Happy Spoonie Sunday (slightly later than normal, sorry about that!). Today’s blog is another in our Chronically Creative series, which showcases and explores the relationships that creative Spoonies have between their illness and their art. However, this is an extra special one! To mark the start of Endometriosis Awareness Month, we‘ve got not one but two endo Spoonies together for the very wittily titled No Endo’ Creativity!
We‘ll let Hannah and Mikaela introduce themselves to you personally, but we just want to say a massive thank you to them for such honest and beautifully written posts! There’ll be links to all of their sites and socials at the ends of their respective pieces.
This post isn't the endo’ it either (Can you tell we love that pun?), there’ll be plenty more endo related content throughout the month, so whether you’re a sufferer or someone curious about the condition there’s going to be lots to keep you busy here in a The Village! So, without further ado, it’s on with the show!
Hannah - ladygabe.com
I’m grateful to my chronic illness, endometriosis, for putting me where I am now in life. Strange thing to say, I know, but bear with me here.
I am a self employed published Illustrator and writer, pursuing a creative career that brings me so much joy! I’ve illustrated for Disney, Jaguar Land Rover, Hotel Chocolat amongst many others. However, before I continue with my creative pursuits, I’ve got a little background on what brings me here today.
My Uterus and I were well acquainted quite early on in my teens. I remember the moment I got my first period like it was yesterday.
Getting ready for school, I parked my bottom on the loo and pulled down my white Tammy Girl knickers (when you know you know) to find a little splodge of blood. There it was, womanhood.
‘Muuuuum!’ I screamed from the tiny bathroom, ‘I’m bleeding!’
It was equal parts thrilling and terrifying. Luckily, my dear mother had been very open about the exciting aspects of puberty long before I was to be graced with mother nature’s menstrual miracle.
Of course I knew it would be painful at times, but nothing a good ol’ dose of paracetamol couldn’t cure. I was armed with a bag full of nappy sized pads and the fear I’d wet myself every time I coughed or sneezed. I was good to go to school and step into the next chapter of my life.
It was a privilege after all, to be a woman with a fully functioning uterus. I finally understood Britney Spears’ classic, ‘I’m not a girl, not yet a woman’. I was in that magical in between, how wonderful it was to be alive!
Well, as you’re reading this I’m sure you know that it wasn’t the happily ever after I’d hope for. I’m a spoonie after all!
My uterus and I began to fall out with each other pretty badly 6 months after that first joyful day. Endometriosis and I were not quite formally introduced until my early 20’s, after my first laparoscopic surgery, but the effects of Endo’s existence were painfully obvious in the intervening years.
If you’ve never heard of it before, Endometriosis is a condition where tissue similar to the lining of the womb starts to grow in other places, such as the ovaries and fallopian tubes. Or in my case the bowel, intestines, bladder, kidneys to infinity and beyond! Like Buzz Lightyear, but way cooler.
Over the years I’d find myself unable to move for days at a time, with only a sketchbook and a biro for entertainment. I’d pile the pillows around me to create a fortress of comfort (or as close to comfort you can get with 1,000 tiny ninjas stabbing at your ovaries) - and express my fears and frustrations through the doodles I’d create.
Like many invisible illnesses, you can find yourself feeling quite isolated. You question your sanity - “am I imagining this pain? I was perfectly fine 5 minutes ago!”
Nobody else can experience your pain for you, it is truly indescribable, which is why it is so hard to diagnose and discuss.
I’m now 30 years old, 4 surgeries and multiple cyst ruptures later, my relationship with my uterus is still rather rocky… but my method for escapism has never changed. Creativity with a pinch of satire is my way to express all the frustrations in my mind and my body.
Recently, I’ve taken to expressing myself very literally through digital web-comics all about endometriosis and similar chronic conditions. This new focus for my work came as a result of months of pain and swelling I couldn’t explain - pain my GP insisted was in my mind. After demanding a scan (it took 2 appointments), he relented and they found 2 medium sized cysts causing havoc.
Of course, the only way to react to this is humour. I named them.
Adolf Cystler and Darth Cystious.