Endometriosis and Mental Health, Part 2: When Depression Lodges

Endometriosis and Mental Health, Part 2: When Depression Lodges
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depression

Dachshunds & Duvets – a column by Jessie Madrigal-Fletcher

Second in a series. Read part one.

Last week, I wrote about anxiety; how it’s linked to endometriosis and what you can do to manage the symptoms. This week, I’ll discuss depression, a lodger that can make the odd appearance or linger for a good while. It can come and go.

Depression is more than feeling sad for a few days. Symptoms vary, but they can include a lack of motivation in carrying out daily activities, sleeping difficulties, anxiety, low mood, suicidal thoughts, etc.

Living with a chronic disease like endometriosis involves a good deal of stress, which can develop into depression over time. The lack of a cure, ongoing treatments that sometimes feel endless, and fertility issues make this illness a tough mountain to climb. Some patients grieve for the life they used to have, while others can experience difficulty adjusting to the new set of rules an endometriosis diagnosis introduces. 

I’ve experienced depression on and off in my 20s and 30s. It gained momentum when my symptoms worsened a few years before my diagnosis. I had to give up a job I loved, and soon after, my social life. After my diagnosis, while relieved to have an answer, I also had to accept the idea of being chronically ill. I had a disease that wasn’t going to go away. 

During my first post-surgery recovery, loneliness crept in. The inability to take care of myself turned me into a pile of tears and misery. I struggled to enjoy the things I loved the most, like walking my dogs, reading books, and socializing. The worse I felt, the more isolated I became. Time went by, and I felt increasingly depressed and insecure. I lost the ability to make basic decisions. The turning point came just before my second surgery. I took myself to the doctors because I couldn’t handle my emotions anymore. I was forced to recognize that I couldn’t face surgery in such a state. 

Reaching out for the light
Reach out, always. (Photo by Jessie Madrigal)

Depression is not something we should label ourselves with. However, it is important to acknowledge the symptoms and ask for help. It’s easy to focus on the physical symptoms endometriosis comes with, such as nausea, heavy bleeding, and intense pain. Doctors rarely ask about anything other than what is going on with our bodies. And as patients, we are so desperate for answers that we fail to acknowledge that there’s so much more happening. It takes a great deal of courage to admit that we are not designed to be subjected to the stress a chronic illness brings.  

It is extremely important to:

Speak to a doctor if depression symptoms worsen

While physical symptoms may take precedence in endometriosis treatment, life’s emotional facets require the same level of care. 

Turn to loved ones

You must speak openly to those you can trust and resist the temptation to isolate yourself. While big social gatherings may be challenging, taking the time to catch up with a good friend over a cup of coffee will always be beneficial to your health.

And most importantly, you must remember it’s not you. It never is. It’s “the endo”; the illness that trips us up, making us forgetful, sad, or unable to function. Our life is so much more than a chronic illness. 

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Note: Endometriosis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Endometriosis News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to endometriosis.

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