Much of my life after puberty was ruled by a chronic illness called interstitial cystitis. The illness causes inflammation in the bladder, which in turn causes pelvic pain, frequent urination, painful urination, painful sex, and a slew of other symptoms. In 2015, I was officially diagnosed by a cystoscopy and had to drastically change my lifestyle to accommodate the illness, namely, my diet and the physical stress on my body.
I learned how to cope and live a semi-normal life with it, but when I became sexually active, it was almost impossible for me to have penetrative sex. I thought it was a symptom of the bladder disease and the bladder disease only, and treated it as such. It caused a lot of strife in my personal and intimate relationships, and after a while, I started to only be able to associate sex with pain, which manifested into anxiety about the pain. Mixed with the ignorance and cruelty of intimate partners, I became afraid of sex and adamantly avoided it.
After a traumatic first pap smear appointment, I was referred to a pelvic specialist, and after nearly a decade, in 2019, I was finally diagnosed with something that had manifested during puberty. I was diagnosed with vestibulodynia; chronic pain in and near the opening of the vagina, vaginismus; involuntary muscle spasms of the pelvic floor, and dyspareunia; the overarching medical term for painful sex. All these conditions exist in conjunction with my bladder disease as well.
After I was diagnosed, everything that had happened during my teenage years and into my twenties started to make sense. All the pain, all the tears, all the anxiety and panic attacks, all the failed relationships made sense, and I was furious that it took so long for me to become aware of it. I started writing, recounting my past, digging through old photographs, taking new photographs, doing whatever I could as a means to work through the pain for myself, but also as a way to build a platform to speak about female sexual dysfunction.
I Was Waiting For The Anger To Change is an image-based autobiography about struggling with chronic pain, sexual dysfunctions, and the mental anguish that comes with it. But, it is also about learning to work through that pain and how to heal, while cracking a few jokes along the way.