There’s no quicker way for life to get your immediate and undivided attention than when physical pain becomes your daily reality. This was my unexpected experience with endometriosis five years ago. Not only did my pain become my personal wakeup call, it transformed my professional life as well in extraordinary ways I never expected.

While doctors were all too happy to diagnose and medicate me, I quickly realized that I wanted to find a different way to manage my pain and understand my symptoms. What follows is my best advice on how to become your own advocate.

1. Starting point: look for books

I am a bit old school. Despite how modern our society is, and the huge amount of information that is available online, I found my preference was to start with reading books. I thought if I wanted to find someone who had done some research and organized his or her thoughts clearly, a book would be the best option. So I started there.

2. For more precision: internet

Considering how modern we are, internet should also be leveraged. There are plenty of great articles out there, which allow us to kick ­start a search. For me though, internet is mainly beneficial when we are trying to get more information on a particular topic, and asking a question that was asked in the past by someone else. Then we need to consolidate the information we found in something more structured and thought through.

3. Find support groups of fellow “sufferers”

For that, I found Facebook to be a great help. Of course there are some groups which are more useful than others, but I was able to find a couple of groups I really loved where I found support and knowledge, people to share what I knew about, and who also were sharing with me what they learned. When looking for a group, my advice would be to find one that has the same ethos as you, AND is positive and supportive. There are a few groups out there when sufferers would just be happy to complain and are not looking for solutions; and these will not help you get better if what you’re looking for is a light at the end of the tunnel; and someone to emulate, who has gone through it all before you.

4. Hire a health coach, or find a friend who will act as one

Having a peer coach to discuss my health situation with was very helpful for me as it helped me find my path. Speaking with her allowed me to get my thoughts out and yet refocus myself based on the objectives I had. Since then, I have gone from being coached to coaching, helping now women who are experiencing the pain and overwhelm of endometriosis to find their own plan of action to get better, and reclaim not only their health but also their lives.

5. Get your family and friends on board

Your getting better involves a particular diet or mindset. If your family and friends are supportive of you, it will be easier for you to stay on track with your goals and ask for help when you need some. If they aren’t, find someone who will be there for you every step of the way. It is paramount to you getting your health back. As you create your own plan of action, you will find that this hope you had lost will slowly come back. Taking charge of your health might just be the remedy you need!