Endometriosis is an invisible illness. You wouldn’t be able to tell that a person is living with endometriosis just by looking at them. But just because you can’t see something, doesn’t mean it’s not there.
Endometriosis is a condition where cells are found in places in the body where they don’t belong. It’s all internal. It doesn’t necessarily present symptoms, but when there are symptoms, they can seriously affect those who have the condition, and how they live their lives.
Endometriosis is also notoriously difficult to diagnose. The symptoms can be wildly different from person to person, making it hard to pinpoint.
If professionals do use diagnostic tools such as an ultrasound machine, it’s not a foregone conclusion that any endometriosis will be spotted. As such, many people return from a scan with nothing out of the ordinary having been seen.
In addition to being physically invisible, endometriosis presents other unseen problems.
One is that people rarely talk about it. As such, it’s not in the public consciousness. This is made worse by the fact that those living with the condition don’t always feel they can be open about it. This is unsurprising, given that endometriosis is frequently dismissed as being ‘just bad periods’, if spoken about at all.
And this even happens within families. Although endometriosis is sometimes hereditary, it isn’t uncommon for older generations of women to minimise the pain, believing that it’s normal. That it’s just something one deals with. As such, the dismissal of this illness and the symptoms it causes carries on down the line.
The silence and misunderstanding surrounding endometriosis can also have a negative effect on mental health. People living with the condition can feel isolated, feeling that others cannot understand their pain.
There’s a common view among people with endometriosis contributing to this project, and that’s the encouragement of talking about the condition openly. None are willing to suffer in silence any longer, and all would urge those experiencing symptoms to reach out. There is always someone to talk to. There is always someone who will believe you.
By speaking more about endometriosis, by bringing it out into the open, we hope to make it OK to have this kind of conversation. To increase awareness of the condition. To make the invisible visible.