Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Endometriosis and Depression (Part 1)

So this is a difficult post to do. It goes against human nature to admit serious weakness, but from what I've read/seen, this really needs to be talked about. Many women with endometriosis (and friends and loved ones who support this women) are unaware of the connection between endometriosis and depression.

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]

20 comments:

  1. Loving your blog! You write all the things I would love to say and tell people. I'm so exhausted some days and hate to plan anything.

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    1. It's a very frustrating experience, I know. I never know what to say without coming off like a complete invalid.

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  2. I just read this. Such an important post.

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    1. Thanks, I just knew that it's gotta get out there more--hopefully it's something that will be talked about

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  3. Thank you so much for writing this! It is definitely not talked about enough.

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    1. Thanks, my thoughts exactly. I feel like if we were able to more openly discuss the link, have doctors warn women, whatever--maybe they would be more prepared for it

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  4. This honestly just made me well up when reading. This is exactly how I have been feeling since my Endo began to rear its ugly head.

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    1. I understand. It's really enough to make a strong person fall apart. It's easy to get emotional about because it hits so close to home for some.

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  5. Thanks ... I feel so lost and lonely like nobody truly understands ... This disease makes me feel like a complete fraud of a woman and failure.. I know I'll feel better tomorrow and I know god loves me. Sorry just needed to vent a little

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  6. Hello Ash,
    Thank you so very much for posting this information. I've dealt with endo since I was 14 and I am now 44. (30yrs) I've checked myself in to the Psych Ward a couple of times due to severe depression from the chronic pain I experience. I think it's important for women to know that this is an option that will assist you in getting help right away. Forget about the stigma of the "psych ward" (no need to share that with people as they will judge you as "crazy") More than anything it is a place to rest, get 24 hour care, and have meds monitored. I spent many years avoiding this option and I think my healing would have happened quicker If I had not been afraid or in denial about how seriously depression can compound the issues of endo. BTW-I did weekly therapy sessions this last year, and found that pent up anger enhances your pain. I shed my emotional pain, my internal negative thoughts, but mostly I have hope again.

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  7. Everything you have written in this post... it's like I was reading back something I had written. It is my life in another body. Although having endometriosis is horrible it is so nice to know other people are going through the exact same thing, instead of thinking I'm bordering on being crazy.

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    1. We might feel crazy, but it'd be insane to not struggle with such pain and illness. I am happy that I have found power in writing and sharing what I learn, I hope you find comfort as well. Thank you for your support!

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  8. Thank you so much for writing this, I have been going through everything that you have written and more. My biggest problem is that i don't know how to express my self to my husband without seeming too needy but your blog has give me the wonderful idea to write him a letter expressing my fears and feelings. Thank you so much

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    1. I hope you were able to find the words for your letter! Sometimes, support can be hard to give, simply because the giver doesn't know the way. I hope things are better for you both!

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  9. Hi endo sisters. Well said! Thanks. We need to get more support for mental problem dealing with endo, never talked to by any docfor about depression. But it goes directly back to managing the PAIN. I started taking Resveratrol with my continuous birth control, I feel much better, little to no pain. I pray that Gyn medical community would focus on better care program. Love you sisters and I never give up searching and learning.

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    1. Thank you very much for the encouragement. I agree, learning is key to bettering our lot, I hope you are finding the right approach for you!

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  10. I just came across this today and it pretty much says exactly how I'm feeling. I'm so, so tired of the pain - emotionally and physically.

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    1. I know what you mean. It is draining, to know that it won't go away. But remember that, while we might not be able to treat the cause, we can learn how to better cope. It gets brighter, I promise it is worth the fight!

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Contact me at bedhead@bedriddenhead.com

About The BedRiddenHead

I want to be happy. And this site is about that chance. How to strive to thrive in the body I've got and maybe turn my experiences into something worthwhile.

This site aims to help educate and reach out to people all over that struggle with pain or illness. To try and make something helpful. I work as a medical research writer, my background is in neuropsychology and biology, and I want to share what I learn in a way that is easy to understand. I am not a doctor. I'm definitely not your doctor. I am just some lady who wants to make someone's (anyone's) life a little bit better. Whether you have endometriosis, a chronic injury, a struggling friend, or just want to learn something new, I hope to make a place that has what you are looking for.

Thank you for stopping by, I wish you strength in your health and happiness.