Opening Up to the World

By Ms. Menses

We need to be more open with ourselves and our bodies.

This statement seems obvious, but when it comes to menstruation, we just don’t do it.

I’ve lived with PMDD for a few years now, but I’ve never really talked about it with the anyone other than my immediate family. This is probably true for most of us. Menstruation-related conditions aren’t something we usually bring up in everyday conversation.

But when it comes to menstruation itself, I’m a bit of an outlier…

I love menstruation.

I’m a college student researching menstruation and how it affects girls’ ability to attend school in developing countries. I’m that girl who talks about it all the time, posts about it on Facebook, and picks up books about menstruation at the library. I’m interning with a menstruation-related nonprofit and I’ve been trained to teach menstrual health classes.  I also recently went on a study abroad trip to many different countries where I distributed menstrual kits to girls and did a class about menstruation and how to love your body in Sri Lanka. I want my career centered around menstruation.

People often ask me why I’m so passionate about this and I always tell them about when I sewed menstrual kits for girls in Ethiopia when I was 15. However, the real reason why I started the service project was because I had recently been diagnosed with PMDD and I wanted to help other girls with their menstrual-related problems too. This is the part that no one knows about. They’re always shocked and impressed at how open I am about menstruation. It’s ironic though, because I’m not open about my PMDD…

When I went on my two and a half month study abroad with twelve other people, I planned on not having a period. I did not want my PMDD to affect my trip and I did not want to deal with it in front of everyone. Thus, I brought extra birth control pills and hoped for the best.

The first month and a half of the trip went well with only a few instances in which my PMDD broke through and I had to skip out on activities. Then, one of the worst PMDD episodes of my life happened with a month still left on the trip. Everyone could see me crying in the back of class. I skipped class for almost a week straight. Everyone knew something was wrong and that I was depressed. I felt exposed and vulnerable. People who were complete strangers to me before the trip had seen me at my weakest.

The thing is though, everyone was so supportive and understanding. When I felt like I couldn’t make it another day and the suicidal thoughts started to creep in, they were there for me.

In the menstruation class I taught in Sri Lanka, I taught the girls how to love their bodies and be proud of what their bodies can do. I told them that menstruation is not a curse but a blessing. Menstruation allows us to bring life into the world! However, every month I fear my period. I dread it with every cell in my body. When the PMDD hits, I hate my body. I hate my period and how I feel. But this experience on my study abroad made me realize that I need to be more open about myself and my own experience with menstruation and PMDD.

By being more open about our PMDD, we can come one step closer to loving our bodies. Even when we feel absolutely horrible, our bodies are amazing. Hating ourselves only makes the depression worse.

I believe I was born with PMDD because I was meant to advocate for girls like us and speak out about menstruation. We all need to become advocates for ourselves and learn how to talk about PMDD.

PMDD affects one out of every 20 women. This isn’t just some rare disease – it’s something many of us are suffering through. We shouldn’t have to suffer alone- speak out and find your fellow PMDD sisters!

It wasn’t by choice that I had PMDD out in the open, but it forced me to not suffer in silence. I realized I need to start practicing what I preach. It may be hard to be open about such a personal subject, but trust me – you will feel empowered and more confident about yourself once you do. Your condition doesn’t define you. You will realize just how strong you are when you stop hiding your weakness. It takes a lot for women like us to deal with this issue month after month. I realized that even though I have this condition, I still can be proud of my body when I am menstruating. We’re all still on the journey towards self-love, but we’re coming closer everyday.

 

About the Warrior

Ms. Menses is a University student who is passionate about menstruation and women’s rights. She has done a TED Talk about menstruation and is currently working on researching the effects of menstruation on girl’s education. She loves to talk about and teach classes about menstruation. She is planning on getting a Master’s in Public Health with a focus on Women’s Reproductive Health issues. She hopes to help make menstruation something people can talk about openly so that girls do not have to suffer.

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