This is what it’s like being a black girl at work
For those don’t know, malady Depo-Provera is a shot that contains a hormone called Progestin that basically prevents ovulation and obviously stops you from getting pregnant. The injection is given in either your arm, physician or your butt (neither location is more effective than the other), drugs every three months and has a 99 percent effective rate if taken on time. It is also considered to be the most convenient form of birth control.
I was pretty young when I started. 16 to be exact. To run down the process, I of course had to take a pregnancy test, and have the discussion with my doctor about why, especially considering my age and the fact that I wasn’t sexually active. I got the question “Why are you taking birth control if you aren’t having sex?” a lot. I told my physician and everyone else (not that it was anyone else’s business) the same thing I told my mom. There was plethora of reasons why, for example, some of the side effects were weight gain, and the lightening or the complete stop of your menstrual cycle. Now, as someone who had always been made fun of about their petite size, and being a teenager who absolutely hated her period (who doesn’t?) those odds sounded fantastic to me at the time. Also, being the paranoid, over-thinker, and over-preparer that I am, I concluded that sooner or later I was going to have sex. I was sixteen, usually, in my life anyway, things like that always happened during that time frame. Most of my friends were already parents, and with no disrespect to young mothers, I did not want that to be me.
I took it upon myself to ask my mother, and explain to her my reasoning to which she didn’t oppose, she even explained how she was on the shot in the past as well. My physician understood my reasoning, she also understood my history of being borderline underweight and thought that it may help, as nothing else did, therefore she went ahead with getting me on schedule for the shot. She also explained some risks that would go along with taking the shot, for example, it would be quite possible for me to bleed more instead of less, that my cramps could be bad, headaches, and all the other normal side effects that could accompany any medication. However, she also explained they were usually rare.
I would say for the first two shots, so six months, my period had stopped completely and I started to pick up weight, not a lot, not even noticeable unless I was on a scale, but a change nonetheless. Everything was going fine, everything that I wanted, or expected to happen, was happening. I didn’t have a period, I didn’t cramp at all, none of the side effects were affecting me, I thought I was in the clear.
By my third or fourth shot, everything started to change. I was so blind-sided by the delay of the side effects, and I thought “how could this be happening?” My period came back, and although it got lighter over time, I still bled for the remainder of the three months. I delayed concerning my physician with hopes that it would stop. After I would get another shot, I would be free for about 2 weeks after, and then start bleeding again. It was as if my “free” days lasted the duration of a menstrual cycle, and I was going to bleed for the rest of the time I was on the shot. However, my lengthy bleeding was not my only problem. Between 1 and 5 percent of women taking the Depo shot experience hair loss. The odds were definitely not in my favor. Never would I think that I would be part of a “between 1 and 5 percent” statistic. My hair started to fall out dramatically, so I got braids to try and prevent it. Needless to say, it was a fail, considering one day I went to take my braids out and it looked as though I had a completely shaved undercut in the back of my head. I was devastated, my hair had never fallen out this way before so I looked up more rare side effects of the shot, and to my not-so-surprise, hair loss was one of them.
I did more research, and read more discussions and reviews and I found that I wasn’t alone. Eventually, I was over taking the beating I was getting from this shot, decided I deserved better, and stopped it. Today, two years later, my hair has grown back, my period is regular, and my weight is healthy. And although I know it is not good to return to unhealthy relationships, I do not completely shun the idea of the shot. I have thought of taking another go at it when I am older and my body has matured more, unless, of course, recent unfortunate changes in my country makes that harder for me.
DISCLAIMER: The Depo-Provera shot effects everyone in different ways, and clearly in different stages of the experience. My personal experience could have very well been because of my age, or other factors that I cannot completely be sure of. Personally, I was dealt a bad hand and had a very interesting and educational experience. Also, there are many other forms of birth control, such as the pill, IUD, Condoms (even with other forms of birth control), vaginal rings, etc. I learned a lot about my body and what I can and cannot handle, however I regret nothing.
Written by Tomera Hall
Have you ever got home from work and felt exhausted even though you didn’t actually do that much physical work?
Your jaw is aching from smiling. Smiling through the micro aggressions, try and keeping your head up whilst walking passed all the head turns and stares. This is how I often feel after a day’s work when it wasn’t even a busy day. I work in a predominantly white organisation with quite high up and pretentious people. I feel like everyday I’m covertly defending myself, making sure people know I’m educated, proving that I’m “cultured” enough, or even just trying to prove that I belong there. But why do I do this?
Well this could be put down to the regular day to day interactions that I have with my colleagues at work, I don’t even think that they mean to be offensive but it’s amazing how out of touch some of them are.
An example of an interaction between my manager and I:
Manager: How are things going, you never say much and I worry that you may be struggling?
Me: I’m quiet by nature.
Manager: Well I find that very hard to believe. *sniggers*
Without even realising it, he had not only played down my ability to cope with my work but also assumed that I must be loud and only “act” like this in the workplace. It’s little interactions like this that happen everyday that add to the difficulties of being a black girl at work. And I cannot count the amount of times I’ve been “complimented” on my hair and asked where I come from or how I do that to my hair. The reason for the word complimented being in quotation marks is because it never really feels like a genuine compliment and comes across as more of an inappropriate way to point out our differences. Along with all the “no where are you really from’s” that pop up now and then that you really have to bite your tongue as to not responding unprofessionally.
So what do we do about it?
Well if your workplace is anything like mine, you recognise that a revolutionary change of thought is unlikely to happen in your time working there. I personally roll with the punches, I’ve gotten so used to the comments that I acknowledge them, maybe take a breather (meditation helps with this) and I know in my mind that I will be home soon putting my feet up and forgetting it ever happened. If it does really affect you, a cheeky comeback ain’t never hurt anyone, sometimes play them at their own ball game. Most of these micro aggressions come from sheer ignorance so just telling old Steve that yes, black people can swim and no we don’t all love fried chicken and that he should stop asking black people this can actually help. However, if it is really bad or offensive and really upsets you then please talk to a manager or senior manager who you feel comfortable with to try and solve the issue.
Keep breaking that ceiling!
My advice to anyone like me that feels the same I urge you to stray strong and keep being the smart, beautiful, and black woman that you are and keep breaking that ceiling. Don’t let little things like this get you down, a change will come but until then, you’ve got this!
A black girl, like you, at work.