Do you remember the first time you got your period?
Because I do.
I remember how girls would whisper in the changing rooms, shooting nervous glances into the humid space as they asked their friend for a tampon.
How when I was thirteen, my friend at the time asked me if I’d gotten mine yet; and I lied. I shook my head no and mouthed the word ew.
I remember how the boys in my class would joke about the smell and the moods and stick unused pads to my backpack; and how the teachers never stopped them.
How people would comment whenever a girl raised her hand and asked to go to the bathroom; while their other arm remained hidden. A tampon stuffed up the sleeve.
I remember how my mum would blush when she was handed a carrier bag in Superdrug and noticed the word Always showed through the thin plastic. How she’d hide it within another, less transparent bag as soon as we left the store.
I was taught to be ashamed.
I was taught to be embarrassed and to view my period as an inconvenience. A joke to be laughed at by boys. An excuse to get out of sex or swimming lessons or sleepovers.
But not as natural, not a thing to be openly discussed, and certainly not as beautiful.
It didn’t help that, as a teen, my cycle could be rough. Every month, like clockwork, I would have its presence forced upon me like that of an uninvited houseguest and lose 2-5 days to what I referred to as the crimson wave.
I’d wake up in the morning and my sheets would resemble the site of a shark attack. I’d groan and complain and stash the stained sheets under my bed. I would be unable to fully function. My brain foggy, and a heat pad pressed to my uterus as I sat curled up in the school nurses’ office; grateful, at least, that I could miss dance.
To me, this time of the month was dreaded; it was frustrating and messy, and uncomfortable. Because of this, my adolescent self struggled to view periods as anything other than a huge annoyance.
So, what changed?
It was a few months ago that I started watching Hitomi’s videos on YouTube. I was desperately seeking uplifting content while going through a hard time, and hers deeply resonated with me at this point in my life (and still does).
I heard her discuss her cycle, how she described it not as a hindrance or as gross, as I’d been made to believe. But instead as a blessing, a gift, a miracle.
At first, I was confused. A blessing? How could something that made me bloated, cranky, and hungry simultaneously be a blessing?
But as I sat with a mug of chai tea warming my palms, letting her words sink in, I felt my mindset begin to shift.
It wasn’t so much her descriptions that began to make me question my thought patterns but how she explained the nature of our cycles in a more spiritual sense.
This part really caught my attention: how we can essentially use our cycles to release the emotional traumas we’ve been holding onto.
In the lead-up to my period, I’ll often find myself thrown into the depths of a thought spiral. I become consumed by the negativity and suppressed memories that always seem to resurface right before my period begins.
One minute, I’m happily watching a trashy drama on Netflix; the next, I’m reliving all my past relationships and contemplating the nature of human existence.
Perhaps this is solely a result of my hormone levels, making me want to eat everything in sight, cry, and binge-watch teen movies. All within the space of half an hour. But I think there’s something metaphorically poetic about the idea of shedding emotional baggage along with my uterine lining.
Now that I’m a little older, I feel my internalized shame surrounding my period begin to dissipate.
I’ll happily walk down the street clutching a box of pads or openly discuss the awkward details with my friends. I’ve started to view this time not as an annoyance but as an opportunity. A chance to heal emotionally and inch a little closer to self-assurance.
I no longer dread its arrival as I once did.
Having learned to release the ‘ugh, I’m going to be on my period that day’ mentality has allowed me to adopt a more neutral view. It doesn’t have to be a time you look forward to with the excitement akin to a child’s on Christmas Eve, but it also shouldn’t be steeped in pessimism.
It’s these harmful associations, the ones we cultivate and affirm in our minds, that serve to strengthen those we’ve been taught to believe.
My period is not an inconvenience. It’s a freaking miracle.