By Ellie Kammer
Recently Endometriosis Australia named me an ‘Endo Champion’ for my efforts in raising awareness, and I could not be more proud of the title.
I have had Endometriosis for around 8 years and was diagnosed in December 2015. While the diagnosis gave me some comfort and shed light on some things, it also completely rocked my world. I found myself obsessing about it and for such a long time I could only think negatively about it. I worried constantly about what the future might hold for me and I spiralled into a pretty dark and scary place.
As new symptoms and different and unexpected pains would occur, I started to become extremely frustrated with the lack of information I could find online about the disease. It made me feel alone, terrified and confused and it became this mind cancer for me. I couldn’t think about anything other than Endometriosis and I believe my frustration and stress only made the disease angrier.
One day in my desperation to find some answers, I discovered Endometriosis Australia on Facebook. I read article after article, blog after blog and with every passing minute I felt my chest get less tight and my breathing started to calm. The page was a goldmine of information and for me it was a pivotal moment in my healing process. I felt that the more I could understand about the disease, the easier it would be to cope and communicate and I was so grateful that this organisation put the truth out there for me to devour.
I’ve always used art as a coping mechanism for life. I’m a sensitive soul with a few unfortunate experiences under my belt and painting has always kept me balanced. When I was diagnosed I abandoned a painting that I had spent a year conceptualising. It was a big move for me, but I felt that I now had a stronger message in Endometriosis awareness. I completely changed my painting style according to what I thought the message needed, and spent about three months developing one painting. When I finished it I felt full of power.. It was unlike any feeling I’ve ever experienced and I was suddenly instilled with self assuredness and confidence. This was the right thing to do, however I felt that more satisfaction could be had if I made it less about my own struggles and addressed the bigger picture – that is, the severe lack of awareness surrounding this ridiculously common condition. I wanted to serve people in a similar way that Endometriosis Australia has served me and use social media and my paintings to share information about Endometriosis.
Once I started sharing excerpts from articles and blogs, I noticed that women would comment on my posts and share their own experiences with me. I thought it was admirable how honest and openly people were discussing Endometriosis and I found a new level of comfort in these personal experiences. Facts made me feel informed and powerful, but these emotional and raw stories made my lonely heart suddenly feel weightless. It dawned on me that these stories had so much power, and I was feasting on it alone. I started to invite people to submit their stories so that I could share them on my Instagram account and encourage open and frank conversations about this somewhat taboo disease. The response has been phenomenal. These women send me the most astonishing and unique stories, I’ve learned so much from them.
I truly believe that Endometriosis can be a devastating disease and I’m convinced that it currently isn’t a high enough priority for medical research and funding. I’m proud to produce unapologetic paintings that beg the viewer to see Endometriosis for what it is and to have created a channel for women to share their experiences in order to educate and comfort others, but also to relieve themselves and make the burden seem a little lighter.
Collaborating with Endometriosis Australia has been a dream of mine as the organisation’s dedication to sharing information saved me and I’m sure so many others from a scary dark corner of the mind. I am so pleased and honoured to have this support. I would like to invite you all to contact me via Instagram (@elliekammer) and share your stories or take comfort in the stories I have shared.