Ever since I had my first moon cycle, I started to feel quite weakened by it and I knew it wasn't like the periods that my friends had, mine was different, mine would leave me rolling into a little ball and crying in pain.
I remember my mum saying that it was the same for her before she had my brother, that she ended up in hospital often due to it. I remember having to miss school, or call home sick due to the pains I had. I ended up in hospital a few times and I often felt that I was going to die from it; vomit, diarrhoea, shivers, excruciating pains...
I was 15 when a doctor suggested I had a laparoscopy done to find out whether or not I had endometriosis. I was suffering monthly every time I got my cycle, however my parents considered it wasn't a good idea for me to get the test done at that time. I was given contraceptive pills instead to help regulate my cycle and ease the pain. The pills helped a bit with the pain, but they also made me sick, I was lactose intolerant and I didn't realised until years later that the pills had lactose in them. I was on those pills on and off plus big amounts of pain killers for years until it got worse...
I remember the first time I had this experience of extreme pain which I refer to as "episode." I was meant to get ready to go teach an English class at an institute in my hometown, I had recently been employed to do so. I jump in the shower feeling "normal" and then come out of the shower feeling extremely ill in a matter of seconds, I can't keep myself standing so I collapse on the floor with shivers, sweating, not even having the strength to scream for help at home, crying for the immense amounts of pains in my stomach, dragging myself to the bathroom so I could both vomit and defecate at the same time...then I tried to crawl back to my room, I was in underwear and my little sister saw me, she helped me get dressed as I didn't have the strength to move my body. My dad then takes me to the hospital and they just gave me an injection to stop the pain...
I always suffered from menstrual cramps that were quite debilitating and forced me to stay in bed for a day or two, but they were not much compared to these "episodes."
If you suffer from this, you know how hard that is when you are trying to have a normal life or even job and can't do so because you just don't know what can happen at any point.
This episode then happened a few more times, I first thought it was food poisoning, or something like it. I had lots of tests done including an abdominal ultrasound with a gastroenterologist. Nothing abnormal was found. They said it might be stress, I wasn't particularly feeling stressed then but I noticed a pattern every time these "episodes" happened, it was always when I was on my cycle.
I dreaded these episodes, I prayed they never happen outside in the streets! Then, this happened again when I was living in New Zealand, called a doctor and he just gave me pain killers. By this stage, it had been a long while since I experienced either strong menstrual cramps or bad episodes, I had changed my diet into a vegan diet in 2014, I was practicing yoga in a heated room daily, and it just felt as if I was healed until then, I did not understand why I had to go through this, I felt sorry for myself, I missed my family and partner, I felt that life was unfair, I felt powerless...
By this point, I had had around 4 episodes in total, they were so extreme that I can remember exactly how many of them I've had. The last two episodes happened while applying for a visa to move to the UK and another one before my wedding when I was already in the UK, I decided to start taking contraceptive pills again thinking that they could help me, after two months of trying I felt sick and knew it was the pills. This is when I decided to ditch them and properly heal, this was early 2015.
I noticed that stress could have been playing a role in the symptoms as the doctor once suggested. I became more aware of what aggravated my condition, so I stopped eating certain foods and adjusted my life to more harmonious ways that helped me feel better and took some of the pain away. Endometriosis is a condition that includes many symptoms like the ones stated in the image above, I have experienced them all, and all of it empowered me to take action. I believe that the same thing that debilitates us, has the power to strengthen us. Without the pain, I would have never had the willingness and determination to be kinder to myself. So, out of love for yourself, I encourage you to try some or all of the practices that helped me feel "normal" again. I have not had these episodes now for 4 years, even though I do feel the breeze of enhanced sensations with my cycles some times, they don't prevent me from having a normal life anymore.
Last year I had my first laparoscopy at the age of 33 which allowed the doctor to confirm that my body is dealing with endometriosis and an ovarian cyst. When the date was set for the intervention, the doctor said that it was very likely that my fallopian tubes were inflamed and he recommended to clip them if I ever wanted to get pregnant. He asked me to think about what I would like to do about it since on the day of the surgery (if they happened to be inflamed I would have to sign a consent to either get the clips or not. I told him I was going to manifest healthy non-inflamed tubes, which I visualised and meditated on for a few months. When the day of the intervention came, he asked me what I had decided in regards to that, I said I trust my fallopian tubes will be ok and not inflamed. He told me that if they were, and I decide not to do what he suggested, there was a considerable reduction in the ability to get pregnant. I told him I was fine with that and signed. When I woke up from the surgery, he told me my tubes were fine as I trusted they were =)
I don't normally talk about this condition and I don't even see it as an issue now, but when I saw so many people sharing their painful experiences throughout social media, it made me remember all I have gone through and how far I've come in the healing process. And even though I've heard that there's no cure, all I know is that I have not dealt with the pains of endometriosis for quite a few years now and that I think everyone can alter the symptoms and the condition itself.
So, what I did to stop "suffering" from endometriosis was:
1. Informed myself about Ayurveda: One of my friends lent me an Ayurvedic book for women around 10 years ago so that Ayurveda could help me heal, and I added some practices into my life. Finding out what our predominant "constitution" is is hugely beneficial when it comes to healing as it helps us adapt how we live, what we eat and when to best serve our own unique body/mind/emotional predisposition. If you have never heard of Ayurveda, I truly suggest you do some research, I wrote a bit about it here
Ayurveda is a preventive medicine rather than an allopathic one. Ayurveda focuses on prevention, rejuvenation and treatment rather than prescription, treatment and recovery but if you already have an existent concern, after you understand your constitution and feed your self with healing foods and practices that will once again create an equilibrium in mind and body, you will notice a clear improvement in the symptoms, since now that you're not feeding yourselves what can be considered "unhelpful" foods that your body struggles to digest, so your body is not not trying to work too hard to digest food and in turn it can focus on healing what it needs to heal. I live an Ayurvedic lifestyle and it has helped me tremendously, I do swear by it and there is enough information online to educate yourself to at least the basics. Read books too if you have time. If you want to heal, there's no other way but taking/making time to get informed and do all or at least some of the things that can truly help you be free of pain.
I also took an Ayurvedic herb called shatavari, I always bought an organic one that I took for about 2 and a half years. I believe this really helped me too, but it didn't do so when I wasn't helping myself. Healing is holistic, you have to nourish all parts or it doesn't really work.
2. Eat well: Adopt a diet that nourishes you, and if you can, eat at similar times daily. This really helps the body know when the digestive fire needs to be strongest to digest foods, as Ayurvedic philosophy states, we are what we digest. Even if you pay minimum attention to how your body feels after a particular meal, you will be more informed about what feels right and what doesn't. Anything that makes you feel bloated, from my perspective, is indicating you that it is not serving your system and it is not just a symptom of endometriosis. It doesn't have to be. I was having a few food items that didn't make me feel too great and I noticed that when I had them, the pains would increase, for me it was caffeine, cold drinks and processed foods. Cutting down on foods that aggravate your system is essential to help the body heal. When we are on our cycles, everything magnifies, so if you feel bloated and you are eating inflammatory foods before your cycle, it will only increase the inflammation and pain. Eating well implies making fresh foods hopefully from scratch, I know it takes time, but it takes more time to bed bound if we don't do anything to support our healing.
refined carbohydrates, such as white bread and pastries
chips and other fried foods
soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages
red meat (burgers, steaks) and processed meat (hot dogs, sausage)
margarine and derivatives
However, what I found with Ayurveda is that there are certain foods that don't go well with our "constitution" that can cause inflammation, one of the precepts in Ayurveda is that "like increases like" and this is huge when it comes to choosing what foods to eat, but since this blogpost is not necessarily about Ayurveda, I will just encourage you to find out your constitution and see what foods are good for your personal make up and which are not, also if you can get an intolerance test done, it is a great way to find out what foods help you and which wreck you. I did a hair test that checks intolerances and more and it wasn't that costly as blood tests, but it can really help adapt your foods to serve you. Everything that you body doesn't tolerate or is able to digest will become a toxin, and those toxins tend to go to parts of the body where there is an existent condition or issue.
3. Breathe mindfully: The nervous system, of all the body systems, is the major control system of homeostasis in the human body. It helps monitoring, response, and regulation of all systems in the body and other organisms. It functions from the tiny level of individual cells to affecting the whole body at once. (2) Hence, if we want to create harmony in the overall system, starting to pay attention to the way we breathe is essential. Stress is a huge catalyst for symptoms that you might think occur due to the condition you have, but actually can be the cause. I didn't realise then that by overdoing things, I was causing myself harm and over-exhausting my body. I did not connected the "episodes" to how much I was doing, or even my cycle. And if I had to describe the predominant cramp with the epicentre in my stomach, it felt like a contraction, a huge amount of tension that would not let me move. Once, I started to practice pranayama and meditation every day or if not most days, I have not experiences that level of piled-up tension. I know is hard to believe that something so simple like breathing mindfully can change your life, but if you knew the role that your breathing has on your nervous system, all of it, you would realise how important it is that we are aware of how we breathe, and the more mindful the breaths, the safer and calmer you feel. On the other hand, if we are always operating from the sympathetic nervous system and from its stress response, we will be accumulating unnecessary tension not only in our minds but into all our tissues.
So, in a nutshell, as much as you can, be aware of your breathing patterns, be the witness of your breathing body. By doing so, your breath will naturally become more harmonious which creates a ripple effect of harmony in your body, minds and emotions.
4. Meditate: When we are able and willing to sit quietly with ourselves, we develop a sharper capacity to listen to the subtle whispers of our bodies that we might not be able to hear when we are just too busy doing. When you pause, and leave all "doing" aside for a moment to just tune in, it bring tremendous benefits as when you sit down quietly, you are able to notice the current of thoughts that passes through your mind. These thoughts can't happen without causing a response in the emotions and body. If these thoughts are negative and powerful, it will be inviting your body to dwell in a conflicting internal environment, but the moment you notice how this all start, as a seed in the mind that turns into a weed or a bloom, you are able to become more the master, and less slave to the mind content. Our disposition to observe the moment to moment experience without an agenda or judgements allows our bodies and organs to feel not only "seen" but "acknowledged."
During a womb ceremony I attended a couple of years ago, I realised that I could literally talk to my womb, I could ask any simple question and I would get an answer. Now, before you think I'm crazy and take all I've said down the drain of your mind, for a moment, consider that your organs, as much as your brain, have the ability to send you signals so that they can create communication with you, since all parts of you, as much as you, want to be healthy. What if the part of you that is disharmonious, let's say "ovaries" are trying so hard to get your attention, that they send pain signals so that you can actually "notice" them. Like a crying baby that needs attention. To me, this was quite revelatory, and once I was more open to just place my attention with the intention of healing in my womb, many shifts began to happen.
My body and I have a better relationship that we ever did, so now there's no suffering involved, no numbing of my body's signals with temporary fixes like pain killers. There's an accepting willingness to do the work it takes to stay healthy. I found that in between the periods of "episodes" I had, I did my meditation and yoga regularly and then I wouldn't have pain for a long time, and it was in times when I stopped practicing for any reason, the symptoms would return. So now, no matter how busy my life gets, I do my practice. If you would like to read a bit more about communicating with your inner body and organs. There's article where it says that "the organs themselves, independently, are capable of storing a high level of specificity of information," (3) I believe that there's a lot of stored information of pain, traumas in the genetic coding we come with. So, what we believe to be hereditary doesn't necessarily need to be, however if the environment we are immersed into is the same as the ones my family had, there is no room for change on a cellular level. The environment I refer to would be eating the same foods as my family, have the same kind of mental patterns, watch the same programs, etc. there is a predisposition to follow the same internal "fate" when it comes to a condition. However, if we change the environment as I have done, we are more prone to get different results.
5. Do yoga or practice a mindful type of movement: Our spinal cord receives information from the skin, joints and muscles of our bodies. It also carries the nerves that control all our movements. Our brains are the most complicated part of our nervous system. The brain receives information directly from sensory organs, as well as from the rest of our bodies via the spinal cord. It uses this information to help us react, remember, think, plan, and then sends out the appropriate instructions to our bodies. When we move our bodies mindfully, we stimulate fascial layers, the spinal cord with the vagus nerve which is now linked to health and reduction of inflammation,(4) the flow of both blood circulation as well as the chi/prana/energy which brings an overall sense of balance and harmony to the different dimensions of Being. There are so many incredible benefits to practicing yoga, tai chi, qi gong, and other disciplines that work not only with the physical body but also with the energetic and emotional body, that are too many to mention here, but you can try for yourself.
Trust that you don't need to have to live the pain of pain. I did for many years of my life and out of love for myself now, I choose to live a life that is appreciated by all parts of myself, not just the ones that crave unhelpful foods or drinks. I complained throughout my teenage years and felt a victim of this condition and none of it helped, it was only when I took the reigns and put the time and effort to adapt healthier approaches to my way of living that I saw that my body began to cooperate in my healing
Other things that our bodies appreciate is rest, and aligning with your Ayurvedic constitution as much as you can. To me it involved slowing down, practicing yin yoga which wasn't too exciting to me at some point, learning reiki in case I would need extra healing help in case of emergency,I've used it once in myself and helped with some mild sensations, but luckily I have not needed it much. I know it's easier to take a pill, but that will never give steady healing as you never get to treat the root of the problem and it's way more enriching to do everything you can for yourself because you deserve it !
I hope that this gives you a bit of hope and empowerment to take the necessary for your healing.
If you have any questions, please leave a comment and I'll try help as much as I can as I know it's a complicated subject, I feel your pain, just know that you are more powerful than you think <3
If you would like to learn a little bit more about Ayurveda and how to apply this to how you eat and your routine, please subscribe to my website or follow my Facebook page here. I will be offering another round of Ayurvedic workshops focusing first on food and then on yoga, meditation and breathing practices at the beginning of the new year.
Love & healing vibes, Amor
4. Vagus nerve