That Quiet Thing We Never Talk About

Last December, I wrote this post about an incident that happens quite regularly for me. Every 3 months, to be exact. I was terrified when I wrote it. We’re taught that these are the quiet things that we never talk about. When we do, it’s in embarrassed little whispers and we feel dirty for talking about menstruation and “female parts”. Something that happens to about half the world’s population but it still isn’t something we discuss. Rather than be open about it, we’re taught to be ashamed of our bodies.

I should have written more blogs about what it’s like to hate your own body because of something out of your control. Girls are laughed at when they stand up for themselves because “It must be that time of the month.” It’s a joke to others and a shameful reality for most. Society tells us to just suck it up. It’s in our head. Every other woman has the same struggle as you do. You’re just a baby that can’t handle that.

I’ve been told by a lot of people to just suck it up. It can’t be that bad. It’s a lonely feeling when you know you’re not alone in your struggles with your female parts but it’s even lonelier knowing that these are the quiet things that we’re not supposed to talk about and there are other people who share your struggles who also remain silent. But we need to talk about it. Otherwise, how many other women are going to suffer in silence because we refuse to admit that we’re not okay and no one is willing to help us figure out why?

As it turns out from some research, there’s actually a term for this: “medical gaslighting” or “healthcare gaslighting“. (I added an interesting article I came across.) This article was actually pretty fascinating as I remember a time when I would plead with doctors for answers, only to have them say it’s in my head or I’m just playing up my symptoms. I wonder if there are no answers because no one cares to look. I mean, these issues only affect about 49.6% of the population so it can’t be that important to look into.

I even remember when I was younger and my mom would fight for me at the doctors. “She’s probably not going to have kids with this problem anyways, so why bother?” is what I remember the doctor saying. I was a teenager and rather than taking it seriously, they just dismissed me because I was potentially going to be infertile anyways and I was just a kid who couldn’t handle the pain. (Spoiler: a few years later at 18, I did end up pregnant with my oldest. 10 years later, I very easily got pregnant with my youngest.) I remember missing out on many days of college because I couldn’t leave the bed. I would get my period every 2 weeks and in those “off-weeks”, I was in the nauseated PMS stage where I felt dizzy and like death the entire time with brain piercing hormonal headaches. The first time I ended up on low dose pills was the only time that I found any sort of relief. Well, for the first year anyways. Then the symptoms came back with a vengeance and I’ve just had to deal with it since. But, the good news is that now I only have to struggle for 14 days every 3 months rather than every month. (insert eyeroll here)

I have given up. I figure that I only have about 10 or 15 more years to deal with it at this point, so why bother? I’ve accepted the fact that I won’t be able to work outside of the house because of these problems, even if this is the first time I’m admitting that this is a major reason for my choice. I’ve accepted that I have to plan my social calendar (after coronavirus) around my cycle. I’ve accepted that my husband will treat me like a porcelain doll during this time because he’s afraid of me passing out in a place where I can’t get help or getting more seriously hurt when I do. That I need 3 heating pads wrapped around me just not to cry in pain because nothing I’ve tried works and at least the heat dulls it a little. The embarrassing things that I have to deal with when it comes to the excessive bleeding. And here I am, flushed in the face that I even wrote this paragraph.

But… stay with me here… what if we didn’t have to suffer in silence because of this thing that we’re raised to not talk about or to be embarrassed about? What if the doctors did care enough to put the time into figuring it out or someone cared enough to research it so there were answers for the rest of us suffering as a result of these health issues? It might be too late for my generation, but that doesn’t mean we can’t fight for the future ones.

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