Byron Bay 2012. So happy. Perfect day. 2 hours after this photo was taken I was in agony, bawling my eyes out in the bath tub, cancelling dinner reservations and wondering if I needed to go to hospital… all because of Endometriosis. But at that time, I had no idea. I often think now about the things I’d say to my 21 year old self.
At 21 I was studying at UTS, interning at Mamamia, waitressing at a restaurant (both jobs that I loved) and flatting in Bondi. I was having a lot of fun but also feeling extremely unwell. Despite what my life looked like through the filtered lens of social media, offline I was a very sick, anxious girl. I was always tired and always in pain.
The pain came in a variety of flavours: pelvic pain, period pain, back, hip, glute, abdominal, migraine… and searing, stabbing, grinding, ripping Endo pain. But back then I didn’t have the right words to describe it. I didn’t have a name for it. I’d never even heard of it. It would be another 6 months before I was diagnosed with Endometriosis.
I took this photo while I was perving on all the sparkly spangly things at my photo shoot for Cosmo on October 14. Sadly none of them were meant for me so I just drooled and fantasised about being a modern bridal-wear model dripping in sequins and fluffed with fur coats while I sat on the couch waiting until it was my go. (There was a real model before me which pissed me off royally because I knew I’d look like even more of a dick trying incredibly hard to look totally natural. Bitch.)
Time for makeup. I was very excited to see what I’d be styled in and how many different outfits I’d get to try which is hilarious in hindsight because I was given a plain white singlet to throw on for a single head-shot. What a dick. Thinking I was gonna get some sort of fashion spread like I was Kate bloody Moss or something HA! I’m still baffled by my unbridled self-indulgence in that moment – what on earth was I thinking? As I had one squinty eye on the model pose pose posing while my hot pink lippy was applied and my eyebrows were coloured in, I watched my glossy 6-page-spread vision droop and deflate like a sad penis on a cold day.
Today, Mum and I attended a special event at the Mamamia office. (Doing our best to rep EndoActive and our cause wherever we can) The Hon. Julia Gillard came in for a Q and A session about her recently released autobiography, ‘My Story’ and to answer questions from Mamamia readers. She was interviewed by Mamamia’s Editor in Chief – Jamila Rizvi, while a select few (about 40 staff and us) got to sit very close and watch. What a privilege. She spoke so candidly and honestly about a whole range of topics; her life before, during and after being Prime Minister, gender issues, education, policies & politics, that WONDERFUL misogyny speech (which I remember watching live during Question Time while I was interning at Mamamia, on the telly with a room full of women standing, cheering and applauding – it was beyond amazing) and a whole bunch of other stuff.
Here we are at a family wedding just a few months ago. I love this photo. My daughter looks happy and healthy. I don’t look too wrinkly.
But halfway through the reception someone tapped me on the shoulder: “Your daughter’s lying on the floor in the bathroom. I think she has to go home.”
She was diagnosed with Endometriosis a couple of years ago, but that was my first experience of how suddenly and brutally Endo can take her from the party to the pits. A few weeks later she was in hospital for her second surgery in less than two years. She’s unlucky to be at stage 4 – the most severe – and she’s only 23.