endotwins interview lara parker
Interview By: Fela M'tima Dunfee
Featuring: Lara Parker
FELA: Hi Lara, I'm excited to get to know you more, especially to learn more about you as a writer living with Endometriosis. Can you first talk about your endo and how it has been up to this point in your life?
LARA: My endometriosis is like this dark cloud that follows me around all the time. Some days, it's so dark and it's storming and sending lightning and pouring rain. Some days, it's just a lil' cloudy and I can feel some sunshine. It totally depends. It's been with me for over 10 years now. When it first started, I was in a little bit of denial, brought on by the fact that I could not find a doctor to believe me and/or take me seriously. After all these years, I've definitely learned how to manage it. But when I get one of those really cloudy days, I still have a hard time coping. It's a terrible disease. But it makes me feel like a fighter.
FELA: Has writing been a constant in your life?
LARA: Writing has not been a constant in my life. I actually always thought I was a bad writer. When I was young I wanted to be a novelist, but my stories about unicorns and talking trees never really came to fruition. I started blogging when I was studying abroad in Australia. I originally started it to chronicle my adventures there, but my study abroad journey happened to coincide with the diagnosis of endometriosis and as much as I tried to just write about Australia, I found myself writing how I felt about this new diagnosis. It was so much easier than trying to talk about it. In fact, I didn't actually talk about it in person. I only wrote about it. It was my way of coping and also trying to explain to my loved ones what was going on in my head when I couldn't actually verbalize it.
FELA: I really love your blog! It's honest, funny, and relatable as hell to anyone with vagina issues. What inspired you to start it?
LARA: I soooort of answered this above, but it just kind of happened. I didn't set out to start it. I just couldn't keep my thoughts and my sadness inside. It just came pouring out one day. And when I realized that I wasn't alone, I knew I had to keep writing because connecting with others who felt the same way was like a drug for me. It pulled me out of the darkness, if only for a little bit.
FELA: You write about this a lot but I know for myself writing/blogging can be so difficult when you're in pain and exhausted and it's easy to feel unmotivated. What keeps you going?
LARA: Knowing that there are women out there, undiagnosed, feeling alone and helpless and looking for something/ anything to comfort them.
FELA: When you have endo as you know, it comes with a ton of symptoms other than just pelvic pain and straight up exhaustion. What other symptoms affect your daily life and how do you manage them?
LARA: I deal with a shit ton of bladder pain and gastrointestinal issues. I have trouble eating, and if I have any sort of caffeine or carbonation or alcohol my bladder will burn for days. It's almost WORSE than the endo pain sometimes. But above all else, the symptom that affects me the most is my mental health. It's very difficult, as I am sure you know, to stay above water when you feel like your pain is weighing you down, causing you to drown.
FELA: Do you think endo has influenced you as a writer? You've mentioned writing a book, do you think endo would play a part in that or would you keep your health separate?
LARA: Endo has definitely influenced me as a writer. Writing is my #1 way to cope with the feelings I have about being stuck with these illnesses. If I ever wrote a book, it would most likely be about endometriosis and my health simply because I would have a platform and I would feel compelled to use it to continue to spread awareness and let other people dealing with this know that they are not alone.
FELA: I laughed out loud when I saw the Buzzfeed video of you trying Crystal Healing. What other alternative treatments have you tried? Have any worked?
LARA: Oh god. How much time do you have? Let's just keep it at — I've tried basically everything I can afford. Some invasive, some non-invasive. Ultimately, my body doesn't respond well to being poked and prodded. I find comfort most with pelvic floor physical therapy and acupuncture. I also try to meditate at least once a day. Even if that means staring at my wall while breathing deeply. But sometimes, I just don't try. I just try to exist as I am.
FELA: I see you grew up in a small town in Indiana, my family is actually from South Bend, what brought you to LA?
LARA: Oooooh, Notre Dame eh? I moved to LA in 2014 for an internship with BuzzFeed which then, obviously, turned into a job.
FELA: Do you have any advice for the hard working women with endo? How do we juggle chronic pain and paying the bills, ya know?!
LARA: Take it easy on yourself. One thing I've noticed is that when I do have to take a sick day or just work from home, I end up spending almost the entire day berating myself for having to take the day off which then doesn't allow me time to deal with the pain or heal in any way and ends up prolonging the flare up. We deal with a lot. So listen to your body, and don't be so hard on yourself.
FELA: Last thing, I wanted to say that I think you're an incredible voice in our community, and I'm excited to have found you and your blog (your writing is wonderful). What are some words of advice you'd give the women out there struggling mentally living with endo?
LARA: I know how hard it can feel sometimes. And I know how unfair it feels. But we are warriors. Getting out of bed is no small feat, yet we do it over and over again. You are not alone in this fight, and together, we will find a way to defeat this.
You can follow Lara on Instagram @laraeparker