Normally I would start a post like this apologising for the content. I’m not going to do that today because this is something that I don’t think I should be sorry for talking about. PS I will apologise for the awful pun of a title.
Two hours into my shift on Saturday, I realised that despite being fully prepared given the situation, I had bled through my pants and my trousers. I realised this while I was stood at the desk of one of my team leaders asking for advice on a situation with a customer, and I was mortified. I quickly adjusted how I was stood, rushed the conversation and dashed to the toilets, where I promptly burst into tears in a cubicle.
Two minutes of hormone and embarrassment fuelled sobbing later, I pulled myself together enough to attempt to think clearly. Despite all the team leaders in being women, which is a wonderfully rare occurrence, I couldn’t bring myself to tell anyone what had happened. I wanted to go home, but there was no way I was going to admit the reason for needing to leave, so instead I cleaned myself up as best I could, and thanked my lucky stars that I was wearing loose trousers with a fairly jazzy pattern so the patch of red on my crotch wasn’t visible unless someone was paying close attention to it. I wrapped my big cardigan around myself and went on with the rest of my day.
As the day went on, and with every time I had to leave my desk for whatever reason, only to be very careful of how my cardigan was hanging and if I was walking quick enough that no one would be able to focus on me long enough to potentially spot my red spot, I couldn’t help feeling ashamed on more than one level.
Why could I not just admit to someone at work what was going on? I could have gone home, changed and been back within 15 minutes, but the fear of having someone that I work with know about my little ‘accident’ meant I sat and spent my day on edge. But on the other side I couldn’t stop thinking: why should I be ashamed?
Periods are a natural and normal part of life for women, yet for as long as I can remember, I’ve been made to feel embarrassed by them. It was embarrassing learning about them at school, and embarrassing when you had to miss swimming because of them, or when you had to ask around to see if anyone had a spare pad or tampon when you got caught out.
And don’t get me wrong, I’m not really ever embarrassed to be on my period. I’ll tell my friends if I’m having really bad cramps, and have no issue asking for supplies from people in the office these days, but that’s not what this is about. Its not to do with how we see our own periods, but how other people do. While no one at work seemed to notice my stain today, I would have almost liked to see how different people reacted. Would I be met with pity and support, or would there be whispers when I walk away? I shouldn’t have to question this. I was too ashamed to share my problem with someone else, and that’s not ok.
No its not ideal having a patch of blood on your trousers but also why should it be a problem if you do? Its not your fault if Mother Nature calls early, or you’ve sat awkwardly and therefore a leak has occurred. Its not by choice, its just life and I’m so done with people being judgemental about it.
Let’s end this stigma.