Nausea, abdominal pain, dizziness. Concerning right? Until I tell you it’s due to my period. Which I wouldn’t. Because it’s not professional to talk about such things. So what? I have to do my work as if I’m not a second away from puking all over it?
On my last day of clinical rotations a week before writing this, I got my period. I was gulping down tons of warm saliva, nauseous, and seconds from vomiting. I felt the world shift as I viewed patient files; I rocked back and forth quietly groaning as my uterus shed its lining and I did this all in (literally) bloody tights. (My dietetic internship hospital uniform requires a skirt and skin colored tights.) Oh, and on an empty stomach, since I was so nauseous that I couldn’t get down more than a spoonful of soup and a couple swallows of water.
Even though there’s an explanation for symptoms like nausea and abdominal pain when it’s due to a woman’s period, those symptoms are concerning and important to be addressed! YET! Women are expected to do the same good job she usually does when she’s not in pain and bleeding as when she is. AND, she is not to mention these extra obstacles. Because it’s not professional. It’s too personal. Unwanted information.
But I wanted to mention it this day. I’d had a situation before when I’d told a boss I was on my period (I asked to go home early before I felt obliged to puke on a customer) and she looked horrified I’d brought up such a hush hush topic. So, this day I simply told the preceptor (the dietitian that was supervising and evaluating my work at the hospital) that I had been nauseous and dizzy all day. I told her the nausea was normal. Then she asked if I’d been to a doctor yet. When I said I hadn’t, she suggested my dizziness could be due to the stress of being in this dietetic internship.
(Sarcasm)~Isn’t it great that ailments can be from physical or mental origins? Isn’t that fantastic?! Even better is the fact that society judges mental ailments.~ If I have a “legitimate” reason for being nauseous like, let’s say a stomach virus, then yeah, I’m sick. Stay home. Blah. But if I’m nauseous because I’m nervous (say before a big speech or exam). No mercy. I should get over that. And, of course, not mention it. That would make me seem weak, soft, not put together. Not competent.
And, just as bad, if I’m nauseous because I’m on my period (a physical origin! The uterus shedding its lining!!) in that case I’m not supposed to let anyone know about it either! I’m expected to keep quiet and pretend nothing is wrong when I’m (literally) bleeding!
Why does our society value the physical and cast aside mental and women’s physical issues? Why? Those matter too. Those have important implications. They are barriers. Why are physical ailments excused from going to work or school, but mental and women’s physical issues expected to be worked through and not spoken about?
I finished that day at the hospital early. Got all of my patients evaluated. In pain, bleeding, hungry, nauseous, and dizzy, I finished. The preceptor just saw that I finished. That’s all that mattered to her. That’s all that matters to society.
But, remember, that having a mental diagnosis or being on your period are on the same level as a physical illness. Treat it as such. They aren’t anything to be ashamed of. So, talk about them like you would about breaking your arm or getting a cold. Unapologetically, because there is nothing to apologize for. And when you get your usual load of work done, be proud.
Breaking my dominant hand affects my ability to write. Why wouldn’t I be proud of being able to write legibly with my dominant hand being broken? Likewise, being depressed or on my period affects my work (motivation and execution). Why wouldn’t I be proud of being able to get through my usual workload for that day?
Even if society won’t give you that credit, give yourself some credit! You deserve it! Keep fighting anything in your way. I don’t know you, but I’d be proud to know you aren’t letting anything get in your way of your success. 🙂