I was barely ten years old when we, all the girls in our standard five class, were put in one class with 4 female teachers. I personally thought it was something exciting. They were here to teach us about menstruation. By then I had heard about menstruation/periods but really didn’t understand it well. At that time we knew that at a certain older age, women BLEED FOREVER. The teachers were friendly I have to admit but what they were teaching was not friendly at all to my ears. I grew chills and I knew I didn’t want this menstruation burden. They taught us that menstruation is good and natural as once we have menstruation we can now have babies….more chills. Babies again? I looked around and my other classmates seemed excited. I wasn’t, I was scared for my life. I did a short prayer. After a while of being taught the basics diagrams, facts and all, it was time for questions.
I had questions…..maaannnyyyy questions but my most important question was, can we stop it before it starts? Like how important is this scary bleeding? I asked this question. I got the response of as a woman you should be able to bear children and through having periods, it prepares you for that. Again, my mind went into overdrive and asked, what if I don’t want children? I was told every woman at the right age, when married, should have children.
I was 10 years old and I knew for sure, this wasn’t for me and this disaster called periods will ruin my life. I had more questions…define bleeding, is it a drop or? No, it is continuous bleeding for 3 to 4 days and for some it goes for 7 days. Including while bathing and pooping? Yes. Horror, horror right there. I felt my stomach churning and did a longer prayer, Lord, please, could you please forget me as you give people this periods? I couldn’t have known by then but I felt this periods will NOT be a joyous moment for me as the teachers told us it would be. I could see around me, other girls were excited about having this periods, maybe they were faking it but I was cold and blank faced. Even after that session, girls were excited all talking about it, I just wanted to go home and sulk under my blankets.
3 years later, I got home and sulked under my blankets. Lord had not heard my prayers, my periods were here and I HATED THEM. They came while I was in school, during a break session, my close friends back then were excited for me. I was the last of the friends ring to have my periods and they had sanitary pads ready and all. They were EXCITED….I WAS ANGRY AND DISAPPOINTED. They told me their flawless experience, 3 day periods, drop like flows, all these awesome body changes…. A quad billion years later, I’ve never had this flawless experience, I’ve never experienced 3 day drop like periods.
My experience from day was horror….PAINS from here to high heaven. Mt first periods were continuous waterfall crazy 8 days. I was in so much pain and anguish, no one understood what I was going through. Everyone told me that the first periods might be heavy and a little pain. By the fourth periods, Mrs Flawless will be with me. By the sixth month, I was rolling on the floor cringing in pain. I needed to die at that point. I was taken to several doctors and I was told the same story/nonsense…this is normal, women experience pain, you need to tough it up, here take these brufen and get used to it. At that point I got to understand that this will be a very lonely battle. I got a little depressed. At that time, we didn’t have any sanitary towels with wings so you can imagine the discomfort of having a waterfall passing through you as you try to sit and concentrate in class in a very light sky blue dress on the second front row. No one understood then but my grades started declining, I was one of the bright kids in class but now during this horror periods, I hardly concentrated in class, waterfall may penetrate, pain might kill me, take enough brufen (ibuprofen) to reduce this pain but also wake up ulcers while at it. I lived my little horror story alone, my closest friends didn’t get it, the school nurse didn’t get it, the female teachers didn’t get it, my mother believed me but still had never experienced this kind of pain so still didn’t get it and worse of it all, the DOCTORS DISMISSED ME.
My second year of menstruation was not any better. I was now in high school, a boarding school and I couldn’t run home after school. I had to ‘bear’ with it. I ran out of painkillers real quick. The school nurse and matron at first assumed I was faking it but with time got a little considerate as the periods got a little crazier. It now became a cycle. Every periods I had to miss classes as I had to go lay at the nurses clinic because the pain was extreme. The flow was unforgiving. Most of my school shopping consisted of packets and packets and packets of heavy sanitary pads…..STILL, IT WAS ASSUMED THIS WAS NORMAL. During holidays, we visited more doctors, same script, I WAS DISMISSED. I was mentally, emotionally and physically drained. All these years from when the horror started to when I cleared I still wasn’t convinced how important menstruation was. For me, menstruation meant hell. Even mentioning the word made my pelvic psychologically ache.
Now the icing on the cake for me was this was something I battled alone. This was more or less a taboo topic to talk about and those who heard, didn’t believe me so if someone else was going through my hell, they too, cried and struggled alone. The mental exhaustion of this is beyond no matter how strong you are. You hate yourself and if you are religious you hate god, you are forever angry and on the edge and become more and more of a loner coz by now, you are no longer told to bear the pain but you are told to stop exaggerating imaginary pain.
For 15 years I battled this imaginary and growing pain alone. Doctor after doctor, year in, year out. I missed out on so much. I was angry, confused and alone. I hated myself so much for this pain that was no longer just during my periods by now but it lived with me every single day. Everything ached. I was a mess physically, emotionally, mentally. I needed to know I wasn’t crazy.
Now I know. My 15 year imaginary dismissed horror had a name, endometriosis. I wasn’t crazy. Maybe deep down from the first lesson I felt it, maybe. The teachers just taught us what was textbook basic but I need this to NOT be the norm. Period pain is not normal, boy and girls, men and women, heavy periods are not normal . Periods can bring disorders, chronic invisible illnesses with them. They are not a blessing to every girl, some live through painful horrors. Please when educating both boys and girls about menstruation, don’t just show them the rose coloured glasses view. Don’t let another girl live this nightmare alone.
Single voice of the MILLIONS of women who suffer from any and all period/hormonal related illnesses. YOU ARE NOT ALONE. THE AGONY IS NOT IMAGINARY.
**Share your stories and let your voices be heard #YourVoiceMatters. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org