As someone who’s suffered with endometriosis for almost 30 years, I know the extreme pain of the disease, and that no amount of ‘wishing it away’ is ever gonna help.
I’m also aware that when my body physically incapacitates me each month, forcing me to be sofa-bound for 2 to 3 days, my emotional & mental health also take a battering.
The physical exhaustion of my crippling pains, the sleepless nights hugging hot water bottles and the nausea I feel all take their toll on my head & heart, almost just as much as on my tummy & back.
I can’t even tell you how many social events I’ve had to cancel when endometriosis has reared its ugly head, or how many ‘excuses’ I’ve made for it over the years gone by when I was too embarrassed to talk about it (and when it wasn’t as well known a problem as it is today).
So if you’re feeling hopeless and out of control with how to manage your endo, then you’re not alone. I’ve felt that too. And that’s where this post comes in. Because by acknowledging the mental imapct of endormetriosis, and finding ways to heal our heads & souls, can truly go a long way to helping reclaim back your overall health & happiness.
Endometriosis and Mindfulness
Endometriosis warriors often have chronic pain. And chronic pain can sometimes leads to anger and resentment.
Anger that people don’t really understand what you’re going through. Comments like ‘you’re just being dramatic’, or it’s ‘just a bad month’, leads endo sufferers to be angry at friends, family & strangers who all weigh in with their unsympathetic penny’s worth .
And then there’s resentment at the situation – ‘why me?’ ‘Why do I have to suffer when everyone else doesn’t?’ It can feel like you’re on your own if there’s not a supportive network to lean on.
If you don’t acknowledge these feelings and try to heal yourself mentally, the strain of these feelings can wear so deeply that you may begin to feel depressed.
So taking time to meditate, to practice mindfulness, and to step outside of the overwhelm that endo can bring, and find a state of calm, can have amazing effects on your overall well-being.
Maybe you’ve tried it before and it’s been a wash out. Or you’ve downloaded about 8 free apps to your phone and are yet to use them (that was me for ages!) but it’s worth another try with endometriosis as your focus.
When you practice the techniques in mindfulness, it can help ease the way that your body feels pain. It can teach you to focus on the sensations of the body along with the emotional feelings when you’re struggling with pain.
Head in the Sand
Strangely, this approach is possibly the complete opposite to what you might be trying to do – and that’s likely not to think about the pain. You tell yourself to block it out, focus on something else, pop a stack of painkillers and keep you fingers crossed that the effects kick-in in the next 12 seconds.
But not thinking about it can actually add to the stress, which can cause even more pain. Your body gets tense, your heartbeat goes up, you lose more sleep because you’re worried and anxious…. I’ve been there, I know this is what you might be doing right now.
By learning mindfulness, (which you can do with just 5 minutes per day) you might help yourself to deal with the pain and also gain a sense of peace & calm over your endo.
How to do Mindfulness?
With mindfulness, it’s about finding a quiet place, practicing considered breathing, and the focusing on each part of your body and how it feels in regards to the pain.
“Um, how it feels, Laura? BLOODY PAINFUL that’s how!” Let me tell you, my pains, most likely as yours are, are horrendous. Literally like someone stabbing my stomach and my back repetitively for 48-72 hours straight. So I know that mindfulness isn’t going to shift that.
But when you take the time to really think about the pain and use these mindful tactics, you don’t judge the pain and you don’t fight it.
You don’t view it as something negative either. You just simply become aware of it. While you’re sitting, whilst you’re curled in a ball, when you’re hobbling to make a cuppa tea, concentrate on how your body feels in connection with where you are – the sofa, the bed, the ground.
For example, try to become aware of the sofa or how the floor feels beneath your feet. Picture each area of your body relaxing. I know it sounds far-fetched and sure, it might not help massively, but it will help you gain some semblance of control over your endo pains.
Keep your focus centered on your body and don’t view the pain as anything other than a neutral thing within you. Focusing in this way can really help to steer away from those sad & frustrating feelings and empower you to be in charge of your body and mind, even just for those 5 minutes.
While you’re focused on your body, slowly go over each area of your body. Focus only on that part. So you could start with an area of pain, and then move to an area that’s not hurting, lkke your foot or hand. Become aware of the senses dealing with that part – such as whether or not it’s cold or warm.
Does it feel free or restricted? Does it feel like it’s pressing against something soft or hard. The goal is to concentrate only on the senses rather than what the pain is doing in that area.
The next steps
After you practice mindfulness on each part of your body, slowly take in the whole of your body by becoming completely aware. These mindfulness exercises can hopefully slowly help you handle the pain emotionally.
The more you feel in control and the less negativity you allow endometriosis to have over your life, the more you’ll relax away from the stresses & anger & sadness that these pains can bring with them – and over time, this will hopefully also bring you physical relief and a healthier mind.
Until next time mamas,
PS. I’ve popped some direct links to a few of my favourite mindfulness apps below, which are all free on the Play store. Check them out and let me know how you get on and what you think – are you struggling with the mental & emotional side of endometriosis? What do you find helps your mind & soul on your worst days?