Thursday, 3 March 2016

Period: Full Stop

Period - a definition: 

"A rather large interval of time that is meaningful in the life of a person, in history etc. because of its particular characteristics: a period of illness; a period of great profitability for a company; a period of social unrest"

And of course: a period of menstruation. 

Hi Gents!

Do you see what I did there? By using the most common name we use for it I've managed to get you to click into an article you would not have read if I had used one of the other names we use to remove ourselves from the cold reality of the fact that women bleed once a month; until of course they stop bleeding and get hot sweats and a whole host of other shit hormonal symptoms. 

But don't leave.

Periods are everywhere (literally), heck, you could be stood next to one RIGHT NOW(!) From the company who have announced this week that they will be giving women time off for bad periods, to the app launched by a New Yorker called Shvrk (that's a silent V or an upside down A or just a gimmicky pile of bollocks because God forbid the app be called I'M ON MY FUCKING PERIOD YOU MORON), that was specifically designed so your partner, bless him, can know when your on your period without you ever having to say the word. The woman who invented this is 26 - fucking millennials. 

Periods happen, we all know this, half the Worlds population (roughly) knows a lot more about this but we all know this. However, we really don't like talking about them, which is a shame because they won't go away. From the ridiculous Tampon tax, to yesterday's news, periods just keep coming back - which is appropriate because that is how they work. If you're bored of seeing them in your newspapers then imagine how bored we are when they keep coming back month after month? 

I started my period aged 11 years and 10 months; I was so excited I can even remember the date, 15th December 1993. I felt like a woman, I felt like I was part of a club and I felt so proud of myself. But much like when the first pubic hair arrives and is swiftly followed by an unbearable continuous itch as the rest of them force their way through the surface of your skin, I quickly realised they were not much more than a giant pain (literally) in my stomach, back, heart and tear ducts. 

NEWSFLASH: I am actually on my period as I type this. Don't worry, my PMT was last week, this week I am all spots, pain, gassy, overly hot and bloated. Which is a walk in the park after the emotional fall out I always have the week before, sometimes two weeks before, every single month. 

And every single month I forget. People say you forget childbirth, which I can believe because I forget PMT every single month. Every. Single. Month. It happens around the same time every month yet and I can't say this enough, every single month for the last 22 years, 2 months and 20 days (I think - maths?) I forget until after two days of unrelenting, unreasonable, uncontrollable emotions I have a wake up moment: "Oh...I'm due on next week." And like that all the horror of the last two days disappears down a tunnel of memory loss. 

When I try and remember the depths of my depression, I can remember facts but I can't ever quite grasp the memory of the feeling, thank goodness. It has disappeared down the same memory tunnel as my monthly PMT. But the thing with depression, much like a period, is that it never really goes away. It comes back and you have not only forgotten what it is, you don't know you're in it until seemingly a cloud lifts and you're on the other side.

I think, despite all my protests last year, that I was actually depressed and I can only really see it now that I don't feel like that any more. Now I'm working creatively and actively trying to use my skills and the things that make me ‘me’ and that make my life worthwhile the cloud has lifted and I feel happy. Scared, yes, emotional, yes but not the kind of uncontrollable emotions that come once a month for a few days, or with every visit depression pays, these are normal emotions, not that depression doesn't come from normal emotions, it most certainly does, but the emotions become bigger than life instead of life being bigger than them. 

That is also true for the two days every month when I am lost in my pre menstrual fog. Last week that coincided with the lead up to my birthday. Despite having lots of lovely people around me, doing nice things, being spoiled, I had a terrible birthday. I wanted to cry all day and I did for most of the two hours that I couldn't get the Sky go connection to work that evening. I should have been sleeping ahead of an all night Oscar viewing party but instead I was crying into my laptop and wailing "WHY ME? WHY ALWAYS ME?" Yeah, I know - first World problems. But if you'd have said that to me on Sunday, I might have ripped your actual head off with my bare hands. 

Depression, much like periods, is cyclical and like periods we don't like talking about it, especially men. Not talking about these subjects doesn't make them go away. Not talking about them doesn't lesson them. Not talking about them doesn't help anyone. 

And men more than anyone need to learn to talk about all the things that make them feel uncomfortable: periods, emotions, fear, sex, sexuality and depression. It's time to talk, women bleed, men cry and everyone struggles with life. 

Full stop. 

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