After almost dying, Laura Walton, 43, shares how anxiety and endometriosis led her to set up a wellness brand to help other women find greater calm and peace…

My journey with endometriosis

Endometriosis is a chronic disease that brings with it severe pain during sex, periods, bowel movements and urination, as well as pelvic pain, fatigue, depression and anxiety.

Yet despite suffering with the condition, which so far has led to 15 operations, I was always an upbeat person. I was career-driven, had great friends and family, and pretty much nothing phased me as I did my best to live every day to the fullest, regardless of the pain.

The first symptom I had was severe constipation. No matter what I took, nothing worked, so I went to see a doctor when I was 18 years old. I saw several doctors and was referred to a bowel specialist initially. Over many months, they tried lots of different medicines, did lots of investigations and eventually put it down to a lazy bowel and I was discharged with daily laxatives.

The pain just got worse until I collapsed at work nearly three years later. I was then referred to a gynaecologist and, at age 21, the journey started again. The pain throughout is like nothing you can ever explain – my belly would bloat like I was six months pregnant. One of the most frustrating things was that I would go through the operations, recover and, months later, the pain would be back.

‘I was told I needed a hysterectomy. I was 30 years old with no children. My world fell apart.’

Seeing an endometriosis specialist

My saviour was being referred to one of the top endometriosis specialists in the UK, Mr Chris Mann. Chris once brought me round from planned surgery to tell me that everything was so stuck together, I needed a hysterectomy.

I was 30 years old with no children. My world fell apart. On further discussion with another consultant, they decided to try to cut it away and I was in theatre for four hours. It was then that one of my ovaries stuck to my urethra and blocked a kidney.

When I saw a urologist, he couldn’t believe I was still walking and going to work. My kidney was failing thanks to an ovary being stuck to my urethra, but I had lived with pain for so long that I was hardened to it. The urethra had to be cut free from my ovary and reimplanted! After recovering well enough from that, I went back in to remove the ovary.

On the verge of death

My mother had always been my best friend, so when she passed away from a pulmonary embolism in 2016, when I was 37, I struggled to cope. I put so much pressure on myself to seem ok to others, in part wanting to make Mum proud.

Around four months after her death, I was in hospital for a scheduled hysterectomy, but I had an allergic reaction to a drug they used, which put me into cardiac arrest. I was technically dead for two minutes! I received CPR, but this led to damage on my chest.

Following this, I underwent testing to see what had caused the reaction. I was told I was allergic, but that the severity of the attack could have been partly due to dehydration. This led me to unconsciously create an attachment to always ensuring I had water with me. I was so freaked out about the consequences of being dehydrated.

‘My GP agreed the tightness in my chest was most likely anxiety.’

Coming to terms with my anxiety

Unbeknownst to me, the physical damage to my chest had become an emotional “weak spot”, accumulating lots of stored anxiety. Some days, I was holding onto the anxiety so tightly without realising that I could have a heart attack.

The pain in my chest became excruciating, especially as I felt overwhelmed by work and wiped out at weekends. And yet everyone around me assumed I was calm and in control. I went for chest X-rays, electrocardiograms and blood tests to determine what was wrong but to no avail. In the end, it was my husband, who himself had previously suffered from anxiety, who suggested I speak to my GP. They agreed the tightness in my chest was most likely anxiety.

I had some sessions with a counsellor and realised how helpful it was opening up to another person. I admitted to my counsellor I was living life as two people, with one side suffering and feeling scared. Following this, I began a journey exploring what could help me feel better, which included CBD and mindfulness practices, such as breathing techniques, sleep learning and music, plus sharing my story.

Developing my wellness brand, MOi + ME

I still experience anxiety on and off, and haven’t had the hysterectomy, but I feel more positive. This is in part due to setting up my wellbeing business, MOi + ME. My business partner Catherine and I designed the products to be part of a recovery toolbox for anyone suffering anxiety.

Each of the four products contain pure isolate CBD, along with scents proven to help calm the mind. The collection is also helpful for those who experience symptoms of endometriosis and PMS, as well as premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), which is a much more severe form of PMS.

The name MOi + ME was inspired by our busy lifestyles, which often leave people feeling as if they have a split personality. The “MOi” side is the one the public sees and the “Me” side is the real you, the part that suffers in silence. That’s the side of you that’s tired, anxious, worn out and needs support.

It’s my mission to help others not suffer in silence. Obviously, our products are just a small part of what needs to be a large toolbox of support, but if they can help women feel better, even momentarily, that makes me happy.

MOi + ME offers four products:

  • SLEEP Temple Moment roller ball (£35), blended with lavender, evening primrose and CBD to help manage anxiety and pain
  • TENSION Moment Balm (£30), a self-heating balm to relieve tension on any part of the body
  • RELAXATION Massage Candle (£45) to aid relaxation and for using topically once melted and cooled
  • CALM Moment Mist (£35), containing pure isolate CBD, MCT oil and peppermint to centre you in the “now”.

MOi + ME is a “Work for Good” partner, supporting charities that drive mental health awareness.

Click here for more advice on the causes, symptoms and treatment of endometriosis.