StarWoman: Nikitta champions an honest look at uterine fibroids and women’s sexual health
I just spent several hours with one of my dearest friends at the hospital, after she underwent an operation for uterine fibroids. Let me just tell you that there is nothing as stressful as watching someone you love go through that intense kind of pain, and you can’t help but look on. So when I found Nikitta Dede Ajirakor’s honest and relatable blog, which centers on her own journey with Endometriosis and Uterine Fibroids, I simply had to speak to her. While taking on subjects that can be emotionally and physically draining for women, such as fibroids, fertility and period pain, Nikitta manages to bring a sense of witty humor and vulnerability to a conversation that isn’t addressed enough. And she doesn’t stop there!
Her debut film ‘A Thousand Needles’ brings a much needed insight on sexual and reproductive health; A safe space, as it were, for women who need an outlet on their own struggles. But I can’t do the talking for her so get in to what our StarWoman has to say about her journey so far!
KY: Can you tell us a bit about what you write about as a blogger?
Nitkitta: I write about women’s health specifically women’s sexual and reproductive health. I’m interested in how women navigate the lives with issues such as endometriosis, fertility and uterine fibroids. More than just the scientific aspect, I write about their effects on the different facets of a woman’s life such as the economic, emotional, mental and physical aspects.
KY: I absolutely loved reading your blog, it is personal and so relatable, was it challenging, starting to write about your own health journey?
Nitkitta: My journey as a blogger is quite interesting because I didn’t set out to blog. I’m also a creative writer so I had written a few pieces about my health journey and shared with friends who loved them and also had a ton of questions about them. I set out then to make a documentary called A Thousand Needles about my journey, which was shown last year in Accra.
KY: What was the creative process like, when you set out to make a Thousand Needles?
Nikitta: It was a difficult but rewarding process because I’m not film maker and this was my very first foray into writing a script and producing a film. I had very wonderful team members who I worked together with. The film combines poetry with creative visuals with monologues and that style made the process easier because I could combine my first art form which is poetry with other forms. My team and I spent a lot of time just playing around with ideas. The more outrageous the better.
Pinterest was amazing because there is so much inspiration one can get from there. We basically blocked whole weekends and played around with craft items like paint and shooting any idea that came up. We wanted the rawness of the monologues and the poetry to translate into the visuals. A color like red is really used in the film and I spent a lot of time surrounding myself with that color to immerse myself into the creation of the film.
The opening scene is a shot of me experiencing a flare up of chronic pain. When I suddenly had the pain, I called my team who headed over to my home. I took no painkillers or medication and they just hang around shooting me in pain, crying, screaming and till it subsided. It was traumatic and a paradigm shift for them because that was the moment where they understood the importance of the film and that I think translates into the entire process of shooting it.
KY: Creating and producing for the first time can’t have been easy. Any lessons to share ?
Nikitta: The final work will end up completely different from the first draft but the core idea must always be the same. I sought out to create a film for women about the realities of their bodies and their health and I constantly and deliberately refused to listen to complaints about the film’s rawness. The rawness is the entire point of the film and dumbing it down removes from its truth.
KY: So what has the reception been since the premier of the movie?
Nikitta: It’s been great. I expected women to learn and they were my primary target. But the men surprised me with the comments and questions. They seem to have been more affected because they saw the realities of the effects of women’s health issues. There was a husband who was considering divorcing his wife because he thought she was exaggerating her menstrual pain and it’s effects on her life. After watching the film, he wrote back to thank us for teaching him and went back home to apologize to his wife. That for me was unexpected but truly satisfying.
KY: What are the misconceptions you find, are prevalent when it comes to women's reproductive health?
Nikitta: The biggest misconception has to do with women being seen as well as seeing themselves as containers of pain. Basically, women have been conditioned for a long time to believe that pain is normal and as such issues that can immediately be addressed are left to fester for long periods. It’s something as simple as girls been conditioned to believe that any form of period pain is normal. As a result, we are dismissed for so long whereas a lot of issues could be solved immediately.
KY: Now writer to writer, it can be a hurdle putting pen to paper. What is your writing process like?
Nikitta: I work solely with inspiration. I usually get ideas for pieces from my environment such as a line or a word from a song or poem or even in conversations. My phone is really my first call for writing as that is where I create pieces before I transfer them to a laptop for editing. I write often at night as I suspect the quiet environment allows my mind to blossom and create.
KY: What has been the feedback like, running your blog?
Nikitta: The feedback has been great. A lot of people keep reaching out to either share their stories online or offline. The blog is meant to be a safe space for women to share and learn from the various stories posted. So far, there have actually been a lot more questions from men about their partners and siblings who they suspect have one of the underlying issues. That was an angle I didn’t expect but nonetheless excited to see develop.
KY: On your own journey, what has been the most epiphanic moment for you with regards to self-love amidst health challenges?
Nikitta: It was waking up one day and realizing that I could not get a new body. For women with chronic health issues, it’s easy to fall into a cycle of hate with your body and mind. Self-love and self-care for me is allowing my body to rest when it needs to. It was a huge paradigm shift for me to realize that there was no problem with taking a rest and allowing my body and mind to recuperate. I think as women, we grow believing we must always be on the move. Understanding that rest is essential and that it did not make me less of a woman was very important.
KY: Do you practice self-care and if you do, what ways are you able to achieve it?
Nikitta: I take time off work to rest. As funny as it may sound, this also includes people. I often joke that I need to recharge my batteries. I spend this time by myself, reflecting on my encounters with people and my responses to them. It is also of great help because it allows me to nourish my creative side and feeds my art.
Nikitta who is Ghanaian by birth is currently a PhD candidate in Literatures in African Languages at the University of Bayreuth, Germany. A writer herself, her interests and background lay in words manifested through different mediums such as music, poetry, novels and film. For more information, on her film, check her out here !
Connect with Nikita on
Facebook : Nikitta Dede Adjirakor
Twitter : @nikitta_dede
Instagram : @nikitta_dede