Period Pain by Kopano Matlwa (Dr) #Africanliterature
Publisher: Jacana Media
Genre: Literary Fiction
Setting: South Africa
Rating: 4/5 Stars
A compelling story about how the broken continue to survive. In Period Pain she has poignantly captured the heartache and confusion of so many South Africans who feel defeated by the litany of headline horrors: xenophobia, corrective rape, corruption and crime and for many the death sentence that is the public health nightmare. Through this story we are able to reflect, to question and to rediscover our humanity. (Source: Goodreads)
At this time when the entire world is being held up by doctors and health care workers - when we’re all looking to them to save us and heal the world - not our politicians, nor our priests or pastors - do we ever pause to think about what they go through? Their struggles with under equipped facilities and over crowded hospitals? Their psychological and mental states?
I couldn’t have picked this book at a more opportune time. Told in the form of a collection of journal entries by a young female South African doctor, Masechaba (Chaba), reflecting on her struggle with menorrhagia, depression and self doubt, PTSD, Xenophobia and rape trauma as she pours out her deepest thoughts in her journal. Thoughts that can only be shared with God because half the time she is wishing her patients would die and be put out their misery. She hates looking at them. They bore her. She is not inclined to care for them. She is tired of listening to their problems.
She knows she shouldn’t feel this way. This empty, this uncaring, this hopeless, this sad. Maybe she’s depressed? Maybe she’s just PMSing, she says. But as you keep reading, you realize just how deep depression has taken root, ravaging her and finding a quiet disillusioned home in her.
If you’ve ever gone through depression or faced mental health issues, this book can be such a trigger because you know these feelings all too well. They are second nature. The hopelessness, the lack of will to leave your bed, the endless tears, the suicidal thoughts, maybe self harm. You hardly recognize yourself. I’ve been that girl and this can feel worse than death.
Matlwa’s writing is so rich and moving, I was left wondering which bits of this story mirror her own life. She makes you feel pain, sadness and the small victories don’t even feel like victories because they are yanked away as soon they start forming. I’m not even sure if it had a happy ending because when i finished, I only felt overwhelming sadness.
I highly recommend this book, but I would advise and caution you stop reading if it triggers your mental health struggles in any way.