She has created a series of powerful paintings about her experience with this disease. Days in bed or stomachs stained with blood are some of them.
“I started experiencing symptoms when I was 17 years old. They were subtle signs but steady such as frequent and painful urination, painful sex, abdominal pain and very long and irregular periods,” explains Ellie.
The doctors, instead of researching, they chose to prescribe antibiotics to treat a possible infection. She was also told that menstrual pain was normal and was encouraged to take pain relievers. However, everything changed during a trip when she realized that something was quite wrong.
“I was walking through the streets of Toulouse and I had to ask a friend to constantly look for a bathroom because I could not walk without bleeding on all sides. The bleeding continued for the rest of the trip,” says Ellie.
When she spoke with someone who had endometriosis, she became aware that she also had this condition. She then decided to acquire health insurance and it was then that she was diagnosed by a specialist. Unfortunately, her insurance refused to cover her first surgery because of her previous complaints it was considered to be a pre-existing condition.
She had to suffer nine more months until she had to have surgery to help with the disease. However, this would not be a final solution. Along with the endometriosis surgeries, she has to take vitamins, eat special foods, use birth control pills, and probiotics.
“I cannot perform activities without suffering consequences. The other day I tried to sort the room, pushing a cart with wheels, to move a rack of clothes and pick up some things from the floor. I immediately got a strong pain all along my abdomen. I feel tired all the time and my work suffers since I can not do anything efficiently,” says Ellie.
Ellie can’t lift more than 10 kg due to operations that she has had so that the endometriosis is not only a “pain ruler”. All of this led her to be very negative and painting helped her to cope because it became a form of therapy. She paints her own body and documents the experiences of endometriosis of others.
“Painting to me has served as therapy. It has kept me distracted from the disease. Each work is a time capsule. I can look at one of the paintings and remember what I went through at that moment, appreciating the product of those experiences,” she recognizes.
The works are awkward to look at and many find it too difficult to contemplate. You get that you ask a lot of questions to yourself. Why do I feel uncomfortable? Why do I love? It creates an internal dialogue that is quite special even though you like what you see.
“These are not simple problems with menstrual periods. It is a real and painful disease with invasive treatment options and no cure,” says Ellie.
Her intentions are that the paintings help other sufferers to feel that they are not alone with this illness, and for other people to learn about it. She also wants everyone to understand that it is not only treated with surgery. There has to be proper gut care and mental health, in addition, consulting an expert is also important. For the pain, she recommends physical therapy for the pelvic floor.