Being diagnosed with endometriosis is an unpleasant and scary experience for any woman. You leave the doctor’s office with a few pamphlets on this incurable and painful health condition and a lot of questions about how you’re going to deal. From infertility fears to abnormal periods every month, your diagnosis can translate to extra anxiety and depression. Here’s how to cope.
1. Educate Yourself
Part of what makes any diagnosis so anxiety-provoking is a lack of understanding and knowledge. Arm yourself with as much information as possible. The internet is a great research tool but beware of sites with misleading and frightening information.
Ask your doctor if you’re unsure about what you’re reading or if a website is legitimate. Make a list of questions for your doctor and take that with you to your next appointment. The more you know about what you are facing the less anxiety you will feel while facing it.
A couple of resources to get you started:
2. Get Support
There is no reason for you to go it alone. Reach out to family and friends for support. Find someone you can vent all of your fears and frustrations to. Allow yourself to seek therapy if you are dealing with depression and anxiety. It is crucial that you take care of yourself, and this includes putting your mental health first. Look for online support groups and forums. The important thing is that you surround yourself with positivity and understanding in whatever environment makes you feel most at ease.
3. Practice Self-Care
Self-care is a crucial aspect of anyone’s healthy well-being, and it is even more so for someone coping with a chronic illness like endometriosis. This includes getting enough sleep, eating healthy meals, exercising, and doing things you enjoy. If you are given medication as part of your mental health treatment taking that with regularity is also important, as discussed at length by Dr. Ayse Akincigil of Rutgers University in this study. Anti-depressants and other medications take time to work and it is paramount that you let them.
4. Try Yoga and Meditation
Both yoga and meditation have been known to decrease depression and anxiety while improving mood and reducing pain levels. There are specific yoga exercises that focus on the reproductive organs and easing discomfort during menstruation. You can improve sleep, lower blood pressure, and gain an overall feeling of peace—all of which translates to a happier you.
5. Get Enough Sunshine
Medical literature and studies like this one tout the benefits sun exposure has on mental health. The sun encourages your brain to make more serotonin, a natural chemical that fights depression. It has also been shown that getting more sun provides the body with more vitamin D, which helps ward off depression while elevating mood and metabolism. Just please remember to grab your sunscreen when you head out to soak up the sun!
6. Get Enough Sleep
This seems like a no-brainer, but so often we overlook the importance of a good night’s rest. Sleep is essential when faced with depression and anxiety. Lack of it decreases our ability to focus on the positive and immediately sets us up for disaster. If you are dealing with insomnia and sleep disorders there is help available. Talk to your doctor or counselor about what you can do to get adequate rest. Don’t toss and turn your way to increased misery.
7. Be Kind to Yourself
Kindness is often overlooked and especially when it comes to giving it to ourselves. Remember that you are doing the best you can to cope with the cards you have been dealt. Endometriosis is no picnic and you did nothing to deserve an invitation. Depression and anxiety with any chronic illness are not only normal but expected. Recognize when you need to reach out for help and when you need rest. Listen to your body and let it tell you what it needs both physically and mentally.
Endometriosis is not the end of your story. It’s merely a chapter you carry with you. Granted, it’s one you didn’t choose but it’s yours nonetheless and only you can decide how much meaning you give it. In time you can learn to not only manage the emotional side effects of endometriosis, you can learn to thrive in spite of them.
Cover image courtesy of Shutterstock.