~ My Period Poverty Story~
When I was 18 I became a mum. I was still reeling from being left whilst pregnant when I gave birth to my son during a tough labour that left me extremely anemic, shaken and lonely.
The transition meant I was diagnosed with post natal depression. In truth I was adjusting and my soul was coming back into body, but it manifested as me being suicidal.
I bled heavily. A lot. As I grappled with breast-feeding and being a lone parent my periods came back with a bang. I bled and bled. It was like my body was weeping from the effects of coping with various traumas (I was recovering from multiple rapes at that time too). As if the blood was writing words and drawing pictures of what I was unable to face.
At that time I didn’t have a job or a home of my own (although I was lucky enough to be staying with my parents). I paid board and with no father contributing to baby, I was poor. I had a simple choice. My baby could have nappies or I could have sanitary products. Not both.
For a while I tried stuffing lots of tissue in my knickers. I didn’t tell anyone. I felt ashamed. I couldn’t provide for me and / or baby. I had no clue what I was doing and my body, rather like my baby, was crying for attention and for me to fix this.
It felt disorganised and messy. I felt stupid for not being able to provide myself with something so simple and necessary. Perhaps it was symbolic of the wider problem at that time, but I was way too caught up in the fire to work that one out.
My secret was safe. No-one knew. If I wasn’t so depressed I would have realised that telling someone would help, but I was so depressed, so locked down, so void of hope and ideas and responses that I never told anyone. I pretended I wasn’t leaking blood, staining knickers and using excessive amounts of tissue. I told myself I wasn’t doing anything out the ordinary. I had low self esteem. I believed tissue in my knickers was all I was worth and that life was proving that.
Eventually the bleeding got worse. I was exhausted but in one of my brighter moments I made a choice. One I now regret.
I chose to go to the Drs. and have a coil fitted because they stop periods. I chose to have an implant (like a mini harpoon) that releases fake hormones fitted semi-permanently into my womb space. I did this because I couldn’t afford sanitary care and believed I never would be able to. In short I felt I didn’t have a choice. This compounded my previous experiences of being powerless over what happens to my body.
The day I had it fitted I had to have my son in the exam room in his pram. I pushed him home feeling more and more ill. When I arrived home, I fainted on the bathroom floor from the pain I was in. My body’s last cry for help.
Once I was in a position to have it removed it had caused me physical problems. I was referred to a Consultant for its removal and told I’d need an op as something had gone wrong with the placement. I couldn’t live with it inside me any longer and I had it removed without an op or anesthetic.
When my periods returned I felt whole again and like I could start to understand the mystery of me now.
There are women going through this sort of thing in this country right now that need our help.
#Periodpoverty should not be considered just another issue of the poor. It is so much more than that. Every woman who endures it has a story like mine. This is not what I want for women. This is not what we want for women. There is a better way and together we can be the change.
Please if you can spare anything at all, donate, so that we can reach more women in need. We are now receiving requests for help and we don’t want to turn anyone away.
Written with gratitude to the sisters who brought up the reminder of this story in my consciousness so I could share it for the greatest good of all.
What’s your story? I’d love to know.
~ Lu ~
Photo credit: more-sky.com
Please consider donating to our charity project The Good Goddess Project that aims to provide empowering sanitary care to all women in need.
You can also donate money here which is being saved towards travelling to poorer countries to help the women there.