My Story: Pushing Against the Patriarchy to Talk About Mental Health Amongst Women

By Saniya Ghanoui —

XY shares how she was able to overcome her mental health issues that were enhanced by PMS.


OBOS Today: How about your mental health? You mentioned that closer to your cycle, closer to certain parts of your cycle, that you do uh, face depressive symptoms, how have you been managing that?  

XY: That’s a good question. I think what you mentioned earlier and this question kind of brings in the fact that um— women and people who menstruate are used to this societal norm and pressure that we have to solve our own problems and then solve other people’s problems. And I thought that that’s something significant that I should point out. Um, and my answer is going to be related too, I, um, what was the question again, sorry? 

OBOS Today: No, I just wanted to know how you managed your possibly, tried to treat your mental health problems, that might have, that might have been a symptom of uhh your, uh, cycle. But you did mention, you did make a good point, and you can kinda tie that into your answer.  

XY: Yeah, so, talking about being self-imposing responsibility of our own health on ourselves— with mental health, I practice a lot of self-compassion. And that is something that I learned recently and lately that trying to resist and trying to tell myself that, “Oh, no I am better than that.” I can just, toxic positivity my way through this phase. To really practice being kind to myself to say you know, this is a part of, a part of what having this body encompasses and that the thoughts will pass and while it can be, the temptation, it can be really high to take action based on those emotions that I have— that [inaudible] for the long term. Um, and so, tying back that, to what I mentioned earlier about again, societal pressure, is that I figured this out on my own and this has been more than a decade ever since I started menstruating.

And, um, I also wanted to point out that per my reading I have also realized that a lot of science and medical research is being, for lack of a better word, corrupted by um, sponsorship, like when scientists or doctors do research, they need sponsorship to kind of have their funding, to do their research. And, because of how um, the system is set up for research, many, many scientists rather than replicating experiments so to ensure that they are valid, they just come up with appealing sentences and appealing sciences to push pharmaceutical agenda. And how that links to my health challenge is that there is not a lot of studies done on menstruation, on cramps, on the menstruation cycle or the menstrual cycle and um, I wish more attention would have been paid to that.

I want to bring in this example of, contra, contraception methods. There are so many contraceptive methods that focused on prohibiting the women’s body to ovulate and to prohibit our menstrual cycles, like natural menstrual cycles, that it’s very strange because I remember, there was actually a male version of uh birth control that was being tested in India and they all reported symptoms of uhm, the same symptoms that women face when they take birth control pills. And, because of the patriarchy, globally, the birth control didn’t get released, it didn’t get launched, simply because men didn’t want to take, or people who didn’t menstruate didn’t want to take birth control pills that affect their body function. And, thinking back about, and taking that and relating it with how medical research is done and also my own health challenge, it’s just a lot of correlation that people don’t realize. Women, uhm, research on women’s bodies are not done extensively simply because of the profitability and the patriarchy that kind of prevents that from happening. And we need to, we need to advocate against that. We need to start advocating for our own bodies and our own stories and um, yeah.