In October 2015, I had a total hysterectomy.
For close to 2 decades, Endometriosis was ravaging my body. It made me sick. It made me hurt. It pushed me in and out of cycles of illness and made me think I was losing my mind.
So my doctor removed everything from my body that could house and foster this disease. Except part of my colon, and that was a distinct possibility but thankfully, not necessary.
Think of lesions. How painful they look. And imagine them on your internal organs. Destroying your gut. Your body self-destructing from the inside out.
That’s what was happening to me.
For years, I thought I was just weak. Undisciplined. Had no control. But the reality was, I really didn’t have control. My body was simply reacting to this illness that I didn’t even know I had. And it was such a relief when I finally got some answers. And when there was a solution.
In many ways, the solution sucked.
I had to come to terms with my own reality. The reality that there was no medicine that could cure this. The reality that I was done having children. The reality that there were many more things about myself beyond my control than I ever realized.
I’m still grasping that last one.
Because I need to have control. And I’m not sure why. But it’s the endometriosis of my soul.
After a months-long hiatus, I’m going back to therapy next week. And I’m hoping that the result will be continued healing.
I’ve moved past a lot about, well, my past. Trauma. Pain. But there is more work to be done. And I know this because I am sick.
Before my surgery, I could go long stretches of time on the strength of adrenaline. But when I ran out of that, and the stress had ceased, my body would retaliate in the form of sickness. A sore throat. A virus. Flu. Debilitating fatigue.
My physical immune system is in much better shape. My mental and emotional immune system is what bears the brunt of the aftermath of stress these days.
For the second time in 6 months, I find myself battling depression. Not the blues. Not melancholy. Straight out just-want-to-crawl-under-the-covers depression.
I’m not to the point I was a few months ago. In April and May of this year, I was as low as I’d been in more than a decade. And I really have no desire to go there again. So as I see and feel the warning signs, I’m headed back to therapy and, if necessary, my doctor.
Because this is more than just “feeling”. This is a physical experience just like the one that kept me so sick before October of 2015. Except it’s a different kind. A very different kind.
People can be kind and sympathetic when you have physical ailments. They will understand when you need to take a sick day. And even though our brains are as much a physical part of us as any other internal organ, people are much less understanding when it comes to mental illness.
I had no control over my endometriosis and the effects it had on my body. And I have no control over what is happening to me mentally and emotionally right now either. I can only do what I know to do to try and get to a place of wellness.
That looks different to everyone. For some, meds will do. Others, therapy. For many, a combination of both. Some are so devastated by it, they’ve had electro-shock therapy. Some have had to stay inpatient in a hospital.
It’s reality. For millions. Mental illness is real. It looks like me.
It’s taken me a long time to admit that.
I thought I could be above it.
And I don’t write about it here for your sympathy or your permission or your opinion.
I write about it because that, for me, is part of the healing. The acceptance. The facing of my own reality.
Because denial will only make it worse. It will cause me to self-destruct before healing even has a chance to begin.
I write about it because there is nothing more isolating than depression and anxiety. They are liars. They tell us we aren’t good enough. They tell us we are weak. They tell us that we, that I, am alone.
But I’m not. Thank God, I’m not.
But I do have to deal with it on my own. Mostly. Others can help. But it is a personal journey. One that also has solutions that are difficult to embrace. Hell, the reality of knowing your brain is working against your best efforts is difficult in and of itself to know and understand.
But it’s real. It hurts. And I’m not as strong as I try to believe I am sometimes.
This will pass. It always does. But it isn’t easy. And it almost always returns.
Welcome to reality.