Woman Shares Graphic Image Demonstrating Crippling Pain Of Endometriosis
Irish singer Ruth-Anne Cunningham enlisted a body-painter to draw barbed wire around her stomach, to highlight the pain she has experienced as a result of the disease, Ruth-Anne also had the words, "scars," "fatigue," "infertility," "pain," and "bloat" etched onto her skin, to demonstrate the unseen effect it was having on her life.
Alongside an image of her painted torso, and a video showing the artwork in more detail, The Vow singer wrote: "Just because you can't see it doesn't mean it doesn't exist.
"This is a very vulnerable post but on this International women's day I want to help visualise the pain that we, the 1 in 10 women with #endometriosis suffer daily with or throughout the month living with this chronic disease.
"This isn't for sympathy, it is to educate & create awareness. It's very hard to understand a disease that is internal that you can't see & throughout my endo journey at times I did not feel believed or I was made to feel dramatic or that it couldn't be as bad as I was saying cos I looked fine on the outside but it really is this bad.
"So me & my friend who is an amazing body paint artist & a fellow endo warrior @jemmalouisemua did this to help everyone really get a better visual understanding of the reality of this."
Speaking exclusively to Tyla, Ruth-Anne revealed her symptoms started for the first time aged 30, when she came off the birth control pill after 14 years.
"The pill had been masking and suppressing what was endometriosis growing inside my body," she said. "The pains went from every now and then to everyday for 3 weeks out of every month of a year and a half.
"I was crippled with pains and highly medicated on painkillers to get through my performances and my work commitments.
"I could barely walk sometimes and i literally would go from the bed to work and back to bed. My social life became non existent because I was always so exhausted and in too much pain to go anywhere other than my job."
It took a year and a half for Ruth-Anne's endometriosis to be successfully diagnosed, and in November last year she finally underwent a four hour surgical procedure, where each endo lesion was cut out from its root.
"To be free from daily pains has been life changing," she said.
Endometriosis is caused when endometrial tissue - which normally lines the inside of the uterus - starts to grow outside the uterus.
The endometrial tissue reacts to the menstrual cycle as it would in the womb - shedding, breaking down and bleeding.
When this process happens within womb, it leaves the body in a monthly period. But when it happens outside of the uterus, there's nowhere for the tissue to go.
This build-up of shedding and bleeding causes pain, discomfort and inflammation, as well as scar tissue.
The disease affects one in 10 women in the UK, but remains difficult to diagnose. Incredibly, it takes an average of seven and a half years.
Highlighting the scale of the issue, and the pain many women experienced, Ruth-Anne continued on her Instagram post: "There are 200million women worldwide living with daily excruciating pains & exhaustion that feels like barb wired is wrapped tightly around you ripping your insides apart while a hot iron is burning the insides of your stomach while being punched in the ovaries/womb while a sharp knife is cutting into your lower back...(sic)
"The bloating, the scars, the fatigue, the years of pain before diagnosis, the recovery from multiple surgeries, the threat to your future children or the absolute heartbreak of infertility.
"And the toll it takes on your mental health is a whole other post lol. So I applaud every woman living, surviving and thriving with this disease.
"I hope doctors find us a cause, a cure. I hope schools will start educating menstrual health. I hope this visual helps bring everyone more understanding. And if you are feeling like this during your period or anytime please go see your doctor now".
"The reason I'm sharing my story and did the image is because throughout my journey a lot of people truly made me feel like I was being dramatic or that I couldn't be as bad as I was saying," she added while speaking to Tyla.
"I wanted a visual representation of what it feels like to live with this disease. This disease changes your life. It makes the simplest of tasks like mountains and all you can think of is the chronic pain you are suffering and just wanting it to stop.
"I want to bring awareness of this disease and help people be educated about it... for younger girls to be diagnosed sooner so there's no threat to their fertility or quality of life".
As she shared the moving post, her followers rushed to thank her for speaking so honestly, and helping to visualise the disease so poignantly.
"Thank you...as a mutual sufferer, I am sending you a huge hug of love," one wrote.
While another chipped in: "Thank you for being vulnerable and sharing this extremely powerful message... you're an inspiration to us all Ruth Anne. All my love and admiration".
A third agreed: "This... I've suffered with Endometriosis for more than 15 years & the lack of understanding & education on its is shocking.. well done for highlighting".
"What I have found is that posting about it is making other endo warriors feel better about speaking up, breaking the stigma around it, they now feel less alone and I also feel less alone knowing there 1 in 10 of us suffering," she concluded.
"It's a community of very strong survivors and I have so much respect for every woman living with the disease."
Well done to Ruth-Anne for speaking out and here's hoping a cure is on the way!
Featured Image Credit: Instagram/ Ruth-Anne