If I had a pound for every time I’d referred to my period as my ‘time of the month’ in my life out of embarrassment and awkwardness, I’d be a very rich young lady.
Periods are one of the most natural and normal things in the world. Although there are things we can do to put a stop to them, for a lot of us, they happen pretty regularly and once they’ve started, there’s nothing we can do to stop them.
Although there’s been a lot of talk about ‘tampon tax’ throughout 2018, which is a real step in the right direction to breaking the taboo around talking about ‘time of the month’, there’s still a real shyness around mentioning you’re on your period, and I often find myself dumbing down just how much I’m struggling during those dreaded seven days out of every 28.
Some get lucky and don’t struggle with their periods at all, others struggle a little, but nothing too unbearable and then there’s people like me who find themselves debilitated every few weeks by the curse of mother nature.
Many are aware of conditions such as Endometriosis and polycystic ovary syndrome, both of which cause heavy, painful and hugely symptomatic periods; but then there’s also some of us that just suffer with monstrous periods for no apparent reason and because of that, find ourselves feeling as though we have no right to complain.
There seems to be a societal attitude that dictates that because periods are so normal and so common, they’re just not that serious. They’re just part of a monthly routine and really nothing to ‘bat an eyelid’ at, but as someone who finds themselves crippled for days on end, I can assure you that periods are simply not a joke for some of us.
I’ve had plenty of tests and examinations to check for any conditions that could be causing these hellish periods, all of which concluded in a big, fat ‘everything seems normal’, which although you’d think would have me jumping for joy, actually left me feeling a bit deflated with the realisation that I was just suffering with no explanation and no real way to help myself.
Although my periods can cause days of uncontrollable mood swings, unbearable pain in my back, stomach and legs, unpredictable bowel movements, debilitating migraines and a whole host of other symptoms, I find myself hobbling into work, suffering in silence and not saying a word about how unwell I’m feeling, all because the cause is my period.
If I were to suffer with such symptoms for any other reason, I certainly wouldn’t be powering through and putting my body through so much stress to just keep going and I definitely wouldn’t be keeping quiet about how much I was struggling but because of the classic ‘time of the month taboo’, I spend 7 days dosing up on off the shelf period pain tablets, gripping a hot water bottle for dear life and waiting for the time at which I can crawl back into bed.
Why is it were still so shy about saying ‘I’m on my period and I’m really suffering’? Why is it that so that many struggle so badly, month after month, feel the need to either say nothing or make up an excuse for their period symptoms to friends, family and employers?
I get it, it feels awkward. Over the years, the word ‘period’ has become a really awkward word. It feels weird to say it. It seems quite blunt and graphic. It seems to naturally provoke the physical reaction of grimacing when you hear it, but why?
How have we reached a point where people who are suffering what feels like ’10 rounds with Mike Tyson’ both inside and outside have to silently carry on with day to day life because they’re too embarrassed to just say, ‘I’m on my period’?
Periods might be normal. They might be natural, but for a lot of us, they’re simply hell. There may be thousands who can power on as normal during their time of the month but that doesn’t mean those of us who are debilitated by the symptoms of menstruating should have to do the same.
Every person is different, and so is every period. Even those who suffer have months that are worse than others, but on occasions where the pain is so crippling we’re collapsing, the headaches are so bad we can’t see and the mood swings are so intense we can’t even function properly, we need cutting a little slack, even if it is ‘just a period’.
Let’s make talking about time of the month less awkward and normalise a topic that is just that, very normal.
Some don’t suffer and others do, and for those of us that do struggle, let’s allow periods to be a valid reason for feeling unwell because they definitely are, instead of feeling as though we either have to ‘shut up and put up’ or come up with an illness that sounds a little more ‘serious’ as an excuse for our symptoms.
Hormones take control during time of the month, so let’s all become a little more laid back when it comes to discussing periods, and a little more accepting that for some, they are hell and that’s just how it is.