‘Hey xxx, I’m going to log off now. Have terrible menstrual cramps. I’ll complete the task tomorrow and let you know’
This was the simple message I left to two colleagues before I signed off work the other day and laid on my bed with a hot water bottle on my back.
This simple message had me Googling to know if my action was considered professional enough. Thoughts ran through my mind and I couldn’t stop wondering. Should I have simply said I was ill? Have I given away too much personal information?
I was in a battle with myself. I wondered about how necessary it was to inform anyone about my period.
A little background. I was working from home like any other day except on this particular day, I was on my period and felt totally fatigued. I had no appetite, had shivers, and a general uncomfortable feeling.
At about 4pm, I decided to call it a day, and without thinking much about it, I typed the message above to two colleagues I had been working with that day.
After sending the messages, hibernating my laptop, and laying in bed with a hot water bottle on my lower back, I began to wonder about how necessary it was to inform them of my cramps.
Then I wondered about the available alternatives and could only think of ‘not feeling well’.
Then I wondered, would I have told them if it was a headache? And my answer was probably. I would have said, ‘my head aches terribly. I have to log off’ – but then, the way I phrase my message would depend on how I felt that day.
So why then do I feel so uncomfortable about the current situation?
After some thought, I think society’s to blame. For so long, we’ve lived with the consciousness that periods are shameful and ‘private’. Should periods be private information? My opinion? Leave that to the individual to decide. Generally, I think you can choose to be private about your period, however, it shouldn’t be because no one needs to know what’s going on in your cervix, it should simply be because you’re a private person.
A private person won’t divulge information on where it aches, whether it’s their head or their lower back. Privacy shouldn’t start from the waist down. If this topic is demystified as people get more comfortable talking about it, the next generation of females will thrive and thank us for it.
A person who feels comfortable telling about a headache but feels period cramps is too much information is perpetuating the terrible, harmful stereotype in my opinion.
Seeing that as an adult, I still had to go through this back and forth in my mind, still had to Google the question to know others’ thoughts on telling colleagues about periods cramps, I believe I still have some ways to go.
After Googling it, my next thought was to ask someone for their thoughts on the topic but I shook off the urge. Everyone’s at different comfort levels on the topic and I didn’t want to fall into a neverending hole of ‘what ifs’ and ‘maybe’. My thoughts are doing enough of that on their own.
At the same time, I’m glad I didn’t use the excuse of just feeling ill. Would I tell everyone at work the same thing? Certainly not. Depends on my relationship with them and that’s okay. That’s my present level of comfort on the topic.
But questioning myself about telling in the first place? That’s problematic, I think.
It’s not like I revealed my bank account details or a centuries-old family secret.
Just how far has society shaped our minds and how far do we need to go to shake it off?
I would love to hear what you think about this.
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