I remember complaining to my other half about a year after we moved house that I was knackered all the time.
There seemed a long enough list of reasons for this- a longer commute to a job I hated, a bigger house to look after, a shitty boiler that meant being cold a lot of the time. But even as I adjusted my bedtime and bought thicker socks it didn’t seem to go away. It lessened, certainly, but I was still hitting regular patches of feeling physically drained to the point that I could manage little more than dragging myself to work and back each day. Coffee didn’t help. Going to bed earlier didn’t help. Carbs or diets or exercise didn’t help, in fact I remember one such stretch when I took the age old advice of ‘getting out for some air’ to improve my energy levels. I tried to go for a jog and ended up a teary mess about half a mile from my house struggling to breathe and barely able to lift my feet enough to walk home. Throbbing limbs, shakes and blurry vision, I thought I was having a panic attack but I had literally no idea why that might be. I’m overweight and prone to depression, and I berated myself for being fat and miserable and told myself I had to try harder and sure enough these little periods cleared up. I went back to making it past 3pm without 8 espressos and running a slow 5k without keeling over a couple of times a week. Oddly enough I never really related these times to each other, I just got through them.
I realised this week that something else happened around the same time these spells came on- and that was that I came off the pill and thus stopped controlling my natural hormone cycles, which I’ve since learned are naturally fucked.
‘Fatigue’ is a funny symptom to relate to, we all get a bit tired sometimes don’t we? Yes we do. But there is tired and there is tired, and I’m starting to think that my fat lazy days might be related to my misfiring uterus. Fatigue is a consistent symptom with endo sufferers, and you can understand why it might gain less attention as one of the far less gruesome ones. And it’s also easy to lump in with a reaction to endo, rather than a part of it. After all, endless cramps and bleeding are an absolute drag, anyone would get tired of that in the way you get tired of a whiney partner or those bastard neighbours who insist on keeping a cockerel. But it seems like this is symptom in itself rather than a reaction to putting up with the more dramatic ones- it is most accurately described by sufferers as ‘endo fog’. I can’t stand to sit and count up how many times when I was in my pre-pill early 20s I saw the Dr complaining of feeling fluey and devoid of energy. I was told to take vitamins, diagnosed with depression and advised to get to bed early. Those who knew me referred to me in varying levels of kindess as moody, miserable, slow and lazy. A hormone fog never crossed my mind.
I’ve had an unpleasant experience the last two weeks. Constant bloating and digestive problems with a side of migraines and the kind of bone dragging tiredness that rules out anything other than laying on the sofa all day watching Jai Courtney films (this is not as idyllic as it may sound, dude has been in some serious howlers). I broke on Tuesday, having to leave work early to go home and go more or less directly to bed with my hot water bottle. A 15 hour sleep followed, broken only to ring in sick to my boss. When I finally got myself up I made it as far as the sofa to drink some tea and watch some TV before going back to an early bed for another long sleep. I was still knackered and in a lot of pain and continued to be so for almost another two days. At some point last night, my stupid period finally decided it was going to bugger off again after running way past its usual stay. I went to bed at my usual school-night time with a hot water bottle on my stupid belly and woke up this morning freakishly easily.
And I feel good.
I don’t know if it is just comparative to the time spent having the proverbial painters in, but I always feel noticeably good for a couple of days after my period ends. I got up this morning, I made myself pretty and I got to work early. I’ve made it past lunch on only one coffee and I don’t want to sleep, cry or stab anyone. Yet. I am kind of hungry, possibly because it’s Friday, possibly because I’ve spent the last ten days existing on pre packed salads and anything-on-toast. But I feel good and I Can Be Arsed again. I’ve had a good morning in the office, I’ve written a blog and I’m looking forwards to cooking a decent Friday night dinner then enjoying a super secret surprise birthday party tomorrow.
I can be arsed to plan a weekend and I’m not worried about being so deflated and sleepy that I can’t stand to turn a light on. At worst, this will last only another three weeks but it isn’t an every-month symptom for me and certainly not to the extent I have suffered this week. I wont go as far as to say I’m happy to have seen the links and be able to put this away as another symptom, but it does bring some relief to have a reason. I’m not just fat/lazy/mentally unbalanced, although fine yes I am often all of these things, but you know what I mean. Endo-Fog might suck but it’s a thing, and it’s so much better to know that something is a thing and not just another terrible unknown to get anxious about.