Talking About Periods And Mental Health

In the words of Lily Allen – ‘Periods, we all get periods. Every month, yo, that’s what the theory is. It’s human nature, another cycle’ yep she cleared it up nicely. The majority of uterus owners have to deal with these regular little rage monsters.

Recently, I’ve been listening to Hormonal by Eleanor Morgan where she talks about her experiences and looks at the wider cultural issue. It’s something I’ve struggled with in the last 12 years. I know I’m not the only one that struggles with their mental health when on their period. I am teary, anxious and stressed. I feel incredibly low and struggle with my self worth.

What about contraception? People ask well. For me, it does precisely nothing to help my anxiety and depression on my period and while I feel weak to let people know I’m feeling down because of my period (thanks to the patriarchy for that!) it’s completely true.

The thing is, why don’t we talk more about our mental health on our periods? This is something that impacts a lot of the the population and it is valid. If it were another medical condition we could be more mindful something that causes depression and mood swings alongside medical symptoms?

I know that for at least a week a month I don’t feel like myself. I feel like something within me takes over, I question everything, my confidence deflates. All because of a natural process which happens to make my mental illness worse.

I guess I’m writing to say that we are silenced and made to think that it’s embarrassing and that it only happens to us – which is not true! I’m yet to meet a woman who isn’t negatively impacted by their hormones. We’re not weak, we’re not overreacting, we are most importantly not alone.

Let me know about your experiences below!

Book Review: The Hormone Diaries: The Bloody Truth About Our Periods – Hannah Witton

If you haven’t noticed, I think Hannah Witton is a great YouTuber and also seems like a lovely person. I’ve watched her channel for a few years now and loved her first book, Doing It so when she announced a book tied to her series The Hormone Diaries, I was in.

The book is a great mix of informative and funny with some great notes from Hannah around the edges. While this is definitely aimed at an older audience (hooray!) I still learnt so much, and this is from someone who’s been having periods for about 12 years at this point. There was so much I didn’t know!

Covering letters from Hannah’s followers around the world they addressed to things you might not expect like, ‘Dear my period’, ‘Dear my pill’ and ‘Dear menstrual cup’ . While it is amusing it’s also great to see so many experiences of hormones, contraception and the like. I found myself laughing, sympathising and nodding along the whole way through this book.

What I didn’t expect to feel when reading was powerful. I wanted to get up and shout I AM A MENSTRATOR because, if you think about it, we’re pretty badass. And although, in my opinion, periods are shit, most contraception is a nightmare and the thought of giving birth makes my vagina scream in protest – our bodies are bloody marvelous.

This is probably the most inviting book I’ve read in a long time in regards to the gender spectrum. Hannah doesn’t just assume that everyone who has a period identifies as a woman. She has used inclusive language throughout which is definitely the way forward. While I’m a cis female I can understand how this can be a big thing for others. Go Hannah!

It’s worth pointing out that thanks to Hannah and her book I’m now part of a wonderful group on Facebook where we all talk about hormones and periods. It’s fantastic and I’m so glad so much conversation has come out of this book – and will continue to!

Is it any surprise that I gave this 5 stars. A great book and, once again, Hannah has pulled it out of the bag. I highly recommend this to anyone who gets a period or has to battle with estrogen on a regular basis.

Why are we so freaked out about periods?!

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This year I took a writing women class, I was sceptical before taking it and even now I’m usually the one to have a different opinion to the others in my class. That said, it’s also one of the most rewarding classes I’ve ever taken because of the reading list. The reading I did over the summer made me sure in my heart that I am a feminist and that not all feminists are going to agree on certain things. One of my lecturers described Caitlin Moran as ridiculous, whereas I see Caitlin as one of my idols as a feminist and as a writer. If everyone agreed on everything, life would be boring.

For my essay for the class I’ve chosen to look at the female body in autobiographical poetry, specifically menstruation, sex and the womb. My lecturers seemed pretty pleased with the idea and I appear to be on a role with writing it with almost 2500 words written in a few bursts over the weekend. When I told my male friends I’d been writing about periods all weekend I was met with a queasy look. These are men in their 20s in 2016 and they still looked grossed out at the thought of periods. I don’t know about you, but I find that really funny.

As Caitlin Moran has said in many interviews, it’s not like us women are thrilled by them either, ‘looking down in our pants and thinking oh fuck it’s you again’. I agree with her, they’re irritating, painful and messy. Not something any woman needs in her life. What struck me as odd though, through my research is that through this day and age we still stay quiet about our periods.

There are adverts on television with daisies and talking about being nice and happy on your period. Um, no tampon or pad will make you feel happy. As the picture says, your body is actually pretty aggressive towards you for a week of every month. When I was younger I would be in so much pain I couldn’t move and just cried constantly. Now, because of my implant, I have lesser cramps, still cry a lot and generally feel really moody or irritable, which makes me a nightmare to live with. Oh and I’m totally cliché when it comes to chocolate, I really do stock up.

I do think it’s something that needs to just be able to be a part of normal conversation. They do suck, but they’re a part of the majority of women’s monthly lives. It’s something that keeps the human race going, so you know it’s kind of important. Yes there’s blood, whoop de doo, there’s also a history of it being ignored and it really shouldn’t be, we’re more grown up than this.

To end this on a funny note here’s the hilarious Emma Blackery video ‘If tampon commercials were honest’.