As I discussed in my last post, support is incredibly important. You are the superhero and endometriosis is the enemy. You’re in a life-long, multi-movie battle here, and you won’t make it through without your trusty sidekicks. But where can you recruit sidekicks from? I’d like to offer up a couple of candidates.
ABILITIES: SUPPORT, BAD-JOKES, CAKE-MAKING, IMPROMPTU MOVIE NIGHTS, BASELESS COMPLIMENTS
Beware! Sometimes this group can be infiltrated by impostors, such as the Fair Weather Friend. Do not be fooled. However, genuine sidekicks recruited from this group should provide much needed fun, fond memories, and shared experiences. They will tell you you look great even when you haven’t brushed your hair in a week and have horrific hormonal acne, but also won’t let the rest of the world see you like that. They’ll cover your escapes and make your excuses when you have to answer the call of the Endo-Signal, and they’ll bring you cake when you need to recover. Because these bonds are forged by choice rather than necessity, they are genuine and strong.
ABILITIES: UNCONDITIONAL LOVE, MOTIVATION/NAGGING, PRACTICAL ASSISTANCE AT HOME
As with friends, beware: this group can contain some surprisingly toxic elements who undermine you and minimise the importance of your fight. However, the good ones will have your back until death do you part. They will help you get yourself together to fight the good fight, and they’ll help patch you up emotionally afterwards. They’ll also have your back against those family members that don’t support you. They will vary in tactics, from brutal honesty to genuinely believing that you are still pretty even when you closely resemble a swamp-monster. Some will coo in sympathy and run you a bath, others will tut at the state of your kitchen but then clean it for you. If the battle fells everyone else, this is generally the refuge you can always turn to.
ABILITIES: ANONYMITY, INSTANTANEOUS KNOWLEDGE, HUGE NUMBERS
There is strength in numbers, and there are numbers here. Whether on chat rooms, facebook groups, reddit threads or endo forums, there are millions of people out there fighting the same enemy willing to share their experiences, tactics, and advice, and to listen to you vent. Sometimes it can be an “endo is bad” echo chamber, but sometimes you need that. The knowledge-sharing is extremely fast, and due to the anonymity of the forum many people are willing to share the gory details and discuss the sensitive topics that they wouldn’t be able to talk about in person.
GROUP: ENDO WARRIORS
ABILITIES: EXPERIENCE, ENDURANCE, NATURAL SENSE OF ALLEGIANCE
Whenever I hear that someone else is struggling with endo, I feel an instant camaraderie with them. It’s kind of like that little nod that motorbike riders share on the highway, and in this case it indicates respect for their battles and an “I get it.” Because you do. When you are both struggling with the same disease, even though that disease is different between individuals, there is a shared pain. Other groups can sympathise – this group can empathise, deeply. They can provide a level of emotional support that no other group really can, as well as offering much of the same knowledge and experience as their anonymous online counterparts.
GROUP: MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS
ABILITIES: SCIENCEY KNOWLEDGE AND SKILLS, GATEKEEPERS TO PAIN RELIEF
If there was ever a group you want on your side, it’s this one. They wield true power. It can be really hard finding a good group of them who are ready to pitch in with you all the way; too many of them don’t see Endometriosis for the super villain it really is. The ones that do understand, though, should be roped into your support group and kept there forever more. They are your generals; they can provide the best strategies for dealing with the pain. They come in many forms – doctors, surgeons, nurses, pain specialists, physios, chemists – but they are all powerful in their own way.
Clearly, this post is a bit tongue-in-cheek, so I just want to take a moment to acknowledge a few realities. Not everyone has friends who can support them. Not everyone has family, or family who cares. Getting a great doctor is an ongoing battle for so many. For some people, two or more of these groups will overlap; for others, one group will be the only place that they can get their sidekicks from. That’s ok. You work with what you have.
I also want to take a moment to pay my respects to the behind-the-scenes people that we don’t always get to meet who support this fight in their own ways – the politicians who fight for change on a national level, the people who lobby for more finances, the advocates who petition for cheaper medications or more accessible healthcare, the wealthy who donate or start trusts for endo treatment or research, and the scientists who actually carry that research out. We need these people. If you are one of them and are reading this, please don’t stop. We see what you do and we love you for it.
Readers, where do you draw the most support from? If you find someone else suffering from endo, do you try and connect them with others? Also, do you have more gimmicky, side-kicky codenames I can give these groups? I feel like this post could be daggier. Let me know in the comments!