'It won’t kill you but it will make you wish it did'
It took doctors eight years to take her seriously. Melissa Burrows lost count of how many times she showed up at the emergency room in excruciating pain. "The doctors told me that there was no problem, that it was all in my head," she told myBody+Soul.
Over time she came to realise that she was always there on the same day. After a week of build-up, by the first day of her period, the pain had become unbearable.
It wasn't until 2006 that she was finally diagnosed with endometriosis.
She got little relief from treatment and within a few years, the pain was back to the same level. After a horrendous 17 week period, doctors decided to insert a Mirena, in an attempt to control her hormone levels.
"It was actually my chiropractor who saved me," the Queenslander recalled.
"I told him I had a Mirena in and he told me it causes cancer and he told me it was so dangerous that I needed to get it out."
After her GP removed the device, Melissa expected to feel better but instead, the pain was worse than ever.
"The pain was excruciating. I cried for three days and nights and I couldn't sleep."
She's now had 33 surgeries to get rid of symptoms caused by endometriosis, but it just keeps coming back.
"It stops you from being a normal human being. I've had to deal with the pain daily that I've left the time for marriage go, I had to let my company go - it's just taken over my life."
"I've just got my puppy and TV remote and that's all."
Most days the Queenslander struggles to get out of the house. Crippling indigestion related to her condition makes it hard to keep food down and as a result, her energy levels are extremely low.
"I can only eat dinner at the moment. I get about 2 hours of the day where I can actually do something, so I sleep most of the day and then at 5pm I'll go get some energy."
"I can sometimes get a steak down but I mainly eat salad and breakfast foods like oats just because they're soft."
She said that people often forget that she's sick when they see photos online. The 39-year-old made clear that her "Facebook and Instagram are nothing like reality."
"I am brilliant at hiding the pain because it just brings everyone down so I can go to an event or party but what people don't understand is the amount of effort it takes."
"Even going out to dinner with a guy or a friend, I last 2 hours max and then I have to disappear in bed in absolute agony."
She remains hopeful that one day surgery will remove her symptoms for good but is realistic about "the ugly reality that there's no cure, they don't know what causes it."
"I just want to be able to help girls that are going through all this."
For more information about the condition, check out Endometriosis Australia.