So…that’s where we landed with the sign.
The first ever National Period Day was last Saturday and as promised, I made my way over to city hall to add my voice to the crowd. For my first rally, it far exceeded my expectations. I think I had expected at least some small negative element to come along with attending a rally because of the nature of the event. Something along the lines of people making fun of our cause, bad weather, general confusion/disorder…a riot…I don’t know.
Nope. It was a beautiful fall day, everything was well organized, and I could tell by the faces in the crowd as I watched from behind the numerous featured speakers that people were listening and learning. I’d have to say that was my favorite part, watching women (and men!!) nod their heads with furrowed brows as they absorbed the stories and harsh facts being shared. Unfortunately, as I was on the top step, I couldn’t hear about 70% of what was being said…but the bits I could hear were powerful. I reached out to PERIOD’s NYC chapter to get a list of names which they kindly (and quickly) passed along, so I’m hoping I attribute the right moments to the right people.
Back to the sign. I was nervous about the sign I made, I must admit. It wasn’t exactly the “end the tampon tax!”-type signage I saw in many different, creative forms last week. I mean, let’s call it what it is. My personal experience, plus a meme. Also, the ONLY meme sign I saw. The majority of the protesters were college students – how is that possible that my elderly 25-year old self had the only meme poster?
I figured that I would be surrounded by people whose knowledge about period poverty, the tampon tax, and menstrual inequality far surpasses mine. What I hoped to do (and I think succeeded in doing) was branch off of the idea that we need to stop thinking about health and women’s/menstrual health as two separate things. I believe it was Megha Desai of the Desai Foundation who dropped the quote that 71% of girls in India don’t know what a period is when they first get it. That’s a huge health education issue, and the lack of conversation where we need it is the same issue that keeps people un-diagnosed and untreated. Especially when the issue involves body parts or functions that no one seems to want to talk about. There’s an overarching theme of needless suffering, confusion, and embarrassment, and that’s where I feel the direct connection between why I write, and why we were all there to fight.
Magically enough…the events of Saturday the 19th sort of set the tone for the following week.
To keep the complaining minimal, I have to say it was a challenging week. I was lucky enough to have the worst pain hit when I was at home, and was able to manage at work with a million bathroom breaks, tons of water, and my sloth hot-pack tucked inside my sweater. Wednesday night was some of the worst pain I’ve had in a good while, which I file under “interesting” rather than “the end is near” because I’m still very happy with the long streak of good fortune that I’d been riding since around April/May.
Wednesday night brought the familiar feeling that something is swollen and pressing up against things under my left ribs, as well as soreness to the touch. I’ve never broken a rib (that I know of) but I have a feeling that the pain of a few bruised or broken ribs can’t be a far cry from what was going on that night. My ribs do click about (“click about?” okay) sometimes, depending on the position I’m sitting or laying in, but I chalk that up to my floating ribs just doing their thing. Flashback to that massage therapist telling me that the left side of my back is raised in a way that my right side isn’t. The mysteries, they just keep coming and they don’t stop coming.
It was also strange that I couldn’t get any relief whatsoever from a positional change. My choices seemed to be fetal position: pain level 10/10 – anything else: pain level 12/10. I went so far as to take Tylenol *gasp* to get myself comfortable enough to go to sleep. I never take Tylenol. Not for any particular reason other than feeling like I’m not really addressing the issue. But if you don’t know what the issue is…what are ya gonna do? You’re going to be friends with Tylenol, I guess.
Today is Sunday and I’m feeling pretty decent. Which is odd, considering I was the worst yesterday and ate nothing but high fat and dairy-filled foods (an avo/egg/cheese breakfast sandwich, cream of mushroom soup, a quesadilla, a massive ice cream) AND drank. Beer, of all things. I did chug water throughout, though, and maybe the universe is being forgiving today because I made that tiny effort? I’m the perfect example of that person who eats like a saint all week and then throws it out the window come Saturday.
This week will bring its own challenges. I love Halloween, and I’m neither concussed nor couch-bound with an ankle injury this year, so I’m hoping to do something. I’ll have an office party this week, as well as my cousin’s concert on Halloween, and then hopefully a get-together on the weekend as well. I won’t be home to hand out Halloween candy, which is a shame, but I’m sure I’ll see all of the adorable
dogs kids in their costumes throughout the week. I must embrace being the girl who eats and drinks in moderation despite the company I keep, which is worth doing if it prevents a repeat of last week.
I hope all of you Halloween fans get to do just the right amount of something festive, whatever that may be. I highly doubt that I’m alone in feeling a bit of anxiety that always comes right after Halloween. For me, it’s the turning point into a season that hasn’t been the best for my mental health. When the costumes are put away and the candy gone, and society speeds right into family-centered holiday season mode, I can’t help but feel the pressure to be better this year than every year past. Be happier, more excited, things like that.
In admitting this, I’m hoping that anyone reading who relates knows that they are so not alone. What’s probably not going to make you feel better is comparing your holiday season to everyone else’s on social media, so don’t be afraid to take a break from looking at other people’s lives. You don’t need to enter the competition of best picture at an ice rink/cutest “cozy post”/lengthiest post about gratitude coupled with a very flattering picture of yourself if it doesn’t bring you joy. Find the balance of doing for yourself and doing for others that gets you through, and don’t beat yourself up for negative thoughts. My way of letting them out is through writing (in my personal journal of evil thoughts, not here) so I’d definitely recommend that route. But find your own if writing isn’t for you! (No, I don’t have any suggestions, because writing is #1.)
Well wishes to everyone’s brains and bodies. We will be okay. ❤