Growing up, my periods were painful. Not your everyday light cramps — this was more like a stabbing, pulling, knock-you-to-your-knees kind of pain.

My mother and grandmother had terrible periods, so I was always reminded that this was “normal.” Just what women go through.

But deep down, I think I always knew it was something more.

As I got older, the pain got worse. I kept pushing through until there came a day when the pain wasn’t just during “that time of the month.” It was constant, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Luckily, at this time I was newly married and my husband was completely supportive in finding out the root of the issue. He took me to every doctor’s appointment and held my hand through it all.

After years and years of thinking this was normal, I was finally diagnosed with endometriosis at the age of 23.

It took 5 doctors and 9 years to diagnose me. But finally, I had the reassurance that what I was suffering with was real.

I wasn’t being dramatic, I wasn’t making it up. I was sick. I was chronically ill.

After my diagnostic surgery, doctors told my husband and I that if we wanted to have kids, it would have to be now.

So that’s what we did. We spent the next few years building our family. I would have surgery to get my endo cleaned out, then try to have a baby.

Those years resulted in two of my greatest gifts — my sons Wyatt and Levi. At age 26, after giving birth to my youngest son Levi, I was completely desperate for relief, completely desperate to be the mother my boys deserved. So I had my uterus removed.

Within 3 months, my pain was back and another surgery to remove my ovaries was on the calendar. In a matter of months, I went from being a 26-year-old woman in pain to a 26-year-old woman in pain and in menopause.

Let me tell ya this about menopause: It’s not easy when your body isn’t ready. My bone density, hormones, moods — all of it went haywire.

While I was trying to make the decision I thought was the best for my family, having severe endometriosis was breaking me down like paint chipping off an old building.

I felt tired, sore, hopeless, and alone — even though I had the family I’d always dreamt of.

It was then that I decided I couldn’t feel sorry for myself anymore. If I was going to get through this, I had to buckle up and put on a brave face. It was time to really start sharing my story.

I had been blogging since 2009 sharing crafting and DIY projects, and as my endometriosis journey began and I had to halt my time at university due to my poor attendance, my focus went to spreading awareness.

One of the greatest things you can do as a woman with endometriosis is to share your story so that other women don’t have to go through the confusion that you did. At least that’s how I look at it.

I get emails daily from women who are just being diagnosed, women who are years in and desperate for relief, and from women who are telling me they don’t know if they can hack this life anymore.

As an empath, when I say that I feel their pain, I mean it. I’ve been there, right where they’re at each stage. I’ve been on the bathroom floor in the middle of the night, balled up and wondering if I could make it through the pain.

And I want to show these women that they can get through it. There is light — you just have to know where to look for it.

My journey has taken me through many years, many surgeries, and many treatments. Something I’ve found to be extremely beneficial is the sense of community shared with other women with endometriosis. There are amazing support groups online, on Facebook, and on Instagram (like my Instagram channel).

I want my blog and social channels to be a safe space for women to land when they need it. I want them to come to me and see that despite my pain, I am still living a great, fulfilling, happy life.

Therapy has also been another amazing tool. I’ve learned how to get through my bad days, how to cope with the pain, how to be more open, and how to properly vocalize my pain.

I truly believe that every person — chronically ill or not — should have that kind of support in their corner.

Openly discussing what I’m going through took the giant elephant off my chest. I immediately felt free from the pressure of keeping it all in, and it was amazing.

So where am I now in my journey? Well, I’m now 33, in menopause, 7 surgeries deep, throwing up most days from the pain, and still pushing through.

And let me be very clear that I believe women shouldn’t have to push through an illness like this. More needs to be done to give support and guidance to women suffering, and that is why I share my story.

There’s something completely humbling about sharing my nausea, hot flashes, pain, lack of sleep, pain with sex, all of it. I think it’s what women relate to, so I don’t try to keep it pretty — I tell the truth.

And sometimes, when you’re in the thick of it, you just want to hear the truth. You want to hear from someone who knows what you’re walking through — and I really try my best to be that person for the thousands and thousands of women with endometriosis who turn to me for support, or at least a good laugh.

If you’re suffering with endometriosis, don’t let it consume you.

  • Share your story with everyone that will listen, help lift other women around you who are suffering, and most importantly, find your support.
  • Make sure that your family is aware of your illness and what it entails. Be vocal about how they can support you during your journey.
  • Don’t stop searching for a doctor who will listen to you. If you encounter anyone that downplays your illness or makes you feel bad for sharing, lose them.

What you need are good people in your corner who are going to support you every step of the way. It can take years, but once you finally have that support you’ll wonder how you ever did without it.

Lastly, you’re a freaking warrior. You’re strong, resilient, and powerful — you can live the life you want despite this illness.

You can still achieve your dreams — and yes, the path may need to be slightly altered, may have more curves, may be twice as long, but you can still get there.

Never give up hope, never stop speaking your truth, and if you ever need a listening ear or a pep talk, you know where to find me.

Originally launched as a means of sharing her craft projects, Kendall’s namesake blog has since evolved into her passionate, full-time occupation: a place to pour her heart into content across the lifestyle spectrum (see: plus-size fashion, family-friendly travel and activities, home decor, recipes, and more). It’s also become a powerful vehicle for sharing her struggles with endometriosis and parenting a child with autism — all with the token contagious positivity that’s garnered her devoted following. We dare you not to fall in love with the happy, hectic world of Kendall Rayburn.