“There are 200million women worldwide living with daily excruciating pains and exhaustion.”
A few months ago, Irish singer and Grammy-nominated songwriter RuthAnne revealed her endometriosis diagnosis. In an emotional article shared on Her, RuthAnne described the huge toll that the condition had taken on her health and how living in chronic pain had brought her to the darkest of places.
As powerful as those words were, it can be hard for those of us who have not experienced endometriosis to fully understand what living with the condition – which affects an estimated one in ten Irish women – can mean.
Now, in order to raise awareness of the condition, RuthAnne has brought the extent of her experience to life in an arresting Instagram post. The singer teamed up with her friend and make-up artist Jemma Louise to create a striking visual representation of what endometriosis actually feels like.
Using body paint across RuthAnne’s abdomen, the pair created an image of a bruised and bleeding body wrapped in barbed wire, as well as the words ‘bloat’, ‘infertility’, ‘burn’, ‘pain, ‘fatigue’ and ‘scars’.
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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. 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, 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 ❤️ #endometriosis #endometriosisawareness #endometriosisawarenessmonth #endo #endowarrior @endoireland @endometriosis.uk #endomarch #awareness #1in10 @internationalwomensday_global @womenshealthmag @iamhalsey @lenadunham @juleshough @vitalhealthendometriosis #endometriosisart
In the caption, RuthAnne said that the aim of the post was to create awareness about the realities of an invisible condition, and to stop people from dismissing women who are experiencing the symptoms of endometriosis as being ‘dramatic’.
“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 look fine on the outside but it really is this bad,” she wrote.
Endometriosis is the presence of endometrial like tissue located in various parts of the body. This abnormal tissue secretes substances that irritate the surrounding tissues, causing them to bleed. The immune system responds by releasing proteins causing swelling and inflammation. The disease itself and the body’s own inflammatory response to the endometriosis can cause severe pelvic pain. Adhesions (scar tissue) can form over time, the adhesions can stick the pelvic organs together and distort the normal pelvic anatomy.
For more information on the causes and symptoms of endometriosis, visit the Endometriosis Association of Ireland’s website.