This week’s instalment comes from Nae Nae and how her earliest memories of her period are linked with playing sport…..
Is it weird to remember the month and the year of which I began my journey to womanhood? Half the time I barely remember activities of the week before; yet I remember it was October 1998; I was 11years old and finally settling into secondary school. Finally securing my friends for the first semester; finally getting used to waking up at 6.45am to get into school for 8.45. Finally accepting I was soon hitting my teenage years.
Blood and basketball
It started in an after school club session. I was learning how to play basketball; a sport that was to inevitably play an important role in shaping my identity. During a particular drill I got the sudden urge to go to the toilet so I asked my PE teacher if I could quickly go.
At the time I felt heavily soiled and thought I had actually leaked in my pants. Feeling a little embarrassed I dashed off to the girls changing room to use the toilets.
As I pulled my pants down to see the damage done and finally ease myself; I looked down in shock, horrified at the amount of blood that had sneaked out of me and soiled my knickers.
Am I dying? Yes – I must be dying! Were the exact thoughts that ran through my head.
A light touch
I remember being taught about puberty in primary school. Lightly touching on periods. Exactly that. A light touch I was expecting, not a heavy flow of redness over my knickers. In my mind something was very wrong.
I remember crying in the toilets thinking God why?? and honestly thinking myself weak all of a sudden. I stuffed my underwear with tissue, washed my hands and went back to continue playing basketball.
I never mentioned anything to my PE teacher nor to any of the other girls at the time. I carried on playing with the daunting thought behind me that I would probably have to go to the hospital when I got home.
Unfortunately I was never taught that some girls may bleed more than others even during your FIRST. Hence why I thought I was suffering some fatality and did not want to worry anyone at school.
That worried walk home….
I rushed home straight after basketball to meet my mum who was already making dinner in the kitchen. I had been crying on my way home so she noticed my red eyes and asked me what was wrong. I told her I had been bleeding heavily. She first looked at me with worry on her face but when I continued and told her where I had been bleeding from she smiled then laughed and continued laughing telling me I was not dying and I had actually had my period.
I was so confused, but relieved at the same time. I asked her why everyone made it seem like it was a tiny drop of blood in your pant not an overflow – in my case anyway.
I later went on to experience regular heavy but healthy periods.
I wish I had been told that girls experience different flows even on your first ever encounter with the ‘lady in red’ as someone once politely and creatively put it.
Secondly, if I had told my PE teacher she would have reassured me that everything was okay and I would not have wasted my tears crying thinking I was dying on my journey home.
I will always remember my first period experience being linked to my earliest basketball experience and how exercising and playing sport has played a very important part in my period journey. Exercising and keeping fit helped and still helps to reduce some of the symptoms like cramps and bloating.
One other thing I can say I learned and still practice is sharing your experience with friends or your mother.
Periods bond us together as women and young ladies. I know wherever I am I can share my experience and there is someone who knows what I am going through.