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Have you ever been in so much pain you found it easier to pretend it doesn’t exist? I have. This has happened a few years ago but I still think about it ever so often wishing it away even from the past. I don’t usually write seemingly melodramatic blog posts that make you halt in your tracks & think ‘oh shoot’ but after that Badoo post where I came clean about loneliness (which is a real thing that happens even to the ones who completely deny its existence – just like me), I thought maybe 2018 should be the year where I talk about things that strike slightly deeper cords in you. And no, I’m not looking for sympathy or kind words (although those are always nice, aren’t they?), I just want you to know that if you’re being a chicken about something super serious you’re not the only one. We all are sometimes scared of one thing or another.
Disclaimer: This story involves a gyno & various lady parts, so if you feel like this topic is a little too personal for you, that’s fine – see you tomorrow!
What’s my story?
A few years back I started to have some pains. In the nether regions to be precise. The pain came and went, mostly coming after intercourse and leaving a few days later. Nothing in my life had changed at that point (we’re talking the same man, the same shower gel, the same contraception). I was confused. My mind immediately shifted to the letter I received a year or so back from my gyno asking me to pop over for a smear. Which ended up in the bin, of course. Okay – so I should have gone for a smear and now I’m most definitely dying. And going to have my smear done now would have meant admitting to having skipped it for over 12 months and being THAT woman. That statistic. That exemplary case of a moron who doesn’t go for their smear yet is growing God knows what kind of monster down there. I know that sounds incredibly silly but in my head, at the time it sounded like a humongous problem. With no solution in sight. I winced every time my boyfriend and I had sex (because God forbid I would tell my boyfriend what was happening, I became a master at pretending everything was just fine). I winced every time I walked past my local clinic (imagining the nurses standing outside on their fag break most definitely knew what I was carrying in my pants). I winced every time I thought of doing anything about this growing elephant in the room (because when you pretend everything is fine it will just BE fine, right?). But eventually, the pain, both physical and mental, got so huge that it started stopping me from having a normal life. I was constantly stressed, thinking about a million ways you can die when you skip your smear. Towards the end of some 10 months or so of being constantly on edge, I bit the bullet & booked myself in. The biggest bummer here isn’t the fact that they found out that I have an extremely small uterus and vagina which means it needs some special handling when it comes to those times with my other half (and probably no babies but that’s a story for another day) but the fact that the nurse didn’t even flinch when I said I skipped my smear. No one even bat an eyelid over this lack of common sense of mine. I mean, I literally spend at least 10 months breaking my spine over the shame and embarrassment. YET NO ONE CARED.
Why NOT speaking about your pain can hurt even more?
I still find it surreal that those 10 months could have been virtually stress-free if only I spoke to my GP. Or anyone. I could have rung up an online doctor. I could have spoken to my mum. But I chose ignorance and silence. Just thinking back to this makes me want to give myself a good smack. See, the point is that there was absolutely no reason to not speak about this other than my inner anxiety and everything that I managed to build up inside my own head. And none of it was built on a solid foundation. All this stress and fear and insecurity – and pain, for that matter, was for nothing. If only had I told someone about it.
You aren’t alone
Slater and Gordon Lawyers have come up with a clever campaign called #ImTalkingHealth where they encourage people not to keep their health problems to themselves. Because no one should be left feeling pain on their own – be it a physical pain or the kind that hurts in your head and your soul. Their research shows that 62% of us would rather Google their diagnosis rather than go to a medical specialist (even if that was for free). Isn’t that crazy? I mean, I can totally relate to those 62% of people out there because at the time of the study I was probably one of them. I spent sleepless nights Googling pains and cramps and muscle spasms and cancers and tumours, too. It’s just how your brain works. It’s scared so it’s looking for a solution. Yet the easiest and most efficient solution to any kind of pain is to talk.
So please – I encourage you, no matter what and where it hurts – tell your mum, sister, neighbour, a colleague at work, your GP, a counsellor. ANYONE. I promise they will listen & won’t judge.
Have you ever been through something like this?
If you can, then please share your story – here in the comments, on social media, on your blog, and help others who don’t feel like they have the courage to speak out about their pain.
💭 This post is in collaboration with Slater and Gordon Lawyers (thank you!), however as you might be able to tell, this story (and uteral pain) is my very own, one I’ve been meaning to share for a while now, just haven’t found the guts to put it down in black and white.