I have a gynaecology appointment tomorrow and it’s suddenly dawned on me, I could find out I might have another condition.
I’ve suffered from seriously painful periods for years, but I’ve always just dealt with them. Within the Black community, as women we always do; many of us have severe heavy periods, that come with paralysing back pain and cramps, and because generations of women before us suffered we suffer too. Furthermore, as teenagers, visits to GPs are not even rewarded with a prescription for anything stronger than paracetamol. One of my best friends waited until her twenties to go and see a GP about her heavy periods and just suffered in silence through her teens.
As soon as I turned 18, I went on the contraceptive pill – not only because I had become sexually active, but also to help battle my period demon. And it worked – the combined pill made my periods lighter, however it made my depression worse. Thankfully, I was switched over to Cerazette, a progestogen-only pill, but this took years of negotiation with my GP, while simultaneous back-and-forthing regarding my depression and undiagnosed Epilepsy. Finally not having a period was a weight off my shoulders and when I went travelling, I changed over to an implant to ensure that I could continue to stay period free while on my travels.
The problem with Epilepsy is AEDs (anti-epileptic drugs) is that some of them conflict with contraceptives which contain hormones. Unfortunately, Keppra conflicted with my implant and I had to have it removed. I now have an IUD (non-hormone) coil, which means that I have horribly painful periods again – including sleepless nights. This provoked me to go back to the GP and demand a referral to gynaecology, because I could no longer live in agony. It took a lot of persuasion, but eventually I got a referral, however can you imagine a GP questioning a thirty year old (at the time I was still thirty) woman about her own body? And I don’t mean questioning in the sense of a tick box of symptoms, but gaslighting, to deter us from having to make these costly referrals.
There was an article in Black Ballad over the summer, however I can no longer find it regarding Black women and periods. We are made to suffer, because we’re perceived by white clinicians as strong and robust, therefore when we come into their rooms with our ailments, they don’t believe us, which has detrimental impacts upon our bodies as well as our mental health.
As somebody with Epilepsy, I shouldn’t have been gaslighted.
As somebody with Epilepsy, I shouldn’t have had to wait since FEBRUARY to have my gynaecological issues sorted out, when they have an impact on my seizures.
I could have another condition.
As a young Black woman, I shouldn’t be made to feel ashamed to ask for help to manage them.
P.S. I actually thought this was really funny considering how much I hate periods: