by Tasha Ross
Endometriosis has affected my life greatly. They say that it takes on average 7 years to diagnose and I believe I’m a good example of this. Throughout my primary school years, I was a very sporty child. I was very energetic, positive and loved the outdoors. My high school years were quite different. I felt like I was constantly fatigued, and I never wanted to go to school. My class mates would say that I was lying about being sick. I struggled to do classwork most days because I felt a massive cloud of fog over my head that I couldn’t overcome. Eventually, this made me so depressed I would refuse to leave my bed some mornings. No one believed me, doctors couldn’t determine a diagnosis and I just wanted sleep.
At 15 years old, I started having breakouts and abdominal pain. My doctor had run scans which all indicated I was healthy and decided to put me on the pill. This did not clear up my breakouts and the pain remained. I saw at least 10 different doctors between the ages of 13-20, all of which ended with the same result. I was apparently perfectly healthy. I stumbled upon one doctor who decided to send me to a gynaecologist. This whole situation still haunts me today and it is scary to think this hasn’t only happened to me, but the majority of women that suffer from endometriosis. The specialist used these exact words ‘it’s all in your head’. How could that be possible if I had been in so much pain for years. Women please do not believe a doctor, specialist, friend or family member if they tell you that the pain is all in your head. You know your body, you know when something is not ok. Just persevere even if it takes seven years to diagnose like me.
The specialist used these exact words ‘it’s all in your head’.
Once I turned 19 the pain intensified. I started to bloat severely to the point of looking 6 months pregnant. This was probably the hardest symptom for me to face as I was a swimwear model and I could wake up on the day of a photoshoot with a big stomach. That was not going to work for the client. After a few months, I decided to stop modelling all together. My confidence was practically non-existent. I would reject any incredible modelling opportunity that came my way as I was terrified of getting in a bikini. With no diagnosis I felt hopeless.
When I turned 20, I finally had a diagnosis. This occurred as I was talking to my boyfriend’s mother about the symptoms I had. She was shocked and had mentioned she had all the same symptoms and it was due to something called Endometriosis. After lengthy discussion, she recommended a specialist that had helped with her diagnosis. I had felt like all hope had gone and I was going to have to deal with this illness myself. Now at least I could have a diagnosis and a reason to hope. The specialist had mentioned he thought I could have endometriosis however the only way to diagnose the disease is through a laparoscopy surgery. If any endometriosis was found, he would remove it. After my surgery, I was advised that I had endometriosis and the pain should stop for at least 2 years.
For the first 3 months I was unbelievably happy. The pain, bloating, anxiety and depression had all disappeared. I’d like to say that those are 3 of the best months of my life. Unfortunately, it didn’t last long. The pain had intensified, and I had started to bloat again. After returning to the specialist he mentioned that he didn’t want to put me through surgery so close to my last laparoscopy and to wait it out. I went back into a depressed state as I had felt hopeless again.
I’m now 22 years old and have recently visited another surgeon. I’m astonished that this disease is so common yet there’s no cure, and not every doctor or specialist knows how to handle this disease. I have changed my diet over the last couple of years to be very clean and only eat foods that wouldn’t cause inflammation in the body. This has helped my bloating however the other symptoms remain.
My New Years resolution was to quit the comparisons, get back into modelling and to pursue my dreams without this disease getting in my way. Women, don’t ever let a disease define you. I had dreamt of being Miss Universe Australia for years. Would you believe this disease almost stopped me? I decided to follow my new year’s resolution and sent in my registration. Now I’m a Miss Universe Australia national finalist and have started modelling again. I’m learning slowly how to overcome my fears with endometriosis and getting on stage in a bikini is the first step to a better life. Whether your dreams are big or small, go and achieve them. Don’t ever let endometriosis stop you like it had for me.
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