Positive emotions and having emotional support can really help when dealing with a long term illness like endometriosis.
Research shows there is a strong link between happiness, optimism, and good health and between increased well-being, and the body’s potential to heal itself.
Exercises in positive thinking are beneficial, but more powerful still are positive emotions, such as hope and joy. Not surprisingly, close and supportive relationships with friends and family, and a sense of humour, can help to develop positive feelings.
A network of friends and family may be more important than we realise; a need to find emotional sustenance through others is a strong element in the pattern of healing and well-being. The more isolated we are, the less healthy we are likely to be, since it can be difficult to have a rich emotional life alone. That is why it is so important for single women with endometriosis to foster and develop good relationships with their family and friends.
Sometimes this can be difficult, for various reasons, but the more you inform, advise and educate your friends and family, the more they will understand your needs. Some women with endometriosis have found huge support from their family, which has proved to be a life-line for them spiritually and practically.
It is unfortunate that we do not all have loving, supportive families provided by our close relatives. In this case you need to look to other members of your family. Your Aunt or Grandmother may be more supportive than your mother or sisters. For that reason look further afield in your own family.
Do not become too distressed if some of your friends start to disappear. This is another subject covered on HERE. If your friends do start to fade away, then there will be a variety of reasons. Some people simply cannot face or cope with other peoples’ illness.
Then there is always the natural process that takes place in your relationships and people move on; your relationships change as you move through life. You will meet new people; make new friends, as you move in different circles in life.
This is especially true when you begin to network with others suffering from endometriosis - through local groups, national groups, social networking, message boards etc.
Fresh starts and new contacts will help
If you start an evening course, for example, you may find yourself ‘clicking’ with certain individuals and you develop new friends. If you have a local Endometriosis Support Group in your area, then go along. You will make new friends.
Even if you are not feeling fit and energetic, you could still take up new interests like join a yoga group, join a meditation group; join a poetry reading/writing group - something to get you of the house and 'out of yourself'. There are lots of possibilities.
Do not hold yourself back through lack of self-esteem, with feelings that you are not interesting enough now, because your whole life seems to revolve around endometriosis. Your affirmative action to go out there and have a life is about you saying to yourself that your entire life is not about endometriosis. You do have a history, a background, a personality, personal interests; things you can give to others; things you can share with others.
You need to break the vicious circle now, before it becomes self-perpetuating. Yes, you will have certain days when you feel too awful physically to do absolutely anything. BUT, make the most of the good days, and get out, get involved in your own life; do not let it pass you by because you think there is no point.
There is every point - which is the more ‘little’ things you do, the more positive it will make you feel; and this will in turn assist you back to good health. Energy makes energy - and if you are fight endometriosis then you need to kick-start that 'energy process.
The value of relationships with regard to your health or recovery from illness should not be underestimated. A study at the University of California published in 1993 found that when patients with malignant melanoma had weekly support sessions that included education, stress management, coping skills, and discussion, they felt better and were more positive, although their defences showed little change.
Six months later, when the support groups had discontinued, two-thirds of the group showed a rise in natural killer cell activity and enhanced immune system response. This was due to the sharing and supportive nature of being involved in the group, which had long term beneficial effects.
Hope and humour
Hope and humour are other important emotions to assist you in your well-being and health. Hope is a component of optimism. It need not be unrealistic - in fact, hope can mean facing up to a problem and then looking for ways forward. Hope comes from having control of your life. Hopelessness comes from not having control in your life. Do not let endometriosis control your life. It is now time for you to take control of it. Just by reading these words is part of that process.
Having laughter and a sense of humour goes a long way to not only improve your life but also improve your health. Laughter eases muscle tension, deepens breathing, improves circulation, and releases endorphins, the body’s natural pain-relieving opiates. It also raises levels of immunoglobulin A, an antibody in the mucous lining of the nasal cavity, and helps release hormonal substances called cytokines that promote the activity of ‘natural killer’ while blood cells. These cells specialise in fighting off invading bacteria and viruses, and in destroying potential tumour cells.
When you feel good about yourself you can accept your own imperfections. Being under stress and unable to cope, however, can undermine self-esteem and make you interpret every unfortunate event as the end of the world. Try to change the perspective by ‘reframing the image’ - you are not a failure if you do not succeed, but rather a success for trying. Even quite small shifts in self-perception can bring about profound changes in life.