Lily Williams was 12 when she got her period. It took her another 14 years to learn what’s wrong with it.
Williams belonged to 10% of women of reproductive age who suffer from Endometriosis. Despite being one of the most common gynecological conditions, this gruesome illness still takes a shocking average of 7.5 years to get diagnosed.
Eventually, Lily got the medical attention that her condition required. But not without going through years and years of living hell. Hoping that more women like her gain access to the resources they need to get better, she created a comic about the struggles she went through.
Williams said endometriosis completely took over her. “It did its best to ruin my life over the course of those 14 years that I went undiagnosed,” she told Bored Panda. “I developed many symptoms that would stick around daily, not just when I was menstruating. I had chronic fatigue, developed new food allergies, chest pain, extreme nausea, sciatica, pelvic pain, bloating, pain with exercise, leg aches and more. My daily life got so bad it hurt me to do the most basic things like walk, sit, and eat.”
The woman had the more intensive LAPEX excision surgery (versus the more common laparoscopic ablation) and she took a full month off of work. “I spent a lot of time laying down and taking tiny walks every day. Taking this much time off of work was difficult because I am self-employed and in the middle of the deadline on my graphic novel Go With The Flow (no paid sick leave for me!). There is no cure for endometriosis and even being a year out of LAPEX excision surgery with an endometriosis expert, I am and still dealing with doctors and physical therapists to treat the side effects that all those endometriosis symptoms have had on my body from going undiagnosed for so long. Endometriosis will always be a part of my life.”
Williams’ new graphic novel is called Go With The Flow. She illustrated and co-wrote it with Karen Schneemann, and it’s about their friends in high school creating a menstrual revolution. There’s also a teenage girl named Brit who’s trying to figure out if she has endometriosis. “It has resources in the back for those who think their periods might not be ‘normal’. My hope is that it helps someone figure out that their pain isn’t normal far earlier than I did. Also, I got diagnosed and had my surgery in the middle of making this book! If anyone reads my comic and thinks they have endometriosis, I would recommend joining the Facebook group called Nancy’s Nook Endometriosis Education.“