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It’s About Bloody Time we talked more about periods!

About Bloody Time

When I was in Year 11 I was at a new school. I had moved from the north west of Western Australia to Canberra with my family, and slotted into Stirling College knowing not a soul and being a very-young-for-Year-11 fifteen years old.

I was trying my hardest to get used to new routines and a new city and new friends, when a very familiar ‘disaster’ befell me.

It’s the sort of experience the Victorian Womens Trust and their clever compadres at Rosie are seeking to de-stigmatise and drag out into the very normal light of day, thanks to a team of brilliant people including educators and writers and designers like Karen Pickering, Aimee Carruthers and Jane Bennett (among others genius types!)

About Bloody Time

 

But back to me for a tick. So what happened was …

I was sitting in my English class when I felt a familiar feeling. I told myself it would be fine. I was wearing a pink and white striped linen dress, buttons down the front, cinched in with a bright blue polka-dot belt. I remember this very clearly for reasons that will become apparent soon.

I ignored the feeling and after class speedily headed to the bathroom. In a sort of revised memory of this event I imagined I was sort of clutching at my dress to gather it up. But realistically I went with the faux confidence ‘please no!’ approach of striding out of class ASAP … AHEAD OF MY NEW CLASSMATES. No clutching. Dress flying free.

When I got into the bathroom, I swivelled around to discover that I had indeed just got my period and it was a total CORKER of an effort from my reproductive system with giant splotches of blood festooning the back of the dress which I had nicked from my mum’s wardrobe after she went to work that morning.

In my head, I did a quick check of how many classmates would have been behind me – at least 18 and possibly my teacher – and tried to remember if they had been muttering anything menstrual as I disappeared into the bathroom.

With no clear answers, I ducked into the cubicle, sobbed quietly and did my level best to tidy up with the assistance of around 4 metres of folded toilet paper. I sat in there until around 10 minutes after I heard the bell for the next PERIOD go and was sure I was alone. #OhTheIrony

Then I slunk out of the stall and began to try and clean up my dress with even more toilet paper and cold water and truth be told probably my own embarrassed tears.

The dress was a particularly raw sort of linen, so it was not easygoing to tidy it up. In the end I just decided to clutch the back of the dress in a giant handful, as though I was an old-fashioned type of lady frolicking in a paddock pulling her skirts up, and determinedly headed for the back door of the school and walked home. No actual frolicking happening here, to be clear. More of a conflicted walk-run.

About Bloody Time

The memory of this is very, very clear to me still, 35 years later, because it felt so embarrassing and periods were even less talked about then. Reproductive chatter was all about not-getting-pregnant and less-so about the processes that allow pregnancy to happen.

Thankfully NOW the tide is turning and lots of good folk are determined to open up the discussion and awareness of periods so others don’t have to do a shameful sort of feelings-filled walk home from school (or elsewhere) in a damp frock or soggy jeans. Because periods should not feel shameful.

Phew. Of course, these important awareness initiatives often need help from others and in this case the VWT and Rosie Respect’s book About Bloody Time is seeking support via a Pozible campaign.

If you have ever hurried home in a soggy frock, navigated the day with a LOT of neatly-folded scratchy toilet paper in your undies or a jacket wrapped around your trousers due to perfectly normal bodily functions that sometimes creep up on us, then you might like to throw in a few dollars? If only to help change the conversation and attitudes around periods and menstruation so that other people who have periods don’t have to feel that it’s SUPER DOOPER embarrassing!

And if you think you know someone who has navigated this sort of experience – or had a period – you can chip in too!!

Head here to contribute or to find out more. 🙂

Have you ever had an experience like this too?! Argh. Fist bump in solidarity if so!

x Pip

 

PS – I’ll be back here later today with a final Holiday Diary instalment!

4 Comments

  • Reply
    Reannon
    April 30, 2019 at 8:40 AM

    I remember I was babysitting my younger siblings when I first got my period but I didn’t realise that it WAS my period. Earlier that day at school I had been knocked into the corner of a desk at school so I thought the blood I was seeing (approx 6 hours later) was the result of that & meant I had some kind of internal damage to my lady parts!!! I was only 12 & looking back now it seems SO young & I was so clueless even though I thought I was all over the grown up lady things….

  • Reply
    Jo
    April 28, 2019 at 6:19 PM

    Pip,

    Thank you so much for sharing this, which has inspired me to write about another ‘taboo’ subject on my own blog – antidepressants and orgasms. So thank you for that.

    But you haven’t finished your story, because I very much want to know the reaction of your mum to all this, having ‘borrowed’ her dress, and had she given you any education about periods, or did I miss that?

    I’m also a bit puzzled because I’m of an older vintage, having grown up during the sixties and seventies in the UK. My mother. did give me some rudimentary education about periods and what to expect (we were both late developers) but she was very good about it).

    So do tell us more!

    Jo, Hampshire UK

  • Reply
    Kate
    April 28, 2019 at 2:16 PM

    I’m the same vintage as you and remember the walk of shame in high school well, lucky I could tie my jumper around my waist as there was no bus home until after school, why I didn’t think to go to the office for help is beyond me. Probs too embarassed .
    My daughter in the first week of grade 7 got her very first period in a flood gates open kind of way. Luckily she had a wise friend who did the jumper round the waist trick and raced her to the office. Where she was promptly given a clean dress and a phone to call me for reassurance that all would be ok. So much wiser and more confident than I would have been in that situation.
    Yes we do need to talk about it more and keep talking about it even when it makes others uncomfortable.
    Cheers Kate

  • Reply
    Jane @ The Shady Baker
    April 28, 2019 at 10:12 AM

    Thank you for sharing this Pip. Just heading over to pledge now.

    Oh yes…I had a similar experience when I was probably around the same age as you were. I went to boarding school in Adelaide and I had no actual concept of being prepared for or managing my period. So, there I was, away from school at a rowing camp on the Murray River. My period arrived and I spent the next few days in a huge mess, cue the toilet paper and absolute misery. To this day I feel horrified that I wasn’t more prepared and that I didn’t have the confidence to ask anyone for help.

    About Bloody Time sounds and looks amazing. x

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