Sophie Dillman from Home and Away is quite candid about her endometriosis, but this wasn’t always the case.
She even admits to being “petrified” that she would lose her work on the soap opera as a result of her endometriosis symptoms before seeing how understanding the cast and staff were.
Endometriosis is a condition that can result in “excruciating pain” and “debilitating conditions,” as it causes tissue that resembles the lining of your uterus to grow in other places.
Endometriosis tissue, according to John Hopkins Medicine, typically develops in the pelvic region but can also show up in the intestines and bladder.
The Home and Away actress was first diagnosed with endometriosis ten years ago, but it’s likely she’s been dealing with it for many years beforehand. After experiencing extremely painful periods, often causing fainting and vomiting spells, she finally got her life-changing diagnosis in her mid-20s.
‘I was freaking out’
A swollen stomach is one of the chronic sickness symptoms the celebrity battles with, which can make her appear bloated or larger than usual.
She acknowledges that she worried that Home and Away could fire her due to Hollywood beauty standards and the increased scrutiny that come with becoming an actress.
“When it first started occuring I was freaking out because you put pressure on yourself,” she says, “not that Home and Away has ever put any pressure on someone to look a certain way, body image-wise, and they feel extremely passionately about it.”
“I battled to match that beauty standard at the best of times, let alone when I’m swollen,” the author said. “I was frightened that I was going to lose my work because I couldn’t stick to a beauty ideal.”
Sophie quickly realised that everyone was genuinely supportive because the soap’s creators are proponents of putting health first. The staff came up with methods to reassure Sophie rather than addressing it as something taboo or unfavourable.
“They’re amazing. I’m permitted to put on a towel whenever I’m uneasy. Or they’ll alter how the scene is set up so I’m not required to wear a bikini.
When you’re in pain and self-conscious, that just makes it slightly simpler to go to a set and perform your duties.
‘Everyone knows that hot water bottle is mine’
When she needs a little extra comfort, the celebrity gushes about how much the actors and crew take care of her. Since endometriosis is not a condition that is commonly recognised, it was initially “awkward” to bring it up, but her coworkers now expect it.
Everyone knows the hot water bottle is mine, and if I’m in pain between takes, they’ll give it to me. If I’ve been standing up too long, everyone will bring me a chair, she says.
Sophie and the wardrobe team have even collaborated together to attempt to locate ensembles that will accommodate swelling while still making Sophie feel chic and self-assured.
Sophie has had three or four procedures to treat her endometriosis so far, and she will always have the condition.
Former actors have referred to Home and Away as a “machine” because of how quickly it shoots scenes.
The actress claims that the soap opera’s producers will rearrange their busy schedules to make time for her to have procedures, tests, or to give her time off when she is in excruciating agony. Although it would appear that this would be the norm, accommodations are not always made at work for those who have chronic diseases.
The actress aims to eliminate any shame or taboo associated with endometriosis and chronic illnesses, which is one of the reasons she is so enthusiastic about raising awareness about them.
Sophie is honest when she says, “I truly hope and have heard that there are other companies getting on board with that sort of aid. However, I sincerely hope so, as it has been incredibly useful.
‘Chronic illness isn’t sexy’
While Sophie notes that physical symptoms can also have a “mental toll,” chronic diseases like endometriosis have a significant bodily impact on patients.
People who are suffering frequently hear that their problems are all in their heads or that they should “suck it up.” The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare reports that it often takes patients seven years after the commencement of their symptoms to acquire a formal diagnosis. Anxiety levels may increase during this time of ambiguity.
“For a long time, I experienced daily pain and questioned whether I was weak for experiencing it. “Am I a sook?,” she asks herself.
When you visit a doctor, they may tell you that “No, it’s just a period, and this is what you have to live with. That’s frustrating, heartbreaking, and frightening,” she laments.
Patients are partially relieved when they receive the accurate diagnosis because they can then begin treatments, but it is also unfortunate.
“Nothing about managing a chronic illness is sexy because there is no end in sight. So, that can be really difficult to handle, and it can cause lots of anxiety and sleepless nights,” Sophie acknowledges.
Being in the spotlight and taking part in publicity photo and video shoots are both essential parts of the star’s job. She gains from it for both Summer Bay and her own brand.
She is candid about why these ostensibly standard employment requirements can be excruciating for endometriosis sufferers.
“I become anxious if I have a photo shoot. When that happens, I typically have pain and swelling,” she explains.
The thought of taking part in a photo session while bloated and in pain might be really frightful.
‘Social media is a gift, and a curse’
Sophie now has a sizable online presence thanks to Australia’s top drama, which gave her over 285,000 Instagram followers five years ago.
Like Demi Lovato and Lili Reinhart before her, she has refrained from exploiting her platform to present an idealised, luxurious life. She is actively attempting to start a conversation about issues that are important to her.
She justifies her candour by telling us how “vital” it is to use your position for good.
The start of her statement is, “I think social media is a gift because we do get to witness stuff like this, but it’s also a curse because you don’t always get to see the reality of life…the ins and outs of individuals who have illnesses or impairments.
“The more we witness it, the more it becomes the standard, and the more people seek assistance. More people are becoming less afraid to reach out or raise their hand and admit, “Yes, I’m suffering.”
“And that means we’ll be able to create infrastructure and support networks around that to give them a better quality of life. And really, that’s all we want.”