Endo Warrior: Amelia Kerin
Endo Warrior: Amelia Kerin
IG account: @mindbodyendo, Location: London
Growing up no one ever said how hard it is to just be a woman, without all the extra toppings that life throws on. When we are young and first get our periods no one ever really warns just how tough things can get. Some even celebrate them and treat it as the defining moment of becoming a woman. I prefer to think my defining moment is every day when I wake up and choose to fight and try to live the fullest life possible despite this disease and all that comes with it. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes I choose to stay in bed and have do my best to not feel ashamed of what my body needs. This is still fighting though in my eyes, fighting doesn’t always have to mean doing everything expected of us and pretending the struggle going on inside of us isn’t happening.
My journey with endometriosis started at age 15, and like so many others in this community it would be years before I received a diagnosis, a diagnosis which never provides relief. There were more years filled with surgeries, different specialists and doctors, different treatments tried and failed. This is an all too common story woven together by the unique moments which have made it mine. What I would like to share with you here is part of my mental and emotional health journey. The side of chronic illness that is even less talked about than the invisible symptoms.
My endometriosis story started in Australia and is currently being written in London. The lessons I have learned along the way have been numerous and humbling. I thought I could walk this path on my own with just a small few by my side. I didn’t think I deserved to talk about it with anyone else, or that anyone wanted to know or that I shouldn’t be burdening them. After years of having the experiences that we do it’s hard not to build the impression that endometriosis and adenomyosis are diseases that you just have to live and struggle with, that there isn’t much that can be done. You put out one fire and the embers of another spark up again. The countless times you feel like your body has let you down take their toll, physically and mentally.
I have always very much had the mindset that problems have a solution and once that has been put in place then the problem is solved. Learning this is not always the case, no matter how badly we want it, has been one of my biggest lessons with the steepest of learning curves. Without a cure we can only continue to try new treatments, try to practice preventative care and live the best that we can. Our journeys to a healthier life are ongoing and that’s okay. Over the years whenever I had a perceived failure, without even realizing I would try to suppress it all and move past it as quickly as possible. Always trying to look forward and not dwell, which is what society expects us to do. We’re conditioned to keep the murky and uncomfortable in the dark where it ought to stay and be forgotten.
One of the problems with this way of thinking though, is that pressure will keep building and building and it gets harder and harder to cope. The little things which we should be able to brush off aren’t so easy to move past anymore. For me it took just one moment to tip the scales. I remember as clear as day, I was going through a stage where I thought I was happy and life was running relatively smoothly for once. Then I got this text message one weekday morning which should not have been out the blue, but it struck me harder than it should have. I got up from my desk at work, went home and sat on my bed and barely moved for three days. I couldn’t think, I couldn’t process, I couldn’t make a decision as simple as to eat or not, I couldn’t shower, it was all I could do to get off the floor. And this time it wasn’t my body stopping me, it was my mind. I couldn’t see a future beyond getting through each painstaking moment. If it wasn’t for my best friend, a girl who will forever be my soulmate, I wouldn’t be where I am today. She recognized what had happened and gave me the push to seek the help I so desperately needed.
Actually getting that help almost broke me all over again. I went to see a GP at the clinic where I was registered as a first step and after one minute of assessment, no real discussion, I was met with an offer of anti-depressant medication which was not easily refused. He couldn’t seem to understand that I wanted, needed, to talk to someone. I had to fight for a private referral to a specialist after learning that it could take up to 2-4 weeks to have an initial assessment performed by phone through the NHS. Each step to treatment was not just a struggle but a fight. I am so glad that with the support of those closest to me I persevered, because I then found an amazing psychologist who has since improved my quality of life in a way I never thought possible. She has never once made me feel ashamed or that I wasn’t worth listening to. Over time she showed me just how much I had blamed myself for my health issues, I thought I was defective and as a result, worthless.
After having this realization whilst at rock bottom, I had to start the long and challenging process of re-wiring my brain. My psychologist gave me the tools I needed to enable myself to change my thinking and realize that I was worth something, I am valuable. As are we all. This process was not a straight and steady incline. It was, and still is, full of ups and downs which just steadily get less steep and more manageable. It has taken time to be able to get back to a place where I am confident within myself and body and want to find the positives in each day, no matter how small.
This is the most honest piece I think I have ever written. I have tried not to cover up how I really feel with humour or odd anecdotes because sometimes you just need to hear the real, it needs to be okay to not cover everything up. I will be forever grateful to every single woman in this community who shares their story and are open about their experiences. Every single woman who chooses to do this is choosing to help take away the stigma and erase the notion that females should strive to make life look easy. You help to make it easier for each person after you to share and help raise awareness.
Thank you for reading,