I just finished reading this story, sent to me by the blogger. When I was in my first MSW elective course (Social Work and Women), I wrote a paper on endometriosis. This woman’s story has me thinking about it again.
How would a social worker have seen this person, had she been a client? Had she been thought of as the medical doctors first did, as an attention-seeking teen? Would she have been trusted as misdiagnosed or would she have been diagnosed with a mental disorder like Munchhausen? Later, would she have been counseled and cheered for her bravery or would she have been diagnosed as depressed, perhaps prescribed an anti-depressant?
Much like medical doctors, social workers often have over-sized client loads, and we’re taught to be on the lookout for certain red flags. We’re taught that, when we hear hooves and see a flowing mane to look for the common horses, not for the rare zebras. Kristi was a zebra… someone vibrant and wanting to live, someone craving activity and happiness and someone whose body didn’t allow it.
Cleveland Clinic estimates approximately 5.5 million women in the US have endometriosis. 30-40% are infertile. There is no cure. As I write this blog, I cannot help but wonder how often social workers and other mental health professionals have misinterpreted suffers literal and metaphoric cries for help.
Unlike cancer or addictions or grief, there is no chance of a cure and time doesn’t make the pain subside. Funding for this illness is small, so it may be a while, but I hope a cure is found and the endo sisters of the world may someday find peace… and I hope social workers are able to be part of their support system in the meantime.
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The New Social Worker is the quarterly magazine for social work students and recent graduates, focusing on social work careers for those new to the profession. This blog is a companion to the free online magazine at http://www.socialworker.com.
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