Let’s be honest for a moment: living with chronic pain sometimes feels unbearable. There are times that you feel enraged about your endometriosis and its impact on your well-being. The symptoms can be so debilitating that you can’t focus on anything else. And maybe you try to be strong and push forward, but you’re also exhausted. You’re frustrated that your daily life feels so compromised.
Is this it, you ask yourself? Will you always be in some kind of distress? Is this the reality of living with endometriosis? And can anyone really understand your type of physical and emotional pain?
Even though endometriosis affects approximately 10% of women, it often feels like a silent condition. And with so much misinformation, many people feel like they have to fend for themselves as they navigate their debilitating pain.
How Therapy Can Help You Better Manage Living With Endometriosis
There are many physical options for improving endometriosis pain. Hormonal contraceptives, pelvic floor therapy, minimally-invasive surgery- these are all recommended treatment options to reduce pain and maintain a higher quality of life. But many people overlook the importance of looking after their emotional health. Research shows that women with endometriosis are at a heightened risk for depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation. Living with chronic pain- even when symptoms do improve- can have damaging effects on your relationships and self-esteem.
Here are some ways therapy can help:
Restructure Negative Thoughts
What thoughts accompany your physical pain sensations? Do you, for example, assume that things will never improve? Do you catastrophize and get stuck in a never-ending cycle of worry about your sex life, fertility, or ability to work?
In cognitive-behavioral therapy, restructuring thoughts isn’t about denying your reality. Instead, it’s about learning the connection in how your thoughts can influence both feelings and behaviors. By reframing your endometriosis-related pain, your symptoms may feel less intense, and you may feel more empowered in your everyday life.
Treat Depression and Other Related Symptoms
Endometriosis and other chronic pain conditions often coincide with depression. This, of course, makes sense. It’s hard to feel motivated, optimistic, or even ‘willing’ to engage in daily life when you’re in intense pain. Subsequently, getting stuck in this cycle can affect your closest relationships, career performance, and overall emotional well-being.
In therapy, treating endometriosis focuses on improving how you cope and take care of yourself despite your symptoms. It’s a reinforcing cycle. When you emotionally feel better about yourself, you may find that your physical symptoms feel less burdensome.
Significant research shows that stress levels exacerbate physical discomfort. And while reducing pelvic pain isn’t as straightforward as getting a good night’s sleep or engaging in deep breathing, therapy can help you reevaluate how you cope with day-to-day life.
Reducing stress may include integrating lifestyle changes like:
- increasing mindfulness
- practicing meditation focused on reducing chronic pelvic pain
- establishing a gentle exercise routine
- identifying healthy goals for your social life
- feeling more empowered in your treatment plan
- increasing engagement in pleasant activities and meaningful hobbies
How comfortable do you feel talking about your symptoms with loved ones? When you experience severe pain, where can you turn? You may have a wonderful support system, but many women experience loneliness or shame about their endometriosis symptoms.
Therapy offers a safe place to explore your emotions and securely process everything from your initial endometriosis diagnosis to fertility concerns to the impact your pain may have on your everyday lifestyle.
Process Trauma and Grief
Grief can accompany any perception of loss, and chronic pain can result in many losses. Many women with endometriosis also feel a profound sense of trauma over their condition.
Trauma and grief often correlate with intense feelings of frustration, sadness, fear, and resentment. These emotions may be challenging to talk about, and your tendency might be to withdraw or downplay how you feel.
That said, ‘keeping them inside’ tends to exacerbate your emotional distress. The right therapist can help you explore these emotions with grace and acceptance.
Endometriosis Therapists in Illinois
If living with endometriosis is causing you significant distress, you’re not alone in your struggles. Your pain is real, and your emotional well-being is an integral part of your overall health.
Therapy can help you improve your quality of life and learn healthy coping skills to manage your endometriosis symptoms. There are no quick fixes, but learning to take care of yourself and feel more supported can make a significant difference in how you feel.