My menstrual cycle controls my life.
This post was written a few weeks ago but is still completely relevant. I know I’ve written something on this topic before, but it’s cathartic to write about it.
Currently, I’m home alone. My partner is away for the night, and I have a friend on the train who’s coming to stay with me (and film some kinky smut). I can’t be left alone, even for a night. My health is too precarious, and honestly, we don’t trust my body. We’ve been to A&E enough times that there’s a certain level of paranoia that comes with each day.
There are a few practical reasons why I can’t be left alone – our doorbell doesn’t work, and I can’t open the door by myself. However, the main reason is my body, and how unpredictable it is.
We have to plan our lives around my menstrual cycle. We know that if my partner goes away before I’m due to start my period, it means trouble for us. Granted, my body causes trouble all the damn time, but it’s 10x more likely to be troublesome pre-period.
I know every single stage I’m at in my cycle, whether it’s pre-ovulation, definitely ovulating, pre-menstrual, and everything in-between. I know the day my body temperature rises because then I need medication to control my pain multiple times a day. I know my body well.
It’s bad enough that I’m considering going back on birth control, and I’ve been off birth control for over 2 ½ years. I don’t want to go back on birth control, but my body is forcing the issue. I remember my exhausted and worn down confession that I couldn’t do any more. I couldn’t take another period, because every menstrual cycle was getting worse. Every period hit me way before I started to bleed. What used to be a day or two of what I call ‘the storm’, turned into three days, then five, then a whole week. Sometimes it even triggers my other conditions, and I’m left in a vicious cycle of being ill, getting a little better, them becoming ill again.
It’s exhausting, and quite honestly, I have better things to do with my life!
Realistically, my body is my Mistress. Even as I ‘write’ this I’m using dictation because my hands are boiling, as my laptop is too hot to touch. The tapping of the keys is making the not quite a headache worse – something that could be attributed to ovulation. I’m happy to bow down to my body occasionally, heck I’ve adjusted my life enough that I can kind of living harmony with it, but my period is another matter entirely.
My menstrual cycle rips up the rulebook, it pisses on every tree it comes across wanting to rule every system, every function, every thought. If my body is my Mistress, my period is Satan.
I wish I was exaggerating.
Currently, I’m on a cocktail of medication so strong that I get ‘those looks’ from doctors. The ‘you’re on opioids – you are on lots of opioids, and I don’t think you should be on opioids’ look. If you are on opioids, you know exactly what I mean. If you’re on medication as well as opioids – highly likely, then you have to run through all the reasons for the medication, and the knowledge that yes you are aware they’re strong, killing the liver, hurting the kidneys, etc. but, I’m getting off-track.
I’m on lots of medication, but before the medication, I remember nearly passing out in the street because it hurt that much. Period pains aren’t like any other types of pain, they’re visceral. Deep. When you think about them, they’re messed up. My body is causing its own extreme pain monthly because there’s no – and will never be, a foetus in my uterus.
Even now, on all my medication, I still get period pain. I still have days where I can’t do anything because my uterus has decided to rock out to death metal without my permission.
Period pain is not even the worst thing my body does! In fact, it’s the ‘best’. I’m relieved when I get my period, because not only do I not have to pee on a stick again when my period is late but getting my period means in a few days my body will return to ‘normal’.
My baseline normal is still a nightmare to deal with. To be honest, sometimes my baseline normal is another person’s 10, but it’s normal for me. Everything my menstrual cycle does to my body is not normal. Even now I’m getting symptoms I can’t explain. My stomach is numb, and I got a mini period last week – the doctors don’t know why, which isn’t anything new.
Of course, there are theories – endometriosis is a popular one, and then there’s my fibromyalgia, potential nerve problems, gallbladder issues plus a host of undiagnosed conditions. Then there are ‘treatments’, aka various methods of hormonal birth control, which up until now I’ve refused.
We’ve had our theories, and we’ve talked about PMDD as PMS seems almost too nice to call what happens to my brain during my cycle. But there is always the stigma. The problem with physical ailments is as soon as you acknowledge there’s a mental component, the doctors will pounce on it. They don’t see the mind and body as one, to them it’s separate – just like the all different specialities you visit be it neuro, vascular, dermatology etc. They’re all kept separate. Instead of saying I don’t know, doctors will tell you it’s all in your head. It minimises anything mental you are going through because then you doubt yourself, your body, symptoms, and your belief that you know your body best. I may be talking about my period in this post, that the above applies to every speciality, every illness, every diagnosis.
After all this, I’ve come to realise that my body is super sensitive, heck my body and mind are sensitive. I’ve been doing some reading about highly sensitive people or ‘HSP’s. Like a lot of things, it clicks. I’ve neglected my mental health, and neurodivergent brain for far too long.
Realising that I might be HSP, or have ADHA on top of PTSD (cPTSD) and other really fun acronyms has been challenging. After all, sensitivity is seen as such a bad thing.
How does this relate to my period? HSP’s are sensitive, and it’s a sensitivity from birth. Unlike PTSD, it wasn’t made; it’s there in the genetics. To be honest with my assorted conditions HSP slots in nicely, and makes perfect sense. Most of my conditions are a ‘sensitisation issue’. HSP means that everything in my body is ‘turned up’, whereas my partner might have his volume dial on a five, mine might be on 11.
This sensitivity also relates to hormones. I have tried to talk to doctors about my sensitivity to hormones. I’ve tried to tell them that as soon as I hit ovulation my symptoms are worse, and it’s not because I’m stressed, or I’ve done extra activity, it’s my hormones. However, because it’s to do with uterus doctors don’t listen.
Birth control gets shoved in my face as a solution time and time again. I was cajoled into agreeing to get a coil fitted because it was pushed so hard, and the only reason I didn’t get it fitted (this is after having a prior coil fitted, and within an hour having to be removed wrong) was because my partner spoke up for me. He knew I didn’t want one, and he helped me to convey my wishes.
Doctors don’t like to acknowledge that my period or my hormones can affect me. Doctors don’t listen when I say that I am sensitive to hormones, and even a coil with hormones will affect me. They think they know better, and it’s difficult to talk to doctors with that attitude … which is nearly all of them.
What else does my menstrual cycle control?
My sex drive. My temperature. Whether or not I’ll have a headache, or if I’m really unlucky a migraine. How much I eat, and if I’m hungry. My digestive track. Whether or not I’m nauseous, and what foods I can tolerate – I usually go off meat after ovulation. Whether or not I can wear a bralette – I can usually get away with wearing one for a short amount of time from post period – ovulation.
And all of this is just off the top of my head.
Where does that leave me?
At home alone, wondering if today will be a good day or a bad day because I’m ovulating. I can feel my body start to change, my ribs ache more, and my joints become a bit looser. I can feel the mental shift, almost as if my brain is getting prepared the nightmare that is PMS. There’s the ever-present worry because of the very brief amount of time there is no one close to me that can help.
My menstrual cycle has stripped me of my independence, and I wish I were exaggerating. My period makes me nervous because I can go downhill so fast. My period leaves me lost because there is no way to control my body, it just happens, and then we have to clean up the aftermath.
My period controls my life, and it will do for the foreseeable future.