I’m writing this in the midst of a terrible fibromyalgia flare-up, so forgive me if it’s not the most coherent.
As I was laying on my couch this morning, struggling to find a comfortable position that didn’t exacerbate the pain, I was thinking about how scary it can be to live with a chronic illness. Chronic illness is one of those terms that encompasses a ton of different illnesses, and everyone’s experience is different. But one thing I’m sure many of us who live with them can agree with is that the unpredictability can be all-consuming.
It’s scary when your body feels like it’s not functioning the way that it’s supposed to. It’s scary that there’s no explanation as to why you’re the one living with it. It’s scary that you never really know when your symptoms are going to flare up. It’s scary to have your life completely change because of something you have no control over. It’s scary to feel useless, immobile, less than. It’s scary to feel like you’re dying sometimes, or your body is shutting down. It’s scary to worry about how others are going to react or to constantly fear that your loved ones are going to give up on you. It’s scary to feel like no one believes you.
I see a lot of people discuss the sense of grief that comes along with chronic illness. You have to mourn the life you once had, and learn how to navigate through the illness to create a new life. It feels a little bit unfair. I didn’t cause this. I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy.
I’ve done a lot of research on fibromyalgia, specifically, and while there isn’t a known cause, there’s a somewhat consistent belief that it’s neurological. For those who don’t experience fibromyalgia due to a sustained injury, it’s suspected that things like consistent stress or trauma can cause it. To me, that’s terrifying. Are our brains really so powerful that they can just like, spawn new illnesses as a reaction to stress and trauma? That sounds dumb, I know. Brains are powerful. But it doesn’t help that perpetual cycle of guilt and self-blame that us with mental illnesses deal with to think this could literally be “in my head.” I don’t think it’s that simple, but still. I would hope that I had enough control over my brain that I wouldn’t unconsciously let it hurt me even more.
I’m scared that I’m stupid now. The brain fog is terrifying. It’s terrifying to forget what you’re talking about in the middle of a sentence. It’s scary to struggle so much to concentrate, to finish a simple task, to do things you once loved doing. It’s scary to lose your memory. It’s scary when you’re someone who used to be so articulate, and now, sometimes, you can’t even finish a sentence. It’s scary to be out in public, when you’re already terrified of being out in public, and forgetting where you are or what you’re doing.
I’m scared about how I’m going to integrate myself back into regular life. I’m trying to do it slowly. I’m working really, really hard to take the steps I need to in order to get my life on track. It takes so much more effort than you would know to do even the simplest things that those without chronic illness don’t think twice about.
I don’t feel like I can type anymore because my hands are freezing up and my wrists hurt. I’ll leave you with this: if you have a chronic illness, no matter what it is, I’m sending you a big hug and a giant tub of patience that tastes like your favourite ice cream. Be patient with yourself. It’s frustrating and scary, it takes time, but you’re going to find your new normal and it’ll be wonderful.
This last year has been A YEAR, let me tell you. Not only because of the panini. You know what I mean by that. I have been on quite the personal journey with my health. It doesn’t seem like it’s slowing down any time soon. I’m trying to find the blessings in it all, which one of them will hopefully be getting back to one of my biggest passions – writing, and this blog.
I’ll try to keep it short and sweet, which has never really been my thing. But there is just so much that has happened.
If you’ve read other posts on this blog, you already know a little bit about my mental health history. Despite my best efforts, I have just had such a hard time coping and getting things under control. I made the decision, along with my family doctor, to go on medication for my anxiety and depression. I am so incredibly grateful for the relationship I have been able to build with my doctor, who has supported me along this extremely difficult journey to finding a medicine that works for me. I say extremely difficult because so far, I have not have much luck with the medication I’ve tried. Hopefully I’ll get there.
I also mentioned in one of my previous blogs that I have had a difficult relationship with my reproductive organs. Well, it’s been pretty much confirmed (as confirmed as it can be without a laparoscopy) that I have endometriosis. I was on medication for about a year or so, and it helped me live relatively pain free, which I never believed was possible. However, due to my debilitating depression and the possibility that the medication was making it worse, I made the decision (along with my doctor, and hopefully temporarily) to go off of that medication. The pain has come back with a VENGEANCE, but it is what it is.
With the panzerotti allowing me to slow down a bit, I had the opportunity to learn more about my body and pay more attention to it. Through this, I also learned that I have hypothyroidism and fibromyalgia. I am on medication for both now. The thyroid is under control now, but it’s one of those things that can fluctuate, and I will be on medication for it for the rest of my life. I am also on medication for fibromyalgia which is helping a tiny bit, but it’s one of the most constant struggles in my life right now. You should see my pill collection – oh man! I am SO, SO grateful to have benefits through my husband.
So all of this being said, I have been mostly off of work since December. I made an attempt to go back in May, but I wasn’t successful. I have been on sick leave for quite some time, which is causing some financial strain on us but working is just not in my wheelhouse right now.
Aside from medication, I am really trying very hard to do what is in my control to get better. I started doing yoga, which I am LOVING, and am trying to add some meditation into my routine as well. I have been doing some online CBT counselling along with a counselor. I am on the hunt for a therapist, but it’s really not easy right now. I have apps on my phone to track my progress and regressions, I write in a meditation journal, I use apps to help me exercise my brain, and I lean on my INCREDIBLE support system when I need to. Seriously, I can’t believe my mom hasn’t started charging me for her services. She has been such an angel in my life during this; I don’t know what I would do without her.
I also made the really tough and terrifying decision to go back to school next year. I am SO SO SO SO SO scared about it. It’s something I have thought about for a couple of years. I am going into a program that I am super passionate about. But like … it’s been years. What even is school?! How is it going to work with this panorama? I am so so scared. Ugh. If you have any advice about going back to school after being out of school for years, please leave it for me.
So that’s about it, in a nutshell. While I am trying to hold myself accountable and schedule my life as best as I can to maintain a consistent routine, I can’t make any MAJOR commitments to getting back to this in a certain manner. I know how much blogs and social media have helped me with my mental health and health journey, so I feel like I need to give back, if that makes sense. I hope to be able to continue to use this outlet in a positive way for myself, and also for you.
This was a post that was meant to be completed a while ago, and was also going to be different than what it is now. Unfortunately, I’ve been dealing with some unexpected family matters and health matters, and while I’ve used other things to continue the conversation, it did delay the conversation through this medium.
The Black Lives Matter fight is far from over. Violence is still occurring, Trump is still making things so much worse, people are still ignorant, and justice still hasn’t been served in so many cases. We can’t be done with this.
Part of what is going to contribute to permanent, long-standing change is if we all take the time to educate ourselves on the past, the present, and the future. We need to support those who have dedicated parts, whether big or small, of their lives and their energy to documenting history, sharing experiences, and expressing their thoughts through art and creative outlets.
I’ve curated below some lists of some resources that have been shared by others for books, podcasts, videos, interviews, and so many more things that you can absorb, focusing on a variety of topics related to the Black experience. I encourage you to go through them. Don’t overwhelm yourself – start small and go from there. A lot of what is overwhelming people right now is the incredible amount of information out there. If you don’t take the time to listen, absorb, and reflect, you’re not going to retain anything.
At the bottom of this list, I also want to remind you of petitions that still need support and places you can continue to donate to. While it may seem like I’m taking the easy route by sharing other lists and links, I want to ensure you that’s not my intention. Sharing information in any capacity is better than staying silent.
If you have any recommendations, I would love for you to leave them in the comments below.
Lastly, I want to leave you with a reminder that signing petitions is a fast and simple way to lend your support to the thousands of changes, reforms, injustices that need justice, and movements that need to be made. A quick scroll through Twitter is an excellent way to keep updated on legitimate and timely petitions.
It’s been heartening to see people sharing posts on their social media profiles and platforms with their thoughts, helpful links, educational resources, photos, videos, and so much more to support the Black Lives Matter movement. The silence, on the other hand, has been loud too. Maybe you’re just not quite sure what your contribution should be.
Listen, there is a lot of information out there right now. There’s a lot to digest. Sometimes, trying to take it all in is too much. I get it. I have been doing my best to keep myself informed but sometimes, I do find myself so mentally and physically exhausted that I have to take a step back for some clarity before continuing.
I’ve been gathering and looking into the very vast pool of resources available to take concrete action to support the Black Lives Matter movement, as well as the protests, the legal defense efforts, and the reformation efforts currently underway. There is a lot to sift through, so I will include what I have been able to verify as legitimate to the best of my ability. I welcome any additional links in the comments, and I will update this list as I come across more.
I would strongly encourage you to consider the following list, and donating where you can. You don’t have to donate a lot. It’s a tough time right now for a lot of us, and we don’t all have a lot to spare. That’s okay. You don’t have to feel guilty about not having a lot to give. Your donations are powerful too; small donations add up. I will have some other suggestions that you can combine with donating to organizations, or can do instead, based off of what I’ve seen being shared.
I’ll start with where you can donate any spare funds you may have. I will be donating as well. These links are not listed in any particular order.
BLACK LIVES MATTER: The Black Lives Matter movement has been at the forefront of the justice and liberation movement for Black communities everywhere. There is a link on their website to donate directly, and you can also shop BLM merch, and find news updates and thought-provoking content.
The NAACP Legal Defense And Education Fund: This non-profit organization works towards fighting racial injustice through advocating for and educating on civil rights movements currently underway for people in the Black community.
Campaign Zero: Campaign Zero aims to end police violence against the Black community by tracking statistics, data, facts, and trends, compiling reports and resources to take effective action towards reform.
I found these images on Facebook as well – I know that some of this information is repetitive – with resources for where to donate, as well as different ways to consume Black content. I have done a quick search on each item suggested in these images before sharing. I couldn’t find the original source of these images as of yet; if I do, I will be sure to link to them.
This article from Variety.com has a lot of links to bailout funds from a lot of different areas that are currently protesting. This article from The Zoe Report also has links of reputable organizations to donate to, as well as some tips for how you can personally verify where you donate your money to, should you be looking for more organizations than what has been listed to contribute to.
I tried to include organizations that are at the forefront of the fight, that are actively helping protesters with legal aid, financial support, and supplies, educational resources, and those researching and rallying information to assist protests, reformation, policy change, etc. I know I can’t cover it all, but I want to reiterate that I will keep my eyes open, and appreciate any input you have.
No matter where you live, there is a good change that there are protests underway in your own communities. They could be protests in the line of fire right now, or protests in solidarity to those who are currently being unfairly attacked for practicing their right to protest. If you can, join those protests. Make signs. Take photos and videos and share them. Bring a case of water or some snacks to the protesters, or first aid kits, masks, sunscreen; even a small contribution within your means like this can mean so much.
Another way we can continue to show our solidarity and support for our Black communities – continuously and right now – is to support and uplift their contributions to their culture and to our collective culture, to our communities, and to our personal interests. Make the effort to support Black-run businesses – buy your next take-out meal from a local Black business, shop at Black-run stores online or in person (when/if it is safe to do so), buy Black literature, watch Black media, share these businesses and initiatives and content on your socials to promote them, etc. Get to know what organizations exist within your own community and support them when you can. Our conscious choices to shift our typical expenditures to support our own Black communities and beyond is a small yet important way we can lift these voices, contribute to their success, and help them create more opportunity for their communities too.
If now is not the time that you can donate, share the links at the very least. There is a good chance that someone on your timeline will be able to donate, and maybe they just don’t know where to start. Once again, I know that the frequent calls to donate may feel like a lot of pressure right now, especially in a time where many people are facing financial insecurity, but it is not meant to be pressure. You don’t have to donate your entire paycheck or a ton of money if it’s not feasible. Anything you can do is powerful and helps.
Next, I aim to share some resources that can be used to educate ourselves on systemic racism and oppression, some statistics and research that may help those who are more evidence-based learners, as well as some important things to know about how Black people have contributed to our past, present, and future. An honest and consistent effort to become educated is incredibly important right now because it is one of the ways we are going to foster change. We need to know what has happened, what is happening, and what needs to be changed. We need to be able to understand and communicate with each other why what is happening right now is so very important.
I’m wishing all of you on the front lines of the protests and the fights, everyone who is feeling scared, anxious, fearful, and anyone struggling right now in any capacity with this, especially the Black community, love, safety, liberty, and perseverance.
I have harboured a lot of anxiety and stress witnessing what’s been happening in this world lately, and the events of the last couple of weeks have only amplified that. I struggle with finding the words to express just how I feel and struggle so endlessly with all of the things that need to be addressed. I know I only have a semblance of a platform, but it doesn’t feel right to not say anything. It may not be the right thing, or I may leave things out, and I know that. Saying something is better than saying nothing at all, so long as you don’t spread misinformation, and even though you may not be able to articulate everything eloquently, or can’t address every injustice, you can still make an impact.
I cannot, and have never, been able to wrap my head around why racism exists. I grew up being taught that people were people, and it’s our job to love, to help, and to uplift. I was taught that each person was valuable and equal and not only are we supposed to treat others with love and respect, but we are also supposed to stand up for others when they’re being wronged.
The first time I remember learning that racism was a thing was in high school. Sure, I was taught about slavery before then, I’m sure, but not sufficiently. I remember being in a literature class and reading To Kill A Mockingbird. We essentially read the book as a class, and would discuss the book in segments. If you haven’t read it, a very, VERY basic synopsis is that it discusses racism through the lens of a Black man being wrongfully accused of a crime, and him being represented by a white lawyer, in a time where systemic racism was rampant. I remember thinking – this is just a book. This stuff doesn’t happen. There’s no way. However, my teacher, who happened to be a white woman from South Africa, shared her personal experiences with racism and things she had witnessed that made me realize – this does happen. It’s not just a part of our history. People of colour actually get treated lesser than. People of colour are targets of ignorance, violence, lack of opportunity, targeted crime, insufficient judicial protection, and – as we’ve learned this week with George Floyd – murder. Just downright murder. For the colour of their skin. For trying to pay for something at a grocery store. For walking down the street. For doing things that you and I can do without a second thought. On an unprecedented level. Still. In 2020. With all of the progress we’ve made. With all the lessons history has taught us.
One of my random and recurring thoughts: why is it that Kaitlin Bennett can walk into her graduation with a weapon proudly displayed on her back and build a career out of it? Someone who proudly speaks hateful language and constantly threatens people with the fact that she’s armed when they simply don’t agree with her half-assed attempts to appear like she knows things – and she gets to be on YouTube. But George Floyd can’t use a $20 bill without having the cops called on him, and have a cop choke him to death with his knee despite pleading that not only is he innocent of a fairly innocuous and non-violent crime, but that he cannot breathe. Why did he have to die because of this? All while the police officer Derek Chauvin just continues, while being filmed, to purposefully kill him. There’s video evidence of this murder – horrific, heartbreaking evidence- of him being killed, and yet a coroner (who needs to lose their job because CLEARLY they’re incompetent) can attempt to explain away the death as if pre-existing medical conditions caused the death? Sure, maybe he had pre-existing conditions, but it’s plain as day that he was killed. This should be a cut and dry case. Having video evidence of a crime is like a prosecutor’s dream. He’s not the first to die an unjust death. But this has lit a fire under the collectives’ ass, that’s for sure. I could be wrong, but having video evidence of an entire act of unjust and cruel homicide, I think, finally helped the world see that this is a problem that has existed and does exist for a long time. Too many innocent Black people are being murdered, and it needs to stop.
It’s going to be interesting to see how the case of George Floyd pans out in the media and in the judicial system. There is a lot of opportunity and potential for this case to be one that breaks ground; one that sees an overhaul in police training, stronger psychological and background checks for police officers to try and detect any pre-existing prejudice, protocol that allows other officers to hold their colleagues accountable for corruption without fear of reprisal, a zero-tolerance policy within the judicial system that doesn’t allow police officers to take what’s essentially paid vacation when they’re involved in a race-fuelled murder, and harsher consequences for police officers who use their power and authority to target the Black community in every way. This is not an exhaustive list of the change that needs to happen. This case could also lead to more American citizens to contact their government, speak up for the change they want to see, and use their voting power to ensure that the people placed in government positions are not racist, do not promote race-based violence, or who support freedom-based rights as a whole, and not only when it serves them. This case could finally be the thing to wake up the part of America that voted Donald Trump into office, to see that none of the potentially positive policies he may have rallied for matter anymore. He is racist, he is ignorant, he is not an intelligent person, and he needs to no longer be president. He has openly and proudly advocated for violence against the Black Lives Matter movement. He has shown his true colors by standing up for protestors who want to get haircuts during COVID-19, and reacting with histrionically supremacist-fuelled statements that have been well-documented to be such to those who are protesting the systematic oppression of the Black community. Let’s see more people than ever register to vote, and educate themselves before they vote, because the right to vote is one that was fought for so heavily for so many people, and it’s one of the most powerful things we can do.
This is part of what I hope for. I do have a sick feeling that things won’t all fall into line like this. I’m sure Derek will hire attorneys that will fight for the least harsh punishment possible, bastardizing the legal system to delay the process as much as possible, and use the publicity of this case to decree that there’s no possible way he will ever get a fair trial. It wouldn’t be the first time an officer or a racist murderer got off easy, and we can already see evidence that the judicial system is being skewed in his favour. This is one of the several reasons we as a society have to continue to speak up, to protest, and to cry out and challenge the judicial systems in place right now. I am so damn hopeful this doesn’t happen, but we need to be prepared, and we need to stay informed. Sign the petitions and research the laws not only in the United States, but in your own communities.
I think that my generation, and the generations below me, will be an instrumental part in seeing a lot of this much-needed change come to fruition. As we begin to come into positions of power and influence, we are not afraid to stand up for what is right. We are not afraid to use our voices and action for good. We may be generations raised by some of the ideals of the past, but we know how to educate ourselves to unlearn those behaviours and thoughts, and shift attitudes. While I don’t like to generalize generations, and there is good and bad in all, and again, my experience was that I wasn’t raised in a racist household, I think there’s a lot of evidence to support that many of the people in power right now are from generations before us and hold a lot of these toxic ideals that are destroying our world, and are oppressing the Black community.
My final message for this particular post is to those who are racist, who are against the current protests happening right now, who think they aren’t racist but have preconceived notions of the Black community, have been raised in racist households, or who occasionally make racist jokes or remarks with or without malice. There are no more excuses for your behaviour. It’s time to grow the F up. It’s time to educate yourself. It’s time to imagine how it would feel to live a life where you constantly feel like your freedom, or even your life, is in danger for driving to work, going shopping, walking down the street, or leaving your home for any reason, or even just being in your home. Unlearn what you have been taught. Don’t use your upbringing or your environment as an excuse to be ignorant. Don’t allow others in your circle to get away with it either. Don’t even dare try to take the focus off of the Black community because “all lives matter” or because others are discriminated against too. If you don’t have anything of value to contribute to the conversation, or are just looking to incite a reaction out of people who are using their voice in a positive way, kindly shut up. Walk away from your phone or computer, look in the mirror, and consider why you are so insecure and bored in your life and consider other ways you can use your time.
I do have more to say. I would like to share more information about ways to donate and contribute to the Black Lives Matter movement, to the protestors, and to organizations who have been and continue to lead the charge of eliminating the systematic oppression of Black People everywhere. I would also like to share information and facts to try and help others visualize just how persistent this problem of oppression and injustice towards the Black community is. It will take some time, so please be patient. The conversation isn’t over.
This has been a rough week for me for many reasons. Yesterday, I found myself fighting the urge to cry all morning. I started work as I normally do, and then it just hit me. I couldn’t fight it or control it. I just burst out in tears and cried and cried and cried. It was exhausting, but it needed to happen. I’m still trying to recover.
I’ve always been a huge advocate of letting yourself cry. I think it’s necessary for anyone. Of course the act of crying is a physical release in more ways than one, but I like to think about it as letting all of those emotions, negative experiences, and frustrations leave your body. It’s like boiling water; you can cover it up all you want, but eventually, the water is going to break through that pot lid and will have to be released eventually.
One of my biggest mental hurdles that contributed to this need to cry is a frustration about what constituted as strength or weakness. People see crying as weakness, when really, it’s strength. People see owning your mental illness as strength, when others see just having a mental illness as a weakness. People see struggling to function every now and then as a weakness, but also see being able to step back and advocate for your need to take a break as strength. If you’re like me though, sometimes you have a really hard time seeing strength vs. weakness clearly.
I opened up to a lot of people this week about how I was feeling. I got a lot of really positive messages about how strong I was, how self-aware I am, how I seem to know all of the right things to do to get back to a positive place. And it’s all true. I acknowledge that. I appreciate those reminders so much. But like… why do I still feel so sad? Why am I still struggle to do basic things like work, feed myself, get enough sleep, practice my breathing techniques, etc. Why do I still have so many days of struggle? Why, when I have all the tools I need, when I have a lot of positive things to ground myself with, when I have so much support, when I have access to free therapy, am I struggling so much?!?!
I mean, the simple but not helpful answer is I have a mental illness. Something is just different in my brain and I can’t really control that. It’s not my fault. It just is what it is. I have to be okay with that. Sometimes, the tools just don’t work. Maybe if I got evaluated again that would help me come to terms with this? I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately.
It’s taken a heck of a lot of work, but I always know in those moments where I’m sad, panicked, and having a really hard time coping, that I’m going to be okay. I know that I will get through it. I know the fight is never over, and that I’m never going to back down. It just sucks sometimes knowing all of this, and yet I still feel like my world is crumbling and I will never be able to contribute to society and I will never progress.
Do you have a clear definition of what you see as strength and what you see as weakness? Or are the lines blurred for you as well?
What a rollercoaster this year has been for everyone. Can you believe we’re almost 6 months in? I bet that everything feels like a blur to you too, where we’re kind of just existing right now. I hope you’re all safe, practicing proper social distancing and hygiene, and taking care of your health in every way the best you can. It’s an unprecedented time, and there’s really no right way or wrong way to cope so long as you’re not harming anyone.
I’ve been quite preoccupied with having to adjust my whole life due to COVID, which I’m sure you’ve had to do as well. It definitely took me a long time to come to terms with my new normal. I’ve still been working through it all, but thankfully, at home for the majority of the time. I’m hoping that continues. I’ve also been having my moments of struggle with my mental health, but I’ve started therapy again (YAY!) so I’m really optimistic.
I haven’t been very productive in terms of using my extra time wisely. I haven’t stressed myself out trying to force myself to be productive unless I’m in the right mindset. I’m hoping that I can start chipping away at things, and will be sure to try (try being operative because let’s face it, consistency has not been my thing with this blog) and share what I learn along the way.
I’ve also been having a lot of health issues that have affected me physically, making it really difficult to stay productive. I’ve been resting a lot and doing my best to take care, since it’s tough to access adequate health care right now. While my issues have affected my day to day life greatly, I don’t want to be a burden on the health care system for something that’s not an emergency.
I think I’m finally getting to a point of content with my new normal. That’s really opened me up to the idea of allowing myself to be more than I’ve been the last few months. I’ve been in survival mode for a while. I don’t want to waste this time feeling sorry for myself and not doing things that will make my heart and my mind happy too.
How have you been living through COVID? Have you found any productivity tips that have worked for you?
*Trigger Warning: discussions of pregnancy, difficulty with pregnancy, infertility, gynocology, and similar topics.*
So if this isn’t the first post of mine you’re reading, you know that I’m an open book when it comes to my mental health. Well, I’m pretty much an open book about everything. I’ve also wanted to talk about my journey with my reproductive health too for a few reasons.
One, it plays an important role in my physical and mental health. Two, because women are often shamed out of being open and honest about their reproductive health. Three, because there’s a lack of information and support systems for women who are struggling with their reproductive health. Four, because I’m freaking frustrated and OVER IT. Five, because it’s hella important for women to advocate for themselves, their rights, and their health.
I placed a trigger warning at the top because I know this is a sensitive subject for some. I also want to put out a disclaimer that I’m not an expert in these things, but I’ve done a lot of research. Also, some of the stuff I’m going to talk about is graphic and sexual in nature, but it’s meant to educate and support. And this post will be VERY long because I have a lot to cover. Also, for all the prudes – I’m a married woman, and either way, don’t judge people’s sexual choices if they’re consenting adults.
So I started my period when I was 9. I’m not kidding. I remember the day I started fondly (NOT). I thought I shit myself and tried to hide my underwear in the trash, but my mom found it and told me that it was my period. I thought I was dying and I cried to stay home from school but she wouldn’t let me. Weirdly enough she had the period talk with me shortly before this happened. I went a whole day at school with this happening and had no idea!
This is where the pain started. I have always had terrible cramps. I don’t know what life is like without it. I remember feeling very alone because none of my friends would start their periods until years later, and I had no one to talk about it with. I also developed very early and would often be called a slut and would be accused of stuffing my bra. Not that I could control when I started puberty or anything. That automatically made people think I was a slut. So elementary school was fun.
Fast forward to high school, and missed classes and bad gym grades because when my period came, I was out of commission. I didn’t know anyone experiencing awful, painful, heavy, irregular periods like I was, so people often thought that I was faking it or overexaggerating. Let me be clear: I’m not. Sorry. The pain is insane. And not just during my period. I have painful ovulation, which I could try to equate to your appendix bursting, but that hasn’t happened to me. But it’s really bad. And there’s also random cramping and stabbing and aches that will come at any point in my cycle.
Painkillers have also never worked for me. Even taking 1.5 and double doses don’t give me any relief. Heating pads and hot baths and ice packs don’t work either. I still do all those things, but they offer no relief.
I’ve had more ultrasounds than I can count to try and figure things out but there was no explanation. Everything looks good, it’s all functioning, etc etc. I was told countless times to go on birth control to regulate things and help with the pain but I was scared of it. I didn’t really need it, I thought. I just went through it for years and years, occasionally having ultrasounds and just was told to deal with it. How could my doctors not believe me? How could they not want to explore more to make sure nothing serious was wrong? I was at a loss for what to do, and every month I would dread the day my period started. I just wanted it all ripped out of me. Screw ever being a mother; I couldn’t live like this. Especially when pain didn’t start and end at my period.
Six years ago, I gave in and started the birth control pill. I started small with a light one with one hormone. At that time, I was with my now-husband, and was starting to think about kids, so I knew I had to be proactive because I needed to give myself a shot at fixing things. So we were to try the pill and see what would happen and if it didn’t help, we would try another one and go from there. As you can probably guess, it didn’t do anything. My periods would come around the same time every month, but they were still heavy and painful. That’s when my ultrasounds started showing cysts. Even though birth control is supposed to suppress them.
I tried a few different brands and still, no relief. Actually, things got worse. I always had clots, but these ones were much more prevalent. My legs hurt and my fatigue was at an all time high, and I was depressed. On the very last pill I was on, I felt so incredibly low, I was having suicidal thoughts. I had three periods in two months. This was at the point I was on it for almost a year, so I knew that this wasn’t my body simply adjusting. I had enough. I stayed on it for a couple more months and then I took myself off it it. Note: you should probably talk to your doctor before stopping birth control.
At this time, my doctor was FINALLY like hey, maybe something’s up here. To be fair, he wasn’t the only doctor I’ve ever had. He referred me to a gynocologist and suggested getting an MRI. My worst fear was mentioned as a possibility: endometriosis. I also got my first pap around this time – which I should have had much earlier in life, I know. It was painful and traumatic and I almost passed out. Later I would learn that this is NOT how they’re supposed to go. NOTE: Don’t be afraid to speak up about needing smaller instruments or needing them to be more gentle. You don’t deserve to have your paps be uncomfortable or painful. Also, GET YOUR PAP TESTS!
It took years for me to finally get into a gynocologist. There was trouble finding a specialist who knew anything about endometriosis or other pain issues associated with periods. Finally, I got one. I decided to read their reviews, and they were highly rated. Except for one comment – I had endometriosis but I was dismissed and I ended up in the hospital and almost died. Ugh.
At this point, I had met some people who had actually been diagnosed with endometriosis or PCOS. Our experiences were similar, so I did my research and went in prepared with questions and facts to point out. What can I say, my journalistic tendencies were acting up.
I went into my appointment and it started with a very kind student who asked a million questions and was empathetic. Fast forward to the specialist, who did a pap and pushed on my pelvis and said hmm nope, not endometriosis. He said he would feel it if I had it, and it would only be a concern if it were really bad or advanced.
I was stunned. What the hell was he talking about? I KNEW! he was wrong. I questioned him about it and asked for more definitive tests, and he said no because it costs too much money. Mind you, I live in Canada and pay taxes, so I should be entitled to our “free” health care, no? In a very condescending way, he told me to just take birth control continuously if I didn’t want a period anymore. When I expressed my concerns about how that works, he dismissed me.
I walked towards work that afternoon in tears. I was crushed and devastated and I felt like I was being lied to. I wasn’t believed. Maybe I just didn’t have a high pain tolerance? Maybe it’s really not that bad? I gave up on trying to get any answers for a couple of years after that.
Ooh but baby, it was about to get A LOT worse. The pain started to get so much worse. I don’t remember the last time I’ve gone to work when my period starts because honestly, it’s maybe been once or twice in the past three years. My husband has had to pick me up out of the bathtub because I can’t move. I’ve spent so many days crying in bed or on the couch because I just can’t deal with it. And then, I didn’t have a period for two months.
I’ve been late a few days before, a week a couple of times, but this had never happened to me before. I spotted a couple of times, and I experienced all the pain, but no period. I thought – oh shiza, could I actually be pregnant?! I’m not going to lie, as scared as I was, I was also so excited. I had thought that getting pregnant would not be a fun or easy process for us, so how cool would it be if it just …happened? However, I took pregnancy test after pregnancy test, went to the doctors for a test, and nothing. Let me tell you something: the pain a woman feels when she desperately wants to be pregnant and keeps getting negative after negative is indescribable. I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy. You feel like a failure. You feel worthless. You feel incomplete and defective.
My doctor was like okay, enough’s enough, let’s get you to another specialist. I had an MRI scheduled at this point and had to rechedule. In case you don’t know much about endometriosis, the only definitive way to diagnose it is through laparoscopic surgery. However, in recent years, it has been detected in some cases through an MRI. It’s not definitive, but it’s a start. Of course, when I finally had an MRI, it showed nothing. Another kick in the pants.
So getting a gynocologist was tough. I had been given a couple of names from a friend who has endometriosis and has specialists in my city. However, they were hard to get, so I settled for anyone my doctor could find. I finally got an appointment in another city. I just had that appointment recently.
I described my history, the fact that most of the women in my family have all had partial or full hysterectomies because this stuff runs in my family (no one has been diagnosed in my family with anything, and most of them agree that what I’ve gone through seems to be worse). This specialist was kind, understanding, and had the same suspicions I do. But no tests. My option was to go back on birth control and take a medication used to keep endometriosis at bay. For a year. Then we’ll see about maybe trying to have a baby. I bawled my eyes out in the office and for most of the day afterwards. I really did not want to go back on the pill. Not after my last experience. The specialist didn’t pressure me to do anything or make a decision right then and there. She gave me the prescription for the endometriosis medication and sent me on my way.
I was angry and sad and defeated. I would have to wait a whole year at least before trying to get pregnant? Why am I putting hormonal medication in my body when I don’t even know what’s going on? Why can’t I just go for the surgery? I didn’t get it. I still don’t. But I have to at least consider the option. With this medication, I most likely won’t have a period for a year. There’s a lot to it, but this medication has helped a lot of women with the pain. So maybe it’s worth a shot.
I don’t necessarily want to get pregnant tomorrow. If I did, I would be over the moon. What is hard for me is knowing that I have to wait. Plus, just because I would be trying to get pregnant in a year, doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy. That process could take years. I know that the older I get, the more risk is involved, even with medicine coming a long way. I’ve watched friends and family struggle for years to get pregnant and not have the easiest time, and I know how exhausting that process is.
The thing about endometriosis is it makes it difficult to get pregnant. For some, it’s impossible. Especially depending on what stage you’re in. There could be other things happening that are not endometriosis, but all the signs are there. The problem is that I don’t know. And I really don’t want to learn the hard way that something’s wrong. I’m trying to be proactive because if it’s going to be hard to get pregnant, I want to be prepared. If it’s going to be unsafe or impossible to get pregnant, I don’t want to try.
Some of the symptoms of endometriosis are: painful periods, irregular periods, painful ovulation, pain between periods, painful sex, fatigue, and there’s probably more I’m forgetting. I check off all those boxes. Endometriosis also can’t be cured. It can be managed, and it can be removed through surgery, although sometimes that’s more painful than the endometriosis itself. The only way to truly get rid of it is a hysterectomy, which means no babies. It can also spread to other parts of your body, and in extremely rare cases, it can cause cancer. So can you see why I don’t want to just leave it alone?
More people than you might realize live with endometriosis. Some famous women that have been awesome and inspiring in sharing their stories are Halsey, Lena Dunham, Julianne Hough, Padma Lakshmi, and Susan Sarandon. There’s a similar condition many women face called Adenomyosis which causes similar issues. Gabrielle Union has been open about living with this. I’m so thankful to these women for sharing their stories and educating other women about what they’ve experienced.
I hold onto the hope that because other women in my family have been fertile, I will be too. But the bad thoughts always haunt me. However, I also have to deal with a lot of shame and people telling me I have no reason to be scared or concerned. Please, don’t be that person. Don’t ever tell a woman she shouldn’t worry about not being able to become a mother if she wants to, no matter her circumstances. Never.
I’m sure this is not the end of my journey. Again, I have a lot of reasons to share my story. I have felt alone in what I’ve been living with for so long, and I don’t want anyone else to feel that way. I don’t want another woman living with regret that she didn’t speak up or advocate for herself years ago. Things like endometriosis, adenomyosis, PCOS, and the like take years to be diagnosed, often because of a lack of education, ignorance, and lack of resources. Women are shamed and made to stay silent and feel unheard and unworthy. Women cry when no one is watching because they yearn to have a healthy reproductive system. They smile at your baby and hold them and coo at them, and then go home and cry because they don’t have that or they can’t have that. They watch others get pregnant so easily and often and look at their bodies in the mirror with disgust, feeling like a failure. It is NOT our fault, but that doesn’t stop the negative mental hell we live with.
If you are experiencing any of these issues, or know someone who is, hug them. Please also reach out to me if you want to talk about it. I’m always here for you.
I used to be that girl who cried for EVERYTHING. It was one of the things that people knew me for. I don’t think I really knew how to regulate my emotions back then and crying was the only way to release those things.
Now, I get surprised something at how things that used to just get me don’t anymore. A cute animal still triggers the tears but you could tell me the most terrible and disgustingly horrible things and I’m stone faced.
But every now and then I just get this feeling in between my eyes of pressure and nothing might happen but I just feel this physical and mental urge to CRY. Nothing might be going on or everything might be going on but my mind just becomes obsessed with crying. It gets to a point where I just have to give myself time to cry.
Giving myself those moments honestly feels amazing. I feel like that release allows me the opportunity to feel what I’m feeling and allow things to just suck. When I’m done, I get this sense of determination and motivation to make things better. It doesn’t always last long but that’s another problem and another blog post.
I had one of those days a few weeks ago. A lot is happening in my life right now and was back then. There’s a lot of uncertainty and stress and change that I cannot control.
I was walking home from doing some errands and listening to music and I felt that pressure come. Then this song came on that is so beautiful and heartfelt and the tears just came. I got home and listened to this song again and I just cried for an hour. At some points I found myself telling myself to stop, that I didn’t need to cry, and that crying wouldn’t help. More on this later.
Also here’s the song that got me.
I had another day like that a couple days ago before I took my mental health day. Where I work, I deal with some pretty heavy stuff sometimes. Since 99.999% of the issues have nothing to do with me and I don’t have much power to change things, I don’t worry about it. But that day, everything hit me. It was one tragedy after another and it made me so sad. I cried a little bit at work and then again when I was off work. I have a ton and ton of empathy and so I get it, but I’ve also learned how to compartmentalize. Sometimes you just can’t though.
Do you have days like this? If so, I really hope you let yourself cry. And I hope no one shames you for it. If we weren’t supposed to cry, we wouldn’t be able to. It’s as simple as that … okay, for some of us it’s not as simple as that. But it should be, you know?
I know some of us are taught that we shouldn’t cry, that we should check our emotions at the door when at work or an event, and that we’re “too” emotional or unstable if we cry. Like that’s a bad thing. It’s not.
Just as our world is starting to open their minds and hearts to mental health, so too should we hope that they’re open to all the complexities that come along with it.
Have you ever struggled with letting yourself cry? Please feel free to share your experiences with me!
Have you ever had to take mental health days from work? You know, sometimes you wake up and you just don’t feel right and you know that the worst thing you could do for yourself is subject yourself to more stress?
Now if you’ve taken these days, how much guilt do you end up having? I tend to struggle with a lot of it.
I’m in the minority of people who has a workplace that’s actually very supportive of mental health and ways that you need to nurture your mental health. However, I’ve also been part of workplaces that were not so supportive. I’ve seen both ends of the spectrum, and unfortunately it’s really hard to break that fear of potentially losing your job because you have a mental health issue.
The trouble with this situation is that coupling your fear and guilt about taking care of your mental health with struggling with your mental health currently is that both of those things time to beat each other up a little bit. So how do you take the time to handle your mental health crisis when the time you’re taking outside of work or other commitments is also leading to more mental health-related struggles?
I’m also lucky to have resources that I can utilize today to cope with today and work towards being able to get through tomorrow. Sometimes you just need a day to not have responsibilities or commitments or duties to other people, and just be with yourself for yourself. I know that I needed that today.
How do I not feel guilty about that? Where I live we actually have laws protect us in the workplace so that we can’t be threatened with job loss because of a mental health issue. But how much does it suck that that’s not the case everywhere?
I’m happy I made the choice for me today. I needed sleep and to feel sad. I still feel pretty sad, but I’m going to try and get lots of sleep and have a more optimistic outlook on tomorrow.
I also have a pretty big appointment Friday that I am so nervous about. It’s a much need thing, and I’m planning on going more in depth about the other health issues I’ve been facing.
I’m not going to lie, I’m scared to go to work tomorrow. I always get scared I’m going to get fired for this stuff. I do not like missing work. I love working, my job is great, and putting my energy into work is usually a positive coping mechanism for me. But that fear is always lurking and saying to me that I’m going to get in trouble.
Thanks for reading this random stream of consciousness. I always feel better when I’m here.
I don’t know what the point of this post is; I think that I just had to get this out. I also know that it’s been a long time since I posted because there’s been a lot of other things I’ve had to take care of that have been more important. So sorry about that again.
I have a lot of things in the works for 2020 that I’m really excited about and I’m also really excited to share them with you.