I did not know how to correctly pronounce endometriosis when I was diagnosed with it in ‘the year like no other’, 2020. During that time, I knew little about endometriosis or the effect it had and continues to have around the world. Fast forward to six months ahead and I am not only educated on the topic of this insidious disease but I have gained an indescribable strength that endo warriors possess. I feel like I have automatically joined a huge global kick-ass group of women which makes me feel like I am in a Charlies Angels movie full time.
I feel like I have automatically joined a huge global kick-ass group of women which makes me feel like I am in a Charlies Angels movie full time.
From a young age, I believed period pain was normal and that being a woman meant that I needed to push through the pain and accept that this was my life. In 2019, when I was accepted into the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts, (WAAPA) I was worried I wouldn’t be able to keep on top of my full-time studies and knew I had to make almost every class due to a strict attendance rate. Consequently, it was during this time that I not only learnt how to act for screen, but I learnt how to act when I was in pain and how to hide it from others. I was determined to graduate no matter what I faced because this was my dream. Shoutout to Cadbury chocolate, herbal teas, hot water bottles, pain patches, painkillers and essential oils for helping me get to graduation!
Before I was diagnosed with endometriosis I presented to the emergency room with extreme menstrual pain and was told by doctors to take a painkiller and to go for a walk. I tried to comprehend if I was taking something I felt could knock a horse out and I was still in pain, what would another painkiller and a walk do? These responses became so normal for me; I began rolling my eyes on a weekly basis. I knew that there was something wrong with my body but I did not expect to have to fight so hard to believe by medical professionals. It turns out I was already a warrior before my official diagnosis!
It was during 2020 in quarantine I decided to address my health like it was my full-time job. I knew I had to see a gynaecologist that was not only interested in endometriosis but specialised in the condition, leading me to the best specialist I have ever seen. During my surgery endometriosis was found in my bilateral pelvic side wall, near my bowel, right ovary and on my bladder. The memory of my phone call with my surgeon is forever etched into my brain. “It’s good news, Monique, you have endometriosis! It was never in your head!” I can’t express into words the weight I felt lift off my chest and the number of happy tears I cried that would perhaps make the Niagara Falls jealous. Finally, I was believed and diagnosed and I knew that my journey to becoming vocal about endometriosis was only just beginning and just like any Charlies Angel ready to take down their opponent, I felt ready.
My advice for anyone who is concerned about their health is to address it like your life depends on it – because it does. Don’t just go to one doctor, keep searching until you find someone who believes in your pain and gives you the attention and belief you deserve. Do not worry about sounding like you’re a hypochondriac because if I have learnt anything through this battle it is that endo warriors will always come out stronger each time. I have developed an incredible resilience and determination to not only fight for other women suffering with endometriosis but for all that I stand for in life which in a way I credit to having been diagnosed with endometriosis.
I have developed an incredible resilience and determination to not only fight for other women suffering with endometriosis but for all that I stand for in life which in a way I credit to having been diagnosed with endometriosis.
We must normalise menstruation and issues like PCOS and endometriosis without the fear of stigma and shame being attached. I encourage anyone that may be concerned about having endometriosis to talk to female relatives to see if it is in your genetic ancestry and be brave and raise the topic of menstruation at your workplace or home (even to men.) So many people including myself up until a few months ago believe endometriosis only affects the reproductive organs. Endometriosis is a whole-body disease which causes severe pain in many parts of the body. (Not just a bad period!) Just because someone may look okay doesn’t mean they are always feeling okay.
I won’t sugar-coat my experience with endometriosis and say that I am positive all the time because I’m not. I still struggle to even pronounce the word and I have learnt that it is okay not to be okay and eat a bag of potato chips on the couch huddled into the foetus position on a flare day. What I will say is that I have trained my mind to find the silver lining in my diagnosis and my struggles. I feel compelled to speak out about this disease to help women reach an accurate diagnosis earlier and to make them feel less alone.
I want to thank endometriosis for transforming me into a fighter, for creating unbreakable bonds with other individuals suffering with chronic illnesses and for realising it is time that we stop suffering in silence and step up and demand belief, support and treatment. The future equals fighting females and EndoWarriors and I am so here for it.