I am a huge believer in the importance of communication, I can safely say that all my friends have at some point...probably on more than one occasion... been met with "have you talked to them about it yet, you should really talk to them" when they have a problem. It is human nature to interpret behaviour and language based on ones personal experiences, understanding and their mood on any given day. By not communicating, explaining and teaching each other we creates a situation were others have to use assumptions to complete the narrative; on many occasions their assumptions are wrong but they don't know this, so their response to you isn't quite what you expected or needed. This in turn causes you to react with frustration because you internalise their reaction by your understanding and assumptions...and so on and so on. This is a cycle we all fall into, I know it's a cycle that I definitely have found myself in in the past.
There are certain social situations that life naturally prepares you for, things you see every day, experiences and interactions that happen so often that you have seen every possible outcome so it isn't scary, there is no unknown: going to the shops, meeting up with friends, family occasions, supporting a friend during a break up or after a hard day. But then there are things that life doesn't naturally prepare us for, things that make people nervous and uncomfortable, things that cause people to panic and over think what they should say and do. It is these situations that my endometriosis seems to particularly enjoy and often throws me hurdling towards. I have silenced a few rooms in my time with an outburst of "oh, my uterus friggin hurts today." People start to do the whole awkward shifting from one foot to the other, silent but frantically searching their memory for any other social interaction that resembled this one....but they don't find one, they don't find the right words, the situation is weird and ARE NO WORDS!! So they laugh and patiently wait for me to change the subject. If I am honest, I have been so accustom is socially awkward situations that I do cruelly enjoy these moments - I mean what's the point in having an incurable chronic illness if you can't have some fun with it; an endo perk if you please.
Joking aside the endometriosis does raise its ugly head at the worst times: at friends houses, shopping, at work, in the pub and the pain kicks in - the dreaded flare! As a result I am brought to my knees and I can't move or I have to waddle away like the Hunchback of Notre-Dame, cue the awkwardness. Everyone I am with starts scanning their minds for the last time they seen a women cripple over in pain, they panic frantically thinking of what they should do next, what words are appropriate for this situation because they have never before been in this exact situation. So they react how they feel they should in this type of emergency; they gather round, each offering different words of support and encouragement, trying to do things for me, accidentally creating a bit of a fuss because by now bystanders are noticing the commotion. They assume this is what I need and they are being helpful. Meanwhile I am mortified, I am asking to be left alone because for me this isn't anything new and I can manage, should I require assistance I will ask. I am not showing the gratitude they expected, in fact I am being snappy, ungrateful and down right rude. The situation has escalates into a disaster. I feel I have been backed into a corner. I flee the scene. My friends are family are hurt and confused because they just wanted to help. After more than one occurrence of this situation I decided I had to do something about it.
There is no point waiting to you are in the midst of an endo flare to try to communicate with people, it is important that you start the conversation before. Endometriosis is not something to be ashamed of, its a chronic illness. It doesn't do you any good to keep it from those who you spend your time with. If you do one thing this week making it telling people about your disease. Tell those around you what the day to day reality of the disease is, how you felt during your last flare, what your flares look like, how you feel about them, if you want to be left alone or if you'd like them to offer their help. You'll be surprised how open people are to talking about things like endometriosis or anything that directly impacts their friends lives. Often people are scared to start the conversation because they don't want you to feel uncomfortable. If you bring up the subject, if you lead the way and you break the boundaries you'll discover people are so wonderfully responsive. Take it from a twenty something who pours her thoughts and feelings to the world - people do want to know more. Sometimes those around you don't know what questions to ask, they don't know what is important to know, they don't know what your reality is so they need you to take their hand and guide them through the endo jungle! If you let people know what to expect you break down the fear of the unknown, you remove the awkwardness, you take away the anxiety felt by those around you and what you're left with is a circle of people who don't simply understand you and your reality, but people who are comfortable to exist within it.
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