It’s 8AM. You wake up in a pool of your own blood.
It’s happening again.
You look for your bottle of Tylenol. Your room’s a mess.
There’s no point. You learned the hard way that painkillers don’t work unless you take it before your period. If you take it now, you’ll just throw it back up.
As if this shit was predictable.
You accept your fate, get a pad, and an hour passes by.
Oh! It’s not that bad! Perhaps Satan’s taken the month off.
No, you perhapsed wrong.
Now you’re on the bathroom floor. Cold sweats all over. Wondering if you need to shit, wondering if you need to throw up. Not being sure if you’re nauseous from the pain, or the frustration that this is happening to you. You’re drifting in and out of consciousness. With shaky hands and a shaky mind, you start googling hysterectomies. You do this every time.
Is it normal for period pains to be this painful?
Eventually, you throw up, take a sad horizontal shower, and a naked wet hair nap.
So that’s why I hated myself earlier this month.
That’s what getting my period used to feel like for me. I wish I could travel back in time and tell myself it won’t be this way forever. And I happen to be a strong follower of the present moment.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Shame was the first language my mind and body knew. I’ve always been quite sensitive. And growing up in a household that didn’t exactly scream peaceful, it’s safe to say I’ve been at war with myself even before I got my first period at 11.
I’ve been diagnosed with anxiety disorders, mood disorders and eating disorders most of my life. I’ve been medicated, unmedicated, then medicated again with a handful of therapists thrown in there. Some amazing, some not.
Sometimes I feel like one of Frankenstein’s monsters. But instead of different body parts, I’m a mix of different attempts to love myself.
My periods were rarely regular. It would go missing like it could afford multiple vacations a year. Or I’ve spotted for 8 weeks straight before. If you’re going to stay this long, the least you could do is pay rent. And like the story above suggests, they were debilitating.
Don’t get me started on the mood swings. I’d isolate myself in fear of being a burden. Even with my paranoia acting as foreshadowing, I was young and clueless about self-care. I didn’t know anything about period pain relief beyond pain killers, nor did I have the initiative to take those remedies. And because I never got an official medical diagnosis, no one really took my pain seriously.
I remember one time I had to leave work early because I was in so much pain. They wrote me up for not being predictable, and I would vow to be more communicative and organized. I wonder if you can feel my frustration through the screen.
Because self-love was never modelled for me in my personal life or the media, automatically blaming myself was a special talent of mine. I just accepted my menstrual pain as reality.
But I didn’t give up on my mental health.
I discovered holistic psychology on Instagram in 2018. Sometimes, I love being a chronically online Gen Z.
A new word would enter my life: healing.
I discovered mindfulness, learned about trauma, imagined a future self, met my inner child, and practiced stoicism. This is when I started writing and couldn’t stop. For the first time in my life, I felt something that resembled inner peace and hope.
And it wasn’t that I was wrong, but I wasn’t exactly right either.
When COVID hit, like many people, my mental health took a turn. Quarantining with all these versions of myself that would usually be separated into different sectors of life was… new.
I spent my time watching documentaries on police brutality, queer history and misogyny. With everything else happening, I began to see social issues as systemic issues beyond a personal lens as a queer person of colour.
I began to decolonize my mind. I started to understand how we lived on stolen land that was built on violence, with values that stemmed from white supremacy, capitalism, and colonialism. And how it goes beyond North America. I hope you’re still with me.
Along with a few of my own reckonings in my personal life where I saw my own cycles of complacency and people pleasing, I began to change internally. The lessons on personal responsibility and the art of not taking things personally would keep me grounded as I took on a new practice in my life: rage.
My rage (I like to call it ancestral rage) shaped my values as I accepted this new perception of reality. I noticed how these feelings mirrored the emotional rollercoasters I would feel when I was PMS-ing.
It made me view my emotions as pockets of wisdom and value my sensitivity in a whole new way. I vowed to no longer call myself crazy. There’s that word again.
Was I crazy to want respect? Love? Freedom? Not just for myself but for the world?
To question authority? To want to exist outside of the labels Western society has imposed on us?
In a world that thrives on the comfort of the privileged and the silence of the marginalized, advocating for yourself, let alone your menstrual health, won’t be easy.
But I see my self-doubt as a response to a system that makes it difficult, rather than an indication of my actual worth or mental state. The war with myself was partially a distraction from the war that was hiding in plain sight.
It felt like I broke the fourth wall.
I gained new coping skills that didn’t invalidate my experiences, better boundaries which led me to people who shared similar values, and even a new sense of purpose.
Now I see staying alive and speaking my personal truth as a direct attack on a system that exists to disempower people that don’t fit their agenda.
My life is far from perfect and I am far from perfect. But I no longer expect myself to be, even when I do. That awareness is enough to make a difference.
As I internalized this new awareness, I discovered somedays in 2022.
Prior to that, I didn’t know that period pain relief could be natural. Or that a topical pain relief cream was even an option.
I also did my own research to learn about the different hormonal changes that happen during your menstrual cycle. It’s not a one-size fits all situation, but it’s worth taking the time to figure out what you need and when. I suggest taking somedays’ period relief quiz if you don’t know where to start.
But beyond the essential oils and PMS teas, what really drew me in was the work they were doing to dismantle medical gaslighting and misinformation surrounding menstrual pain.
somedays provides resources and a sense of community. It validated the emotional work I was doing for myself, and I realized that period pain isn’t normal. I think we underestimate what compassion and inclusivity can truly do for an individual.
By some miracle, my periods are more regular now. I bleed on the full moon. It’s quite weird. I use somedays Cramp Cream and stuff my pants with their Heatpad if I need it. I feel luxurious every time I do. I check what sign the moon is in and entertain myself that way, too. I treat myself to snacks and rant freely. I call them diva manifestos.
I’m not saying learning how to love yourself will cure your menstrual issues. Or that spirituality is the answer to everything. To be quite honest, I don’t know how it happened.
I just wanted to illustrate how unlearning shame regarding your emotions can change how you approach the emotional rollercoasters of life. Including the ones you might feel during your menstrual cycle. That believing in your pain is the first step to finding relief, whether it’s physical or not.
Also that you’re not going crazy.
My good friend Meghan put it this way; crazy is when you think that you’re better than everyone else. And I’d like to add, or think everyone is better than you. Excessive shame can make you go in either direction.
Don’t overthink it - just know that learning how to speak your personal truth will take time. But not only will it be worth it, it’s what you deserve.
Danielle (any pronouns) does many things. One of them happens to be writing about being human, and how much she loves how much she hates it. When Danielle isn't writing, she's a hologram. She has a Gemini placement and is fluent in metaphors. You can find her in various corners of the internet, but she never leaves a return address.