Review: Endo Days
By Anna Jeavons
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mindshare is a creative community and online mental health publication. Reflections are by mindshare writers with lived experience of mental illness, specifically critiquing through a mental health lens. Content may contain triggering themes.
The sultry sounds of “You Can Leave Your Hat On”—played by a live three-man back-up band—builds the audience’s anticipation of a star’s arrival, not dissimilar to the wait for Dr Frank-N-Furter in Rocky Horror. Many crowd members sip wine; there is an air of excited comfortability in the room. I notice a few people watching on in pajamas.
Soon Libby Parker makes her grand entrance to enthusiastic applause. Like Frank-N-Furter, she is glorious in full lingerie attire. A dressing gown is removed, a pair of pajamas are donned, and the show begins.
Endo Days is about endometriosis, a disorder in which tissue that normally lines the uterus grows outside of it. The condition directly affects one in nine Australians and is characterised by pain during periods, pain around ovulation, pain during sex, heavy menstrual bleeding, fatigue, brain fog, nausea, diarrhoea, constipation, irritability, and difficulties with falling pregnant.
The experience of living with endo, I learn from Libby—and the many forthcoming audience members who share her diagnosis—is not dissimilar to living with certain mental illnesses. Familiar themes arise: unsolicited advice, clinical trauma, sacrificing social events, impacts on relationships, desperation, anger, grief.
Libby apologises to the doctors in the room as she launches into a tirade on diagnostic gaslighting. Among such fun things as appendicitis, irritable bowel syndrome, bladder infection, being too fat, having sex too young, and partying too hard, people living with endometriosis are often told they might just be stressed, anxious, or a little bit depressed. These misdiagnoses and dismissals then become a new point of pain in and of themselves. “When trying to fix a head that isn’t sick, your head gets sick” Libby tells us.
The bulk of Endo Days is fun, funny, flouncy, loud, and a little crude—the team hilariously parodies a wide range of rock and pop bangers, all edited with endo appropriate lyrics—but there are many moments of quiet vulnerability too, and profound statements are made. The show poses two questions that get straight to the heart of why health promotions and awareness raising are so important: If we do not know ourselves, how can we advocate for ourselves? and, If we cannot stop our pain, how can our loved ones support us through it?
Four stars for this raucous adventure on chronic illness. The band is great, the songs are catchy, the themes are important, the message is powerful, and the lap dances on various chairs and audience members are outstanding. Libby is smart, witty, sexy, vulnerable, cute, honest—the most charismatic host you could ask for on a musical learning journey about real pain—and real love, resilience and humour in the face of it.