This Endometriosis Awareness Month, pay attention to your pain

BY HEIDI LYNCH, GRAPHIC DESING BY KIKI DIVIC

If you are reading this, and you were born with a uterus – I am saying this because I love you. Just have a little think. How regular are your periods? What is your pain level when you have them?

March is Endometriosis Awareness Month and the chances are that many DIVA readers will have it, and not know it. Parts of my young adult life involved fainting from pain, being totally bedridden at family gatherings, and at its worst – bleeding for 28 days straight. I was told all of this was within the realm of normal, but it is not normal. It is common for almost 200 million people worldwide, but it is not normal. And you don’t deserve it. I am bisexual and massively credit my investigation into my symptoms from having a female partner for the first time. It was approximately a year into living together that she said, “This isn’t okay – you need to get checked”.

If your ears are perking up – hold tight, every healthcare system in the world right now is strapped and even before the pandemic it would take approximately eight years for an endo warrior to get an official diagnosis. I won’t bore you with my negative experiences here, I will just say find your people before you go to the doctor. You will want to hold their hand. If you don’t have real life people right now find your people online. Insert disclaimer here saying do not take medical advice from social media – but there are networks of incredible human beings who will care for you on social media platforms. One of the most invaluable resources you can get connected to is the very talented photographer, documentarian and social activist in the endo space – Georgie Wileman.

Georgie created an awareness campaign in 2019, putting a call out to turn endo scars into art. She asked post-op warriors to post a simple photo: black and white, lying on a bedsheet, connecting their multiple surgery scars with a drawn line on their skin and to date each scar. Once I followed the hashtag #ThisIsEndometriosis I was faced with a sea of different torsos and constellations of scars I was about to have too. Yes – if you are diagnosed you will need to go under the knife. To even get diagnosed you will need an exploratory surgery called a laparoscopy. Many of us need several of these surgeries. To keep the good times rolling… there is no cure for endometriosis. Despite some high-profile celebrity endo warriors making that choice – hysterectomy is not a cure.

Georgie inspired me to turn my experience into art. So when I got the chance to create a second season for my show, Avocado Toast The Series, I knew what storyline I would explore. I used all the amazing people I had found online as a reference. I combined those stories with my own to try to create representation and awareness for a diagnosis that I had never heard of until, while clutching my partner’s hand in a doctor’s office they said, “You need surgery – you have endometriosis”.

I knew I wanted to pay homage to Georgie’s work and to connect with her again. The opening of episode nine features Georgie’s scar constellation campaign along with important facts about the diagnosis. Now in 2023, I am symptom free and trying deeply to enjoy this body that was once (and may again be) a source of anger, pain, and sorrow. I am trying to reclaim those areas of myself for pleasure, joy, and celebration.

Georgie has a new campaign launching this March, and she is working with Everyman Cinemas to release her documentary short This Is Endometriosis on 16 March across the UK. If you were born with a uterus, or love anyone who was, I would really love you to come and watch it. And to visit LesFlicks or www.avocadotoastheseries.com to watch Season two of my show. But most of all, I would love it if this March you told someone whose symptoms surrounding their period seem extra awful, to get checked out. It is common, but it is not normal. If you find yourself wondering – or if you get diagnosed – you are beyond welcome to slide into my DMs @heidilynchfilm and I will be one of your people.

Documentary Screening Info: 

Below the Belt, a new PBS documentary produced by Hillary Clinton and Rosario Dawson, explores gender equity in women’s health through the lens of endometriosis, a devastating condition that affects 200 million women worldwide. In the personal & inspiring stories of four women urgently searching for answers to mysterious symptoms, the film deftly illustrates how women are commonly dismissed due to societal taboos and gender bias and how, by working together, we can improve the health of all women.

This Is Endometriosis is an intimate, expressive film about how endometriosis has robbed Georgie Wileman of time. Combining deeply private, self-documented material, intimate family archive, traditional observational footage and a collection of reconstructive memories, the film tells the story of a young photographer’s battle to stay in the present while facing a wall of disbelief. Seen through the lens of Georgie’s beautiful, brutal photography, This Is Endometriosis is a human insight into the realities of living with the disease and a story about the power of community.

The London event at @everyman_broadgate will also include a live panel and Q+A
Get your tickets ASAP, and invite your friends and family to join as we bring the stories of endometriosis to mainstream cinemas across the country – this is an evening for everyone!

Email hello@myparla.com to be an Ambassador in the UK and help us introduce wider audiences to endometriosis.

London Tickets: https://www.everymancinema.com/film-info/equity-through-the-lens-of-endometriosis-live-qa

Tickets across the UK: https://www.everymancinema.com/film-info/equity-through-the-lens-of-endometriosis

Heidi Lynch is the writer, producer and star of Avocado Toast The Series on Amazon Prime (OUTtv) and other platforms.

DIVA magazine celebrates 28 years in print in 2022. If you like what we do, then get behind LGBTQIA media and keep us going for another generation. Your support is invaluable. 

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@heidilynchfilm

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