Monday, 5 February 2018

:: COLUMN :: Endometriosis isn't a competition

Image courtesy of http://bit.ly/2EgcEad

:: This column was originally posted on Endometriosis News ::


I’ve loved watching the endometriosis communities online presence grow over the last few years. When I first started looking online for help, there were a lot less groups and blogs than there are now. Instagram had only just been created so there were no social accounts like you would find there nowadays. Women coming together in times of need, to get help and to share their own stories to help others; there is a real sisterhood with this disease.

One thing that has been very blatant though, is the competition that is strife within this community.

You might think I mean between websites, blogs or social accounts. And, yes, there is definitely competition there. Why does this account have more followers than me? Maybe because they can devote more of their time and energy in to gaining those followers, interacting with them and sharing content. Why has that blogger been sent products to review and I haven’t? Maybe that company hadn’t stumbled upon your blog yet or maybe their item is more relevant to that other person. Why is this person getting media attention and I’m not? Luck? But the competition doesn’t just stop there.

I so often see women competing within groups online. “I’ve had X number of surgeries”. “I’ve got endometriosis here, here and here”. “I’ve been in hospital X number of times”. “I’m in constant pain”. And, while it’s important to share your stories, you must remember that you are not the only person to have felt this way. By implying that you have it worse than anyone else only causes other women to silence themselves. I’ve seen it happen so many times. “I’ve only got stage whatever endometriosis and I’m only in pain during my period so I can’t even begin to imagine what you’re going through…”. These feelings shouldn’t be apparent in a chronic illness community.

I started writing because I felt alone and that no one understood the complexities of this illness. When I started speaking out, I found there were hundreds of women in the same position. We all needed support and reassurance. And that support empowered so many of us to continue raising awareness. Whether that be speaking more openly to friends and family, re-sharing the odd news article online, writing a blog about our experiences, or by creating support groups or meetings.

We need to stop competing and start listening. We might be sharing similar content but our audiences vary. We might think we have the worst case of endometriosis but I can almost guarantee there will be someone who has it worse. And we all share the same objective - to get our unified voice heard and to help future generations. Does anything else really matter when it comes down to the nitty-gritty? No. We are all hurting. We all have days where we think we can’t go on. We all want to be heard and for someone to say “It’s OK, I’m here for you”.

Endometriosis isn’t a competition

If we begin fighting against one another, we lose focus on the one connection we all share. We should all be working together, as one stable community. There is power in numbers so don’t fight against other voices working hard to bring understanding and support to the table. Endometriosis is such a varied disease. I doubt there are very few (if any) of us that have had the exact same experiences. If we are to ever get the help that every single one of us deserves, the world needs to know this.

Join forces ladies. Support your peers. Speak up. Be heard. Become one powerful force that the world can not ignore.

We are not one person. We are the 176 million.

You can follow my Endometriosis News column here.

S.
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