Rebecca, Claire & Kirsteen

(left to right)

Aleksandra Czech-Seklecka

Our lovely volunteer who covers Inverness & Ross-shire

My name is Aleksandra Czech-Seklecka. Originally I am from Poland. I moved to Scotland seven years ago. First 5 years I spent in Inverkeithing, Fife. In 2021 I moved to Inverness with my husband.

I am from a difficult family, my childhood was really tough. In Poland I was bullied most of my life, I didn't have friends, I had anorexia and tried to take my own life when I was only 10. It was that time when I got my first period and first endometriosis symptoms…

For two years I was the only menstruating girl in the class. It was very painful, I couldn't move. I often had sick leaves from school. No one understood me, I had no support. It was sooo hard, especially because 25 years ago the knowledge about endometriosis in Poland didn't really exist… After the age of 20, I ended up in hospitals many times because of pain.

Several times I was taken by an ambulance from my work. In hospitals I was treated like a hypochondriac, someone who is exaggerating. After all, all women have periods and no drama is needed. All test results they carried out were normal. They were saying that this pain was in my head, that I was making it up. They said it was a neurosis and that I should be treated, but by a psychologist. I tried my best to survive and to not give up.

I graduated in Cross-cultural Psychology, Media Psychology and Cultural Studies. I was also studying Japanese language - I even got a Japanese language certificate. I was one of the best students in every school. During my studies, I started an internship in an advertising agency where later I was employed as a Junior Media Buyer. After that I was working as an Analyst and Marketing Research Specialist. Later on I changed my career path and was employed by Samsung R&D Institute Poland as an assistant. I started learning project management and, with time, I was promoted to PMO Specialist. I was one of two specialists who created Samsung R&D’s Project Management Office for Android Commercialisation in Poland. At that time, I gained Prince2 and Agile certification. I did all of that while living in pain and dealing with various symptoms without knowing what was wrong with me, without any support.

When I moved to Scotland, I went to the GP with a huge pain. I told her about my ailments and she asked if I have endometriosis. She gave me a referral to a gynecologist and suggested I should have a laparoscopy to check if I have endometriosis. At first I was happy that someone finally believed that something wrong is going on with me, that it isn't only in my head and that there is a name for this condition. Later, I got a bucket of cold water on my head when I learned how difficult it is to treat endometriosis and that there is no cure for that. Endometriosis ruined my career, my relations with people and my mental being. Due to the fact that I had two laparoscopies, I got a large gap in my employment and regardless of a very good résumé, my applications were rejected, because employers were seeing only the employment gap. In addition, I was new here, I was an immigrant, who arrived just after the Brexit referendum. I couldn't deal with it. In addition, with time I gained more and more knowledge about what endometriosis may do to my body.

My mental health started falling down as well. I tried to talk to friends and explain my condition, but many of them did not understand and broke off contacts or said bad things about me. It was getting harder and harder for me. I began to isolate myself. I felt terribly lonely and weak. My life was turned upside down. At that time I was overwhelmed with everything. I felt useless and I stopped believing in myself. I was totally lost. And then one day I saw information about endometriosis support groups in Scotland. It gave me hope. I was not alone anymore…

Over time, I started having more health problems. I had knee operation (I was in bed for half a year because of this) and for the past three years I have ongoing feet inflammation and pain - still no diagnosis and more and more symptoms. To make matters worse, I got lyme disease last year… I live in pain every single day and I don't have much support from my local GP. I've been waiting for a psychologist for over 5 years… For a long time the local doctors treated me as an unstable person and they did not listen to me… I decided that enough is enough and I don't want more women to suffer like this. I want to support them and fight for them. I found my inner strength again. I got my self-esteem back. I decided that I need to somehow change my life in terms of being able to help, support and motivate others.

I applied for a UHI business competition with my business idea. I was accepted to Pathfinder Accelerator, Create Catalyst Programme, Impact30 Programme and most recently to the Techscaler Programme. I was also shortlisted in the AccelerateHER competition for Female Founders in the UK.

I want to inspire other women living with chronic illnesses and medical conditions to not give up and show them that they can be successful. I want people to believe that no matter what they are going through they can and they will be successful. I also want to earn enough money to be able to build a clinic for women in North of Scotland (especially those living with chronic pain) - because it is a nightmare here and I want to do anything I could to make a change for good.

I am honoured to be part of Northern Highlands Women's Wellness Hub team. I want to do whatever I can to support women with endometriosis and chronic pain in Scotland, especially in Highlands and Islands.

NHWWH is a not for profit community organisation. We work full time while running the hub together in our spare hours

We work very closely with lots of amazing specialists, organisations and support networks across Scotland to provide the most up to date information and help improve care for every woman in the North Highlands