Picturing the Pain: A Photographer’s Battle with Endometriosis



As a freelance fashion photographer, my journey behind the camera has been filled with creativity, passion, and countless unforgettable moments. From my earliest memories of snapping photos with my father’s camera to becoming a Canon Ambassador, I’ve been fortunate to make a name for myself in the industry. Photography has always been my true calling, however, it’s important to note that my path has also been accompanied by a silent companion—endometriosis.

Discovering My Passion

My love for photography began in childhood, nurtured by my father’s hobby. His camera opened up a world of visual storytelling that captivated my imagination. I pursued my passion relentlessly, eventually specialising in fashion photography after my studies and assisting jobs. Over the years, I’ve had the privilege of seeing my work published in prestigious magazines and receiving accolades such as Fine Art Photography Awards.

The Silent Battle with Endometriosis

Little did I know that, alongside my thriving career, I was also battling endometriosis. My journey with this condition began when I was just 22, although it took 12 long years to receive a formal diagnosis in September 2022. Like many women, my symptoms developed gradually, often dismissed or misunderstood by medical professionals. Strange pains in my lower abdomen, especially on the left side, were early warning signs, but the real torment emerged over the past 3-4 years.

Endometriosis manifested in my life as excruciating pain, particularly during my menstrual cycle. However, it wasn’t confined to those few days; it invaded my everyday life, causing radiating pain, nausea, dizziness, and unpredictable mood swings. As a freelancer, I faced a unique set of challenges. The demands of my career meant that I couldn’t simply take a break when pain struck. Stress, a known trigger for endometriosis symptoms, often compounded the pain. On top of it all, dietary intolerances added an extra layer of complexity, with pain sometimes worsening after meals, especially on set and under time pressure.

Balancing Career and Health

Steering through a demanding career as a photographer while dealing with endometriosis has required strength, resilience, and adaptation. The pressure of freelancing means that sick days translate into lost income. I’ve had to push through the pain on set, often ignoring my body’s distress signals. In home office scenarios, I’ve learned to manage my workload while forcing much-needed breaks and stress relief upon myself. It’s a constant juggling act, one that impacts not only my professional life but also my personal relationships.

A Glimpse into Coping Strategies

I’m still in the process of managing endometriosis. I’ve reluctantly turned to hormonal therapy, which has provided significant relief, albeit with some noticeable side effects. While concerned about the long-term effects, I now have the comfort of knowing that important photo shoots or appointments won’t coincide with the unpredictability of my condition.

I also explored alternative therapies like osteopathy, which, though fascinating, didn’t provide the desired relief in my case. Yoga and a healthy diet have been constants in my life, offering some solace, but they haven’t halted the condition’s progression.

Strength Amidst Pain

Despite the pain, I’ve encountered moments of inspiration and demonstrated remarkable resilience. One memorable day on set, a few years ago when the pain first began to intensify, I found myself in agony, repeatedly needing to lay down as clients reviewed images. It was a stark illustration of the challenges I was beginning to face daily.

Another haunting experience was a dream that felt all too real. In it, I was stabbed in the belly and, while initially relieved to be alive, I ultimately bled out and died alone in my bedroom. Upon waking, I realised that the sensations in the dream mirrored the physical pain that had literally haunted me in my sleep.

Advice for Others

To women grappling with extreme menstrual pain and similar symptoms, I urge you to advocate for yourselves. Don’t accept debilitating pain as normal; persistently seek answers and consider endometriosis as a possible explanation. Finding an expert in the field is crucial, as not all healthcare providers possess the knowledge required to diagnose and treat this condition effectively.

To fellow photographers, creatives, and freelancers, I understand the pressures of our demanding careers. While it’s easier said than done, we must prioritise our health and well-being. Stress reduction and workload management are essential, even when it feels like there’s little support from the political and medical field. By sharing our stories, raising awareness, and advocating for change, we can contribute to a world where endometriosis doesn’t hold us back from pursuing our passions.

In closing, my journey as a female photographer with endometriosis has been filled with challenges, but it has also showcased my determination and resilience. Through sharing our stories and experiences, we can ignite inspiration and mutual support, reminding ourselves that we are not defined by our conditions but by our enduring spirit to chase our dreams.

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