This Endometriosis Awareness Month, RAiISE Trustee Laura Whitty has shared a letter to her younger self. Like many women, Laura has spent years fighting for a diagnosis and treatment. Here she shares her story and the words of advice she would pass on to herself and other young people experiencing endometriosis.
I won’t lie, I struggled to write this blog, what I didn’t fully realise was that in order to speak to my teenage self, I would have to go back to one of the darkest times in my life. I have spent the week dipping in and running back out; there were tears for me, and so much sadness. In the end I pushed myself, put Sarah McLachlan (yes, I was that 90’s teenager!) on my headphones and embraced it.
So here is what I would say to that girl who was me – and I am going to be blunt, she doesn’t scare easy.
- Push, push, push – you know your own body and you know that this isn’t normal – refuse to be fobbed off, the doctors cannot feel what you feel – you will have to use every bit of imagination you have to describe it to them.
- Do your research – take control of your journey. You can lead your own care with a good base of knowledge and with the support of the strong, caring women who have done this before you. They will make you feel seen, they will validate your feelings and they will give you a sense of community that you are missing.
- Prepare yourself for a lifetime of periodic surgeries and start enjoying the time in between. Surgery will become the norm – and it will offer you long periods of normality that are worth their weight in gold.
- Lean on the people who love you, they will be your strength when you need a rest from the struggle that is getting to diagnosis.
- Start taking care of yourself – this will be the battle of a lifetime and you will need an arsenal of good food, exercise and self-care – for you this will be music and books and people – they will distract you, enrich you and support you.
- Your life will not turn out the way you thought it would, this condition will take many things from you that will cut you to your core, but you will come through it, you are stronger and far more resilient than you know. You will change your perspective and you will make a plan that makes your heart hurt less.
- Embrace the extra skills this experience will give you – there will be no pain and no battle that you won’t be able to empathise with, and you are already doing what you will spend the rest of your life doing – lending your strength to all of the people around you. Some of those people will come into your life fleetingly and others will stick around, make peace with that because the ones that stay will make your life feel full and happy and joyful.