I’m going to do that thing Society says women shouldn’t do: talk about my period. If this makes you squeamish then maybe don’t read this one. If you’re someone who struggles monthly, perhaps you’d like to read on.
Last night/yesterday, I slept for 16 hours. This is coming from someone who typically just can’t ever sleep. I have extreme insomnia. But when my period comes along, it’s almost like I have narcolepsy. I struggled hard to stay awake through work yesterday. When I came home, I fell into bed, still wearing work clothes, and I slept all the way through to the next day. Generally speaking, that kind of sleep is bliss; however, it’s problematic to be a teacher and be too tired to think. And, that’s not the only gift my period brings.
I’ve never officially been diagnosed with PMDD because not a single doctor will listen, not the psyc, not the gyno, not the primary. So, I just suffer through every month. This is where things get gross because I’m going to be explicitly honest. For me, each month I bleed so heavily and pass such horrible clots that I pretty much stay anemic. I have cramps so bad that my entire body hurts. I’ve found myself at work, on the floor, curled up, crying during my conference and lunch. My mood sinks so low that the self-injury increases and the suicidal thoughts become more realized. The bloating is horrendous. And the breast pain is agonizing. I just can’t be touched. What I’m trying to say is I need an out of order sign at least once every month.
It’s my understanding that this isn’t just normal PMS/menstruation; however, as doctors often do, they diminish the pain and complaints of women. So I’ve never been taken seriously when I’ve brought these complaints to their attention. And this is a problem. It’s a problem because it isn’t just about periods. Women go in with heart attacks and get dismissed. Women go in with severe internal organ damage and get dismissed. Female pain isn’t real pain. We are dismissed as being overly dramatic. But, come on, we live with our bodies every day. We know when something is wrong. We know when our pain is over the top. So, why do we get dismissed? Why does the medical community perpetuate the problem of not taking women seriously? And what can we do to fix the problem? Because it isn’t okay.