coming out

Open letter to CNN, Nadia Kounang & Dr Scott Sullivan Re: Your article on Endometriosis

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Dear CNN, Nadia Kounang and Dr Scott Sullivan,

Yesterday my absolute hero, Lena Dunham, did something incredible for Endometriosis. She got the world talking about it. Dunham announced that she’s been forced to pull out of the promo tour for her hit TV series GIRLS due to an Endo flare-up. I was heartbroken for Lena. But, as the Co-founder of EndoActive – an Endometriosis Activism Group – I was grateful and proud that she had shared this information on social media and thrilled that the media had picked up on it. Any publicity for Endo is good publicity, right? Wrong.

I am absolutely horrified by what you, CNN, have published. You had not only an opportunity to report on an under-publicised, insidious disease that is destroying lives and desperately needs to be taken seriously, needs attention and needs funding but you had a responsibility to report factual, evidence-based research supported by compassion, care and a positive message. To my horror and the horror of the thousands of women I represent, you have grossly missed the mark and published instead an unsavoury, chauvinistic, factually incorrect, medically and morally irresponsible piece of writing that helps no one and in fact undoes so much of the hard work that EndoActive and so many others are doing daily.

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Chattin’ to men in suits about pelvic pain. At a cocktail party.

 

Me & Prof. Lorimer Moseley of University of South Australia

Me & Prof. Lorimer Moseley of University of South Australia

 

This is the second installment of Chattin’ to Blokes about shit you never thought you’d be chattin’ about in just a couple of weeks. It was once again an unexpected but uplifting experience. It reminded me of the night I wound up talking to a group of boys about period pain at the pub not long ago. You can read about that here.

On Tuesday my Mum / Co-founder of EndoActive and I flew to Melbourne for the launch of the Pelvic Pain Foundation of Australia. Before we arrived at the launch we were feeling quite out of place and a little nervous that we wouldn’t know anyone. Cocktail parties are for mingling and there’s only so many wines you can quietly inhale and only so many paintings you can point and nod at before someone notices that you’re the Nigel hogging all the canapés.

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Chattin’ with boys about period pain. At the pub.

FYI not the boys from the pub in this story but they still get to hear me bang on about Endo

It was just your average Friday night. I ventured out to a pub in Chippendale to have a coupla with me mates after a mental week at EndoActive HQ. It was there that I wound up talking to a bunch of dudes about periods. Oh yes.

The days surrounding the official launch of Visanne were frantic with media and publicity stuff going on while Mum and I tried to juggle conference organising with writing articles and prepping ourselves to talk to camera. Funnily enough, we were not prepared in slightest for the public reaction to the release of Visanne. For us, the news that Bayer had said yes came months ago and we didn’t wake up to the fact that March 3rd would be so significant. Being the total rookies that we are, we didn’t prepare anything and it wasn’t until the day before that we realised what a big deal it would be.

We spent all day Tuesday co-writing an article for the Guardian. Then, they told us they wanted to film us reading our article to camera instead. We stayed up till midnight re-working our article into a script and sticky-taping our lines onto cue cards for the morning. It was such a mad rush but 2 days later, this video was released online.

You can watch the awareness piece Mum & I did for The Guardian here.

(I can’t help cringing the whole way through that thing. I look like a baby boy deer caught in a headlight. But vanity and hypercriticism aside, I’m proud of the overall message.) So as I was walking through the pub courtyard, this guy stopped me and said, “Hey aren’t you the girl from that video on the net? It was about En…..do….metriosis?” I was excruciatingly embarrassed.

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This is why I’m out and proud

IMG_3035Today I had my first grown-up job interview. (Years of cruising into bar jobs aren’t quite the same). But just six months ago I was miserably contemplating a life of unemployment. I had started to listen to the shitty little voices in my head, needling away, telling me that nobody would want me because I had Endo. I couldn’t see past my next doctor appointment. I knew that I had a strong work ethic, a mind that craved stimulation and good values to offer, but I was losing confidence.

Going public about having Endo was a big decision and one which I knew could have ramifications for me in the future. I wasn’t sure if ‘outing myself’ was the smartest move if I wanted a career. Would anyone hire me if they knew I had a chronic illness? I had the opportunity to remain anonymous. Instead, I chose to put myself out there – full name, full disclosure, total transparency. Despite the perceived risks, to me it was a no-brainer. How could I express the importance of public awareness about endo and encourage others to do the same while hiding my identity? It would be a total contradiction.

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