Saturday, May 25, 2013

Welcome to 25

Today is my 25th birthday!

I have now reached that last bastion of adulthood. I can hire cars without having to pay exorbitant extra fees for being young. Handy, since by the time you read this I will be en-route to Europe where I will be hiring cars to take me around France and Italy.

Apparently this is what I have to look forward to:

After reading that article, I assume that this is what I will be like now that I'm in my mid-twenties:

Just kidding.
(I love Schmidt!)

I'm looking forward to the adventures that 25 will have to offer. I have high hopes!

On that note, I'm over and out for a month. Not sure if I will be posting while in Europe - we'll see if the mood hits me and whether that co-incides with me having wifi. Otherwise, see you at the end of June!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

It gets better

This week, this PostSecret really struck me. I remember reading things like this when I was in deep in the bowels of my depression, when the endometriosis treatment wasn't working either and I just wanted to give up. I remember thinking that whoever wrote these things didn't know what they were talking about, that things couldn't possibly get better when you felt that wretched with no one to help you. I remember the light of the end of the tunnel growing dim and eventually going out. I honestly didn't believe that things were ever going to get better. I thought I was going to be in that much pain and that unhappy for the rest of my life. I saw it getting worse too. I couldn't get myself out of that mindset. It is so difficult to see the light when you are in that dark place.

Part of the reason I have been so happy for the last couple of months is because of the lack of pain and fatigue I have had. The other day I got my first taste of sharp pain in about six or so weeks. It hit me when I was walking down the stairs at work and I had to stop and hunch over because it felt like someone was pulling a thread through my abdomen and tightening it, not allowing me to stand up straight from the sharp pain. Having six weeks pretty much pain free put me under the illusion that I'd mastered my illness. I know that I need to keep in mind that my endometriosis is still there, even when I have the good weeks, but it still comes as a surprise when it happens, because it can happen anytime, anywhere.

To be honest, I am a little scared about this European holiday. I wonder if I am taking on more than my body can handle. I worry about the fact that my period is due to hit exactly when I'm going to be on a long haul flight between London and Seoul, with no access to a hot water bottle, so I'm going to have to resort to some powerful drugs that I haven't used in about a year if the pain gets too bad. I'm hoping that I have another pain free period (well, with my regular drugs) like my last one, but I need to be prepared as well.

Even if it turns out that this holiday is too much for my body, I know that I have been through this before. I have an excellent psychologist, even if my GP is on maternity leave, so I have that support. I've also gotten to the stage (thanks to my psychologist and GP for believing in me and coaching me) that I now believe that if I do get burnt out, I will be able to coach myself back out of the hole. I don't want to spend my youth having to avoid taking chances and having experiences just because I'm worried that they will backfire and I won't be able to cope.

It's been a slow change. I've been seeing my psychologist for about nine months, I've been on anti-depressants for seven, and I've been Mirena-free for five. These were all steps I had to take to get here. It's cumulative and can sometimes seem glacial in speed. But it pays off eventually.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Thankful Thursday

This will be me running out of work on Friday.
My trip

I leave on Saturday. I'm kinda freaking out. But so excited. A whole month off work and any other responsibility. It's been years since I had that kind of freedom.


Our Eurovision party got on TV via Twitter!
In the last few years I've had a lot of trouble looking at friends who were getting married or buying houses and being jealous of their security, or somehow feeling like I was falling behind, even if I didn't necessarily want any of those things for myself at the moment. This year I have definitely changed my tune - I'm happy with the pace my life is at, and I have security in other things. I'm loving how unpredictable and fun my life is at the moment. So many memories to savour being created recently.

Personal development (do I sound like a public servant or what?) + possibility

I went to the doctor last Friday to get a repeat of my antidepressant medication and they tried to bully me into going on SSRIs (a different kind of anti-depressant) even though what I'm on at the moment (Valdoxan) is working really well for me. Who knows their motivations for trying to change a treatment that is working and side effect free, but the point is that last year a doctor's visit like that would've put me in such a state that I wouldn't have been able to go back to work for the rest of the day (I basically wouldn't have been able to stop crying). This year, well, I did go into the car park and cry for about fifteen minutes out of frustration for the fact that I'd just paid $80 to be belittled, but then I just let it slide off me and I went back to work. I'm so much more resilient. I feel like there are so many possibilities for my future, and not in an overwhelming way.

This whole experience of having endometriosis, depression and anxiety has definitely changed me for the better, and even though I wouldn't have chosen this path, I'm thankful that I've been able to change a negative to a positive and end up better off than before.

I feel like I'm heading into extra corny territory now, but I heard Unwritten by Natasha Bedingfield for the first time in awhile yesterday and I think it pretty much captures my attitude to life at the moment.

I honestly just can't believe how consistently good I have felt for the last couple of months. There is a light of the end of the tunnel with depression after all...

The Secret Life of Samara

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Travelling gluten free

If I've been a little quiet over here, it's because I am crazy busy getting ready for my month long trip to Europe & South Korea that I leave for on SATURDAY! I actually have quite a few things I'd like to write about but I just don't have the time at the moment if I want to make the most of my trip. Expect a deluge of posts later.

Anyway, in the mess of booking things and making sure I am stocked up on all the meds I need, I've realised something. Since I haven't travelled that much so far this year (by my standards), I've forgotten that one of the hardest things about travel for me is not being able to eat the food I usually eat. I'm always shocked by how abnormal my normal diet is in Western countries. Even before I started consciously limiting my gluten and dairy intake, I never liked things that had lots of cheese or wheat in them - like creamy sauces or pasta. I even make my pizza without cheese. (I think it tastes better, but it could just be that it makes me feel better!) I generally eat curries and rice as my staple anyway, so it's a shock to me to have pasta more than once a year. I know that on this trip I will be eating at least a little bread, pasta and pizza in France and Italy (I have to try it!), but I'm planning on keeping it to a minimum.

So for my seasoned gluten-free friends out there, what are your tips for travelling gluten free? I've already put in my special orders for plane food, do you have any other tips? I really don't want to spend the flight from London to Seoul curled up in the foetal position and freaking out my fellow passengers with my moaning (it happens to coincide with my usual peak pain days...).

I think that my hardest meal will be breakfast, as at the moment at home I just have a banana and a muesli bar if I'm still hungry (usually I'm not) and I don't think that will be too easy to come by amongst all the pastries. What do you eat for breakfast?

Also, if you haven't seen this you need to watch it. Eurovision in a song.

(I think Huffington Post's headline explained it all: Romania Sent A Superman Villain To Conquer Eurovision 2013 With Dubstep Opera)

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Thankful Thursday

Impromptu visit to Adelaide

On Tuesday I had a flying visit to Adelaide for a work promotional presentation. Not only was preparing the promotional presentation a great way to reflect on and be thankful for the last two and a half years in my job and all the good things it has brought me, but it was also great to be back in the town that I've spent 11 years of my life in, even if it was only for 24 hours. As a kid growing up all over the world I never felt like I had a hometown, and I think I will always feel like my heart is split in a million different directions when it comes to where I feel is home. However, somehow Adelaide has wiggled in there and taken up a little bit more room than all the other places. I'll always have a special kind of love for that creative, homely, gorgeous little city.

Country music

There's a special part of my heart that flies whenever I listen to country music. Maybe it's the American in me, but it's like a little three and a half minute holiday every time I listen to it. No other musical genre can celebrates such blind faith that life will be ok and joy in the little things in quite the same way. This week I discovered that one of my favourite pop country bands has just released a new album. I'm excited to play it loudly and torture my housemates who both detest country music. (It's the rule of the game - I listen to their music, they listen to mine. Compromise = a happy household.) The last three songs on the album are my favourite.

My table of love

This is what I have nicknamed the chalkboard table in our living room for the week. Three separate groups of friends have come over and written variations of "We love Libby" on the table. It's hard to be grumpy when you get home from work and see that table!

The availability of gluten-free food

Adventures in gluten and dairy-free cooking - adapting My Happy Dish by using gluten-free risoni and omitting cheese. The red onion, garlic and chicken stock offer more than enough flavour. Delicious!
I feel so lucky that there are so many gluten-free options to some of my favourite foods. I slip up on my gluten-free diet more than I should, but it is definitely making a difference endo-wise, and I'm thankful that it hasn't been too horribly difficult to adopt. (Wheat-based foods and large amounts of dairy just join the list of foods I can't have when people offer them to me - this list used to consist of coffee and large amounts of peanuts and not much else.)

Feeling like I'm exactly where I need to be at this time in my life.

I feel like I have said this in every single Thankful Thursday post for the last few weeks. But seriously. I haven't felt this kind of peace in a long time. It's just so good.

  The Secret Life of Samara

Thursday, May 9, 2013

It's a [bloody] miracle!

I apologise for the pun in the title, but I just had to use it!
Warning: if you can't tell by the title, this post is about bloody details of my period, so if you don't want to know, then skip it. Can't say I didn't warn you.

Yesterday was the first day of my period. And there was no sign at all of my usual excruciating cramps.

For women without endo, this is probably no big deal, but for me it's a freaking miracle.

I can't remember the last time I've had a pretty much pain-free day one of my period. If it has happened to me before, it would have been many, many, years ago.  My last period started in a similar way, but "the dream" came crashing down 20 minutes later when I found myself writing in bed in pain and calling my parents and best friend to distract me while the drugs kicked in. They ended up taking quite a long time to kick in and only partially helped when they did (enough to make me able to stop doing labour-breathing and hobble to the kitchen and make a hot water bottle).

So this time I didn't take any chances, at the first sign of blood I doped myself up on Ponstan and Panadol (and Tranexamic acid - seriously, that stuff saves me so much money in feminine hygiene products and bleach!), and this time, the drugs actually worked! Nothing but a little rumble that came and went and was easily fixed by a heat pack (although I could definitely tell when I needed to take my next dose of drugs as they wore off). I went to work with the biggest smile on my face. My co-workers asked me what I was so happy about, and I explained that what was happening was basically a miracle. They said to me that they had never seen a woman on the first day of her period so happy before. One of my co-workers even gave me a high-five. (We may overshare in our office just a little bit...)

I still was pretty bloated and uncomfortable with the usual weird guts (hello stretchy tights and loose dresses!), but seriously, I just cannot believe that this month I didn't have to writhe around in pain (let's hope it doesn't hit today!) And I haven't had the crazy back spasms this month yet!!!!!

So I'm trying to figure out what it is that I'm doing that may have produced this miracle. Maybe it's just a complete fluke, but there are a few things that I've been doing differently this month. I've cut down on wheat a lot. Not completely, as I suck and have no self control, but I can count the number of times I have had wheat this month on one hand, and it's never been a huge amount (apart from when I had pancakes... that didn't end well). I also had a massage on Wednesday which probably helped. I've been doing fairly regular exercise, although not as much as I was doing in January and February (and it didn't seem to make a difference then). I've had pretty much no dairy at all, except for lactose free milk. So, I'm going to try and be consistent and keep doing the things I'm doing to see if next month I can avoid the uterus gremlins again. (Good luck to me avoiding wheat and dairy in France and Italy... hmmm.)

I know that technically, I used lots of drugs and so it was not really a "pain free" period, but the fact that the drugs actually pretty much got rid of the pain is a huge improvement. Usually the drugs just stop me from sobbing in pain.

PS I'm not saying that minimising wheat/dairy is working for me, or works for everyone, I'm just so incredibly happy that it seems to have made a difference for me that I'm going to keep going.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Thankful Thursday

Life lessons

If 2013 has taught me anything so far, it's that:

and that I should:

I've learnt these lessons the hard way more than a few times this year when I have missed out because I was too scared to act at the time. Even though the way that some situations have ended up because of this has not been ideal, I'm still so very thankful for the lessons. New resolution (since I seem to have achieved pretty much everything I resolved at New Year already!!) - take more risks!!

I'm also so glad that I am strong enough to take risks again. For a long time there I just couldn't do it, because if the risk didn't pay off, I would end up in a spiral that I couldn't get out of. I'm so glad that this year I am in a better place.

Good friends

I had a really fun night out with a good friend on Friday. She just got married, and is now getting back into completing her PhD, so I haven't been able to spend much time with her recently. She is someone who isn't afraid to take risks (sensing a theme?), stand up for herself or just have a good time. (Friday night ended with us singing Counting Crows with a busker - how many people would do that with you?) She inspires me to be silly, and to be myself. Also, every time I get down and think that I don't have any friends in Canberra, I really should just pinch myself and remember all the wonderful people I've met here.


In preparation for my upcoming Europe/South Korea trip, my brother, mum and I have been in pretty much constant contact planning away. I'm so glad that even though my mum is 1160 km away in Adelaide and my brother is 17000 km away in France, we can still easily plan using apps like Facebook Messenger, Viber, Skype and email on our phones. It makes everything so much easier. I remember when I went to the US in 2006 for six months - I talked to my family one time when I was over there - a short phone conversation on my 18th birthday. My brother has been in France since the end of January and I've pretty much talked to him at least every other week on Skype, not including all the time we spend messaging. Oh what a difference 7 years makes.

Good feedback

One particular project at work has been very frustrating. I have been trying and trying and trying to get some feedback on some materials that I have prepared, and I have hit dead ends every time. There were also some mis-understandings and basically, it just wasn't very fun. This week I got a long email from a person from an outside organisation with lots of constructive and encouraging feedback. I'm so glad someone took the time to look over something that I really care about and give me feedback so that it can be the best it can be.

The Secret Life of Samara

Monday, May 6, 2013

Endometriosis and social media

I'm so thankful that I was diagnosed with endometriosis in the age of the internet and social media. It puts you as the patient in a much better position in terms of access to information about your condition and the power to make better informed decisions. It also unites sufferers in a way like never before. Now, when you're curled up in bed in pain, you can access other people in the exact same situation as you and find comfort in that. For chronic illness, something that can be quite isolating, social media makes everyone more connected.

As a social media user it can also be quite confusing. It's taken me a little while to find the blogs and groups that supported me and didn't leave me feeling worse than before. Some groups can make you feel belittled, or worse, hopeless, and it's important to find the groups that work for you. The following is a quick summary of the social media that I use the most in relation to endometriosis, in case people out there are looking for something to start from.


I have liked this on Facebook and it comes up in my feed. It means that I am always up to date with all the latest research and articles about endometriosis. They also have a Diet & Nutrition Subgroup and a Fitness Subgroup which are worth joining. They are closed groups so you can feel safe knowing that they are moderated and not everyone can see what you write (good when you're talking about some of the more personal aspects of endometriosis). They are two of the more supportive diet and exercise related groups that I have found out there (when it comes to nutrition in particular, it is actually quite a minefield.)

This started as a Yahoo email group which I am also part of, but has since evolved into a Facebook group (which I find easier to use). It's full of lovely Australian women with endometriosis who are supportive and very very active in posting at the moment. It again is a closed group which is useful when tampons and bowels are common topics of conversation that you probably don't want splashed all over your friends' Facebook feeds. Another good Australian based group is Endometriosis Australia discussion group. The great thing about these groups is that you can post whatever problem you have at the moment and you can bet that at least one person has gone through what you are going through. This was particularly helpful to me when I was going through depression and anxiety related to the Mirena and my doctor was denying that it could be related.


I've written previously about my favourite endo blogs, but you can also check out the side bar for other endo blogs I follow.


I've found a few good endometriosis boards on Pinterest - some because they featured me (so flattering that people think my blog is good enough to pin!). My favourite is here. I also follow these ones here, here and here. Pinterest is one of the ways that I find new endo blogs, and I love that it is generally a really positive environment. It's also a great source of endo-friendly recipes, although you never do know how well it will turn out with Pinterest - just have to try and see! (My Pinterest account is

Twitter & Instagram

Personally I don't use Twitter and Instagram very much for endo related things. I like to keep my Instagram to a limited number of friends that I can share personal things with, and I find it difficult to keep to the 140 characters that Twitter requires. However, I know that many women with endo have found Twitter to be an incredible resource, so use the hashtags #endo or #endosisters and see what you can find!

And a final reminder - be smart with social media. If something doesn't sit right with you, then trust your instinct. Don't get sucked in when people tell you that they can cure endo (particularly if they want you to pay a price for it over the internet). These forums are filled with ordinary women, not doctors, so it's always good to find a good doctor if you can. Take this information that you've learnt and discuss it with them. I don't believe that endometriosis treatment ends with the medical profession though, as clearly they haven't found a cure yet. So it's worth checking out what works for other people to see if it works for you.

PS If you live in the UK and work, check out TULIP. It's the Trade Union for Long-Term Illness and Pain, started recently by a woman with endometriosis. I wish we had something like this in Australia!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Thankful Thursday


Canberra's gorgeous scenery

Canberra has just been showing off lately. She's pretty stunning in any season, but she really shows her true colours in Autumn (har de har). It's hard not to be thankful when I am surrounded by such beautiful colours every day.

Late night adventures

Sometimes it sucks being single and living in a city away from your family and many of the people that you love. Other times, you find yourself at 12:30 am on a Wednesday night, after a night of fun dancing, at a relatively new friend's house eating delicious South Indian curry made by her, and it's awesome. You think - this is what I dreamed about when I was a teenager - having the freedom and the money and the confidence to go and do whatever I want. (I'll think about how much I'm going to dislike Wednesday night Libby when I'm totally rundown later).

Wintery clothes

I have just bought a whole bunch of new awesome tights and I'm so excited that I've been able to wear many of them this week and change up old outfits. It's not yet cold enough for me to get grumpy because I turn into an ice cube in the walk from my bed to the shower in the morning, but it's just cold enough to make it fun to get dressed in the morning because I get to try out new colour combinations. (I'm easily pleased.)

The good weeks

I'm feeling the onset of my PMS and bad endo weeks at the moment (I have a ratio of 2 bad weeks to 3 good weeks at the moment). While I curse these weeks whenever I have them (as I am surprised by how bad they are every time I have them with my lovely memory of a goldfish), I am grateful that I have these good weeks. Not everyone gets weeks where they feel pretty much normal. I definitely didn't have many normal weeks last year.

The Secret Life of Samara
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