivialised was a huge and necessary step.
As much as in an ideal world this drive would’ve sped up the process and gotten me a diagnosis and treatment, I was really just lucky.
Endometriosis, a disease that 1 in 10 menstruators of reproductive age suffer from (approximately 176 million women worldwide) on average takes 7-10 years to diagnose.
7-10 years of living with chronic pain to get a diagnosis, so it’s not entirely surprising that new research suggests that as many as half of the women with endo experience suicidal thoughts.
I’m lucky because it only took about a year from when I first decided to seek medical attention (although it’s hard to work out how long I was actually living with endo prior to this as more and more issues I have had in the past seem to align with warning signs of the disease).
Along with all of the new doctors and medical professionals I’ve seen in the past year, I have also put in a hell of a lot of time online researching my condition, trawling the social media pages of other people with endo and talking to other people living with chronic pain to try and learn as much as possible.
Living with chronic pain is one thing, but the toll that it takes on my mental health, along with my preexisting mental illnesses is really difficult, and makes being gentle with myself a challenge on the best of days.
As much as I would love to be able to process and deal with this on my own, especially given negative past experiences with therapy and counselling some very low lows at the end of last year and throughout this year meant that I no longer felt like this was something I could just push through
I also committed to starting therapy, in which my focus is around working toward being kinder to myself and moving past my belief that I have no worth.
Physically and mentally I have lifelong conditions and recognising this is important, but so is not beating myself up over it constantly.
It’s a work in progress, and it’s felt at times like I’m taking two steps forward and one back having to relieve and go through things that are brought up, but I’m learning (and unlearning) a lot about myself.
I can’t paint this as a sunny year of self improvement with pain and diagnosis though, because that just wouldn’t be truthful.
This year has been really tough, I’ve been hurt and heartbroken, I’ve felt alone and hopeless.
I’ve given up on being kind to myself when I thought I didn’t deserve it and I’ve gone off the grid in fear of being unworthy of people in my life.
I’ve felt betrayed and hurt and confused.
I’ve tried to assert myself and my worth and been shot down and disregarded.
But so much has happened this year, both in the parts of my life I share and the parts I don’t, and honestly I could’ve handled it much worse.
And I refuse to let those periods of time overshadow everything wonderful that has happened.
And that’s got to be enough this year.
Here’s to a safe 2020 full of love both for ourselves and others.