Actually, no, totally don’t. I don’t want to move any body part below my collarbone or above my knees.
I have so say, “not being aware of my period” might be the only period-related problem I haven’t had. Although I sometimes find it’s weird that I don’t miss my period at all, like there’s this disconnect… I don’t miss my period at all.
Clearly, I was tempting fate. Today it became clear that last night, perhaps even at the same time that I was writing my comment!, I failed to take my birth control pill. I’m actually a little amazed that it took this long for the agony to set in; usually it starts within an hour. There are not enough vowels in the world to express my agony.
I am now stretched out on my couch, glaring at my now-torturous jeans and underwear on the floor next to me (I would have thrown them, but it would have jostled my oh-so-delicate organs) and wondering if I need to take my bra off, too. I took the pill, and some advil, and while I will probably make it through the day without vomiting from the pain (and even, most likely, without bleeding!) right now, I am miserable.
(Warning: I am about to talk about my anatomy. People who know me in real life may want to avert their eyes.)
The first thing that happens is this really sharp pain that feels like a piano wire is stretched between my navel and my clit. Any time I move at all, it stretches or jostles that wire of pain, and my whole abdomen feels sliced up. Then the general ache sets in, dulling but not replacing that highly specific twinge. Before I took birth control, the “general ache” would really be just that exact same extreme sensitivity, but everywhere, generally causing me to throw up (which, oh, is agony! All those muscles clenching! Unbearable!). Nowadays, it’s just very, very unpleasant. Nearly my entire body is sensitive, from my breasts to my thighs.
And now, I shall overshare the one thing I have never overshared before, even with my gynecologist. Look away! It’s about my butt! No, seriously, you might not want to read this.
I also get really atrocious diarrhea. Which feels like throwing up (the clenching!) but it goes on forever. It sets in even before that general ache and attacks at random intervals throughout my torture.
Like all my other symptoms, this is just PMS– it disappears after the first 24 hours, leaving me with nothing more unpleasant than a bizarrely sore clitoris and a hilariously raised libido for the rest of my period-week (which, by the way, would be worthy of a whole post’s worth of complaints if everything else wasn’t so much worse) but it is unbearable to me that it happens at all.
It makes the whole process so filthy and uncomfortable, and impossible to talk about. The few places where feminists are trying to break the menstruation taboo are, half the time, uncomfortably period-positive for me– I have nothing nice to say, ever, about this process, and I don’t like the idea that I have to “embrace” menstruation or else I’m just a puppet of the patriarchy, and no, it’s not better if I call it my “moon time.”
Okay, that sounds a little harsh– forgive me, I’m PMSing. I definitely think it’s true that the patriarchy encourages us to hate our periods simply because they’re some crazy gross woman-thing, and many women would be able to have neutral or pleasant relationships with their periods were it not for said patriarchy, but it’s also true that my period is 100% hell and menstruation is never going to be fun for everyone, no matter how much patriarchy we smash. It’s problematic that society has a hate-on for periods, and maybe 80% of that hate (or whatever) stems from truly objectionable “eww women are gross” thinking, which should be fought. But that other 20% comes from the ways that periods are, well, gross and unpleasant sometimes. Mine definitely is. But I’ve often found articles discussing periods in which the tone seemed to be that periods weren’t gross and unpleasant, which meant that the post defeated its own purpose– it sought to break down the taboo around menstruation and let women talk about their experiences, and yet made me and my experiences feel totally unwelcome.
The fact that all of my problems are in the pre-menstruation stage only complicates things more! I agree 100% with, for example, this feminism 101 post from Shakesville, which says the following:
Let’s put this shit to bed right now: Women don’t lose their minds when they have period-related irritability. It doesn’t lower their ability to reason; it lowers their patience and, hence, tolerance for bullshit. If an issue comes up a lot during “that time of the month,” that doesn’t mean she only cares about it once a month; it means she’s bothered by it all the time and lacks the capacity, once a month, to shove it down and bury it beneath six gulps of willful silence.
That’s true. The things I throw the huge fits about while PMSing are things that bother me all the time. But I also get low-level annoyed with a lot of things that I don’t mind, or even enjoy, when not PMSing, and I am not shy about it. It’s not that insanity is an actual symptom of PMS, but that my other symptoms totally overwhelm even my ability to be civil, so I say a lot of things that I don’t necessarily mean. I have cried over pluperfect subjunctives while PMSing. I do care about proper parallelism! I just, um, don’t usually care that much. And while I definitely don’t think people should ignore what I say under those circumstances, I do think they need to check with me again a few days later to more accurately gauge the degree of annoyance. And yet, that feels… unfeminist. “Don’t mind me, I’m just PMSing! You can ignore this conversation because I’m just a crazy woman made crazy by her crazy woman-hormones!” How do we fight the truly stupid cultural perception as PMS as totally crazy-making while still having room for stories, like mine, in which that is a problem? I mean, it happened when I broke my hand, too; discomfort makes any person irritable. But I’m not always sure that there’s space for me to say, in period conversations, that I am in discomfort, and it does make me irritable, even about things that I don’t really care about, without coming across as some kind of patriarchy-loving troll.
But talking about it anywhere else would be laughable— I mean, if it’s unbearably “grooossss” to talk about a perfectly natural shedding of one’s uterine lining in non-feminist spheres, how much more unbearably gross is the same thing plus poop?
I feel like I should have specific examples, but I don’t, because, (1) I just want to have a general meta-conversation, not call out individuals, (2) I am kind of lazy, and (3) OH GOD THE PMS. I just want to say that we, the feminist blogosphere, need to be careful when we fight this taboo. It’s not acceptable to say that periods are gross and terrible because eww, they come from women’s vaginas. But we need to leave the space for people to say that their periods are gross and terrible because eww, poop everywhere.
Because man, my period is gross and terrible! If I believed in the gods, I’d promise not to make even vaguely wistful comments about my period days, but since I don’t, I’m just going to chant my new mantra: “$60 a month is not too much to pay.”
Yeah, that’s how much I spend on my Lybrel. After insurance. It is worth every cent. And when we talk about periods, we need to hear from women who love theirs, and women, like me, who want nothing more than for it to all go away.