Emily, 24 years old
Emilie is a Frenchwoman currently residing in Quebec.
“When I had my big depression, the problem I had was that I read a lot of testimonials from people in depression but no one said that he was out of depression. Deep down I thought I was going to get out of this situation but I also told myself that no one seemed to get out of it so I had a hard time believing it. I discovered that I have been in depression several times in my life without necessarily realizing it, but not like that.
Her story begins in January 2020 when she was diagnosed with severe endometriosis. Following this diagnosis, she is forced to take synthetic hormones, a very heavy treatment.
She quickly realizes that the hormones do not suit her, she agrees to take them but it is the descent into hell for her. At first, she feels like she has no side effects, she doesn’t hurt as much as before. Endometriosis handicapped her daily, she sometimes had trouble getting up and was in a lot of pain. This situation quickly becomes very difficult to live with because her student visa in Canada requires her to attend classes full-time, so she cannot afford to miss them.
“When I talk about pain, I’m talking about physical torture. I have never had so much pain in my life as at that time.”
Hormones put her in “artificial menopause”, she suffers much less. Then; it all started three months after starting to take the hormones, overnight. She first had very violent panic attacks, she was unable to leave her house.
“I woke up in the morning, I wanted to die. I was crying a lot. It was super violent because it happened overnight. I tried to reason with myself by telling myself that it was the hormones. On top of that was the shock of being diagnosed with the disease, I was told to start thinking about some things like the fact that I could be sterile within 2 years, that was a lot of information but I knew that part of my discomfort came from hormones. “
Emilie has no choice but to take these hormones, otherwise she will suffer enormously, but she cannot continue the hormonal treatments either because she is tired of being in her current state. She tries to contact doctors to explain to them, they all answer the same thing, namely: we can do nothing more than give hormones.
“I think the feeling of injustice is the worst in this story, doctors asked me to take more on myself, to be patient, that there was no other solution. And I kept telling them that I wasn’t the only woman with this disease. My life was hell, it didn’t belong to me anymore. I couldn’t do anything, I couldn’t work anymore, I was constantly exhausted.”
The fact that there was no solution and no one was listening was too much for her. She felt like she was facing the wall, she cried nonstop and did nothing.
After 8 months, Emilie resigned herself, she wanted to get it over with.
She will eventually pull herself together and start looking for testimonials from women who are also affected by endometriosis. She confides to me that what struck her was not only the fact of realizing that many other women were affected by it, it was the fact that there was no solution adapted to this illness, no actual treatment.
“These women lived the same thing as me except that they had children, a job, they have to take care of all that when they all wanted to end it. And there I said to myself “But there is no solution?” I went to consult a shrink, I told him that I was aware of being in depression because of the disease but especially because of the hormones which did not suit me. She replied that I had to change treatment, I was already on my second.
Her shrink wanted to prescribe her anxiolytics and antidepressants, Emilie knew full well that the side effects of these treatments were ten times worse than what she experienced daily.
“I told him that it was not compatible with what I have, antidepressants, among the side effects: there are suicidal thoughts. To which she replied that she could put me on anxiolytics with the treatment. I thought to myself that this world was really not going well. Looking back today, I can laugh about it because it was really absurd.
Following all this, she is fed up and decides to stop her treatment. She wants to find a solution but naturally. It will take him 3 months of the process to stop in order to prepare himself to feel the pain of endometriosis again.
This loneliness in front of yourself, it changes you, forever. I had dark moments, moments of evidence about things from the past that made me think. It was like a scab that you remove from a wound to heal better.”
As I explained to him, with Afterlife, that’s what I want to highlight: there is always an After. There is something after, we end up getting out of it.
Emilie had to come a long way, she was going through phases of acceptance of herself, of the choices she had been able to make, all this during the three months of stopping her treatment.
“I asked myself a lot of questions: why did I make this choice, why do I realize today that it was a bad thing but not when I made it? I was in full introspection of myself. I said to myself: it’s been a year since you wanted to die every day, but your body deserves better, it deserves more than that. It was a moment of resilience, like a birth of the bad. You didn’t love yourself, but now you have to make the effort to love yourself.”
She stopped the treatment when she really felt ready. The depression continued. The pains have resumed but she does not allow herself to sink again.
“I got the pain back but I kind of got my soul back as well, on hormones I was empty.”
She continued to see her shrink and they started working on her life.
Emilie is a very sensitive person, this passage under hormones has highlighted to her the fact that it is much healthier to feel all these emotions. Losing them made her feel like she was nothing.
“I was looking in the mirror, it wasn’t me. I don’t recognize this person. Worse than feeling strong emotions is feeling nothing. Emotions are there to tell you things in your life and tell you what to do. When you no longer have these indications, you are only an eye that watches things.
One day, she felt an emotion she had never felt before: the urge to get up, the urge to do yoga, to have breakfast.
“I know people are going to say ‘but how come? I tell myself that for everyone it is normal, but for me it was a decisive moment. And that feeling remained more and more, day after day.”
She takes a huge slap the day she is told that because of her illness, she could not exercise the job of her dreams and for which she was studying. His school provided him with a lot of help and entourage to encourage him to be redirected.
“All my picks have been good as they go. I did not remain passive, I had a thirst for change, to take action, that this step is behind me: to move forward. I didn’t have this momentum, I was expecting it. Stopping treatment was a first impetus in itself, the fact that I changed my lifestyle, it helped to maintain this momentum. That’s when I said to myself: I choose myself today and now, I have survived so far so it must work.”
Emily is very self-determined to be able to move forward.
“I realized something horrible that I had to quickly mourn: it is that you are alone. People may surround you, love you, you are always alone with yourself. Nobody is going to do things for me, nobody is going to come and save me. I quickly worked on the idea of burying that.”
She needed to do things that made sense. She has, for example, created a group for women who suffer from endometriosis and who want to treat themselves naturally.
“Since no one was helping us, I tried to become an expert on my disease, I looked at hundreds of American studies on endometriosis, to find out how to treat myself. It is absurd to think that in 2022 in a Western society we must seek to treat ourselves.
The work for which she was studying not being consistent with her illness, she redirected herself to graphic design where she will reconnect with her creativity. Being surrounded by women who also suffered from the same disease gave her an environment of sorority where everyone supported each other and it helped her in the work on herself and on her childhood, which she describes to me as often very hard. .
“Today I realize how far I have come and I can tell myself that I am happy, I am no longer in depression, I am happy. Before I had moments of instant euphoria but not happiness. Sometimes I think I’m so stubborn that maybe I needed this.”
And you, what is your story?