Having endometriosis and being on your period is very much like, well, it is being ill.When you have the flu you miss work, school and social events. You take lots of over the counter medicines and keep a box of Kleenex by the bed that you stay bundled up in all day. You also spend a lot of time with your toilet.
It’s all the same with a period plagued by endometriosis, only you aren’t using Kleenex to wipe your stuffy nose, you’re wiping your tears from the pain and the hopeless fact that you’ll suffer again next month, and the month after that, and the one after that – and for your entire life.
Because my chronic pain resulted in missing four days of work every month while on my period (and that’s not counting all the other days) it also resulted in losing my job.
Losing a job sucks. You have no income, you feel like a failure and now you have to fill out applications again. But for me it was different. I didn’t lose my job because of a conflict with my boss or late nights out drinking. I lost it because I was dealt an unfortunate and painful deck of cards – and my pain was completely out of my control.
Trust me, losing my job and moving back in with my parents was not an easy pill to swallow. But coming to terms with the fact that I could simply not work a full time job and perform well due to my condition made it easier.
But for that past year I had been fighting it. Fighting the idea that I couldn’t live a normal, twenty-something life: first full time job, first time cohabitating, first time paying my own rent. Without chronic pain these responsibilities can be stressful, but with chronic pain they are a living nightmare.
So sitting at my parents house without my phone ringing from my boss on the other line and my emails exploding with to-do lists that I didn’t have the energy to complete made me feel safe and honestly, saved. Not from the responsibilities, but from having so much on my plate and so little focus and energy.
Even with doctors appointments every week, constant food logging, and hours spent researching my illness, one question kept me up at night: “now what?”
I had so much free time on my hands all I could think was that I was wasting an opportunity to pursue something new. Something completely free of consequences and failure. Maybe I could continue with my blog, start writing a book, pick up the piano again or learn to crochet? Things that require sitting. As much as I loved the thought of succeeding in new things and making the most of my illness, I couldn’t bring myself to truly pursue any of it.
What did I do with my time? I tried doing all the things I could no longer do, oddly enough. These things I didn’t even know I loved until they were taken from me. On good pain days, I went for long walks on the pavements I used to run. I even searched for work on the Internet, in complete denial that working was out of the question. I had hope that things can’t possibly end this way, but I also had a voice inside my head reminding me with every stab of pain that I wasn’t anywhere near the end of this either.