I remember writing a dirty little secret in my 5th grade journal: I wanted my period. I didn’t really understand what it was considering I was only 10 years old (and the sex-ed curriculum was clearly fantastic). Other girls in my class were starting to get it, which meant that I wanted it too – it was obviously the cool thing to have. It was so mysterious and I was so desperate for it and people were so hushed about it. All the girls who were wearing training bras were getting it so why couldn’t I?
It took another 4 years for my genetics to listen. August before 9th grade, I ended up with some weird rusty brown marks in my underwear. It only lasted for about three days, so I decided not to panic. Instead, I just threw out my underwear, which was obviously the sensible thing to do. September rolled around and this time it was a brighter red colour. No underwear was sacrificed this time – just bleached.
Despite having my 5th grade wishes come true, I learned pretty damn quickly that things were not as glamorous as I had hoped.
1. I suddenly understood why the underwear business is so profitable. As my period surprised me a day early every month. Like actually every month.
2. I quickly learned that there are two types of underwear. You have your nice ones and your period ones.
3. Truth or Dare changed from ‘do you have your period?’ to ‘have you ever used a tampon?’ It was hard to keep up with the cool kids.
4. It then became necessary to learn how to stick something up my vagina for summer camp. Of course, my time away from home landed on the one week I was bleeding.
5. I developed a horrendous fear of leaking. On my underwear. Through my pants. On a chair. On my bed. On a couch. It became second nature to check for stains on friends’ beds after sleepovers. Absolutely terrifying.
6. I obsessively filled every purse and jacket with liners and tampons. If not for my use, then for the random girls in public washrooms who seem to never be prepared.
7. I learned the hard way about cramps. Specifically, that they can be painful enough to make you puke.
8. Pregnancy scares became a real thing. I spent a lot of money buying my friends pregnancy tests because they were young and dumb (and I was the only one who wasn’t embarrassed to buy them). Emphasis on dumb.
9. PMS never affected me. But apparently it becomes something guys feel like they can say whenever I’m upset. No, you’re just an ass and I’d feel the same way any time of the month. Dickface.
10. Food cravings are real but unlike the movies would have you believe. It’s not just chocolate. It’s for everything. Have I eaten the entire fridge and I’m still looking for more food? Yup, day 2 of my period.
11. Birth control is a bitch. Doesn’t matter what kind you’re on. It’s a bitch and you know it (abstinence included).
12. It doesn’t stop. Not for another 40 or more years. The pad and tampon double-up for heavy days, the liners for barely-there days, the cramps, the legs that feel like Jell-O, the increased iron requirements and the sore breasts. It doesn’t stop. It just keeps going and going and going – like a damn cycle.
13. I can safely say that it may not be the world’s most pleasant event. I do however have my whole routine down to a T – my Diva Cup and big bags of Skittles are key elements.
14. We all have different experiences and symptom severities but we find ways to conquer them every month. By keeping an open discourse about menstruation, we de-stigmatize the topic and help normalize everyone’s differences. So many of us bleed on a (typically) monthly basis, we need to keep talking about this totally natural event.
I mean, getting your period is still pretty terrible but at least it means it isn’t a baby. Those things are just the worst.