Initially you may be scratching your head and wondering how we can even suggest that endometriosis may affect your emotional and psychological well being. Endometriosis is a disease typically located in a woman's reproductive organs that causes physical pain, right? How can it affect your mental health?
In addition to causing severe physical pain (check out the symptoms of endometriosis in Chapter 2), endometriosis can severely affect your mental health. When you're in pain, you may feel alone. As often as other people say, "I know how you feel," you can't help but feel that they really don't understand at all. And verbalizing your pain over and over because other people forget about it becomes frustrating. Yet you feel like a hypochondriac when you have to keep turning down invitations and activities you may really want to do. How do you keep the balance between feeling like a martyr when no one understands and being this person whose every waking moment is consumed with endometriosis? It's not easy!
Unfortunately, endometriosis doesn't go away just because you can't see it or decide not to think about it. At times you may feel great and barely give the disease a second thought. Then another period starts, or you have mid-cycle pain, and the problems all come rushing back into your life. (Read more about physical pain relief in Chapter 13.)
Oftentimes people living with physical pain can develop emotional problems, such as depression and anxiety (check out the next two sections). And these emotional problems can even cause the physical pain and symptoms of endometriosis to worsen. Sometimes, though, differentiating between chronic pain and emotional pain isn't easy because many of the symptoms of chronic pain are also symptoms of depression.
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