When I say I wasn't prepared for my first period, I don't mean to criticize or apportion blames to anyone for the consequences of my ignorance. Under normal circumstances, parents are supposed to educate their girl child to embrace these change when it comes. I grew up in a home where sex education was never discussed, it was considered a taboo. Some girls are lucky to have their parents lecture them about menstrual circle and boys but for me my case was different. I was made to understand that the reason I was sent to school was to learn the things I couldn't be thought at home, so I depending on my peers and teachers when it came to that social aspect of my life. At 16 I was tall and flat like a boy only difference is I had small breast pushing out. Even at that I felt so different especially knowing I was the only girl who was not menstruating because I always recount my friends stories of how they started seeing their "mbra at 10, 11 or 12years.I had turned 16 and nothing was coming out. I felt more embarrassed when my friends will ask me out of the dressing room when they want to dress because they knew I wasn't seeing my"bra" as we locally call it in Cameroon . I felt they didn't identify with me as a girl. I had so many fears about my gender. I really wished I could talk to my mom about it but I was scared of the beating that would follow after I mentioned it so I kept looking for answers from my friends. I remember one of my friends advicing me to have a boyfriend that it will help me to mature quick, if I started sleeping with one. Lucky enough I didn't even understand what she was talking about so I didn't try. Truth is I had learnt all about menstrual circle at that point in school but that was theory. It's the same like reading a book about piloting a plane and feeling like a pilot. I remember that faithful day after school in my friends house, I felt this warm stuff coming down my legs n dropping on the white tiles, thank God my friend had entered the room to keep her bag and before she came out I had wiped the blood off the floor and made my way out unnoticed. I got home that afternoon my mom was sitting in the palour, I looked terrified, I was scared, I felt like I was dying, it didn't feel like the same thing I learnt about in school. I had this cramps around my tummy. I stood there staring at my mom in fear. She called me to come closer I went but scared to alter a word. How was I going to start explaining to her that blood was coming out of my private? I just burst to tears and told her I was dying that my stomach was paining and I needed help. She asked me to go n bath first then she asked me to buy toilet tissue cut some good quality n place in my pant so that when next it comes out it won't wet or stain my dress. She just told me that "now you are a woman like me, if you go about sleeping with men you will become as useless as your aunt who got pregnant and dropped out of school" hmm It was more of a threat than an advice. The Consequences using toilet tissues instead of good sanitary napkins At one point I started having itches and it became a part of me. I thought it was one of the inconveniences that came along with menstruation. I remember not feeling fine one day in school that I was sent to the school infirmary for checkup and first aid. The nurse that was there insisted I needed to see a doctor. How was I going to start telling my mom that I felt itches n rashes coming out of my private. My mom was very sarcastic and I tried so much to avoid anything that will make her talk to me especially about my private life. As soon I summoned courage to tell her about what was happening she just burst out that I had started sleeping around with men. Lord I had never felt embarrassed in my life. Good thing is I went to the hospital n was diagnosed of an infection, I was given some antibiotics and adviced to consider good hygiene during my menstruation. I started saving from my allowance to buy my pads every month. I learnt the hard way. Now when I have the chance to talk to younger girls I know that out of 10 of them there are 2 who are going through the same experience I had. I try to encourage them to open up and speak out. I didn't allow my bad experiences to broke me down rather I have learnt a lot of lessons about life and can mentor girls going through the same thing I went through because I understand how frustrating feels. Mentruation is a very important aspect of a girls life because it's what makes her a real woman. I wonder why the first periods are not celebrated just like birthdays and other anniversaries. It marks the beginning of womanhood and it goes unnoticed
This story was submitted in response to Menstruation Matters.