So Hormonal – essay 2 from the anthology

Short posts on each of the essays from So Hormonal – A Collection of Essays on Hormones published by Monstrous Regiment, Edinburgh. Edited by Emily Horgan and Zachary Dickson with a foreword by Karen Havelin.

The Waiting Room by Hidden Ink Child

From a no woman’s land comes this heartfelt essay from someone with a male gender presentation who must suffer the ignominy of sitting in waiting rooms labelled ‘Women’s Health’ because he has endometriosis. Constantly faced with places which are unwelcoming (although sometimes the people are great – a big thankyou to that nurse who gave you a hug) the author must choose to explain or just sit there feeling ‘Me and my uterus do not exist in this space.’ (p14)

Examining a range of experiences from different angles, the reader can feel the distress and justified anger, but there is enough distance to be able to think about it at the same time – I really sat up when it became clear that the change in the doctor’s response to pain (and therefore to giving pain killers) was because of presenting as male, not female.

This essay is essential reading for people like me who cannot know what it’s like, but are ready to empathise. Now I do have some idea because I can hear about it in Hidden Ink Child’s own voice. I hope we don’t have to wait too long before the rest of the NHS and others catch up.

Available from The Portobello Bookshop and Lighthouse

So Hormonal – essay 1 from the anthology

Short posts on each of the essays from So Hormonal – A Collection of Essays on Hormones published by Monstrous Regiment, Edinburgh edited by Emily Horgan and Zachary Dickson with a foreword by Karen Havelin

No Country for Neurodivergent Women, Addressing Undiagnosed ADHD and Cluster Headaches by Donna Alexander

There’s a great mix of objective fact and subjective sharing in this piece – I learned a lot, felt both informed and sympathetic, without once feeling obligated to pity. In writing like this, particularly in terms of identifying a cause for these two challenging hormonal disorders, it’s hard to find a balance between chemistry and upbringing, but Alexander achieves it. Ireland doesn’t come out so well, but things seem to be moving in the right direction. Using a well-known TV programme and two equally famous films to illustrate, makes it all the more approachable, and anyway it is not bleak as there is subtle humour in both the choice of language and anecdotes. There are some sweet phrases – on p. 5 she describes her childhood den behind the sofa as ‘a cradle in the absence of comfort’ – and the writing is silky smooth.

Donna Alexander is @americasstudies on twitter

Available from The Portobello Bookshop and Lighthouse