Lowri Shepstone, who works in Sanctuary Housing’s communications team, offers an insight into how a diagnosis of endometriosis has affected her mental health.
It took me 17 years to get a diagnosis of endometriosis. I was finally diagnosed in August 2016, after having laparoscopic surgery, aged 31. Following that operation, I was put into a medically induced menopause and given a variety of hormone treatments and pain medication. There is no cure…. it’s all about ‘managing my condition’ now.
“Endometriosis (Endo) affects one in ten women in the UK and is the name given to the condition where cells like the ones in the lining of the womb are found elsewhere in the body. It is a chronic and debilitating condition that causes painful or heavy periods. It may also lead to infertility, fatigue and bowel and bladder problems.” www.endometriosis-uk.org
Since I was diagnosed I’ve been all over the place, both mentally and physically. I am currently in less pain than I was before my operation, so hormone fluctuations, ‘endo belly’ (I’ll come to this in a moment) and hot flushes are all a welcome relief for now….until I have my next operation.
‘Endo belly’ is a self-confidence shattering side effect that can appear unannounced at any moment. Most days by about lunchtime, my stomach will have expanded considerably and there is nothing I can do about it.
Finding clothes – especially workwear – to accommodate this is both difficult and depressing. Numerous occasions I have even had strangers ask me ‘Ooh, when’s your baby due?’ That is enough to make a hormonal woman either burst into tears or become instantly angry at the world! (It’s also a question that you just shouldn’t ask, especially if you don’t know the person).
Going through all this has made me realise just how supportive an organisation Sanctuary Housing is. To help me manage my condition I now work from home at least one day a week to have a ‘comfy’ day. This has enabled me to take barely any sick leave and ensures I can be as productive as I can.