Being a girl in this day and age is tough. We deal with more and more complex issues and problems than any of our predecessors. It’s not just Mars vs Venus anymore, or girls vs boys. We live in a world fueled by social media, where our lives and personal information is viewable for everyone to see, sometimes whether we want it to be or not. There are more and more health issues for women to worry about now than ever before, and statistics rising on female-cancer related deaths. We now live in a world obsessed with skin, the body, and sex, which unfortunately has driven up the number of sexual assaults and rape on women, and this is every country, not just the US. Young girls are going to school and being shamed by their teachers and mentors for wearing tank tops or shorts because it distracts the male sex, as if the female population alone should be blamed for the sick impulses of perverted boys and men.
I used to think the lamest part about being a girl was that we had to basically become demons once a month while our bodies congratulated us on not procreating just yet. I had a particularly bad go of this, starting the “red death” on my 13th birthday (what a great present), and suffering on a brutal scale for what would be many years ahead. My periods were so bad at times that I would have to stay home from school, and prompted my mom on more than one occasion to consider medical intervention. When I turned 18, despite the fact that I wasn’t having sex yet, I went right onto an injectible birth control known to disappear the monthly burden for years at a time. I was so happy to finally have that awful pain in the past, naively thinking that I was free from feeling pain like that again. Yea, as I admitted myself, it was naive.
As my 20s came and went I dealt with more female annoyances through the years. Unknowingly contracting HPV from a sexual dalliance at some point, and in turn dealing with the stress and concern of a possible cervical cancer issue. After two rounds of cryotherapy, and multiple biopsies over the years, I am now cancer free (or rather my uterus is). The last decade also brought more regular female nuisances like common infections due to living in a warm climate, and the every now and then PMS related migraine.
And then there’s just the everyday crap that girls have to deal with because of what we were born with. I’d love for men to deal with underwire bras everyday, and the dreaded pantyline under the skirt scenario that is a regular part of our lives. Trying to find a good bathing suit to match our “body type” and deciding each year if we are a winter or a fall for the new clothing lines. Standing at the cosmetics counter at Walgreens and making the snap decision between Compact 01 or 02, when both look the exact same color. Or making the unfortunate choice with the pink red lipstick instead of the red red lipstick because pink red now definitely clashes with dress that looked epic in the changing room at Macy’s but now has the distinct look of mutton dressed as lamb. I’d love for men to experience just once what PMS really feels like, or deal with the discomfort of the array of pimples that have now formed on the chest due to boob sweat.
My point is being a girl is hard. But you know what’s even harder? Being a girl with Rheumatoid Arthritis, or fibromyalgia, or lupus, or any other chronic, debilitating autoimmune disease that has ruined our lives! Now on top of the day to day hardships of just living, you have to add chronic pain, exhaustion, and physical and mental stress.
In my particular case having Rheumatoid Disease brought on a host of new issues…. like my red death taking a permanent vacation. That’s right, I’m 34 years old and am going through “early onset menopause”. My doctors think it’s probably due to the rounds of chemotherapy I had over the last two years. Chemotherapy has been known to kick start menopausal symptoms in women. I got the whole shebang: hot flashes, night sweats followed by cold chills, mood swings, crying over nothing, zero libido, weight gain, strange hair growth on my face (ew), and insomnia.
Getting dressed on a regular day can be a frustrating feat for the average woman, but doable. For a woman dealing with Rheumatoid Disease, getting dressed is sometimes impossible. I can’t fasten my bra when I’m having a pain flare in my wrists, because it’s too painful. And of course I’ve tried other ways, like fastening it in front, or using sports bras. Each way has its own list of painful grievances, and that’s just the bra. Then you have to decide if today will be the kind of day you can continually fasten the buttons and zips on your shorts/jeans, or is it easier to just wear a lightweight dress? And all of this is only based on whether I was able to successfully shower beforehand. There’s nothing like sobbing under the showerhead because it’s too painful to squirt out shampoo/conditioner/shower gel onto your hands that are stuck in a claw, unable to move without screaming pain.
I guess at the end of the day no one’s life is perfect. Sick or healthy, we all have obstacles to face on a daily basis. I only wish mine were less, or maybe just more manageable. It’s hard being a 34 year old woman going through menopause when I can’t even dress myself on bad pain days. I always figured I’d deal with these things when I was much I was older, with years of maturity under my belt ( that hopefully I was able to clasp on my own).
Being a girl is rough, for sure. Being a girl with Rheumatoid Disease, is damn near impossible.
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