Viewers of Sam Poling’s investigations on everything from drug trafficking to murders will know the BBC journalist is one of the strongest women on TV, but behind the scenes she’s been battling a painful disability.
The 46-year-old has recently revealed she has endometriosis and up until now she has been reluctant to go public about her condition.
Poling has taken the inspiring step to discuss her health after BBC colleague Fiona Stalker, a fellow sufferer, raised awareness about the illness.
Poling told The Scottish Sun: "Fiona was brave enough to talk - and I've spent my entire time begging people to talk to me in my job.
"You spend so many years in pain and not being believed that you become numb."
Sam was diagnosed with endometriosis when she was 30, although her symptoms started from the age of 12.
When she underwent numerous operations to control the pain surgeons couldn’t find the cause and told Sam she was being “dramatic”.
Doctors have suggested a hysterectomy, but warned the procedure may not ease the condition.
Poling said: "When I was growing up I just thought being on your hands and knees crying on the floor every month was normal.
"Whenever I went to the doctor or complained I was told I had a low pain threshold - that I was making it up to get off school or uni.
"This is story for so many women, you're made out you're lying and that was it for a long time because takes so long to get a diagnosis."
She continued: Not being able to remember the day, who I'm interviewing or the questions I'm asking and having a constant battle with yourself because you don't want to say 'I'm struggling' - that's my problem.
"When you spend years being belittled, humiliated, embarrassed, ignored and dismissed by people who should have been helping you at the time, you learn to silence yourself."
BBC Scotland has now become an endometriosis-friendly employer, a scheme run by Endometriosis UK.
A spokesperson for the charity said: "With female employment rates higher than ever before and endometriosis costing the UK economy £8.2bn a year in loss of work, treatment and healthcare costs, endometriosis is a condition that employers cannot afford to ignore."
Speaking of the growing awareness about the condition Sam said: “Any conversation is a good conversation. I am delighted when I see and hear people talking about it and social media is a great thing for people to share these conversations.
"I think it was 18 months ago a young woman had made a video diary about life with endometriosis. It was just brilliant and I was so proud of her, yet so sad that I didn't have that at the beginning."
Sam Poling has undertaken investigations for BBC’s Panorama and Disclosure.
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