I’m not one to stop and marvel over the wonders of biology while menstruating. Some people see it as a spiritual experience or a celebration of their biological femaleness. Some people take the opportunity to create artwork or make political statements by bleeding through their yoga pants. Good for them, I say. Celebrating periods is fine if that’s your thing, but I’m just not that enthused about it. I mean, I can appreciate it in theory but in practice, it doesn’t thrill me. Generally, I have two kinds of periods. Okay periods and not-good ones. Last week, I had a not-good period.
The “Okay” Period.
An okay period has very little build up, and is over in a week or less. Any minor discomfort can be soothed easily with medications you can buy at the supermarket and maybe a heat pack. This is how they should all be, in my opinion.
The “Not-Good” Period.
These ones, that last 8-9 days, announce themselves a week before they arrive. The bloating makes ones clothing just a little less comfortable. Then the unsightly blemishes arrive, whisking my 35 year old self back to the more awkward stages of puberty, in case I’d forgotten.
All of the emotions arrive in this week. I didn’t even need my period tracker app to tell my I was due. I realise when I’d cried three times in half an hour of Facebook scrolling that the crimson tide was approaching. Cry number one was over a video of a sweet boy meeting his newborn brother. The second cry was politics-related and angry. The third and final cry, pre-realisation, was a Buzzfeed list of cute dog pictures because they were just so lovely.
During a not-good period, I’m convinced that the uterus protests the process by twisting itself into a pretzel shape. This pain is not at all unlike early labour pains. The pain hits the back, belly and beyond. I can piggyback paracetamol and ibuprofen and maybe take the edge of it. It’s fucking miserable.
In the throes of this last week, I did what any reasonable person would and whinged to my friends. I had taken two kinds of medication and wrapped myself around a heat pack on the lounge. I felt sick and I really hurt.
I was caught up in the injustice of feeling this way with no prospect of reward. At least, I told my friends, labour means a baby afterwards. A nice phone call or a card. We have to go through this crap without so much as a bunch of flowers. There’s no congratulations on surviving a period. It’s just not right!! My friends offered their sympathies while I whined about the indignity and unfairness of it all.
I was imagining announcing on Facebook that I had successfully shed the unused lining of my uterus for another month and wondering how many friends that would cost me versus how many congratulations I might get. For something that causes some of us so much discomfort and hassle, there’s still that culture of not mentioning it, because ewwwww! That’s what close friends are for, instead. They’ll let you bitch and moan about anything without judgment.
The Best Medicine.
The next day, I was meeting up with these excellent mates for a morning tea. I was still in the throes of the fake labour cramps forced on me by the pretzel-uterus-from-hell. Hitting up the medicine cupboard was a no-brainer but it didn’t help much. Still, I went along. When I got there, look at what was waiting for me. Just LOOK:
A period posy! A boxed arrangement for my aching body!
I laughed and I laughed and then I read the card and I laughed even more. My friend Colleen (immortalised here for her baffling obsession with cycling) decided to run with my epic whinge-fest and do something guaranteed to make me forget my misery for a minute. There are studies that show that laughter can actually help with pain by releasing those feel good chemicals in the brain. It helps us tolerate pain better. In that moment, I felt heaps better and it also made me wonder.
Why isn’t this a thing? It should be a thing we do if our friends are having an awful period. Do something to make them laugh. It’s not a cure, of course, but it is a nice distraction from the uterus contortions going on in one’s abdomen. And, in my case, it was the gift that kept on giving when I had to explain it to the rest of my family.
So, if your bestie has the monthly blues, why not hit ’em with a floral acknowledgment or whatever else can think of to make them chuckle? If they’re anything like me, they’ll appreciate it!