This story came about when I woke up around 3am one morning with a pain that shot through my entire body. Of course, it was that time of the month again and I immediately compiled a list in my mind of people I would have to apologize to for my irrational mood during the past week.
Before lockdown, I was on a job and I realised, oh dear, this week is going to be a rough one and I told my male colleague “hey, this week is going to be that time of the month” to which he responded, “Uhm, cool, but I didn’t need to know that”. For the rest of the week, I managed to wince in private while holding my tummy thinking you little shit, if someone kicked you in the tummy you would definitely wince and wine and let me know.
It made me think. Those who do not experience menstruation might never know that the actual blood is just the cherry on the cake and with this whole ordeal some womxn experience a wild combo of both deep deep sadness and piercing pain.
And now here we are. A whole story on twopointoh dedicated to PERIODS.
Read this in private to know you are not alone or share it with your colleague the next time you don’t know how to explain what is going on with you.
Mandy Nash, 29, Freelance Stylist
Trans boys bleed too
When my period cramps get to a certain point I lament over the fact this is punishment for Eve eating the apple. She was framed! I also wonder how the powers that create life managed to make advanced solar systems but couldn’t come up with a better way to let me know I wasn’t pregnant.
Elliot, 27, Writer
It didn’t need to be embarrassing.
I have a lot of period memories, some of them are really embarrassing when they didn’t need to be. Because it’s nothing to feel ashamed over, it’s part of being a woman and I’m damn proud to be one.
Blünke JVR, also know as Trotse Tert, Fashion Designer and Fiery Cowgirl
Beyond the physical pain, the diarrhoea, nausea and everything that menstruation causes, we don’t talk about how much they can heighten feelings of sadness and anxiety with enough seriousness. Yes, there are running jokes about mood swings, but sometimes I’m never ready for how deeply sad I become.
Jabulile Dlamini-Qwesha, Freelance Writer, Editor and Social Media Strategist
And you can stay mad (shrugs)
The thing that bothers me the most about menstruation is that men somehow still feel that it’s a disgusting topic that they don’t need to know about. Well, unfortunately for them, I’m the woman who always tweets or speaks about my pain and the other horrible side effects when that time comes. I don’t know why but it helps. And I don’t care if they find it gross or inappropriate.You can literally stay mad.
To those men who become doctors and therapists to their partners, friends, sisters… we see you! You’re doing amazing.
Lesley Mathys, Group Managing and Syndication Editor of GQ, Glamour and House & Garden
I wish it would be mandatory for men to do a period cramp simulation.
I don’t think men understand or get educated enough on how hardcore menstruating is and they really should.
When I’m on my period I will often wake up in the middle of the night from cramps when the painkillers I took before I fell asleep wears off. Then I just have to lie in agony until the medication kicks in again. Or just going to work knowing that you will have to spend the whole day eating medication just so you can cope… It’s brutal and I think men need to get a better understanding of that.
Kirsten Reuter, 27
For years, silence marked my periods. The physiological rollercoaster before, the PAIN during and the sometimes embarrassing reflections afterwards. Before I realised it’s as mental as it is physical, before I embraced that this was a set of conditions to be managed and not a problem to be solved, and before I knew that I shared control of my emotions with these fickle organic chemicals we call hormones. If my ‘face’ was on and my mouth was shut, they couldn’t cause trouble.
Now, equipped with awareness, a tracking app and much more experience of people being people, I’m not so silent. My cycle is private but private doesn’t mean sullen and secret. It means telling colleagues and clients and editors the vague truth that I’m ‘not feeling well’ when I’m too sore to even get up and eat so I can take a painkiller. It means whiny period jokes on Instagram stories (and disapproving replies from my mom). Sometimes it’s still silence, but action instead, like when I rearrange my meetings and my fridge to be nice to myself.
What gets me through is what gets me through everything else: Acknowledgement, whether the obstacle is out in the world or right in your uterus. Recognise and accept the way things are, how you can change them, how you can manage what you cannot change, and keep it moving. Period or none, our lives are wasted if we spend them waiting for what’s fair. Doing everything right won’t make it fair, like when cramps hit hours before a deadline and I power through, tears and all, because I simply refuse to be that freelancer. Other times you luck out — is anyone else super creative & clear-headed right after their period?
Modupe Oloruntoba, Fashion Writer and Content Producer
Is this a symptom of Covid-19?
“Periods are never fun. Waking up at 4 am on a Friday with an inexplicable fat upper lip resembling a botched filler job while on your period in a national state of lockdown seemed almost unbearable at this hour. Stay calm, I told myself. Lip swelling is not a symptom of COVID-19. Or is it?! Like everything in this time of crisis, you just need to deal. The swelling went down after popping an antihistamine; the period pains remained. Luckily I now get to wail in pain in the comfort of my own home. And though I don’t know or maybe won’t ever know what caused my puffy duck lip, I do know that, like period pains, this time of uncertainty will fade like every month’s initial heavy flow.”
Marisa Crous, Content Manager
This is my little awkward story.
Getting up from a white chair during a meeting to see that I had leaked on my pants and the chair. Picking up the chair “discreetly” and going outside to clean it like nothing happened even if the whole team saw. Walking around with my blazer around my waist to cover the stain on my pants the entire day.
I will never forget that day.
Abongwe Qokela, 33
Prescriptions from a male doctor
Every time I find myself in a group of people and the subject of
menstruation and related symptoms come up, depending on the group
involved, one or all of the following three things happen: People who
have a menstrual cycle share stories of being made to feel shame, of
being belittled at school or in the workplace, of the lacking acceptance
for the reality of the symptoms we experience, of the price of products
and the fact that they are non-optional in our monthly lives and many
All the while those who don’t have periods stand or sit around in
a mixture of discomfort that ranges from polite and reserved boredom to
open, all-out disgust. From what I can tell this seems to be more or less
the universal experience. While I find it important to own and change
the discourse and engage our male friends and family, colleagues and
teachers on a day to day basis, I would like to stress a different point
I was fourteen the first time I saw a gynaecologist due to severe
menstrual symptoms and I felt way out of my depth. I have since, as an
adult woman and a doctor myself often been made to relive that feeling.
Because, predominantly male doctors, have disregarded complaints about the side effects of medications, or have prescribed medications that I
explicitly didn’t want because they “knew better”. Or suggested I “just try it before I decide that it isn’t for me”. Or have denied me options that I had researched and decided were correct for me.
I would like to encourage us all, to stand up for ourselves and our fourteen-year-old selves. To openly and plainly criticize our doctors when we don’t feel taken seriously and heard. When they deem crippling pain “acceptable and manageable with the right diet”. I would like us to remember that doctors, with all the power and influence they have over our health and well-being, are people too. And sometimes let their own biases get in the way of our best interests. It doesn’t solve the problem to wordlessly change doctors, it merely leaves it to the next person. It is our responsibility to give them a reality check and to get back on track to do not what they think is best, but what we decide together is the best option for us.
Marimba Wiegert, Doctor in Berlin