I got my period on the first day of high school (junior high for those in the US). This is both awesome, because in many ways both starting high school and getting your period signal a passageway to adulthood, and terrible because the factors had conspired against me to make it a hellish experience.

A few days before I was due to start high school my family was returning from a holiday when our car broke down about 5 hours away from home. This meant that my parents had to stay in the town but sent my sister and I home with an Aunty where we were to stay until my parents could come home.

Unfortunately the fact that my mother was stuck 5 hours away meant that a few of the ‘Brodie starts school’ errands that she was planning to run on our return couldn’t happen. These included:

1. Taking up the skirt on my school uniform so it no longer hovered around my mid shins.
2. Purchasing a new school bag so I didn’t have to take my horribly daggy promotional bag that I had used over the summer.
3. Purchasing school supplies so I had everything I needed.
4. Working out plans on how I was to get to school.

Aside from all the practical elements of starting a new school (which were just not going to happen in this case), I was nervous about starting at a school were very few of my friends from primary school (elementary school -hi US folks!). Sleeping in a strange house and being without my parents made those nerves a little worse and then…

I “became a woman.” In hindsight I should have known exactly what was going on but on that first sight of red in my underpants I freaked out. What didn’t help was an unsympathetic Aunty who thought I should just deal with it and start using tampons right away (at the age of 12, not an easy task to master) and an older sister who was going through a ‘difficult phase’ and was just plain unpleasant. All I wanted was my mother, who I know felt terrible for not being able to be there, and to hide until it all ended but no…off I trode to my first day of high school with a ridiculous long skirt, an ugly backpack, no school supplies and what felt like a surfboard between my legs freaking out about possible leakage. I got through it though, and what I have now is a pretty amazing “first period” story and 20+ years of a commitment to speak openly about menstruation to help women ‘go with the flow’ instead of being fearful or ashamed of what is happening to us.

– By Brodie


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