When I got my first period I walked out of the bathroom crying and scared. My mum told me, “Don’t be scared, it’s normal”. But getting your period in my family was never normal.
That’s all thanks to endometriosis; an ugly and unspoken disease that afflicts the women in my family.
I will never forget the time my mother was in so much pain she could hardly see straight and crashed her car in the middle of the city.
I will never forget the family holiday we took to Hong Kong, when my sister was close to haemorrhaging, barely able to walk 100 metres in a shopping centre, before having to run to a bathroom. She was bedridden for days, so pale and weak from the loss of blood.
But this disease is more widespread than you may think. Girls star Lena Dunham recently opened up about the ongoing pain and struggle she has had with the disease, bringing the issue to the public’s attention. And she’s not the only woman in the spotlight who has suffered. The ones we know are Hillary Clinton, Marilyn Monroe, Nicole Kidman and Khloe Kardashian, but as it effects one in 10 women, they would have to be the tip of the celebrity iceberg.
Growing up the idea of getting my period was something along the lines of the door scene in The Shining.
It was something I had to be prepared for, it didn’t feel like a normal right of passage, and in no way, shape, or form was I excited when it happened.
I watched my mother and sister deal with the monthly heavy bleeding. I had seen them hunched over on their beds, clutching their stomachs in pain, or their bodies would simply shut down from fatigue. But despite all of my knowledge and apprehension, I’m one of the lucky ones.
For those of you who don’t know what endometriosis is, it’s a disease that causes the tissue lining of the uterus to grow outside of it (shedding the lining of the uterus is what causes a period). It can often grow on surrounding organs such as the ovaries and bowels. Its symptoms can range from anything including crippling period pain, nausea and lethargy, pelvic pain and pain in the lower back and thighs.