You know how it begins: A new year starts and intentions are high—and then your period comes.
A menstrual cycle fueled by endo symptoms so woeful that all visions of a new year, new you fly out the window.
I greeted 2018 with brutal cramps, fatigue, and the feeling of dread about the year ahead. I couldn’t escape my thoughts, and worst was trying to differentiate between what was me, the hormones from my birth control, and what was depression? By the end of it, I felt exacerbated. Something had to change. Why was no one talking about this grueling disease? I took to the internet, googling: endometriosis. Where are my people at? Who knows what I am going through? Who knows how to make it better?
And then through what felt like serendipity, a name appears Jessica Murnane. I click on her website for a bit and file it away as something to look into later. The next day I’m scrolling through Instagram and see Jessica Murnane on life coach Kelly Trach’s podcast. Okay, universe, I know a gentle nudge when I receive one.
I log back on to read about Murnane’s Endo Tool Kit course. I feel a slight letdown when I realize that the course was just a little out of reach for my tight budget. On a whim, and for the first time in my life, I set up a GoFundMe. I share on my Facebook page to my gracious family and friends about how I am desperate to find a better way of being, a better way to take care of myself. I hit enter, and my GoFundMe goes live. I take a deep breath and head off to yoga class. I come back to find my goal fully funded! It was official: I was in like Flynn.
So, here’s what I learned from Murnane’s five-week Endo Tool Kit program:
1. I’m not alone. By now, most of us know the statistics, 1 in 10 women have endometriosis. But now, for me, that 10 percent has names and faces! I know their stories. I know their symptoms, their struggles, their triumphs. And now I have a community full of people that I can turn to when I’m thinking of trying something new but want to see what successes or secrets they know first. Connecting with my endo sisters is one of the greatest strengths of Murnane's program. She invites members to a private Facebook group, and there is so much connection that happens there. Members introduce themselves and share their stories, and as we moved through the program, it was nice to have that page as a safe space where we could help each other.
2. I learned that the symptoms and impact endo has had on people’s lives runs the whole gamut, but no one woman's story is more tragic or more meaningful than the next. We are all battling this together, no matter the spectrum.
3. My endo impacts not only me but my loved ones, my employer; and if I let it, virtually anyone I communicate with. Opportunities to educate abound, and I want to be a good ambassador for this disease. I'm so much more curious now, I want to learn more, and I want to continue to help grow the endo community.
4. I am stronger than I ever knew. Yes, there are days where my endo can bring me to my knees and keep me posted up in bed; but in spite of and maybe because of this: I am stronger than I had realized. My strength lies in my compassion for myself and others, especially women. I see warriors everywhere now. My power comes from knowing that I can withstand debilitating pain.
5. Murnane's lifestyle tips are clutch. There are so many shifts that I can choose to make, which might help alleviate some of my symptoms like those of my awful January period. I can make better choices in my diet, in the amount of sleep I get each night, in my relationship with my doctors, in my dedication to moving my body each day.