1. Talk us through your first period, where were you? when was it? and what was your reaction?
My period journey has been a long, winding and often bumpy one. I’ve recently come off the pill, and it has prompted me to think about my period and what an important part of my life it is. It’s something to treasure, actually! But I didn’t always think it was…
Unfortunately, I don’t remember my first period. Maybe it was so traumatic I’ve permanently blocked it from my memory? I mean, suddenly beginning to bleed from your lady bits without any prior warning signs would be terrifying, right?! I do remember I was 11 years old – I was an early bloomer. I hadn’t started high school yet. And I also remember the first time I used a tampon, and OMG it hurt. I remember dreading it after asking my mum what I should do. She gave me one and explained where it went, and I went into the bathroom by myself. I stood there for so long trying to psych myself into it, and mum waited outside the door the whole time. It really, really hurt, and I remember mum hugging me and saying it would get easier (and she wasn’t wrong). Today, I’m grateful for new innovations like period undies and menstrual cups. And don’t even get me STARTED on the tampon tax…
2. What is a period must have for you?
Heat pack, period painkillers, snacks and the BBC 6-part series of Pride & Prejudice (hellooooo Colin Firth!).
3. What’s your most embarrassing, cringe worthy, totally funny period moment?
I remember an awful time that still brings me a huge feeling of shame. I was visiting my dad when I was around 15. He lived in Bali at the time, and he had local Balinese house staff who did everything for us. Cooking, cleaning, driving, all that. At this stage, I wasn’t on the pill so I couldn’t ‘skip’ a period by just continuing with the pills and skipping the placebo week. So, lo and behold, I got my period on holiday. By now, I was an old hand at tampons and pads, and luckily I had made sure to pack some with me just in case. But as so often happens, I had a little leak one day. Now, with my mum, I was used to just chucking my undies in the washing basket and she’d handle the rest. So I didn’t really think twice about popping my stained undies in with the rest of my clothes. But a little later on in the arvo, my dad came up to me with this awful, ashamed look on his face. He said, “Darls, I’ve got to talk to you… Um… If you’ve got your period that’s totally fine.” (Jeez, thanks dad… not much I can do about that!) “But the Balinese can’t touch other people’s blood, so you’re going to have to wash your undies yourself.” So much to my embarrassment, I was walked out to the garden by my dad where the Balinese women were doing the other laundry. I crouched on the ground and scrubbed and scrubbed my undies. I felt like they were looking at me and laughing (they probably weren’t) and I remember feeling so small and insignificant. Of course, my father just played dumb and pretended the whole thing never happened. Typical.
It’s so amazing seeing the incredible work being done these days to end period shame and poverty, and I’m honoured to have been asked by Naomi & Tispy Aunt Flo to share my experiences. For such a long time I’ve lived with shame about my periods, because that’s what we’ve been taught. But that stigma is starting to change, and I am HERE FOR IT!
Coming off the pill was a bit scary. Before I went on it, my period cramps were unbearable. I would spend a whole day, if not more, curled up in bed with a heat pack – I’m not exaggerating. The pill minimised this pain to almost nothing, and although I knew I needed to come off the pill after 10 years of mucking up my hormones, I was worried I’d revert back to this old, crippling pain. But so far so good – I’ve been off the pill for about 4 months now, and while I still need to use painkillers on the first day of my period, the pain doesn’t debilitate me like it used to. My body has changed a lot since I first started taking the pill, and it’s going to change again. But now I’m looking forward to rebalancing my body’s hormones and embracing the beauty of my period! And this has a lot to do with an epic new book I’ve just read – Period Power by Maisie Hill. If you haven’t read it, you must. It has completely changed the way I view my period. Maisie’s book is full of incredible insights into our bodies, what our periods mean, and how we can use them to empower ourselves and enrich our lives. It’s actually amazing, and I wish I had a book like this to read when I was younger. I’m recommending it to everyone now. I reckon a copy of this book and a bottle of Bloody Good Wine would be an ideal Christmas Gift! I drink a lot of wine for work, so why not make sure I’m doing some good in the world at the same time?