Why am I bringing this up? I have heard too many stories lately about women with endometriosis and both attempted/successful suicides. Women that are in so much emotional and physical pain that they give up. They feel alone, defeated, and out of options. I cannot help but feel that some education, prevention, and support may have helped them. So here is my attempt.
My first serious scare with endometriosis and depression came at the hand of a chemo-type drug called Lupron. Many women with more aggressive forms of endometriosis are prescribed this drug. It involves a series of 2-3 shots and it chemically shuts down ovary production, essentially forcing a woman into menopause. It's also used to treat fibroid tumors and males with prostate cancer. Now, if menopause isn't enough of an emotional rollercoaster for most women, then you should really try out Lupron--on top of the standard up's and down's, you get the fun added factor of severe avalanches of hormones and chemicals.
My experience with Lupron was horrible. It did not work at all; I still grew endometrium and another fibroid tumor. On top of that, I had horrible mood swings and severe depression. It was some of the most awful feelings I've had in my life. I was really lucky to have a supportive family, boyfriend, and doctor. They all encouraged me to seek proper medical treatment to reclaim a balance and I avoided a complete and total meltdown. But I came scarily close. I was luckier than some. And my experience prompted me to be more open about the ups and downs of endometriosis. I think being honest about this, something some may find embarrassing could really help some women. So I'll take the risk.
So why is proclivity for depression higher in women with endometriosis? There are a few theories. First of all, having any chronic, painful illness is likely to make you more likely to downward spiral. A constant battle against pain and feeling crumby can weigh anyone down. It's easy to get discouraged and be upset with your situation. Not all treatments are effective and you are constantly left with a feeling of defeat. And when you are tired all of the time, it is harder to collect the necessary 'starter energy' to feel happy on bad days.
Part of that feeling crumby all the time also messes with one's social support system. Women with endometriosis are all too familiar with the constant disruption of plans. Canceled plans seem to be a constant song with these women. Not because we don't want to go out--I am constantly starved for social interaction. But we're always stuck home, curled up with a heating pad, pain killers, and sickly hope that we'll feel better in the morning. And missing that pivotal social activity really compromises the friend network of people like me. Some people get sick and tired of the neediness and canceled plans. I can see why they get frustrated. I just wish this wasn't a reality face more often than I would ever envision for myself or anyone else. I want to be social! I want a great support system! I NEED a great support system... but that is often lost in jumble of this miserable illness.
I'm sure this entry sounds overall really depressing. Honestly that's not my intention. I'm just trying to illuminate a lot of pent up feelings that I see in a lot of these really wonderful women. They are strong, compassionate, and caring women. And that too often gets eclipsed by these negative feelings they must constantly battle. They aren't self wallowing and I'm sure some of us come off a little whiny. I actually had to make a jar for myself where I put a dollar in every time I whine. And It really blew me away how negative I could be sometimes. And it put me on a mission to overcome my negative feelings that come from endometriosis and all its added fun.
[Stick around for part 2 and part 3 soon--I'll explore some of the chemical causes of depression in endometriosis women and ways to over come it]