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'Battling Endometriosis has made me into such a strong, resilient woman'

Unknowingly, my story began when I first began my period. All I remember was the intense pain and heavy bleeding, and to this day I haven’t had another period in 12 years.

At 18, I had started teaching college, was cheerleading, teaching dance, and had just left a relationship. I began to get intense stomach cramps. I would wake up to waves of pain, be on the floor in the feotal position, waiting for my Mum to come and sit by me while we waited out the pain. I couldn’t leave home and was completely reliant on my family to help me.

I saw so many doctors, went through so many horrible invasive tests, got told I was depressed and that it was manifesting in my stomach. I went onto FODMAPS, a specific diet for Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and all this time my pain was intensifying.

I finally got the investigative surgery I had been waiting for and felt extremely nervous. To me, this was either going to prove that the feeling I had about my condition was correct, or that I was making up the pain and it was indeed manifesting as “depression”.

I came out two and a half hours after an intended 30 minute surgery. I had the worst case of Endometriosis the surgeon had seen (Stage 4). My organs had been pulled to my stomach due to scar tissue, and to save my bladder the surgeon removed one of my fallopian tubes.

I think the worst pain came after my surgery. My nerve endings were so sensitive that the slightest pressure or strain would be agony.

I then went on numerous ‘hard’ medications to help me manage my pain. I got told this was a condition that I would have to live with for the rest of my life. I lost another relationship, became scared of intimacy, gained weight, and then became close to depression.

My lowest point was when I went into a university exam and left not even remembering what happened within that three hours.

After that, I decided no more medication. I had an amazing gynecologist who helped me through this journey. Through yet another painful procedure, I got a Mirena inserted (birth control) to stop my periods directly, and cut out all gluten, dairy and refined sugar.

It has taken 12 years to get to the place I am today. I wouldn’t take back anything that has happened. I’ve turned into such a strong, resilient woman. I even appreciate the journey I have been on. Yes, some days are awful and there are times when I have wanted to throw in the towel, feel sorry for myself and just cry. But now, I am a Group Fitness Instructor for LesMills. I’ve been to Los Angeles to dance. I perform in shows. I am a proud CrossFit member, and take pride in being healthy.

Yes, I have to admit that due to my condition and hormones, losing weight is about ten times harder than the average woman, but that does not stop me from trying to stay fit and healthy.

This is emotional writing about my journey, because I am so proud of myself and my willingness to go on even when it seems like the world is against me. If you are suffering with Endometriosis, or Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, my advice to you is stay strong, lean on your support system of family and friends and remember you are not alone in this.

If you feel like you have similar symptoms, push to be seen, be loud and be heard. Just because we may “look” healthy doesn’t mean we may not have something going on inside our bodies.

Author credit: Petra Leonard

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