“The disease attacks everything, it’s not just a physical condition – its mentally and emotionally taxing. If I’m not losing all my energy to the physical battle, it’s being drained by guilt and grief.
“I’m a sexually active woman and I cherish that pleasure and relief, but sex has been somewhat tainted by the disease. It’s painful and embarrassing at times and it makes me feel out of control.
“It affects me daily. I’m always tired, stressed and wondering what this new thing my body is doing is all about and how seriously I should take it. I’m always in pain which makes me irritable and sometimes I simply can’t be socially normal with people.”
Ellie Kammer is a 26-year-old visual artist based in Adelaide. She also has stage 2 endometriosis.
Diagnosed through a laparoscopy in 2015 after years of symptoms such as month-long periods, depression, violent abdominal pains and large blood clots, putting a name to her pain provided little comfort.
"The disease is incurable so the costs are ongoing," Ellie told Mamamia.
"I’ve had two surgeries, multiple visits to the ER, countless visits with my GP and Gynaecologist - I have to make lots of considered choices everyday most people wouldn't have to waste their energy on so that I keep myself comfortable."
After undergoing her first surgery to treat the disease affecting over 176 million women worldwide, Ellie hardly recognised her own body. So she painted it.
Depicting her experience of endo, Ellie describes her art as "emotional and raw", which for some can be confronting.
"I lay it out there for all to see and that can shake people up," she said.
"But I have seen a difference in the public reaction to endometriosis for sure. Of course there are still people who perceive the disease to be nothing more than period pain, but the difference I have seen is the disappearing fear of asking questions about endometriosis."
Though Ellie's art "is not for everyone", for the artist, the decision to paint what she was feeling was not for anyone else - it was purely personal.
"I had just been diagnosed and was devastated... I needed to kill all the dark energy inside me by way of a couple of expressive, unbound paintings," Ellie explained.
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"Painting has been a significant part of my healing plan. I use it to help come to terms with whatever challenge I might be facing with the disease. The first one I painted just after I’d had surgery and my body seemed unrecognisable to me. This self portrait helped me get to know my new body and find the beauty in it.
"I don’t imagine I could’ve healed so quickly from the detachment I was experiencing with my physical self in a more efficient and beautiful way."
Ellie's art is giving endometriosis a real visual representation- challenging the stigma and misconceptions surrounding the disease and its sufferers.
To the one in every 10 women who struggle with the disease everyday, Ellie insists education is power.
"Educate yourself about the treatment options and make sure your sources of information are legitimate - Endometriosis Australia has a plethora of certified information about all things endometriosis."
"Secondly, I urge women to try not to suffer in silence. Its not something to feel ashamed about and the more you talk openly about it the easier it becomes. In educating others, you help all of your endo sisters."