Here we are the first week in March and the beginning of endometriosis awareness month.
I am happy to see social media light up in yellow, as endo sisters from across the globe do their part to spread awareness of this silent condition.
I admit, I’ve already shed some tears. The message is clear. Endometriosis is causing a lot of pain across the world: physically and emotionally.
The worst part about this pain is that it’s silent.
For many this is learned behavior. We are conditioned to believe that pain with your period is normal. That pain is a normal part of being a woman.
Invalidation of Pain
A passage within it triggered something in me.
In some families there’s a tendency not to discuss ‘private parts’ and ‘women’s problems’, and often, girls who feel embarrassed about their newly changing bodies haven’t learned how to stand up for themselves and say that something really hurts.
The girls may also be ignored because there’s a natural tendency to think girls that age can be overdramatic or are just avoiding school. In what may be the first episode in a decades-long pattern of frustration, the girl’s symptoms are invalidated.
When the girl hears the message that the pain isn’t serious or real, what she really is learning is to distrust her senses, her body—and herself. Worse, it may affect her self-esteem, as she comes to believe that others don’t think her devastating pain is worth their trouble.
– Dr. Andrew Cook
Invalidated. That’s the word that really struck a nerve in me.
Earlier this week on Peace with Endo’s social media channels I posed the question: How long did it take you to get diagnosed with endometriosis?
As the comments poured in, my heart broke. Many of the responses were years with double digits and some were as high as four decades.
Many of the women expressed how no one believed them. They thought that they were “crazy”.
Impacts of Invalidation
As I looked back over that passage in Dr. Cook’s book, I recognize that the invalidation piece is a super painful trigger for me.
And the self-esteem impacts are for real. I’ve struggled with confidence for most of my life. I didn’t want to stand out. I wanted to blend in.
I’ve always had issues speaking up about things. Most of the time I let things go.
So, when I do choose to say something it takes quite a bit of courage. This goes along with my struggle to ask for help. Perhaps subconsciously I don’t think that it’s “worth their trouble.”
Instead, I push through and try and do it all, until my body (and mind) breaks down.
Then there are times when I do speak up and I’m shot down. I speak up about what I need and it’s not validated. It’s pushed aside. Or I ask for help and it’s not granted.
And I get really upset.
This all came to light after a situation last week had me boiling to a point where I was shaking. I was pissed.
And I was burnt out. My body could take no more.
This conditioning played out in my head. My voice didn’t matter.
And I think from early on in my life, I subconsciously developed this notion that I didn’t deserve to feel good.
This played out in the negative relationships in my life and the way that I treated my body so poorly for so many years.
On the Positive Side?
So what do we do about it? We spread awareness.
We validate the fact that pain with your periods is NOT normal. We spread the word about what endometriosis is and how it impacts your life. In hopes, that maybe we’ll save the anguish of another young girl being pushed aside and labeled as “overdramatic”.
We come together as endo sisters and provide support when it’s lacking in other areas. We come together to lean on and pass ideas off on what’s worked and hasn’t worked.
We come together to heal.
I urge you to speak up and share your story. Have you shared with your family and friends that you have endometriosis and what that entails? Have you come out on social media?
When you speak up, you help other ladies speak up too. Those silenced by dis-belief. By speaking up you could help pull a silenced one out of the shadow.
That’s a big thing.
Do you relate to these feelings of invalidation? I’d love to hear from you in the comment section below.