People who don’t like talking about women and they biology, look away now!
My period is due. I know this, not only because my cycle diary app tells me so, but because my bones jangle with uncertainty and anxiety that has been building for a week. The older I become, the more wild this rollarcoaster ride, that is my hormones, gets
Just as with so many other things to do with women’s bodies and biology, we just don’t talk about it. I am 43 years old and until last year I had never heard of the peri-menopause, but even without the age issue, our monthly cycle and the huge impact it can have on our lives is a hushed secret, something we must simply style out and hope no-one notices.
The only mention we ever seem to make of it is a self-depricating comment, usually in reference to how awful it must be for those around us to cope with our irrationally foul moods and I am done with that, because this is a real thing and it has a real impact on so many womens lives. It’s not just a GIF with a woman losing her shit, or me and many other women on Insta-stories joking about being ‘hormonal’ with a roll of the eye and a cheeky comment about the Hulk.
It’s real. It’s suddenly feeling you can’t cope, it is feeling that you are failing at everything. It’s not wanting to do anything out of your comfort zone. It’s questioning whether any of your friends really like you and overthinking every interaction you have. And then suddenly, it’s gone again and everything is calm, but you know it will be back.
Imagine for a moment that someone you work with had an on-going problem with their back or some other part of their body. they would mention it. We would be sympathetic. Work would be accommodating. Occasionally, if it was particularly bad they may take a day off. It would be slightly frustrating, but you would probably be understanding of their pain. Imagine if the bad back was replaced with PMS. It’s hard to, right? It’s impossible to imagine because it just never happens. Imagine too, how different soceity’s attitude to periods and the monthly cycle that goes with it, would be if men were the ones who had to experience it. I suspect we would hear much more about it and you can damn well guarantee that sanitary products wouldn’t be classed as a luxury item.
I started paying more attention to my cycle after I’d finished breastfeeding. For nearly 10 years I had either been trying to get pregnant, dealing with the hormonal aftermath of a failed pregnancy, being pregnant or breastfeeding and it wasn’t until all that had finished that I noticed my cycle felt very different ten years on. The blues and even the pain were actually split into two separate times of the month. Once when I was ovulating and again when I was menstruating. (how ironic that when I no longer needed to pinpoint ovulation, I could tell when it was, just by the excruciating pain on one side of my body!) I downloaded a cycle tracker and most of the time it is absolutely spot on, in terms of mood and energy levels.
Having an understanding of our own cycles is really empowering to a point, but what that doesn’t do is make it any more acceptable to say anything about it. I for one, feel hushed, that we mustn’t admit that some days these hormones of ours make us feel like a different person, because that would be a sign of weakness. A sign that being a woman makes us less than a man and certainly more emotional than a man. It’s great to be able to tell yourself that these feelings aren’t really real, but even then, it doesn’t stop them feeling completely real.
As usual in our modern, medicalised society the first thought is to take drugs to balance this all out and I’m not necessarily against this, however, often the side effects are just as bad as the symptoms and perhaps if we could start being more open about our own realities, we would find ways to ease the ride.
We may not have the medical silver bullet and maybe we shouldn’t even be looking for it, but what we definitely be doing is speaking our truth, being honest with ourselves, our friends, our families and especially our daughters. As uncomfortable as it might be, it’s worth it.