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Period Story Podcast, Episode 85, Hayley McFadyen: Trust Yourself

My guest on today’s episode is Hayley McFadyen, an actor and writer, who is currently working on her first film, Bled Through, about her personal experience of menstruation.  

In this episode, Hayley shares: 

  • What it was like to start her period at 14 years old, well after all of her friends
  • How being given a tampon to use was a confronting experience 
  • How TikTok helped her realise that her shoulder pain was linked to her period 
  • How experiencing stitches during her period led her to a self-diagnosis of diaphragmatic endometriosis 
  • What she did to eventually receive a clinical diagnosis 
  • How she was able to advocate for herself, even when doctors didn’t believe she had endometriosis 
  • The inspiration for her film Bled Through (go to this link to support the crowdfunder to make this film!)
  • And of course, the story of her first period

Hayley says that it’s so important to trust yourself and not to allow anyone to tell you that you aren’t feeling something. She says that if you know there’s something wrong with your body, just push for that and ignore everyone else’s thoughts.

Thank you, Hayley!

Get in touch with Hayley:

Instagram

Crowdfunder to raise money to produce the film 


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SHOW TRANSCRIPT

Le’Nise Brothers:          Hi Hayley. Thank you so much for coming onto the show today. I want to start by asking the question that I always lead the podcast with, which is tell me the story of your very first period.

Hayley McFadyen:         So I started my period late in life. I want to say I was about 14, which is fairly late. I was at school and I think everyone had kind of spoken about it and I guess I thought it was a great thing. I was like, this is great. I haven’t started my period yet because I’ve was kind of complaining about it and I just went into the toilet and I remember being quite shocked because I think you just don’t know until it happens and then when it happens you are thinking, oh, this is what it is. And I was immediately embarrassed. I don’t know why. I think because everyone had been doing it for so long, so they were in this rhythm and they were using all these things and I was thinking, I don’t know what to even use. Obviously my mom had kind of told me things, but I guess she was waiting for when it started to officially go through everything.

And I can’t remember whether I think I asked someone and I think all they had was the tampon and that was when I was like, I don’t know what to do with this. And so I think probably most people I just put tissue in my knickers until I got home and was able to chat to my mum. And yeah, I don’t think it was traumatic, but I really remember it and I do remember not knowing what to do and then being given a tampon and maybe that was my first, not issue, but confrontation with a tampon and being like, I don’t know what to do with this. It seemed really strange and I guess everyone kind of had their system already in place and I didn’t even know where I was or how to start. So I guess that was quite tricky. I wasn’t with everyone else, I was kind of solo on it.

Le’Nise Brothers:          There’s a lot to unpack in what you just said. So you started your first period when you were 14 and you said that that was late. But what’s really interesting is that when you said that, I was expecting you to say like 17, 16, 17 and the average age of starting menstruation has gone down. It is about 11,12 now, but there are lots of women and people who start their period at 13 and 14. So it’s really interesting that you had this perception that you were late. And I wonder how much has that coloured your experience of your period since this perception that you had that you started, you were kind of a late comer to menstruation?

Hayley McFadyen:         I actually think that probably, I think my group of friends, I was the last, so I think the lateness comes from being the latest in a group of friends and one of my friends was an early bloomer in every aspect. So I think she was maybe 10 or, but it’s definitely made me, what you were saying about how it’s affected me going forward is I think I’ve always felt not in sync with it or not don’t know weird. It definitely has changed my perception going forward in life, feeling like I was late. I felt like I never really knew what I was doing or wasn’t doing the right thing when I was on my period or when people spoke about being really heavy or being really light and all these things with tampons, I couldn’t engage in those conversations because I really, I kind of was lucky at the beginning of having a very normal period of a few days, not really heavy, not really light.

And I just felt as though I couldn’t engage in a lot of conversations growing up because I never had much struggle or experience, which is weird because I had it every month, but I was also quite irregular, so I was also really irregular and everyone was like, oh, I know when my period’s coming. And I was always like, I don’t know when it is coming or when it’s going to end or anything. So it definitely didn’t change my perception obviously until I got diagnosed with endometriosis, which is obviously another discussion. But that was when I really felt as though I could speak in this space because it was something, not in a good way, but in a way of it made me speak about my periods more. Yeah.

Le’Nise Brothers:          I find this absolutely fascinating because the majority of women that I speak to, their first periods are quite, they don’t really want to talk about it. They don’t really, the periods afterwards, at least for five years from their first period, they describe a lot of shame and not really wanting to talk about it with their friends and their friends not really talking about it or it’s a very kind of secretive thing. And what’s really interesting about what you’re saying is that you wanted to engage, it’s just that your experience was very different to the ones that your friends were having and that you only felt like almost that you had legitimacy to engage once you were diagnosed with endometriosis. 

And I just find that so fascinating because it’s so different to what I’ve heard from other women on this podcast. Can you talk a little bit more about tampons? So you got given a tampon when you first got your period and you found it quite confronting and I totally get that, being 14, getting a tampon and not really knowing what to do with it. It’s just a pad, even tissue paper, it’s something that you don’t have to insert and so it doesn’t feel like you have to understand the mechanics of it all, but a tampon is very different. So can you just say more about that?

Hayley McFadyen:         I think I just never really knew much about it before did them. Obviously when I got my period, my mum explained to me and everything, but you don’t learn it really in school, which I really disagree with because there’s a lot of women’s health which is only happening now, which we should have been taught in school. Endometriosis for a start is obviously one of them, but the tampon situation was, I just didn’t really know. Everyone was kind of talking about it and I guess I felt huge pressure to use them because everyone did. And I wonder whether it was an age thing in school where people were using them because it made them feel older. I don’t know. All of my friends kind, none of them use pads. And I thought that pads was definitely linked to being younger and tampons were linked to becoming a woman.

And so I was thinking the older I got, the more I was thinking I’ve got to start using them. And it’s a weird pressure because it’s like no one’s telling you to do that and this is why I’ve written this film at the moment because I’m like, why did I have that thought? And there’s probably a lot of people out there that have this thought of being like when you get older, you start, you do the change and you move into tampons and I kind of was like, okay, I need to do it. I need to do it. And I guess it was the swimming aspect and I guess it held me back a lot during summer where I would be planning my periods and thinking, well, I can’t go there if I’m on my period. And so I tried it for the first time in my dad’s bathroom, which is one of the intimate scenes in my film, it is a comedy so it’s not too heavy. And I did try it to go in the bath to see if it worked, to see if when I pulled it out it would have nothing on it. And it was just a horrible, horrible experience. 

I think it’s my own experience that has made me where I am now, but in a positive way. But I just did it and I remember being like, oh, I did it. It just went up. And I was like, okay, great. And then I laid in the bath and as I was laying in the bath, I just couldn’t stop thinking about it. I was like, even though I couldn’t physically feel it, I could not stop thinking about it and it was freaking me out. And then when I took it out, it was just really painful and then I was thinking, oh my God. And then I just felt really faint and I had to lay on the floor for five minutes, bearing in mind everyone in the house was just doing their own thing and I was just having this breakdown in the bathroom. And then after that I thought just no, no way. I just swore that I wasn’t going to use them.

It felt as though everyone should use them. It’s totally normal. No one has problems because no one speaks about things that what happened in that bathroom, right? No one speaks about which is why, which is why I put it in this film because I think for a long time I’m like, surely loads of people have had these things, but no one speaks about them. People are like, yeah, just put tampon on, just put a tampon in. It was always such a casual, easy thing and I was thinking why is everyone so, how can everyone do it so easily and I’m having these big issues with it. Am I the only person? And then I think that’s why I never spoke about it. I never spoke about not using tampons, I never spoke about just using pads because I was so terrified that I was embarrassed and no one should feel embarrassed about what they want to do on their own period, which is private anyway, as in it doesn’t affect anyone else, so why should I think about that?

But it wasn’t a great experience and since I just haven’t even touched it because I just think, I just thought why am I forcing myself to do this thing? I clearly don’t get along with it. I’m clearly too, things just freak me out. And I think it was just freaking me out and I just made a decision there and then I was like, no, I haven’t touched one since. And it took me a while to open up about that. Only really recently have I done that. For a long time I just kind of made an excuse of I’m just really light so I don’t really need to use them. But I wasn’t that heavy. But that obviously wasn’t the reason. It was just to kind of cover it up, which is weird that we feel the need to hide something like that.

Le’Nise Brothers:          And it’s so interesting your experience because it’s such a contrast to what we’re seeing now where we have all of these different products available to us from pads, whether they’re disposable, whether they’re reusable to different types of underwear. Even swimming you can get period, like a period bikini, like a full bathing suit. And it’s so different. The message really seems to be now there are lots of options available to you. You don’t have to use tampons or you don’t have to use anything that you have to insert, even menstrual cups. Some people they just don’t get on with them. But I want to just go back to what you were saying about how you didn’t really learn about this in school and that your mum felt, was waiting a little bit to tell you. So say more about that.

Hayley McFadyen:         I think we just didn’t, health massively is not touched on really, so much stuff has happened in life since leaving school that I think, oh my God, I never learned about this. They don’t give you the space to talk about periods because it’s like when you’re in school, I understand everyone’s at an age where because of puberty in classes, especially going to a mixed school, I think we had some separated sex education classes I think, I can’t remember, but being in a mixed school, boys would take the mick if you had periods and it was kind of a really taboo subject. So I feel as though it created a space in school where you couldn’t ask a question in class about a tampon. And because like I was saying everyone used it, it was a stupid question it felt like, which is ridiculous. So you really, I think that people that have periods actually learn from their friends and their peers more than they do anyone else.

And even my mum, I think my mum had a pretty, her experience, I think she just used pads and tampons as normal. And I guess because she never had issues like me, obviously she would assume I would kind of follow the same thing. Everyone else is the same thing as though because no one spoke about it. It was just such a norm and such an easy thing that I guess my mum didn’t feel like she needed to prior to have my period. Obviously me and my mum are really close and really open, but that was something I still hid from even my mum and only later in life did I say, look, I don’t want to use tampons because she was saying to me for a while, you should try them and things. And because obviously I was getting older and I was going swimming and stuff and I guess she kind of said to me that it would help me, which obviously it would’ve done at the time, but I just felt really shy to not say anything because again, I was just thinking, oh, is this really bad?

Is this, should I not? And yeah, school didn’t really do anything in terms of that. I think they should really improve everything to do with women’s health. They should go way more into relationships and pregnancy and all these other things because when you leave school, it’s not a coincidence that no one knows what they do, what they’re doing. And it’s because no one ever really learnt any of those things. It’s mostly from friends and having friends where you are open enough to have those conversations where you learn things like the smear test for example. I didn’t really know much about that and I went to my friends and obviously spoke to ’em about it. Just all sorts of things. I just relied on my peers rather than anything to do with school because it was such a, schools are really high puberty place and I just feel like it’s not that open unfortunately, maybe now, but when I was in school 10 years ago, it definitely wasn’t.

Le’Nise Brothers:          Yeah, and it’s really interesting now it’s just thinking about the role of social media in all of this and how you said that you relied on your peers and your friends to give you the information that you were lacking. And I think what’s interesting now is the social media is also adding another layer to that where I feel like if you had had this feeling, if you were growing up now and you were curious about tampons and not really knowing what to do, social media would’ve probably been a place that you’ve gone to. And I just think about on TikTok specifically, the kind of questions I get asked on my TikTok page and I answer and I find out how old they are. It’s like 13, 14-year-old girls. It’s saying, what is happening to my body? Why is my period doing this? Why is my period doing that?

And it’s really interesting because it feels like obviously they feel comfortable enough to ask me this. It’s not even a DM, it’s in the comments. But I also wonder why don’t they feel comfortable enough to speak to their parents about this, to their friends? And I just to kind of add on to that a little bit, I was on this panel a couple of weeks ago with this doctor and we were talking about social media and she was being very negative about people getting information about health from social media. And we know that there’s a problem with influencers just saying just nonsense on social media, but she was so dismissive and I kind of was like, well, there is a role because if you have someone who’s qualified and they’re able to help people, why would you want to stop that? I would just wonder what your thoughts are about all of this.

Hayley McFadyen:         I think social media is great. I think it has, you just said it has its pros and cons. It definitely has people saying the wrong information, but I think if social media is opening up a conversation regardless of whether it comes from complete truth or someone just speaking, it’s opening up that conversation basically. And so I think you have to be wise in terms of what you pick to believe. And it’s definitely an algorithm thing of if your TikTok is full of a lot of influencers or maybe kind of surface level things and yeah, you’re not going to maybe see the right stuff, but I think it’s amazing that it’s having people on there wherever you come from, whether you’re an influencer or not to speak about stuff. Like my endometriosis I partly found on social media because there was people saying, so I have endometriosis in my diaphragm, which is a really rare form and I felt like I was going crazy before I got diagnosed.

I was literally like, there’s something wrong. But no one was telling me. And only when I was able to search on TikTok where people were saying, there was doctors on there, but there was also other people being like shoulder because you get shoulder pain, it’s a referred pain so everyone instantly thinks, and I did for two to three years thought it was muscular. And on this page there was people talking about having shoulder pain, talking about having a stitch in your diaphragm when you was on your period. There was doctors saying then this word was coming up. And even if not all of it was relevant to me, the word diaphragmatic endometriosis was a conversation on TikTok that I was able to look into and it helped me diagnose myself before I went to get clinically diagnosed. So I think for someone to kind of be like it’s all negative, it’s just crazy because I’ve changed my life from some videos on TikTok and you do have to pick and choose what you believe and what don’t.

There’s a lot of conspiracy stuff and I totally get that, but I think if you are willing enough to go through it and find the truth and things and even to open up a conversation and talk to your friends and then open up an actual physical conversation, all of that I think is so positive. It’s a space where people are speaking about things and it’s opening up conversations and people are getting to the bottom of whatever they want to figure out. So I think it’s great. And if you are good at, definitely think in terms of social media, any kind of social media, I think you have to just have your own boundaries of not going on there for too long or not going down rabbit holes of things that aren’t good for you. That’s a personal boundary. I don’t think social media should be cut. That’s something you need to take responsibility of is figuring out where you are in that. But I definitely think as a whole, it’s a hugely positive, positive thing.

Le’Nise Brothers:          So you thought that you had something going on, you were having stitches when you had your period and then you were having shoulder pains. What other symptoms did you have?

Hayley McFadyen:         So I had shoulder pain that was either it was a really sharp pain that was kind of right kind of going into my neck and into my chest or it would be a dull ache kind of just where my top of my traps going up into my neck. And then I would have this stitch. It literally feels like a stitch as if you’ve been running. But I would have that for quite a few days and it could be before or during my period. And this is why it’s so good to speak about this. I honestly feel like since this, I’ve wanted to speak about it so much because I have a feeling that so many people are having these symptoms and are not being diagnosed and they’re suffering for years. And I had these problems and I thought it was all muscular because I didn’t think anything was linked to my period until I came off the pill because I was on that to regulate my period since I was young.

And I’ve always got on with it well personally, but I came off the pill and then my first period after the pill was so bad, my shoulder pain, everything, I was bed bound, I couldn’t go to work and I was like, it’s linked to my period and I could not figure out what it was. And it only happened when I came off the pill because it was kind of like my body went into a natural thing and that was when I started being like, it’s definitely linked and not going crazy. It was like the day I started my period was the day of shoulder pain. It was so synced. And yeah, I went to my doctor and said, I’m kind of going into it now. But yeah, I went to my doctor and they were like, you’re on your period, so you’re just stressed and that’s just part of it.

And I was like, I’m getting a stitch. I just didn’t get it and I just didn’t take no for an answer. And I went away and I did research and I sat down, I remember with my partner and I said, I think I’ve got diaphragmatic endometriosis. He was like, what is that? And he was like, no. He was like, endometriosis, that’s really bad periods. And I was like, no, this is a different thing. And obviously went through the whole process, but they were the first initial symptoms and I really want to make sure that’s out there because I had chiropractor, I had physio, I spent loads of money on these things because I thought it was muscular and nothing helped. It was the exact same and some things helped like stretches and the chiropractor did obviously help, but that just helped my body, but it didn’t do anything to what was going on. And I think it’s good research I think that a lot of people probably have this shoulder pain or stitch or whatever and just don’t, or the doctor just says, you’re on your period, don’t worry about it. And it’s actually a really serious condition that I wouldn’t have known unless I had gone on social media and diagnosed myself because no one else at the time was willing to do that.

Le’Nise Brothers:          Did you have any kind of diagnostic things done? So an MRI or did you have a laparoscopy?

Hayley McFadyen:         Yeah, that’s what I had. So I basically, and this is what’s really interesting, which I think is a really key bit of research, but I went to the gynecologist who was a man, which was fine, but I just never think they fully, I kind of spoke to him and from the get go he kind of didn’t really believe me, but we went through the stages. So the first was an ultrasound and that was negative, but you weren’t ever going to find it in an ultrasound anyway, so if anyone ever goes for an ultrasound, you’re not going to find it in that regardless. That was just kind of the stages. Then I had an MRI, then I was completely negative and at this point I still felt like I had it. I was like this, it’s there. I swear it’s there. And then after that, I think that’s normally a stage where people go, I don’t have it then and walk away.

The next stage is the laparoscopy, which is where they go in your tummy and they put a camera in there and I was so scared, but at this point I think I was thinking I need to know exactly what’s going on. But I think this is the fear that I think people walk away before that because they think, well, it wasn’t in the MRI. And the gynecologist actually turned to me and said, it’s unlikely that we’re going to find it. So if gynecologists are saying this to people, they’re not going to go through with the operation because a professional is telling them that, and I did it and they found, it [endometrial lesions] obviously starts down where your ovaries are. So I had loads there and then I had loads in my diaphragm.

I was like, I obviously cried thinking, oh my God, I can’t believe I was right. But I was like, this just proves the MRI, the ultrasound, it doesn’t show up diaphragmatic endometriosis specifically. So these people that are getting MRIs, it’s pointless because it doesn’t show up. I had loads and it didn’t show up a thing. There was no doubt whatsoever. And then that’s when I got the diagnosis. And then since then I’ve just been in a really in and out of the system, still a year later, I still haven’t spoken to anyone who can help me because it’s a rare form of it, but I’m in the process of trying to find my way, but even having a diagnosis has changed my life because I now know what’s going on and I don’t feel like my body’s giving up on me and being so young, I’m only 26, I was like, if I’ve got this awful shoulder and chest and all this stuff going on, I was like, I can’t live my life. I’m 26. So it was quite hard mentally to get through that when you’re thinking I feel physically weak and I’m so young and I’ve got so much I want to do and not having the diagnosis and the official thing of this is what you’ve got and this is what’s causing it all and there’s a way we can work through that.

Yeah, it’s definitely changed. It’s definitely put a whole new spin on my life and periods and women’s health and everything. It’s made a huge, huge impact on how I see the medical system and I know that there’s things that, and it can improve. And I know that that’s a big thing and I appreciate that, but I feel as though I’m a key bit of research and I don’t even know how far my story will personally go, this is why things like this are so useful because I think how many people are being turned away after an MRI and how many people are on the pill that it’s just masking it? My friend went to the doctor recently actually and brought up the fact that she may have it and she spoke to her doctor and they were like, well, why don’t we put you on the pill first?

And I’m thinking, this is just crazy because this is what’s happening and it’s just masking it for years and years and then suddenly they’ll want to have a baby and they can’t. And it’s like when someone’s in pain, you don’t just mask it. You figure out where that pain’s coming from. If I went to the doctor and said, I’ve got a pain in my arm, they would go and fix it. But when it comes to women’s health or endometriosis, they’re like, oh, we’ll just put you on the pill and mask it. And I’m like, but what? That’s not how it works. Body parts and bones, it’s fine. But if it’s something like that, it’s like, oh, but we shouldn’t be in a lot of pain. We shouldn’t be in a lot, if you’re in a severe pain, there’s something potentially wrong that should be looked into.

Le’Nise Brothers:          Yeah, I mean you’re preaching to the choir here. I completely agree. And I would just say for anyone listening who is hearing what Hayley is saying and feeling like, oh, I think that could be what’s going on for me, a resource I’d like to point you to is The Endometriosis Foundation. They have a lot of great information about the different types of endometriosis and including diaphragmatic endometriosis. So that’s definitely something to look into. And then they have a lot of information about advocacy and how to advocate for yourself, especially if you’re in a situation where you’ve had an MRI and the doctor or the consultant is saying, actually this is the end of the road for you, but your gut is saying, like Hayley, there’s something going on. So I think I really want to applaud you for pushing because the thing with doctors is that you kind of say they’re so learned, they’re this in this authoritarian position, authoritative position, and for a lot of us it can be hard to push back. So can you talk a little bit more about how you did that, what you did to get yourself in a place where you were able to effectively advocate for yourself?

Hayley McFadyen:         I think like you said, I think you just have to trust your gut and you always know and there’s something wrong, and I knew there was something wrong. And I think for most people, if you’ve been in pain for a long time and I was waking up in pain, going to bed in pain, that pain drives you because, and it’s hard because I’ll have really down days where I think I can’t even think about trying to fix this because I’m in too much pain. But you’ve got to think about that pain and let it drive you and be like, I’m not going to allow myself to be in pain and not find answers. And I guess you just do your own research. As sad as it is that we do that, I do think if you do get turned down from your doctor and they’re not giving you the answers, feel free to.

I know that there’s a lot online and I know that some people may be listening and thinking going online is the worst thing, and it may be, but if you’ve got real symptoms, I had symptoms I’ve had for at this point 3 years. So these were definite symptoms. It’s not like when you’ve got a bit of a cold and you look up and they’re like, you’ve got this thing. I had these symptoms for two to three years and I started to trace, to monitor when I was having them and I started to realize it was always on my period. So it was just consistent and I just did research, I guess, and just looked into it and looked at people’s stories in particular. There’s a lot of on, I think there’s something called something net, Mumsnet. I think I just saw something on there briefly, but I think when you see other people’s stories or go on pages where there’s people that have done research, the one page that I saw, which really stuck out to me was describing that this doctor did this research and all these women had these stitches, and it kind of sang to me.

I was like, this is exactly what’s going on. If you know exactly your symptoms, I think it’s okay to do your own research. It doesn’t mean you’re going to go and diagnose yourself, but do your research that when you go to your doctor next you can say, I did my research and these are things I think I’ve got. And then they will look at those when they have, even though we shouldn’t really be doing that, if that’s what we’ve got to do, that’s what we’ve got to do. But I got myself together, went to the doctor and said, I think I’ve got diaphragmatic endometriosis. And I think because I brought up that word, it then opened the doorway to something. They didn’t have to then go through the effort of trying to find the word, they had the word, they had the thing. Then they could go away and go through every, I think every condition or every disease, they must have a kind of checklist of what to go through to diagnose someone.

So as soon as you give them that, he was able to say, right, well, first thing, you need to be referred to a gynecologist. Then the gynecologist went through ultrasound, MRI, laparoscopy. That’s like the stages. So I think you just have to go in and give them some form of something they can go off because they just will not do it themselves. And I appreciate there’s a lot of people that probably go to them and say, they’ve got this, that and the other. I’m not kind of slandering doctors because obviously a lot of the time they do an amazing job. But I think when it comes to women’s health, unfortunately right now we’re still in the sticks of not having that much knowledge on it. So having something, a word, a thing, a condition that they can go off, and it’s kind of process of elimination really.

If you go to them with a few things, they might trial one thing, but it’s better to eliminate things. That’s what I did. I had the chiropractor, I eliminated that. That didn’t work. I did the physio, that didn’t work. So I was able to go to them and say, I’ve done all these things and none of them worked. So I think it kind of left them no choice, but I think that’s the best thing to do. I’m not advocating doing your own research and going into a rabbit hole, being smart about it and making sure that you know exactly what your symptoms are so you’re not going, oh, I think I’ve got that symptom as well. Labeling exactly what you have and not straying from that is the way I did it. And I’ve helped other people. One of my friends, I’ve said to her about push for a laparoscopy, take no for an answer for the MR. I just keep pushing and it takes a lot of energy, but they have to do these things. If you keep pushing, they can’t say no.

Le’Nise Brothers:          It’s really sad that we’re in a place now where we have to push so hard in order to get answers and in order to get the kind of help and support that we need. Because you go to a doctor and you expect them to be able to help you, and it’s so disheartening when you go and they’re like, oh, it’s just stress or periods are supposed to be painful, or things that, and that kind of sticks in your head where you think, oh, well my period is supposed to be like this. I just have to deal with it. And when someone says, actually, you don’t have to deal with it. I know it kind of blows your mind a little bit. I just also want to add on to what you said about advocacy is that it’s really important if you’re listening to this and you live in the UK and you’re going through the NHS, that if you think you have a condition, to have a look at the NICE guidelines.

So NICE, and it’s a set of guidelines that doctors have to follow in order to diagnose and prescribe for different conditions. So there’s a set of guidelines around endometriosis, and everything that Hayley described for the diagnostic pathways for endometriosis, so ultrasound, MRI, laparoscopy, that’s all listed in the NICE guidelines and there’s ones for PCOS, for fibroids and so on and so forth. So really important to familiarise yourself with those and then take those to your doctor as well because they have to follow those. 

I want to just move on to talk about the film. So you have this film, it’s called Bled Through, and you said earlier it’s a comedy about menstrual products and breaking the stigma. Can you say a little bit more about the film and what your inspiration was around it?

Hayley McFadyen:         So essentially I started writing, I’m an actor and a writer, and I started writing a play about two friends in London, and I wanted to touch on all of these little things. And then I was kind of writing one scene in particular, which is a bathroom scene, and it was about me talking about tampons and not being able to use them. And it was kind of a comedy, it was always going to be a comedy because I think that’s the best way to get anything across, and I love comedy and I want to make people laugh. And I just got stuck on this scene and I just was writing it and I was like, oh my God, I just love this one scene. And I thought I always want to do, I always do the biggest thing rather than just immediately I was like, I’m going to write a series.

And I was like, why don’t I just start with writing a short film? I don’t need to do the biggest thing ever. And so I decided, okay, the first thing to go into writing, I’ve always written poetry, but writing script was a new thing, but as an actor, I knew how I wanted it to look and I had all this visual idea. I had all the visual ideas before. And so I wrote this scene and it was a comedy and it’s about me and a friend of mine who I kind of also want to bring into periods as kind of opening up the conversation that I think in this day and age, everyone can be anyone who bleeds. And I always wanted to highlight the friendship between me and them and how different we are, yet we share this, we share the same things, but we are different.

And I just really enjoy, it’s based on me and my friend Sam and I really enjoy our friendship. And the two of us are in this bathroom and I just basically, we talk about something funny and then the period thing comes up and there’s a machine and it’s got just tampons are coming out and I’m having this freak out and it’s funny. And this guy who I dated comes in and he’s really weird and it’s just a funny theme which highlights the tampon situation because then it kind of comes down to a level. And after all the madness, I talk to my friend about it and I have a little flashback scene of me and my dad’s bathroom, which I want to be really dreamy as if it’s kind of this vision that I had. And it is a funny situation and I can laugh about it now and I want it to be funny, but it also is highlights in the fact that that happened and I need to open up to my friend about the fact that I can’t use all these tampons that just fell out of this machine.

 I need something else. And I met Holly, my director, through a friend, and she is amazing. And the two of us have just been pushing for this film to be shot and to have a screening and then to submit to festivals because I honestly think it can be really important for research, important for so many people to see it. And we’re sponsored by Daye, which actually I was going to mention are a menstrual product company, and they have at the bottom of their website, you can put in your period pain and where the level is and it can help you to, just on the surface, see if your pain is normal or if there’s a chance, you’ve got some other things going on. And they work with endometriosis and giving 1% of their fees to an endometriosis charity. And we’ve also partnered up with the Endometriosis Foundation who I raised money for last year running the Half marathon.

And they’re also part of this film in terms of we want to make this film for, to make it a comedy film, to make it a film. I want to make a film, but I also want this film to have a big impact on the film festival circuit. And I want it to be a film that people are like, this isn’t just a film that’s going to just be there. Hopefully that film will actually bring a lot of attention to endometriosis, to periods, to women, to non-binary people to everything that I feel passionate about. And it is based off a true situation. And I hope that people watch it and they think it’s funny, obviously, but afterwards they think, oh, that’s actually quite, yeah, I just want people to think, I guess after they watch it and working with some really big people is going to hopefully help signpost to them, signpost to us kind of working together with people I think is the best way to push something.

We’re not in competition. We were all together and we’re actually setting up a crowdfunder the end of May, which I’ll put on my socials. It’ll be put on Bled Through Instagram and hopefully we can do some tags and stuff on this, but that’s to hopefully raise money to add to what we’ve already raised to try and make this film. But I really hope it’s funny. I really hope that it does what I want it to do, but I think comedy is the ultimate best way to get things across. It’s not too heavy. It’s not like, oh, someone’s going to watch it and be like, oh, they’ve really tried to get their point across. I feel like I want people to actually genuinely laugh and then be like to think about it afterwards for a while and it might change how they think or how they feel about things, but I’m really excited. Yeah.

Le’Nise Brothers:          Yeah. It’s so exciting. I think you’re right. Comedy is such an easy way to get things across and to educate because if you make someone laugh, they smile, they’re more receptive, I think. And obviously drama has its place, but it’s, when you make someone laugh, it’s almost like a crack opens in their mind and it’s easy to get things in. I think this is really exciting, and all the links to the crowdfunder will be in the show notes. In terms of our conversation today or maybe other things you haven’t spoken about, is there anything that you’d like to leave listeners with a thought that you’d like to leave listeners with?

Hayley McFadyen:         I think just trusting yourself. Don’t allow anyone who doesn’t know you or anyone who does know you tell you that you are not feeling something or thinking something. If you know there’s something like we know our bodies and if you know there’s something wrong with your body, just push for that and ignore everyone else’s thoughts. That’s the thing. And to have a laugh and try and use it in a positive way because that’s the best way to work through something and be proud of yourself if you do eventually come out the other side and there’s a lot more people than you think so.

Le’Nise Brothers:          Yeah. Fantastic. Thank you so much, Hay ley. Oh,

Hayley McFadyen:         Thank you. This is so nice.

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