Find Stephanie’s full Pain Dairies comic here.
“Pain Diaries” is a comic describing my experience with endometriosis as well as the fears, frustrations, and suffering that comes with having chronic pain. Endometriosis is a disorder where the uterine lining grows outside of the uterus, causing severe pain and a myriad of other serious health issues. From age 12 (when I first got my period) to age 29, I lived without a label for my suffering. Experiencing daily chronic pain without a diagnosis felt like I was existing in a large empty body of water, constantly drowning but never dying. Living with a disease that has no cure but a whole array of “band aids” to choose from feels like living on the edge of the water, always bracing for the big shove back in.
I aspire to continue telling my story of being chronically ill, especially in the context of navigating high anxiety and labor-intensive jobs. I’ve been a preschool teacher, an assistant to architects, a nanny, a barista, and a slinger of specialty herbs at the local organic grocer. Throughout these jobs I, like many other chronically ill folks, dealt with isolation and loneliness. Sometimes these feelings manifest from being unable to leave your space for long periods of time due to flair ups. But most of the time, loneliness takes form from having to live in an able-bodied society; in a capitalist world that values profit over human comfort, human life. I want my fellow sick folks to have access to comics and graphic novels that they see themselves in.
This comic was my first official dive into using a digital medium. My undergraduate degree is in Fine Arts, so I am used to working with more traditional mediums such as watercolor, gouache, ink, and thread. For the first half of the comic, I “stayed true to my roots” and utilized these traditional mediums and found a way to make them and my digital sketches live harmoniously within the piece.