By: Bello Oreoluwa Haleemah

Unlike most of my friends, my menarche came at 10. Around the time, one of my friends just got hers and told us about it. She seemed so different like she was a big girl now that she got her first period. I wouldn’t say I was excited to get mine, I was anxious. I wanted to experience how it feels to start menstruating. I knew vaguely of periods because I was and still am interested in understanding how every woman’s body works.

The following week, I noticed some brown stains. I was kinda scared because I told no one about it not even my mother. I had saved some money for a pack of sanitary pad. I spent close to 20 minutes everyday wrestling with the pad and let’s say I didn’t nail it for the first two months. The first month was quite easy, no pains but the second month came with a surprise. My stomach was literally tumbling accompanied by backache and fatigue. It felt as if my intestines were looking for a pathway to come out. I couldn’t hold it in anymore, I had to voice out and tell my mum because I thought I was going to die. I was literally saying my goodbyes.

My mum thought I had it all within control but I was still struggling with how to use a pad and trying to bear the pains. Little did I know that I was doing more harm to myself. For the first few months, I was always badly stained and the school authorities would have to call my mum come pick me up from school. It was shameful because everyone in school knew the moment I had my period.

I began my journey of looking for what to kill or at least subside the pains. Trying different painkillers exposed me to the little knowledge I’ve about drugs. Just like what you thought painkillers would do. I also had the same perception but painkillers e.g felvin, would always put an end to the blood flows.

Initially, I was cloud nine thinking that I could always choose when to menstruate and when not at least, to bury my shame.

I had always had access to the internet so on a fateful Sunday afternoon, I decided to surf the net and understand the whole concept about menstruation, questions like ” will I die if I don’t menstruate? Can I skip menstruation for this month?” I was hoping for positive answers but unfortunately, the answers made me cry because I wasn’t ready to keep enduring pains every month. Every measure taken to make me feel better at that time of the month made me worse. Sometimes, I ended up using 2 sachets of paracetamol in 6 days. Yes, it’s drug abuse but that seems like the only way to communicate to my intestines and assure them that we’ll be alright.

Am I used to the pain? No! Every month feels like the pains are eating every part of me. Dysmenorrhoea feels like hell but of course ” I’m a woman, I bleed every month, and I’m not ashamed of this because it’s my pride!”

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