How my endometriosis made me high

Last weekend, I was high. I did not take any drugs. Nor did I drink alcohol. But I was high. This is the feeling of being genuinely happy, like when life gave you another chance, like you could climb mountains, or like you could cry of relief. Yet, 2 hours before that I was laying on the floor of my flat, with my head in the toilet bowl, vomiting and experiencing a pain I thought would kill me. This is a feeling I had many times in the past. Welcome to my endometriosis world.

I study psychology. If you do too (and even if you do not), you may be thinking: she seems like a typical bipolar lady. One moment she is depressed and the next one she is a maniac. She’s got to take some drugs for it.

Well, that’s where it is wrong. I cannot deny that I sometimes have ups and downs. Yet, I am not bipolar. Yes, I was feeling like I was dying and 2 hours later I was dancing in my flat. But it was not because of any kind of mental disorder. I was high because the pain was gone.

When the pain is so strong that you cannot stand

Have you ever experienced intense pain? It is the kind of pain that makes you unable to do anything: work, talk, study, eat, call for help, or even stand. It happens to me from time to time. My pain comes from a disease called endometriosis. Although I am proud to say that I managed to “fix” the disease naturally over the years, I cannot deny that it never completely disappeared. I used to take a huge quantity of pills to handle the pain. Now I do not need them. At least, I almost do not.  

Last weekend, I wanted to put my body to the test. I wanted to see how far it could go without taking any pill. Most of the time, I know what to do and not to do to handle the pain. I learned it over the years. I know how to breathe to calm my body, I know what to eat and drink. More importantly, I know what NOT to eat and drink to minimize the pain.

How it all went wrong

As everything was going pretty well last weekend, I made one mistake. A silly one. But I paid a high price for it. What happened is that I drank a few sips of coffee. I never drink coffee. I do not even know why I was feeling like drinking coffee. Especially when I have my period. The idea could not have been worse, really. I knew coffee is one of the worst drinks to cause a flare of pain. But I thought a few sips would be alright. A few hours later, I started feeling a bit of pain. I thought I would handle it. I would not need pills. So I waited. That’s when it all went wrong.

There is something about pain and pills that is very asymmetrical. While a flare-up of pain can come as fast as an airplane taking off, the chemicals of a painkiller can work as slowly as a drunk snail on a palm tree leaf. In other words, the pain intensifies quickly while the pill works slowly. Way too slowly.

So it all happened again. I felt the pain stronger. I tried to control it as best as I could. But it was all too late. I knew that I would collapse again and that I would vomit again. I knew I would also enjoy wonderful and classy bowel movements. So, I did the child pose on the floor, hoping it would help. But I could not close my eyes as I felt nauseous. Then I ran to the toilet… lucky me I live in a 20 sqm apartment, the toilet is never far. I stuck my head in the toilet bowl, puked a few times and gave free way to my bowel movements. Then I laid on the floor and waited.

A long wait…

Unlike the other times, I had nobody to call for help. I was in France and my husband was in Thailand. Because I recently moved to this city, I do not have close friends here. At least, I was too ashamed to call anybody to explain that I may pass out sitting on my toilet bowl. Plus, my phone was a few meters away from me. That was too far out of reach. So I waited. I tried to meditate: “everything is impermanent, it will pass”, they say.

It did start to pass a bit. I dragged myself into bed. The pain was still there but I was in a safe place, in the warm comfort of my bed. I knew I would be alright. I just had to wait a bit longer.

…until I got high

A couple of hours later, it happened. The feeling of being high. I believe this was the moment when the painkiller won the battle over the pain. It was the calm after the storm. I do feel high in these moments. Not very high but the kind of tipsy feeling after drinking a beer or a glass of cider. Yeah, I do not need to drink much to feel a bit tipsy… At this moment I put my whole life into perspective. Anything could happen and I would handle it well and accept it. Anything was possible. Everything was beautiful.

This feeling of being high after an intense pain happened to me a few times. So I did a bit of research. Is it actually possible to feel high after an intense pain is gone? Or was it all in my head?

How was this even possible ?

Our bodies release endorphins during pain. The goal of endorphins is to reduce the feeling of pain and increase wellbeing. Endorphins act on the opiate receptors in the brain to lower the pain.

In my case, here is what I picture happened inside my brain. The head of the endorphin guys told its army: “okay guys, we have a situation here. It seems that there is a lot of pain going on in this body, around the uterus area. Let’s release the biggest endorphin army we have.” Maybe the endorphin army helped alleviate the pain, although I did not feel it at the moment. But when the painkiller managed to do its job, which is to kill the pain, the endorphin army was still fooling around with the opiate receptors. And there it was: I was high.

Okay, so my interpretation of what happened inside my brain might not be validated as such by actual scientists. I do not think they would scientifically approve of my story about the endorphin army fooling around with the opiate receptor guys… But I do not need a rocket science explanation here. At least I understand a bit better what happened inside my head AFTER the pain was gone. It was just a simple mess around between endorphins and opiate receptors.

What I learnt from this experience

This experience also reminded me of two important things :

  1. When you think you know your body well enough to manage the pain naturally… well sometimes you do not.
  2. When you trespass the rules that helped you heal a chronic disease, be sure that your body reminds you NOT TO FORGET THOSE FREAKING RULES THE NEXT TIME. My body made it clear. I won’t forget.

Endometriosis: a bit of positivity

I am aware this story is not a very positive one. Perhaps I should have published a text about how I managed to heal (for most of it) my endometriosis instead. That would have been more encouraging, wouldn’t it? Most women are told by their doctors that endometriosis does not go away, that it gets worse with time. I now know it is not true. Although I am aware endometriosis never really disappears (and I experienced it last weekend), I can assure you that it can get better naturally. As for me, practicing yoga and MOST IMPORTANTLY changing my diet, helped me improve my condition tremendously. Despite last weekend’s event, I hardly need painkillers anymore. I can live a pretty normal life while it has not always been the case.

So I make the promise that the next time I publish an article about my endometriosis story, it will be a positive one. Because endometriosis stories CAN BE (a little) positive.

Until then, Namaste… and do not drink coffee 😉

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