My personal process10/26/2008 at 10:24 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
Tags: emotions, Feminism, FSD, psychology, vulvodynia
Note: This is technically part 2 of a post that got too long to be 1 entry. See this thing or scroll down below for the first part.
There are five stages of grief, according to one generally recognized model. Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance.
Depending on which source you’re using, there may be more or fewer stages, but is is the griving process I’m most familiar with.
I went through these five stages when I was diagnosed with vestibulitis. I greived. I mourned. The prospects long term looked grim. I was losing a part of myself before I even had a chance to try it out. I was already familiar with these stages of bereavement, so they came as no surprise. Perhaps for this reason I was able to reach the final one, “Acceptance,” relatively swiftly. Not that Acceptance is a particuarly happy place to be.
Denial was me trying to figure out other possible diagnoses other than vestibulitis, things that would be easier to deal with. It must be a chronic yeast infection. It has to be bacterial vaginosis. It can only be vaginismus. Maybe it was just a really rare strain of bacteria. Maybe I had PIDD. Something that can be treated after a few days of antibiotics or antifungals – even though we’d already tried that.
I tried running back to the gyno again hoping maybe it was just a more rare strain of yeast other than albicans but she cancelled the appointment. Get thee to a specialist.
Oh who am I kidding. This isn’t going to go away by itself.
It wasn’t. Denial eventually gives way to anger.
Anger took a long time to work through. Even now, I return to or am pushed back to anger. I still get angry about having FSD. Why is this happening to me. I get angry reading and hearing about other people’s reactions to FSD. I get angry about having to talk about having FSD because no one else stops to consider it in feminist – or sometimes even medical – circles.
Of course, being a feminist, I also have a lot of other things to get justifably angry about.
Unfortunately, being a feminist and having FSD at the same time, I’ll often come across the opinions of other feminists re: sexuality… and I’ll find myself angered by those who I would like to believe are my friends.
Anger can be a motivating place to be. A healthy dose of anger can bring focus & drive. It can bring righteous fury and, channeled properly, be used to bring about some kind of change. Sometimes anger can be useful.
But it can be a dangerous place to be. Anger causes people to make irrational statements and to take irrational actions. It makes people say & do stupid things, to break precious (and expensive) things, & to make bad decisions. It is a repellent to some otherwise friendly people and it is a tasty bait to the kind of people who cause such anger to arise in the first place.
And it is a stressful place to be. Anger releases stress hormones & while they can be quite useful in small, short doses, over time, anger eats away at the mind, body – and if you’re into that kind of thing, the spirit. It is an exhausting place to be.
So usually when I find my self being angered, there is little use trying to fight it. It doesn’t do any good to say, “Don’t get angry,” because that doesn’t really work. “Don’t let them make you get angry.” No, it’s okay to let yourself get angry – it’s just what you do with it after. I have not reached a place in my life where I can instantly forgive any & all transgressions. There is no denial of anger. But I need to try to work through it & channel it properly – and swiftly. If I don’t I’m going to get stressed out & if I’m too stressed out I am not going to be able to function near peak.
And it’s just going to make relaxing harder and therefore make having sex harder.
I find blogging helps…
Bargaining didn’t last very long. There wasn’t really anybody I could make a bargain with. I’m not super-spiritual, so I didn’t count on a miracle intervention from out of nowhere. Part of me wonders how depressing it must be to be a spiritual woman, to have faith, and still be struck with FSD. I have heard of faithful Christian women afflicted with vaginismus & being distressed when thier wedding night finally came and went… and then the next night, and the next night…
Who am I going to bargain with, my doctors? My gynos were not familiar enough with vestibulitis & vaginismus to make a baragin with. There is no magic pill I could trade cash for & no appeals I could make.
Bargaining did not last very long. When I realized there was no bargain to make, that there would be nothing I could possibly do, nothing I could give up in exchange for my sexuality, I felt sad…
Depression lasts a long time and is another stage I sometimes return to. It doesn’t help me much that I have a somewhat blue personality to begin with. At this point, thankfully, I spend less time being depressed. I keep busy with other activities. I’m not in constant pain or itching anymore, so I don’t have that weight on my shoulders 24/7. Thanks to seeing some improvement, my confidence levels are higher than they were. There is now hope in me where there was not hope before.
But depression took a loooong time to work through and indeed, I made much better progress easing out of it only after getting medical treatment. There was always at least some fear, some anxiety about sex on the back burner of my mind, even when I was doing something fun… “What if I can never have sex?” “What if sex always hurts?” “What if I keep itching forever?” “What if I never get better?” “What if I can’t get married?” “What if my partner leaves me?” “What if I can’t bear a child?” “What if he has an affair?” “What if treatment backfires?”
“Oh god I am never going to be able to enjoy this part of humanity that so many normal people get to have.”
I was so afraid, even when there was nothing to be afraid of at that moment. I was so worried. I might be able to accomplish all kinds of amazing goals in my life, but I may never be able to do this one, simple task, this one, simple thing. That so many other regular & not-regular people can do.
I remember that feeling.
I spent many a night crying.
I think if I had not gotten treatment & seen some improvement, I’d still be depressed.
And I was this depressed being in a long-distance relationship, where there is virtually 0 pressure to perform sexually 95% of the time. I am grateful to my boyfriend that the other 5% of the time, he was careful to still not add on pressure for sexual activity.
But it doesn’t really matter the state of your relationship. It’s not necessarily any easier being single or married and having FSD. Any marital status will present its own set of challenges & insecurities.
Being asexual probably wouldn’t be much of a buffer either, at least not the genital problem is one of constant pain, pain without stimulation, or a dermatological issue.
And I have seen tales of other women with FSD who are depressed. Who have been depressed & distresed for years, because they have suffered, for years. Because they have suffered so long, there is no end in sight.
I consider myself very lucky that I was able to find some relief & see some improvement. There were no guarntees. I have heard enough horror stories to know that I took some big risks going the route I took. It just kind of worked out that way.
Now I consider myself to be in the state of acceptance. I feel a lot better now than I did before, although I will never be 100%. I’m not completely problem-free, I still have some kind of weird mystery pelvic pain to keep in check. I will go back to the prior stages from time to time. Or the anger & depression are a part of acceptance.
I have a Thing. It is always going to be there, lurking under the surface. It could rear its head again at any moment.
I accept this, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. I have incorporated this into a part of myself. But I’d much rather, not have to have this be a part of myself. It would certainly make life easier if I didn’t have to do all this.
What am I going to do about it. What can I do about it? What treatment options are still available to me? How shall I go on if I cannot find successful treatment? Is there anyway I can prepare for the road ahead? Is there any way I can make this into something constructive? Is there anyway to draw Good from Bad?
Welp. Here I am, then. Having gotten & getting treatment & trying to deal with it & make something out of it.