I recently hurt my foot and it was taking a long time to figure out what was causing the issue and an even longer time for me to come to terms with it all. What I realised while going through my journey with my foot, is that the stages weren’t all that dissimilar to the journey I had gone through with endometriosis.
So, the idea of the 7 stages is kinda like 7 stages of grief but now we are aiming for Endo Empowerment.
Stage 1: The Curiosity Stage
This is where we are just not sure about what is going on. We might feel frustrated while we await a proper diagnosis. We attempt to Google the answer and find ourselves getting buried in questions, rather than answers. It is a frantic searching. A fearful worry. A wondering on how bad things can be or get. It can feel like you aren’t being heard and that nobody truly understands what you are going through. You might feel isolated with your pain and a part of you wonders if you truly are just making it all up.
Stage 2: The Proper Diagnosis
Finally, we get a proper diagnosis and it puts our mind at rest – partly because we know what we are dealing with but partly because we have something we can tell other people we have. We also feel a little bit better knowing that it is not something we conjured up in our minds!
I know for many women with endo, it can sometimes take more than 10 years to actually get a diagnosis and women have been accused of all sorts of nasty things, in their search to get answers – madness, attention-seeking and that they are just exagerating their pain. In a way, getting that diagnosis allows us to take concrete steps towards improving our health. Sadly, it can also give us an attachment to a label – particularly when doctors repeat phrases like “this is incurable and will never go away”. *Please don’t believe the label.
Stage 3: The Self Pity Stage
I won’t lie to you. I have shed a few tears over the last few weeks with regards to my foot. I know it may seem a little lame, compared to endo pain but I have been used to having all this freedom within my life and then suddenly it was all taken away again. I can’t yet walk the dog or go to the gym and saddest of all, I can’t practice my favorite yoga pose – downward dog!
I was all “poor me” and “my life is all hard now”. I fell into the state of being a victim of what I was experiencing.
Sadly, I see many, many women with endo stay here. They stay here for years and years and years. They stay stuck in a belief that there is nothing they can do and they simply have to live with the pain. Please know that there is plenty you can do and that you are not alone.
Stage 4: The Rebellious Stage
This is the stage where we want to fight against what we have. We resist it. We barrage against it. It is an energy of force and rebellion. You might use statements like: “Endo doesn’t control me!”. “I won’t let it restrict me!” and you push yourself through the pain. It is a place where we don’t want to accept our limitation and we fight against it, believing that we are stronger and tougher than the endo.
I did this with my foot too. I resisted the pain and decided to work anyway. I decided that I could bear it and I could fight against it and my “silly foot” was not going to restrict me or get the better of me.
Well, my “silly foot” and possibly your endo have shown us that this approach just lands us back in more pain and feeling worse than we did before – we might even roll back into the Self Pity Stage at this point 😉
Stage 5: The “I will do anything” Stage
This is where I see many of my clients with endo. They are prepared to do anything to get better. They shift their diet, they take the best supplements and they take on board all the best meaning advice. They want to be A+ students of their health. They have decided to do something about their endo and they will do absolutely everything in their power. Everything! The more the better! And if that ain’t good enough, then they will do even more.
This is where I see examples of women eating the most perfect diet, following a strict plan and doing absolutely everything in their power to be well.
I found myself in this stage today. I had read about my foot condition and decided to practice everything I could find. I did the stretches, did the massages, took up swimming and even massaged my foot. I was going to do everything to get better and the more I did the better it would be… right? Hmmm maybe not…
Stage 6: The Nurturing Stage
This is when we realize that it isn’t about doing everything 100% of the time or being “the perfect healthy person”. It’s not about implementing everything we have heard and been told. It isn’t about doing things to the utmost and then just doing more. It is about turning inward and actually listening to our body and what it needs.
I found myself recognizing this today. I went swimming for the first time in a long time and my first inclination was to swim and swim and swim. To push and to do and to allow my calf to loosen up and for my foot to get some flexing and all the things I heard. Luckily, the little voice inside of me slowed all of that down and simply said: “You have done enough for today. It is time to go home and rest.”
One of the things I frequently hear with women with endo is the words of “I have to eat this way because of endo” or “I can’t eat certain foods anymore because of endo”. It is an interesting perspective and is perhaps a little bit of stages 3 (Victim) and stage 5 (Want to do everything!) mixed together. Here’s the thing. It is not about the diet. It is not about the supplements. It is about nourishing your body and actually providing it with what it needs. Sometimes, all your body wants is for you to take the time to make a nourishing meal and enjoy creating it or for you to sit outside, take a breath and enjoy the sounds of birds as they flutter past you. To capture the stillness and enjoy in that serene space for that moment. Nurturing is about taking care of ourselves – on every level. Taking care. Not pushing.
So often we beat ourselves up for what we have not done or for not being “strict enough” within our journey toward wellness. The irony is that this self-talk is worse for your health than anything you may have eaten or not done.
All the kale and smoothies in the world can’t fix the self beating we often do to ourselves!
Stage 7: The Empowerment Stage
This is a place where we know we have the right tools available to us. We know what we need and we can tune inward to get what we need to feel well. We feel a calm state of knowing. It is not coming from a frantic scared place but from a still place. It is a place where we can trust our bodies and the ability to heal. It is a place where we know that within time, we will find the answers. It is a place where we overcome things. We stand strong in who we are and fully trust and surrender to the amazing ability of our body to realign and heal whatever imbalances it may be going through.
Trust. Let go. Be at one with who we are and the ability of our body.
This is the place I want us all to swim in. To play in. It is a place of comfort and calm. It is a place where worry and fear disappear.
Come and join me in our new member’s area – if you haven’t already – and share in the journey in reaching this wonderful place of being Endo Empowered.