Food & Drinks

This Book Is Making Life With Endometriosis a Whole Lot Better

In Person of Interest, we talk to the people catching our eye right now about what they’re doing, eating, reading, and loving. Next up is Jessica Murnane, author of One Part Plant: A Simple Guide to Eating Real, One Meal at a Time (2017) and Know Your Endo: An Empowering Guide to Health and Hope With Endometriosis—which was published April 27, 2021.

“Living with endometriosis can be a really dark and lonely place,” Jessica Murnane says. “This book is my way of saying, ‘I see you; you’re not alone.’” Murnane is sitting on her bed in Charleston, South Carolina, and in between sips of a lukewarm smoothie, the author is recalling the motivation behind her latest book, Know Your Endo. “I’ve really been embracing acceptance and self-compassion,” she continues. “My endo is making me tired today so I’m going to take this interview from my bed, you know?”

I’ve been obsessed with Murnane since the release of her 2017 cookbook, One Part Plant, a vibrant, nonjudgmental collection of recipes born of her struggle with endometriosis—the inflammatory condition affecting 10 percent of people with periods, including me. The book advocates eating just one plant-based meal a day; there are no anxiety-inducing lists of forbidden foods, no all-or-nothing mandates for health. Know Your Endo is just as friendly and nonprescriptive but takes a more holistic approach. The book walks readers through a five-step plan that introduces a new endometriosis management tool each week. Sections on food (with recipes!), movement, stress relief, and home and personal product recommendations are interspersed with first-person accounts, interviews with doctors, and blank lined sections for prompted reflection.

It’s the most straightforward (and hopeful) guide to living with endometriosis I’ve read, and I wish I could press it into the hands of my fearful and confused 23-year-old self. Since my laparoscopic surgery (the most accurate route to an endometriosis diagnosis), my own approach to dealing with symptoms has been a combination of avoidance and Advil. Endo is still somewhat of a medical mystery; it wasn’t until reading Murnane’s book that I realized how much anxiety I was shoving under the rug by just powering through. Know Your Endo was the hug and pep talk I needed to face my condition head-on—and realize that I actually do have some sense of agency in my wellbeing. I can’t change my diagnosis, but I can feel better in my body.

Murnane, I learn, is just as chill and empathetic in real life. Here she talks about the importance of “symptom awareness,” the one food she always turns to on her worst days, and why she’s obsessed with foam rolling.

My body image has suffered greatly… because of endometriosis, and writing the book really forced me to address that. I’ve been in and out of therapy since high school for body dysmorphia, and I know now more than ever how endo has contributed to that. When you’re asked if you’re pregnant (due to a bloated belly) anytime you wear something remotely fitted and you’re never really sure when your symptoms will present themselves (especially some brutal urinary and GI issues)—it can definitely distort how you see, and feel in, your body.

It takes an average of 10 years and eight doctors… to be diagnosed. I had endo symptoms and pain starting with my first period that were just never addressed. I remember being 21 and sharing how bad sex hurt with a gynecologist and she said I just needed to relax more in bed. I complained of urinary issues and was told I needed to drink more water. From day one I was told that my symptoms were basically my fault, which, for me, contributed to this feeling of being trapped inside my body. I was finally diagnosed when I was 28, but it took multiple ER visits and endometrial cysts rupturing for someone to really listen.

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