I have Fibromyalgia. In the medical world, I am constantly being asked to “rate your pain on a scale from 1 - 10” or “mark the X where you feel pain” on an anonymous and impersonal line- drawing of a body. My work pushes back against the sterility of medical diagnosis by placing the markers of my pain onto my own body. Through developing my own map-making techniques and wearing the marks of pain visibly, I am able to take control of my condition and present myself as I am: strong and in touch with my body.
My body and my pain are not static, any X I mark on a map will have changed position by the end of the day. Through documentation over time, I am able to give a more accurate and meaningful representation of my experience.
Personal data collection is a kind of lifeline for me. Even as I mark the location of pain upon my body, I seek to be gentle with myself, even as the needle pierces the paper, the soft thread wraps my image in protective embroidery. I combine data and ritual to create something beautiful that belies the pain it depicts.
Through creating these maps, I am able to push back against the invisibility of my pain and the silence of my condition.