I remember one of my first jobs. It was really a great job, on the surface. I was working in advertising. Heaps of glamor, prestige and money. I would spend many days working overtime and there was always an incessant pressure to finish something. It was absolute hell for my endometriosis. I would try to call in sick, because my pain was so severe I could barely walk, let alone get in the car and drive to the office! Inevitably, my boss would ring up and say that I was needed and that the work that needed to be done could not wait a day or two! I would do it… you know… I would drive in, completely dosed up on painkillers, get to work and push myself through the pain. I would get the job done, under pressure and ultimately, the endometriosis would flare up even further. I would then spend most of the weekend in bed, just to recover to do it all over again the next week. I did this for two years. I just thought that with endometriosis, this is what I had to do.
It was only when I visited my gynecologist and expressed that my pain wasn’t getting any better and he recommended doing a course to control my desire to do things “perfectly and quickly” all at the same time that I started to open my mind up to the potential of what my job was really doing to my health. I was completely running on adrenalin. My entire body was exhausted on the inside but my mind wouldn’t let it go… I wanted to be the best, successful and be all that I could be, and this stupid endo was not going to stand in my way!
It took a complete mindshift for me to realize that my job was causing the high levels of pain I was experiencing. I would never had thought it. To be honest, I didn’t want to see that. I eventually quit the job and really evaluated what was more important to me—my health or my prestigious career in advertising?
I chose my health. It took years for me to learn more about the connection between my health and my endometriosis and working alongside both to achieve that wonderful work/life balance we all so desperately desire. I no longer took my job as a form of recognition for who I was as a person. The title, the company and all of that stuff, you know the stuff that sounds good, when you tell someone, was no longer my focus. I took my focus on life into other areas: making others happy, my relationships, and really finding the more simple things in life to enjoy: nature, art, dance and experiencing life. I made my life simple and as stress-free as I could.
The other thing I chose was to find something to do in my work that actually made me happy. I made it my mission to find a job that didn’t just provide me with money. It needed to give me something deeper. Something which ignited a light inside of me that made me excited to get up in the morning. To me, this makes a massive difference. When you are excited about your life and what you are doing in your work, it is amazing how little endometriosis flares up. It all comes back to being aligned with what you truly want, deep within your soul. It is also amazing how much easier you seem to deal with stress, when you are excited about what you are doing. The alignment somehow allows you to know that everything will work out, in the end.
So, there are really three elements to finding a way to work with endometriosis:
1. The stress element
Choose a job which isn’t as stressful. Avoid jobs where there are time constraints or pressures—typical roles are in the field of hospitality, events, advertising and public relations. If you are excited about a job in these fields and you still feel it is your true calling, then look at how you can reduce how you react to the stress in the job. Maybe you are creating stress for yourself unnecessarily? Maybe you are over-thinking? Over-planning? Will it really matter in two weeks’ time? Can you take a 5-minute meditation or breathing break once a day?
Stress is all relative. Some people don’t react to stress in these roles much at all and others of us simply can’t cope. Figure out where you lie on the stress line and decide if the stress level you are on is worth aggravating your health.
Sometimes, we don’t even realize how much our jobs are impacting our endo, until we quit the job and do something completely different. This is what happened to me!
2. Find something that makes you happy
Being happy in your job is incredibly important. You spend over 40 hrs of your week in that job! That is a massive part of your life and you want to make sure you are enjoying it. Initially, this might be a hard question for you, but really try and find something that makes you happy. Maybe you are happiest with animals or children, maybe you enjoy helping others. Whatever it is, find it and do that. When you actually do what makes you truly happy, you will be aligning yourself with your true calling and it is amazing how endo just becomes a secondary consideration.
3. Make healing your priority
There were times in my endometriosis journey, where I couldn’t even tackle the idea of starting a whole new search within myself of what I really wanted to do or being aligned to my true self. I just needed a way to make a living! So, I got a job, which had very low physical and mental demands and just needed me to answer the phone and process bookings—I ran a small Bed and Breakfast with my partner. I didn’t have to worry about pressures and just had to be friendly to the guests. I had the whole day to research more about my body and to eat heaps of organic foods, smoothies and make all sorts of creations in aid of healing my body. I made healing my focus. The job was merely a means to an end.
What you need to find is a job where you can do this. The best jobs are the ones where you just have to man a stall, stand or shop. They just need someone to be there. This gives you plenty of time to recoup your body and focus on healing.
Here’s the thing that I never realized. When we feel better, we feel better in all areas of our lives. We have more emotional strength, we have more energy and our whole outlook on life changes. Things become possible again. I know you might not be there at this moment but know that when you start to heal and feel better, you will! Money will flow back into your life naturally, when you have the energy and outlook to find it.
Here is a great article by ZenHabits, which will get you started on how to enjoy life more: The 10 Essential Steps to slowing down and enjoying life.
I know endometriosis can often leave you struggling to find work—bosses don’t always understand why you are not coming to work so much and claiming disability can be just as challenging. Thing is, you don’t need to go there. You don’t need to be that weak person! You can be strong and vibrant and healthy! Just give yourself a real fighting chance. Do all that you can for your healing for one year—a full year of powerful nutrition, smoothies, more vegetables, walking each day, meditation, yoga and all the good stuff you body really craves and then… see where you are!
What is your situation? What job do you do? Do you think you might be stressed out for no logical reason? Are you looking at doing something else?