Each week, we will be asking people who get their periods to talk about their relationship with their menstrual cycle. Feel free to get in touch with us via email in order to submit your own Period Piece. Thank you to all menstruators who choose to share their stories. By doing so, you are helping to break the taboo and normalise menstruation.
My first period was at the age of 12 and I’ll never forget the feeling of impending doom I felt when I first saw blood in knickers. I thought "this is it, I'm dying!" I screamed for my mum, who explained to me what was happening, as I don’t think we had had the "period" conversation before. I remember her frantically running around trying to find a pad big enough to catch the bleed.
As I got older and my friends all started their periods, it became apparent to me that my periods were not like other peoples. I would talk about how I used maxi pads while everyone else seemed to be using the ‘light-flow' tampons. I wanted to be like them, so I went to a pharmacy and bought a packet of the light tampons.
Never. Again. Within 15 minutes I had soaked and leaked right through it, making yet another pair of my knickers a victim to my period. I went back to my maxi pads and tried to ignore the feeling being different.
The next few years were a struggle of making sure I was always within walking distance of a toilet and that I had enough black clothes to last me a week. Then, on my first day of year 10 at school, disaster struck. We had a 2 hour introduction to welcome us to our GCSE year, and I was experiencing a particularly heavy period.
As the induction went on I could feel my maxi pad soaking more and more, and eventually I felt the warm trickle of blood leaking out. Panic washes over me: how am I going to stand up? There's going to be blood all over the chair!
When the time came, I stayed seated while everyone else started to leave, and when I did eventually stand up, blood was dripping out from under my skirt.
I heard a voice behind me say "just hold your hand like you’ve cut it." I turned behind and saw the sympathetic face of a girl, who could see exactly what had happened. At the time, she felt like a guardian angel. She has remained one of my closest friends ever since.
I ran to the health centre with my hand wrapped tightly in the other, a trail of blood following me. I burst into tears when I got there, and the nurse explained that there were things I could do to try and combat my excessively heavy periods. She also discovered that I was heavily anaemic. For the first time, I felt that I understood that I wasn’t 'different', but rather that my body was unique, just like everyone else's.
I am now 25 and not the afraid 14 year old I was back then. Aided with my tranexamic acid to help reduce the severity of my flow and my iron tablets, I find my periods to be manageable and just another part of life. I still wear maxi pads and have to take extra precautions, but when I do leak I am no longer embarrassed or panicked. Rather than be ashamed, I remember how lucky I am to have sanitary items to help me get through this time, which sadly a lot of women don’t have access to. I no longer feel judged, and if people want to judge me when I have leaked, then that is their problem. I love my body just the way it is and periods are totally normal.