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It’s Easy to Forget Support Is Available, Especially When We’re so Weighted Down by Our Own Struggle

It’s Easy to Forget Support Is Available, Especially When We’re so Weighted Down by Our Own Struggle


Can happiness be defined?

I was recently reminded that happiness can be found when we lean on each other. After a period of feeling buried beneath an ongoing health struggle, it was the voices from others enduring similar trials that ultimately aided my recovery.

On a seemingly normal summer day, I noticed that a distinct pain had developed in my lower abdomen/pelvic region. After brushing off the discomfort in an attempt to get on with my busy day, my roommate found me curled up on the couch that night in audible discomfort. She sat with me as I described my symptoms and speculated possible causes. Cramps? Cyst? Regardless, she said, you should see a doctor.

Rather than rush to a doctor, I persisted through my day and hoped the pain would go away. But my futile optimism yielded a sleepless night spent browsing the web for answers. The next day, I visited a clinic. This will be nothing, I told myself. Women are always dealing with these kinds of hassles, it will clear up.

Instead, what ensued was a challenging, tedious quest to identify and treat my pain. The process became a blur of waiting rooms and physicians, ultrasounds and blood tests, pain medications and at-home remedies, and the increasingly difficult exercise of ignoring my discomfort while trying to move on with life.

Perhaps the most distressing part of the process was the fear that my pain might never go away, and I became occupied with one word: chronic.

Six or more months of pelvic pain is considered chronic pelvic pain, a condition that inflicts 15 percent of women aged 18 to 50. Fifteen percent. The gravity of this figure seemed to follow me wherever I went, much like the pain itself.

Several doctors returned to a likely cause: Endometriosis. A condition that I learned my mother also dealt with throughout her adult life. And it was my mother who called me one day with a possible breakthrough.

She came home from dinner with a friend where they discussed my symptoms. My mother learned that her friend’s daughter-in-law also suffers from Endometriosis and she eventually found relief by switching to a certain medication. Willing to try anything that might yield relief, I called my doctor the next day to inquire about similar treatment. She agreed that it would be something worth trying, and shortly after I observed as my pain began to lessen.

Weeks, months, and now more than a year with manageable pain. A year during which I often thought of my mother’s friend with gratitude, someone I never would have imagined could the hold the key to an elusive solution. The treatment happened to work for me as it worked for someone else. But that’s just it: if we talk, someone will listen, and, most likely, someone will relate.

The emotional pain that accompanied my physical pain was greatly alleviated by the support of those in my life such as my mother, my partner, my roommate, the doctors, and even the anonymous voices of solidarity I read online. It’s easy to forget that support is available, especially when we’re so weighted by our own struggle that it can feel impossible to speak up.

The medical world still knows so little about gynecological disorders, despite that fact that most women will experience some type of gynecological ailment in their lifetime. However, while all the answers might not be out there, a support system is.

Can happiness be defined? Probably not. But a woman’s choice to share an experience and find comfort in family and friends, even strangers, can result in real joy.

Perhaps happiness is knowing that we’re never alone.

This post was written by Anne Strand. Strand is a Mainer living in Los Angeles, where she mentors young women writers with WriteGirl. Follow her on Twitter @anniestrannie.

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