Katie McIntosh loves exploring new places, tasting different food, and supporting local businesses. She shares her travel tips to help others create the experiences they dream about.
I’m grateful for my chronic disease.
Does that sound crazy? Maybe it is. Maybe I am a little crazy to be grateful for such a big hurdle. But, grab a coffee and give me a minute to explain why, and why I encourage you to appreciate your hurdles too.
Endometriosis is a chronic and incurable disease that made a home in my body. The symptoms differ from person to person, but some of them include severe pain, exhaustion, severe bloating, brain fog, and infertility to name a few. All the fun stuff right?
To be honest, it’s just plain hard. Getting through an average day can be a marathon. And as with many invisible illnesses, you look “normal” on the outside, while your body wages war on itself behind the scenes - another good reminder to be kind to others since you never know what someone else may be going through. Since it is an incurable disease, there is no end to it. All you can do is manage the symptoms as best you can, while knowing that food, stress, or even exercise can trigger a painful flare up.
Why would anyone be grateful for such a life? Why would anyone want to live in severe pain?
To put it simply, I think life is what you make it.
Your mindset matters more than anything you will experience - good or bad. You don’t always get a choice in what happens to you, whether that is a disease, a break-up, miscarriage, a bad boss, tragedy, undesirable living situation, or anything else. There is a lot that we have to deal with that is outside of our control. However, we absolutely control how we react to it.
When I was first diagnosed with Endometriosis, I noticed that many of the support pages had a focus of ‘feel sorry for me’. The majority of the time they spoke with a victim mentality about how hard life was and how they had to resign to a life of pain pills and resting on the couch. None of them spoke with a message of empowerment, or about how to overcome it, and nobody came close to speaking about living to the fullest with the disease.
I knew immediately that there was no way I was going to encourage that mindset within myself and I certainly didn’t plan on suddenly giving up and watching life pass me by. Since I couldn’t find the type of empowering messages I wanted to hear, I decided to share them myself. I had a travel blog and began to open up and weave my story of life with Endometriosis into my travel content. I am a solo travel blogger and have been to countries from Egypt to Estonia and South Africa to Sri Lanka. I’ve swum alongside Humpback whales in Tonga, watched WrestleMania at ringside in the US, seen desert waterfalls in Morocco, and hiked throughout the Italian Alps. I’m proud to have been able to show that you don’t have to throw in the towel just because you have a chronic disease.
Having Endometriosis has been and always will be hard, but I think it’s important to actively look for the positives in everything and to seek out ways the situation can help you to grow and improve. I’m grateful because it has shown me how strong I am. To be able to push past pain and accomplish what I have makes me feel like a badass and gives me confidence that I can overcome anything. To defy the stereotypes of Endometriosis and write my own story has given me encouragement that it’s OK to be different. And, most importantly, since I think the real mark of our legacies is the impact we have on others, I’m very grateful to have been able to connect with others who have the same or similar disease.
Having Endometriosis is a pain, but I’ve turned it into my superpower. I encourage you to do the same with your life’s hurdles. They might slow you down, but don’t let them stop you.
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