Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Musings {01-05-2013}

Here's some happy happenings of late so I don't end up ranting about how I wish PMS didn't exist and how I'm dreading the next week and a half.


This is what it looks like when you order a black bean vege burger without the bun because you're trying to go wheat free to improve your endo symptoms. Deliciously messy. (From Shorty's - the new cafe in Civic.)



D. finally snapped tonight after watching me struggle to explain the disease for the umpteenth time and said, quite bluntly, “Think of it as cancer without the cancer.” Endometriosis is terribly invasive; it feeds on estrogen and burrows deep into the pelvic organs. It has even been known to grow on other organs, such as the kidneys, lungs, and brain in more severe (and admittedly, rarer) cases. It is incredibly painful, and the level of pain experienced by the sufferer is not always proportional to the disease’s stage. And while the growths are benign, the disease causes a host of other health problems along the way in addition to wreaking emotional havoc on the sufferer and her loved ones.

...my primary problem with this Dove ad is that it’s not really challenging the message like it makes us feel like it is. It doesn’t really tell us that the definition of beauty is broader than we have been trained to think it is, and it doesn’t really tell us that fitting inside that definition isn’t the most important thing. It doesn’t really push back against the constant objectification of women. 

With each incursion, I am struck by how these people seem to consider my breasts to be items for consumption or amusement, rather than essential parts of my self; every time, I find myself thinking that I must learn to make concessions in the way that I dress or behave to stop eliciting these reactions.

An interesting article to revisit in the wake of the recent Boston Bombings and all the Tumblr sites devoted to Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

and just for fun...



In the last few weeks I have finished Nine Parts of Desire by Geraldine Brooks and Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling. Yesterday I finished Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer. I'd been meaning to read it for ages and I'm so glad I did. The whole book was delicious. So many gorgeous quotes. Here's a few (there are plenty more where that came from):

"In bed that night I invented a special drain that would be underneath every pillow in New York, and would connect to the reservoir. Whenever people cried themselves to sleep, the tears would all go to the same place, and in the morning the weatherman would report if the water level in the Reservoir of Tears had gone up or down, and you could know if New York was in heavy boots."

"I spent my life learning to feel less.
Every day I felt less.
Is that growing old? Or is it something worse?
You can not protect yourself from sadness without protecting yourself from happiness."

"Sometimes I can hear my bones straining under the weight of all the lives I'm not living."

Now I can't wait to get into his other books - Eating Animals and Everything is Illuminated.



I've gotten majorly into cross stitch at the moment. It's addictive. A couple of weekends ago I managed to finish this one in under two days. Now I'm just looking for my next design...

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Endometriosis & Relationships

I started this post back around Valentine's Day when lovey dovey posts were filling my bloglovin feed [speaking of which... Google Reader is closing down if you couldn't tell by the thousands of other posts on it recently - follow me here on bloglovin instead]. I forgot about it for awhile, until the Blogging for Endometriosis Awareness social impacts theme, where I then edited it again, but then never got round to finishing it AGAIN. I decided to stop procrastinating and just publish it now, so here is my perspective on living, and dating, with endometriosis.


I am currently single. I have been "officially" single for awhile now. I have not seriously dated a new guy since I was diagnosed over a year ago. In the blogosphere, and even within the endo circles I know outside of the internet, that seems to be quite rare. I don't know any other single women with endometriosis. I know I can't be the only one out there, but sometimes it feels like I am! (If you are single with endo - please speak up!)

Despite the fact that being single removes some concerns that come with endometriosis (e.g. infertility, pain with sex/intimacy issues), it comes with its own challenges. No one to comfort you or give you a back massage when you're not feeling well, no default person to drive you to surgeries or the doctor, no one to make you a heat pack when you need one (thankfully my housemates step in for this one). Sometimes the fatigue can make it difficult to get the energy to get out there and meet new people, which definitely limits your chances of meeting a potential partner. You're probably going to have to explain to some guy that you may not know very well what is wrong with you quite early on. (Having unexpected back spasms so bad that you can't move and end up sobbing in pain forces that topic into conversation pretty quickly.) It also isn't too helpful when your doctor tells you that you should get pregnant in order to "treat" your condition (uh, HELLO, where am I supposed to procure a father? Also, no.) It also doesn't help too much when people tell you that you should settle down already because you're running out of time since endometriosis makes your biological clock tick that little bit louder.

No guy I have been on dates with since my diagnosis can claim ignorance to my condition. Since it affects many areas of my life, I tend to talk about it a lot, and so naturally it will come up in conversation fairly early with guys. I'm very open about all aspects of endometriosis, and a lot of the guys that I have brought it up with have been quite interested to hear how common it is. Some people might think that bringing it up so early is a bad idea and will scare guys off, but I think that if they are scared off by me merely mentioning it, then they probably can't handle actually living with it and we're both better off knowing that sooner rather than later. (The ones that think periods are gross are ruled out pretty quickly too.)

I've had supportive boyfriends and I've had less-than-supportive boyfriends. (Note - these stories are all pre-diagnosis.) One of my boyfriends thought that I was faking the cramps as a way to con him into spending more time with him. Safe to say that that relationship is now over.

However, he was not the only one.

I have had very decent guys turn into less-than-desirables when I've been in pain/dizzy. One time I got extremely dizzy and nauseous with cramps when out with a boyfriend. We were about to attend an event that he really wanted to go to (I did too). However, when I get these dizzy spells, the only solution for me is to go home and sleep for a few hours. I asked him to drive me the ten minute drive home before he went in to the event as I was worried about having a car accident if I drove. He was not happy with this idea and asked me to have a nap in the back of the freezing cold car while he went off and attended the event for a few hours. I understand that it was disappointing for him to have to miss part of the event, but I can tell you that no one is more disappointed than me when I have to miss out on entire events because of my health. (He did end up giving me a lift home and then returning to the event - he is a nice guy.)

I am not telling these stories to have a whinge, or to point the finger. I am telling them to explain the extra challenges that come with having endometriosis. The unpredictability and frustration of having endometriosis is difficult enough for me to cope with in my own head, I can't blame guys for not understanding it or being sympathetic straight away when they have not been raised to treat it seriously.

Dating a woman with endometriosis will most definitely come with sacrifices, but I think that dating anyone will come with sacrifices. The sacrifice that comes with dating a woman with endometriosis is more in your face and uncertain now, but I think it also has the potential to build a good foundation for a strong relationship by facing trials early.

As for being single with endometriosis, I believe that it has made me a stronger person. I know that I can face this without a partner and I hope that that knowledge will make me a better partner and patient in the future.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Thankful Thursday

Living in a peaceful society

Today I went to the ANZAC day dawn service at the Australian War Memorial here in Canberra for the second year in a row. It's freezing cold, but that only reminds me if that is the only complaint I have, then I should be thankful. It's easy to take for granted the safety I enjoy every day. I'm particularly thankful for Australian gun laws  because I have never had to worry or feel unsafe while at an Australian school or workplace. (I love this video).

A job that I love + great colleagues

Work has still been crazy - a lot of long days and late nights. But to be honest, (apart from a few hours today when I hit a wall), it hasn't felt too much like work. It's fun, I know it's for a good purpose and I have such great colleagues that the time really does fly. Tuesday night we had dinner at work, and while to some people that might seem fairly sad to have to work that late, I'm glad I have the community I have at work, with people who know the importance of the work we do and are really passionate about it. I'd take that over an easy, boring, short hour-ed, job any day. (It also helps that work isn't always like this.)

My colleague's husband also brought snacks in for us yesterday to spur us on, and he specially looked out for gluten free options to help me out on my wheat-free month mission. Way to make my day (no staring forlornly as everyone else digs in for me!)

Dreams of the future

I keep daydreaming about my trip to Europe & South Korea, which is now only about a month away. It's going to be awesome! I can't wait to catch up with my little bro and spend time with my mum.

Great housemates + a fun party + people's generosity

My housemates and I hosted a 90s themed party over the weekend. It was one of the best parties we have hosted and reminded me how much I love my house and housemates and how lucky I am to have found them.

Halfway through to the party there was an incident where three partygoer's cars had both curb-side tyres slashed (unheard of in our fairly posh suburb). This really sucked, but fortunately it has only brought out the good in people. A bunch of people have pooled together money to help out the people who have had to get their tyres replaced, and everyone was very cooperative with the police and lending a hand where it was needed. It really restores your faith in humanity when bad things happen and are met with generosity.


This week two much loved friends of mine have come to visit for a few days. I love catching up with old friends. I really do appreciate when people take the time, money and effort to come visit and I love showing everyone my life here in Canberra.

The Secret Life of Samara

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Depression, anxiety and endometriosis

courtesy of Hash
Lately I have been feeling so good (can you tell from all these happy posts???). I've still ended up crying in a heap more than a few times in the last few weeks, but I finally feel like my peppy self again.

This is a huge contrast to last year. Last year I was done. Completely sucked dry of all my life energy. I had absolutely zero self confidence and I cried every day. The depression and anxiety showed itself different ways - sometimes it manifested through insomnia and waking up with panic attacks, sometimes it was a mood so low that I had to leave work and sit and cry in the car for a couple of hours so as to not openly weep in front of everyone. For no reason at all. Sometimes I felt numb. Nothing at all. Sometimes I ignored calls, emails and text messages from those I loved the most because I just couldn't handle it. The thing that finally got me to the doctor was the insomnia, and the thing that finally got me to try anti-depressants was the crying every day (and my parents who were genuinely worried after I called them crying and incomprehensible every single day).

It was horrible. I hope I never have to go through that again. I couldn't write about it properly (particularly mentioning the anti-depressants) at the time because I didn't know how to. And I was scared. Somehow I was fine with shedding the stigma of endometriosis, but mental illness was a different matter.

But it shouldn't be. There was something terribly wrong with me, something sending me into a spiral that I was not coming out of. I was exhausted. I just wanted everything to stop for a while so I could just sleep and not have to experience the hell that was day to day life. I suddenly understood how people could commit suicide (a concept I had never empathised with before). I never actually went so far as to think seriously of following through on that (it helps that I'm a massive chicken - a good thing in this case), but I had no hope. I wanted to quit my job and cease to exist.

So what got me out of that spiral?

The first step was meeting with a psychologist. I tried a few out in the year before my diagnosis through a free work program with not much luck, but when the doctor told me that she thought I had depression and anxiety, I decided to bite the bullet and go with a private psychologist.

I'm so glad I did. She is amazing. I cannot sing her praises enough. She makes me feel fully accepted and not judged. She has validated my feelings and most importantly, taught me how to take care of myself. In some ways I'm glad that having endo ended up leading to some pretty deep depression, because I might not have learnt some of the seriously important life lessons that I've learnt so young.

Part of the reason she is so good is because she has endometriosis too. She knows exactly what I'm going through. She celebrates my highs with me, and is proud when I do things that create awareness around endometriosis. She also understands the lows, the unexpected pain attacks and the life-blood draining fatigue.

If you have endometriosis or some other chronic disease, I seriously recommend finding a psychologist with your same condition if possible. In general, they have so much more empathy than psychologists without the personal experience.

After meeting with the psychologist for awhile, I still found that I was having difficulties and crying all the time, even though I now had strategies to help. So I discussed this with my doctor and we decided together that it was time to try anti-depressants to help. I was put on Valdoxan, a new anti-depressant that works on the melatonin pathway (it helps you sleep). Within two weeks I had stopped crying every day, and I had more energy. It felt like magic. I'm still on them. I have more energy on them and feel more stable in general. The best thing about Valdoxan for me is that I still get the crazy high highs. This does mean that I still get fairly low lows as well, but I get out of them much easier than before. I've been on them for about 6 months now.

The last thing that seems to have made a difference is removing the Mirena. I've never done well on the Pill or any other outside hormones, and the Mirena definitely had an effect on me. Since it was removed in January, I no longer feel like I am falling deeper and deeper into a bottomless pit, with the light at the end of the tunnel growing smaller and smaller. I have hope. And it's the best thing in the world.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Thankful Thursday

Julia Roberts' smile = how big I wish I could smile right now.
First off - I just wanted to say again that this year has been amazing. Sure, it's had it's down times, and I'm actually having more endometriosis pain than last year, but for every down, there has been just as big an up. To be honest, last year was hell. For the first time in my life, I thought it was never going to get any better. I'm so glad that I've come out the other end.

Feeling settled in Canberra

After 2 years and 3 months I finally am feeling more settled in Canberra. It's been a little bit of a roller coaster ride, but I finally feel like I've got a good circle of friends and I don't feel like I'm floundering anymore.

Gorgeous weather

*Caveat: after 2 years and 3 months in Canberra, a day with a high of 21 and a low of 5 is now warm to me.

Also, autumn leaves. My favourite season in Canberra, and one of the reasons I am loving it so much right now.

Stimulating work

Work has been really busy for the last few weeks - a bunch of projects that I'm working on are now all coming together and the hard slog beforehand is coming to fruition. There is still quite a lot to do, but it's nice to see the beginnings of solid outputs! I can say that I feel like the luckiest girl in the world with my job at the moment - I've been working late nights but I don't even feel like I'm working. My colleagues rock my socks as well.

Talented friends

As seen in this post, my friend Hash took me out for a photoshoot on Saturday. It was fun and silly and a definite confidence boost. How could it not be with the talent he has?

New hobbies

This week I have tried out Women's Self Defence Hapkido classes and I started up Ceroc dancing again after two years. I forgot how much I loved dancing, and I'm looking forward to doing it a lot more. It's also really good to know some self defence moves so that I feel safer when I'm walking around at night.

The Secret Life of Samara

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Autumn Leaves

On Saturday afternoon, my talented friend Hash invited me to model for some autumn leaf shots. This was partly to help me out with something exciting coming up in the near future which I can't reveal yet, but all in good time.

Hash had already hunted around for some gorgeous trees in Canberra (not hard at this time of year) and then went about working his magic. I discovered I am pretty terrible model, and that I cannot pose without a massive smile on my face. (Not good if you want a variety of photos.) He still managed to get a whole bunch of awesome shots though, more of which you can see on his blog.

I wore one of my favourite autumnal outfits. This outfit is so comfortable, bright and fun. I kinda wish I had bought five of these cardies when I bought this one, since I wear it pretty much constantly. The world needs more coloured wool.

Dress: vintage, Bondi Markets
Cardigan: Gorman
Scarf: vintage
Earrings: vintage
Brooch: Under the Shade of the Bonsai Tree (free at the Big Hearted Business Conference) - there's another talent, she's got a lot of gorgeous jewellery

Linking up with:
Share your Style Saturday
What I Wore Wednesday

Monday, April 8, 2013

What it's like to have endometriosis: Medication

This is what I had for breakfast this morning.

2 Ponstan, 2 Panamax, 2 Cyklokapron, 1PMS Support, 1 krill oil tablet.


Not really. But it is a fact of life that having endometriosis does come along with a bunch of drugs. When I was a kid you couldn't get me to swallow a tablet, no matter what. My parents used to crush up these tiny anti-malaria tablets we had to take every week when we lived in PNG and I still wouldn't take it. Now I can pretty much swallow the whole handful above in one gulp.

All up, during my period and in the week before (minus the Cyklokapron when I'm not bleeding), my daily dosage looks like this:

6x 500mg Panamax (paracetamol), at four hourly intervals
6x 250mg Ponstan (mefenamic acid), at six hourly intervals

Antifibrinolytic (anti-anti-clotters aka how to stop the red river from overflowing)
6x 500mg Cyklokapron (tranexamic acid), at six hourly intervals

General anti-inflammatory support
1x 1000mg krill oil
1x PMS support (1000 mg chaste tree fruit, 500 mg black cohosh root, 2000 mg winter cherry root, 50 mg vitamin B6, 40 mg magnesium, 26 mcg chromium, 100 mg taurine)

1x 25 mg Valdoxan (aglomelatine)

It's a wonder I don't rattle when I walk.

When I don't have my period, or it's not the week leading up to my period, it is not that extreme. It whittles down to just daily krill oil, Valdoxan, and some paracetamol if I really need it.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Ok, so as I mentioned here, in May/June I will be going to France (particularly Avignon), Italy (particularly Cinque Terre & Milan), England (London area only) & South Korea (nuclear war permitting - particularly Seoul, but could do day/overnight trips if there is some kind of transportation involved).

So has anyone been to these places/lived in these places? Got some handy travel tips for me? What are the must-sees? What's overrated? Is there really only bread and cheese to eat in France? How do you deal with dietary restrictions while travelling?

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Musings {03-04-2013}

First of all, how is it April? How have the trees on my street already lost half their leaves?


Sometimes nothing satisfies more than the simplicity of bangers, mash & veg (even if I did spice up the mash with some sweet potato). Yum!


"It is true in my experience that all of humanity is generally compassionate towards young people with disease or injury; yet, this is not true of many of the young women who are disabled by pain from endometriosis."

This was in the Sydney Morning Herald last week!

"I promised to come over and bake her some cookies. I ended up staying for five hours to make her some food she could eat cold or reheat easily, tidy up her floors, get the dishes taken care of, and do a few other odds and ends."

"...of 287 bylines across 80 front pages, 70% belonged to men and only 30% to women. Of the 287 stories Stevenson read, only 22% of quotes sought came from women, meaning 78% of those people presented to the public as experts in their fields were men."

"I’ve had to be my own advocate every step of the way, researching and pleading, but I didn’t go to medical school, so all I have to go in is instinct, history, and the scary internet. Is that all doctors have, too? Why am I the one steering this ship?"

An alternate perspective, exposing how the media treats women who are raped.


I'm a latecomer to this show, I know, but I just finished the first season in a couple of weeks. To be honest, I had watched a couple of episodes before, and couldn't get over the sexist stereotypes, but I think that later in the season they start to wane. Anyway, it's so good! Maybe it's because it highlights all the good and not so good bits about share-housing. Maybe because it doesn't completely centre around the romantic relationships that the characters have, focussing more on the friendships between the characters. Maybe it's Jess' awesome wardrobe and glasses and the fact that sometimes she is actually quite a strong female character. Who knows. 
PS I have a not-so-small crush on Nick. The only thing that would make this crush bigger is if he got glasses.


A real eye-opener. I'll be honest - I didn't know the difference between Shiite and Sunni Muslims before I started reading this book.

Anyway, I'm off to watch Unsafe Sex in the City. Only the best in trashy British sex documentaries for my household. (Worst vice ever.)

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