At times our journey to discover what is wrong with us can be a hard one, and it can go unnoticed for a time. Then we experience something that changes everything in our lives. That’s what it is was like for Victoria, a young woman from the Midwest— Indiana. Victoria’s journey begins with her official diagnosis— Vaginismus.
You can find more about the signs and symptoms of vaginismus in Victoria’s blog Girl With the Paw Print Tattoo.
A Struggle With Vaginismus, Anxiety, & Depression
The ride to discovery can me be a hard one, and it is never easy. It usually is a difficult one— and it was no different for Victoria’s journey. Victoria‘s official diagnosis is vaginismus. It occurred the first time her freshman year of College.
“After having sex for the first time. I discovered excruciating pain that went along with it,” she explains. “I did a Google search, and “vaginismus” came up.”
It was difficult for Victoria to understand, and for the months that followed, she hid it from the world. It wasn’t until a session with her therapist that she brought up the pain. It was Victoria‘s therapist that convinced her to seek real medical help.
”My first gynecologist knew I struggled with pain during examinations. Yet, they never addressed it. Now, when I say ‘struggled’ I mean I was held down on the table by two nurses as I cried. I shook uncontrollably whenever she examined me.”
It was a horrible experience for Victoria. At times her gynecologist couldn’t examine her because her PC muscles blocked her. It was still never addressed, and it continued to be a problem in her life. It finally took Victoria approaching her doctor and telling her that she had the condition.
Her response was, “Oh that makes sense! I always thought you never liked exams.”
When you receive a diagnosis such as vaginismus, it can be a daunting and an exhausting process. Over the years, Victoria has gone through so many doctors, gynecologists, chiropractors, acupuncturists, and physical therapists.
“I was given a set of dilators and told yo use them daily. I was never given instructions on how to use them. This is typical.”
As with any diagnosis, it usually morphs into other issues in your life. Factors like problems in Victoria’s personal life helped fuel a new struggle with depression. In her freshman year in college, depression became a part of her diagnosis. Victoria was randomly selected to take a test in the Psychology Department in her college. It was the results of this test that the Professor, a therapist and the Head of Psychology Department, called Victoria into his office.
“It was the most nerve-wracking experience of my life,“ she explains. “I knew I was a mess, but I had to pretend I was fine. I walked into the room full of sunshine, and played it cool.”
It worked as Victoria confused the room. The results of her test made it seem that it would be impossible to get out of bed most days. They were shocked that the individual that took that test was before them. Victoria, like so many of us who first experience depression, laughed her depression off.
It was a futile thing to do, and on a break from school when Victoria went home, she went to a family doctor. Victoria got her official diagnosis of Depression. Victoria resisted her doctor’s recommendation to take medication and chose a route without anti-depressants.
“It wasn’t until recently that I began to see a psychiatrist. I now have been prescribed a variety of anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medication. It’s crazy to think that it’s officially been one full year on meds.”
Anxiety is another side effect of her diagnosis. Victoria contends that she has always lived with generalized anxiety disorder. She learned to adapt throughout her life. It was her therapist in her freshman that gave her the official diagnosis of anxiety.
“To be honest, I don‘t remember what it was like before these diagnoses,” Victoria recalls. “I remember one memory of being completely blissful, and that when I was very young. I was outside in the backyard; the grass was extremely green, and the sun was shining brighter than it ever had. I would twirl around, and swing on the swing set smiling as I breathed in the crisp air. If I close my eyes, I can still smell the grass and the air and the sunshine on my face. I was fearless. I was free. I was innocent. I was happy.”
What is the Hardest Part for Victoria?
In Victoria’s life living with vaginismus is the hardest thing she has to deal with each day. The depression is a side effect of vaginismus, and she has found ways to make the anxiety not a big part of her life.
“With vaginismus, and therefore depression, It is feeling worthless and abnormal,” she explains. I feel like everything is my fault, and I’m a huge failure when it comes to relationships.”
Victoria worries that she has set her fiancé back when it comes to relationships. It is often the feeling for Victoria that vaginismus holds her back from enjoying her life. For Victoria, it feels as if life is passing her by.
“It’s not living. This, of course, is my biggest fear.”
Triggers are what Victoria struggles the most each day. One of the hardest triggers for her is to be alone in her apartment. Trying to relax alone can be a hard thing for Victoria. The negative thoughts and emotional turmoil can be consuming. Victoria at times has good days, and she is able to move on with her day. It’s the nights that can be the most difficult.
“Every night is difficult for me because I so desperately want to be intimate with my fiancé but can’t,” she explains. “This only intensifies my depression.”
It doesn’t help Victoria’s cause that depression and anxiety often set her back. She can remember a time before her anxiety medication where she was afraid to hang out with people. The fear of driving and being in large crowds frightened Victoria. It was fearful to even drive for her.
Luckily for Victoria, those days of fearing her anxiety have passed. Depression still haunts her every day. Those days where she wanted to stay in bed all day, she gets up and tries to go about her day.
”I find that tears sometimes swell in my eyes for no reason. I must wipe them away. I realize that I suck at communication with others because I’m not even thinking about anything other than my own thoughts. It makes me feel terrible and guilty. I worry that I am a terrible friend and partner.”
Victoria Wants to Share This With the Mental Illness Community
The one thing Victoria wants to share with the readers of this article is this. Not to judge individuals so quickly.
“You have no idea what they are going through in their life,” Victoria explains. “You have no idea what their daily struggles might be. Also, for those of you dealing with the same struggles, just know that you are never alone. Some days are harder than others, but you will get through this.”
Learning From the Blogging Experience
Within the confines of her blog, it has helped Victoria sort through her emotions. In a very constructive way. What helps is being able to sit down and talk about her mental illness and conditions. He blog is like writing a journal that you share with others. The people that follow her blog can empathize and relate to what Victoria is going through.
“I also love how blogging shares awareness. It makes me feel good inside to talk about vaginismus and shed light on this condition to the community. Hopefully, it will one day go further than just blogging about it.”
Ending on a Positive Note
There are things in our lives that make life worth living. For Victoria, it is her fiancé and the possibilities of beautiful adventures. Like traveling the world.
It has been a unique experience to share Victoria’s continuing journey with vaginismus, depression, and anxiety. I came across Victoria’s blog, and it was amazing to see how someone who has been through so much can be so open. She can still shed light on her illness and help others with her blog. It was my pleasure to write this feature article about Victoria.
I hope every person reading this article knows that each of us struggles in our own way. Victoria and The Bipolar Writer are of one mind when she says not to judge people for their struggles. When this happens, some battles stay hidden, and that is all bad. I wish nothing but positivity as Victoria continues her journey.
You can find Victoria’s blog Here.
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Photo Credit: Featured Image and other images of her are from Victoria’s collection.