*Trigger warning - this blog contains mentions of feeling suicidal
I’m going to share something with you that not many of us even share with our families and friends. I have endometriosis, and I have previously felt suicidal because of it. From the outside, nothing looked wrong- I had friends, family, a busy career and I have a face that most frequently wears a smile.
Yet behind all this, was pain, sleepless nights, brain fog, and lost days alone- crying and wrapped around a heat-pack.
At its worst, I lost about ten days in every month to endometriosis. Ten days where my partner would tell people “I had a cold” because “period pain” didn’t seem to be an acceptable -or accepted- reason to miss social events. Ten days that I tried to struggle through work, using painkillers, deep heat, and stick on heat patches. Days when my former male GP told me that my “period pain” was normal- even though I already had the diagnosis of Endometriosis; but he could give me sleeping tablets for insomnia, antidepressants for the low mood, and perhaps stronger pain killers if I really needed them (“but do you??!”).
Nobody knew or understood the impact that endometriosis was truly having on my life. And I carried on, as many of us with chronic pain do, pretending that everything was okay- hiding my symptoms, minimising them as “feeling a bit off”, and generally trying to be superwoman.
Then my husband and I house sat for a friend. After 3 nights of endo-induced insomnia, I found myself sat alone in my friend’s bath for two hours in magnesium- filled, (-um-) ‘rose-coloured water’, having pain spasms and throwing up; and thought “I cannot live in this pain anymore”. I felt disgusting, unable to move, and scared that the pain was relentless and was only ever to get worse. My mind flashed to my friend’s sharp professional chef knives, and I thought how easy it would be to end the pain.
For me, this moment was a U-turn. A non-negotiable jolt that endo had already taken so much from me, but now it was making me feel suicidal?! How dare it! No way Buster, I want to live- I just want to live without endo!
That moment was a breakthrough, and I am now thankful for it. Hearing my mind snap back that it wanted to live brought me back to myself. I woke my husband up and we went to the Emergency Department where I was kept on painkillers overnight.
In Acceptance Commitment Therapy terms, my observing self [aka ”No way Buster..’] shifted me from “Self as Content’ fused with the idea that I had to quietly suffer endometriosis; to a more empowered “Self as Context” that I was an individual who wanted to live and needed more help to manage a chronic pain health condition.