It’s not done to admit weakness in sport. Show any sign of relenting, and your opponent will take advantage, knocking you aside to make a vital touch, put forth the perfect pass, or send in the go-ahead goal.
It’s also often difficult to admit weakness when you’re a woman, particularly a woman in an industry dominated by men. For anyone, revealing imperfections can lead to everything from being passed over for an assignment to being fired from a job — but for women, putting one foot wrong might turn into accusations that the so-called weaker sex may not be cut out for such work.
So I hope you all can understand why I’ve waited so long to admit weakness in my position as the editor of a website dedicated to soccer.
As many of you know, I have a chronic illness — endometriosis. As endometriosis involves the tissue that normally grows inside the uterus growing outside it, it’s a disease that only afflicts those that actually have a uterus. For many, it causes a good deal of pain during menstruation, which is horrible enough. For me, and for other unlucky sufferers, it causes excruciating pain on a near-daily basis. The pain can be so bad that it’s difficult to sit up, much less walk. On top of that, there’s extreme fatigue, depression, and a condition often referred to as “head fog” due to the way thoughts feel hazy and out of reach. While it’s estimated that up to 10% of women have endometriosis, there is no cure, and it’s difficult to find adequate treatments for a case this severe.
I was diagnosed with endometriosis nine years ago. For the last three, the symptoms have worsened, and worsened quickly. In January, I began a new course of treatment. Unfortunately, the treatment is known to increase symptoms before improving them. And while the endometriosis symptoms are finally better, a lowered immune system means I’ve had to deal with a host of other illnesses, and I’m still trying to determine the cause of unrelated symptoms that are lingering.
We put Unusual Efforts on hold for a few weeks when I’d first started the treatment. However, it looks as though I returned too soon. I am unable to keep up with the demands of the site, and I do not wish to diminish what has been an incredible product, whether through introducing errors or by missing an email pitching a fantastic story.
So if you’re wondering where Unusual Efforts is, or when it’s coming back, please continue to be patient. As of now I anticipate returning on April 1, a year after the site originally launched. Until then, the others involved in this incredible team will continue to use social media to promote past stories and interact during games. Don’t forget to tell them how wonderful they are. They keep us going. They keep me going.
And if you’re curious why I decided to share what some might consider rather personal details of my life, it’s because this is an opportunity to talk about a disease that’s rarely discussed, and even more rarely given attention by men. That’s the Effortista way. We break down barriers. We talk about depression, and periods, and sexual violence, and what it’s like to be on the outside looking in. We create words and art extolling the beauty of soccer. We dare to speak out in a male-dominated industry.
An athlete isn’t weak for waving an arm to indicate injury. I’m not weak for having a chronic illness that’s difficult to treat. And none of us are weak for simply not being men.