the link between endo & ptsd
By: Taryn Lider
Five years ago I was diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder following two separate instances of sexual assault.
Given that I have struggled with general anxiety disorder and depression since I was 13 yeas old, I quickly brushed this off as a misdiagnosis. But my life started to unravel as I suffered flashbacks of the traumatic events, losing periods of time, often becoming confused or even lost in my own neighbourhood or the place where I worked or went to school. As the flashbacks grew, the pain I was suffering from a softball-sized ovarian cyst and the endometriosis ravaging my pelvis and abdomen grew as well.
Once thought to be a “hippy” or “alternative” idea, trauma and the stress that tag along with it has now been shown to cause a state of disorder or even disease in the body. Our body stores memory, for example, most commonly referred to as ‘muscle memory’. My favourite example is black ice: you are walking down the street on a frosty winter morning and you slip suddenly on black ice. You shake yourself off and continue on to your destination. The next day, you head out on the same path and walk slowly and gingerly. Your muscles tense, anticipating another slip and fall.
Sexual assault or ongoing abuse, in my opinion, is linked to ovarian cysts, endometriosis and pelvic floor dysfunction. Sexual assault or abuse has a few parallels with endo: it ravages our sense of femininity, our feminine power, our ability to full and wholly love our bodies and sometimes, our happiness and sense of peace.
We hold pain in our body and as a result, the stress exaggerates existing or underlying conditions that are just waiting to creep out of our DNA. I suggest you check out Eastern Body Western Mind and Anatomy of the Human Spirit for some illuminating reading and thoughts on next steps.
Endometriosis, like most invisible auto-immune diseases, requires a lot of masking of pain in order to seem “normal”. Too often, our pain is dismissed as exaggerated in order to get some kind of attention. While we have collectively developed an eagerness to hide away in bathrooms, bed and couches, there can often be another deeper emotional wound festering alongside our physical pain.
While I haven’t been successful at changing my DNA or pulling off a successful Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind style memory wipe, finding new lifestyle choices, learning to slowly love myself and of course, my eating habits have played a huge role in wrangling the endo beast. Consider this a call to action; reach out to a friend, a talented therapist, your doctor. Whether you are battling endo, PTSD, PCOS or other mental health demons, you are not alone.
But it can only get better if you take the first step out of that darkness. I’ll be waiting, cheering you on the other side.
Light and love,
T (aka @endoeats)