Endometriosis is a widely misunderstood chronic pain condition, which affects 1 in 10 women worldwide (it’s as common as diabetes) but takes on average 8 years to diagnose. 54% of people – 74% of men – in the UK don’t know what endometriosis is. 67% of women find out about endometriosis online. The NHS has named it one of the top 20 most painful conditions in the world.
Women were only allowed in clinical trials in 1993, so it’s no wonder we have a gender pain gap: the consequence is lack of knowledge, funding and empathy. Female pain is systematically doubted and dismissed; women are called liars and not considered reliable witnesses to their own bodies. Medical research deficits leave many suffering without proper treatment, and huge diagnostic delays are fuelled by common misconceptions that pain is just a “woman’s lot”, or that severe period pain is “normal
Tell the jury about the illustration.
The Pain Dictionary is a new visual and verbal language for endometriosis pain, created from real pain descriptions from sufferers. It is our alternative to the outdated clinical 1-10 scale, expressing pain in ways numbers never could. The illustrations are the opposite of the pain scale: pure sensation, pure subjectivity. Felt, not counted. Female artists and artists with endometriosis brought to life the verbatim pain descriptions through different mediums, creating a new, rich, expressive visual language. Each illustration had to remain true to the lived experience of sufferers: our north star was to do their descriptions justice. The visceral illustrations are an exercise in empathy, designed to make you feel pain on impact, allowing endometriosis sufferers to express their pain fully, and to be better understood. The dictionary is also a diagnostic tool, helping those suffering with diagnoses to recognise their pain – and combatting low awareness of the condition.