Friday, June 7, 2019

Period Talk

Periods- people have 'em. So why do we still not talk about it? Here's a long & detailed post doing just that!

Now, I'm not saying nobody's talking about periods. In fact, in my short life I've already seen amazing improvement in the discussion around periods. But, despite how completely natural and unintentional they are, there's still a phenomenon of not talking about it, grabbing a tampon discreetly, hygiene products moved to the back of the store like the shameful X rated movie section.

And I really, really hate that. Keeping pads next to the diapers and incontinence underwear I understand- similar purposes. Moving them to the back with the condoms and magazines? Screw you, Rite Aid.

In a ideal world for me, hygiene products would be kept in all bathrooms, with proper receptacles, because it's an undeniably human thing to bleed. That shouldn't be so hard to understand.

Considering I've been at this menstruating thing for more than half my life now at 25, I'm kind of ashamed of myself for keeping up the idea that my period was something to suffer through silently, to not gross out others by talking about, to keep evidence to a minimum. Hell, I've been doing this so long I might as well have tenure, so why am I still letting others tell me how to do it?

So reader, if this topic is gross for the simple fact that it's blood then I very much understand that, and I appreciate you being a reader of my blog but more than that I appreciate you taking care of your mental health! I'll be back next Friday with more posts. It's more the attitude some people have that periods are gross because they were either taught to think that way, or because they've never had to experience a period, that I really hate and I'm speaking out against today. I wanna talk about my period experience through the whole of my time since puberty, and the parts of my life period it's connected to.

~All About My Period~

I really should respect my period more than giving it a dedicated box o'junk, low level stab at a pun intended. I'm working on it, though.

My history-

I started my period at 11, let's thank being an early developer and potentially share some thanks to chewable fluoride tablets, a compound now known to trigger early puberty but in my childhood was given to children as supplements for strong teeth. Whoops!

It was honestly horrible for a good while, especially considering my best friend through high school was lucky to not start hers til 16, so we couldn't commiserate til later on.

I learned how to use pads- sit on the can, unwrap, stick the unused one to my thigh while I get rid of  the old one.
Image result for ob applicator free

How to use tampons- my first being the applicator-free kind my mother preferred and I hate to this day.
Fucking painful, requires you to readjust it with your hands, no thank you, never again. 

Given my only person to campare against was my mother, who can bleed through a heavy tampon and pad in like an hour, I had no idea if my heavy periods, nausea, and exhaustion was just part of the awful experience of period that I'd been told about. I was the Bearer of Midol in highschool, always having midol and pamprin in my backpack.

At 15, when I started my part-time job and couldn't be missing work staying at home throwing up because of my period, I started on oral birth control to regulate and hopefully lessen my period. I took the normal course of birth control, allowing for my period every month, from age 15-19. From there I had what seemed like a pretty average period experience.

At 19 with my doctor's advice, I started using birth control continually, which means moving to the next pack as soon as you reach the start of your sugar pills, effectively skipping your period. It seemed really unnatural and was an idea that scared me, but this was around the time when my autoimmune disorder was stepping in and really becoming apparent.
I became suddenly allergic to feminine products, unable to put one next to my skin without getting what my doctor described as "bladder irritation", meaning all of my soft tissue all the way up my urethra to my bladder was saying a big NOPE to everything in pads. 
Scented pads, cotton pads, you name it. Who knew an autoimmune disease would eventually mean I couldn't use a pad without peeing my pants? I couldn't use just tampons without bleeding through them, it has to be a combo of tampons & pads. So, that was a confidence-building time of trying to be a college student while fighting off peeing my pants.

This was how I went about my life from 19 to about 23, when I made the decision to go off birth control. I was still very concerned about heavy periods and my allergy to feminine products, but it was becoming unclear how much bad effects the birth control was having as well as preventing those issues. My libido had died and my migraines had worsened to chronic and debilitating levels. I couldn't pinpoint why other than being a generally ill person but the birth control was obviously a big factor affecting my hormones daily, so I tried going off it.

It was definitely weird getting used to having periods again- suddenly feeling shameful talking about something to my fiance, who I can talk to about literally all the weird things in my body, feeling gross or "out of commission" for a week out of every month, etc.
Now looking back, I realize I wasn't adjusting to the feel of having a period again but regressing to the mindset I had when first starting my period, that it was foreign and gross and unwanted.

Currently I'm 25 and still doing the period thing. While I can't say I enjoyed the experience I have getting used to periods, I'm glad that I'm at a point now where I know my preferences in things like pads, tampons, and painkillers. I'm glad I've burnt off enough time being ashamed of my body and what it did that now I can grab a tampon from my bag in public and walk to the bathroom with it instead of hiding it up my sleeve or in my waistband. Because if anyone sees they'll know that I'm going to the bathroom to do *gasp* BATHROOM THINGS.

My routine-

Here's my preferred combo, though I'll explain my ideal combo after-

Tampax radiant, comes with packaging that's actually helpful for wrapping up the soiled applicator in its packaging. Buy Tampax Radiant Tampons Super Plus at | Free ...

 Always radiant, it's a texture that's sort of a mix between cotton and the familiar Always plastic. Both of those extremes cause reactions in me but these I'm able to use with minimal irritation.

Always Radiant Flex Foam Pads, Regular, Scented, 30 Ct ...

Pamprin multi symptom- when I'm cranky, headachey, and nauseated on top of cramps I prefer Pamprin over ibuprofen. It's also useful for migraines (not sure if it counts as a triptan) in a pinch if I've been using excedrin and don't have any at the moment. Thankfully since starting medical marijuana for my chronic pain in 2016 I've been able to cut down my excedrin use and it's honestly been at least 6 months since I've taken any. 

Pamprin Multi-Symptom Menstrual Pain Relief Tabl... : Target

Ideally I'd like to be using organic cotton tampons and never have to let plastics or fragrances near my soft tissues again. But being on a disability budget, I buy what I can afford or when I can't afford it, I use what's given away for free at food pantries and Planned Parenthood.
 (Actually primarily what they do is provide free things like hygiene products, a literal year's worth of birth control, condoms, and examinations. Most don't even have the equipment to do the kind of things conservative media would have you believe is being done. It's an incredibly important cause, consider donating -here- )

Sometimes I gotta do what I used to do as a tween visiting my fathers house on the weekend and forgetting pads, wad up a bunch of toilet paper and use another strip to wrap it around my underwear.

Fun fact- in both prisons and psychiatric facilities you are responsible for buying your own tampons. If you can't afford them you just bleed. On yourself and everything else.

My identity & spirituality

I still have complicated feelings about my period, both as someone at odds with their reproductive function and the unwillingness of doctors to do anything for young people they feel should grow up to be brood mares and not humans with autonomy, and as someone who struggles with their identity.

Being pagan, my feelings around my period and the idea of the sacred feminine is very complicated and something I make efforts to understand through reflection and meditation, bit by bit. When my period comes I resent it, it still brings pain and nausea and spikes the number of panic attacks I experience, but I now can notice moments of connection with the universe, or feeling like I belong in my body somewhat, or surges of creativity or feeling productive to clean. 

It's 2019, menstruation isn't exclusively a woman thing but as a Pagan I struggle to separate the idea of periods from the sacred feminine- something that I believe exists in everything. Everyone and everything has aspects on a scale from what we'd consider masculine to feminine, and it's been a surprise to me that feeling more connected to that sacred feminine hasn't caused me more confusion in my identity but rather sureness, I am an individual with aspects of many things, like all humans are.

Thanks for reading about my experience!  It's been a learning experience going out of my comfort zone to break out of the stigma I put on myself being ashamed of certain things, and I really appreciate having a platform like this to be able to do so.

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