Sometimes I worry about what people think of me.
And sometimes I don’t.
So this is a story about periods.
Dedicated to anyone who’s ever worried about a tampon getting stuck and ending up in their brain. Am I right?
At least once a month I am convinced that periods are absolutely the worst thing, right up there with violent crime, natural disaster, and accidentally licking the inside of a banana skin. This post was inspired at a wedding. This idyllic event landed on the second (read: most lethal) day of my period. Since coming off the pill my periods have become as unpredictable as a pigeon shitting on you just as you look up at the sky and yawn. They are completely out of control and I no longer trust my body.
This fear ain’t new. There has always been drama. The time my younger brothers found my labrador choking on a tampon he’d dug out the bin was an all time low. The time I thought I got toxic shock syndrome was another. Luckily it was just hayfever. Not to mention the day I got my first period, when I cried and missed my train to school, so my Dad drove me and picked up some Always en route, but forgot to tell me I probably didn’t need to carry the entire packet around with me at school. I spent the whole day with a bulging blazer, that either made it blatantly obvious I was on or, worse, that one of my boobs had swollen to three times its size overnight. To this day I don’t know which was more emotionally or socially scarring and all of this is definitely partly to blame for my frequent fear of period-related disaster.
So the wedding was pretty stressful. Because all the chairs had white cotton covers, my dress was pastel and my womb has a vendetta against me. I have this very unhelpful habit of imagining the worst in every scenario and as we waited for the bride to arrive my mind began to wander and I started to anticipate my absolute worst nightmare coming true. I looked around at the other ladies sitting, waiting and looking perfectly beautiful and fluttery and I wondered if I was sticking out, sweating as I tried to shift and slyly sit on my cardigan, so that if what I was dreading did happen it wouldn’t look like I was bleeding to death when I stood up for the big entrance, like the worst possible reincarnation of that Game of Thrones finale.
Persistent clenching-like-never-before throughout the entire ceremony (because daym I got the moves) and an emergency message to any higher power going miraculously proved successful and no chairs were harmed in the shedding of this womb. However, I’ve struggled to shake off that sense of dire frustration at having to deal with this every single month. Weddings are traumatic enough what with having to self-regulate Pimms consumption and competing with small children on the dance floor, without spending the entire day in fear that I’d reach into my bag for a handful of confetti and accidentally throw emergency tampons at the bride.
I abandoned this post a while ago because I have the attention span of a mosquito and I forgot about it completely until I read an article about marathon runner Kiran Ghandi who ran the most recent London marathon not only on her period (hero) this year but chose to bleed freely throughout, because who the fuck has time to deal with tampons when they’re smashing a personal best? Now I’m not about to compare a wedding to a marathon. Believe me I know weddings are more exhausting. But I was blown away by her courage, determination, and enviable ability to prioritise and succeed in the face of shitty period times. Reading about Kiran has been the wake-up call I and perhaps all of us need at times. Yes, I definitely still want to find a form of contraception that doesn’t wreak havoc with my body, because there’s only so much crying into ice cream I can afford and my hot water bottle keeps leaking, but until that point I need to remember that I definitely don’t need to sit and clench with fear. I need to start running.
This doesn’t mean I’m going to get my tampons out on the floor of the commuter train and start a game of Dominoes, nor will I begin a protest conga line for all freely menstruating guests at the next wedding I attend. But I am going to chill out a bit. And remember the ever-so valuable sides to the period blues. Like having an excuse to cry about guide dogs if you feel like it. Or dedicated “you-time”, in bed, researching the nutritional benefits of eating an entire pack of caramel digestives whilst watching The Holiday. And that we can do what we want, when we want it. And that is something I’m on board with any time of the month.