I’ve struggled with endometriosis as far back as I can remember. My body is in menopause, and with that comes “endobrain.” For more on my journey click Men-o-what??? Preparing for Menopause: My Endometriosis Journey.
Is is just me that struggles with what I call endobrain? First let me explain what endobrain is. It’s the fog I’ve lived in for many years. Sometimes, it’s just a gentle mist when I am slightly off, but I can’t quite put my finger on it. Sometimes it’s a light fog, one where I’m functioning, but my brain is stuck in a haze of indecision. The worst of times, my brain is completely surrounded by a dense fog of being overwhelmed by indecision, tunnel vision, memory loss, confusion, anxiety, and finally, panic.
It’s the kind of struggle that makes me drop a f bomb in front of my kids out of unfiltered frustration.
If I, a mental health professional (soon to be licensed counselor intern), and someone who has been through recovery for 8+ years cannot reset my endobrain, what hope do those who have no coping skills have? This makes me really sad. Which leads me to the question:
1. I’m certainly not the only one who feels like I am in the beginning phases of alzheimer’s and pubescent or prenatal hormonal peak at the same time, right?
My internet research led me to the article ENDOSTRONG patient of the week: Artist Kyung Jeon. It states that:
Being a very sharp and organized person, what she found most alarming was her brain fog. She remembers countless instances where she would put something like a book down somewhere and then not remembering where she put it the next day. She knew something was definitely wrong with her body.
Her art is absolutely stunning and expresses what my mind goes through at times. You can see some of her gallery here.
2. What the hell is happening to our brains with endo?
A study published in January of 2016 found that women with chronic pelvic pain may suffer from hyperalgesia (a heightened sense of pain), as well as a decrease in gray matter in pain-processing areas of the brain…a change of brain chemistry.
Furthermore: (per the same article)
In 2015, the Endometriosis Foundation of America invited Sawsan As-Sanie to speak at their Sixth Annual Medical Conference. She confirms findings that women who suffer from chronic pain have decreased gray matter volume in the areas of the brain that process those pain responses. These women also exhibited altered brain chemistry and function.
3. Which brings me to my final question, what can we do about it?
I’m tired of living this way. I’m doing everything I’m supposed to be doing physically, and still struggling with the endobrain. How can I once and for all change this?
Get some quality sleep. According to Endometriosis News in an article found here, sleep has a lot to do with the fogginess. Makes complete sense, considering the lack of sleep I get from tossing and turning through night sweats, pain, and digestive issues.
Watch your diet, and take Omega-3 if needed. According to Medical News Today, in an article written by Hannah Nichols found here, diet and supplements are necessary. Experts suggest that the high-fat content in red meats encourage the production of chemicals called prostaglandins in the body, which may result in more estrogen being produced. Eating foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, flaxseeds, and walnuts, may be helpful for endometriosis.
Exercise, Exercise, Exercise! 2 key reasons of the 6 reasons exercise helps, I found on 6 Things to Know About Endometriosis and Exercise on Endometriosis News are as follows: Exercising hard enough to elevate your heart rate and make you sweat releases endorphins. Endorphins not only improve your mood and prevent stress and depression but also act as a natural pain reliever. Endometriosis is driven by estrogen. Exercising actually lowers estrogen levels in the body, helping to relieve the symptoms of the condition.
I often revert to, “What would I tell a client to do in recovery?” when I’m faced with a life question. This time, it required a little research to answer my own questions. I hope you’ve enjoyed this article and found it useful. If so, let me know in the comments below. As always….
Stay sober my friends!