Bleeding like a mofo

19 July, 2017

I was a full 33 years old before I began recording my moon cycle. I didn’t come to it from even a vague sense of what was going on. I started with an almost total dearth of knowledge. I was 14 when I first went on the Pill for acne. I stayed on it for five years, took a small break (long enough to feel like I was doing the hard yards with painful, angry bleeds) then went on the mini pill for a further three years. I would munch my pills every day, gleefully skipping bleeds, sticking my finger up at the rage and pain that used to blaze each month, and not associating my general malaise or low libido with the pill.

Then we decided to get pregnant. Mid twenties and I discovered a thing called ovulation. I remember calling a friend and being like “Do you know you can actually only get pregnant for a few days a month?!” I’m embarrassed now by how much of a revelation it was. It didn’t really help with getting pregnant though; it was either my Polycystic Ovaries Syndrome or the years on the Pill that stretched our trying-to-conceive phase to a tearful, shame filled three years.

So, pregnant, then breastfeeding, then pregnant and breastfeeding again and I was 32 before I had another full cycle. This time I was more in to my body; curious about it, especially about the mysterious and ridiculously awesome parts of it. I began applying the same understanding to menstruation as I had to other parts of my body. This understanding being that the body is, by and large, quite good at doing what it does. If it does something, it is probably for a reason, I should find out what the reason is! This logic has ended up making me a big advocate of the shampoo-free movement– I’d set out to discover why our bodies produce so much sebum, and why we get locked into shampooing everyday. And I’d learnt that our bodies can thrive without shampoo if we are willing to work with our body’s natural processes.

I began to wonder about periods, about hormones. About my moods and body aches. My periods had come back with a vengeance and they propelled me into the herbalist for a tincture to soften the blows of PMS and into the library to read everything I could about women and bleeding!

Eventually this bought me to the work of The Red School in the UK, set up by Sjanie Hugo Wurlitzer and Alexandra Pope and in particular their recent book Wild Power.

Wild Power is an invitation to every woman to look anew at menstruation. To record their cycle, to observe their feelings and to begin to work with the menstruation seasons. Reading Wild Power was like the culmination of this last year’s menstruation journey and I am now I am able to embrace each element of my cycle, I find myself looking forward to the parts that used to be hard, because actually I know that when impatience and intolerance gurgles in my belly, my mind is at its most lucid and my soul is getting ready to enter this state of weird, visionary power.

I used to hate my menstrual cycle. I know hate is a strong word, but I mean it. I really mean it. And now I feel sad that I might only have ten to fifteen years left of it.

These days I plot my own cycle to the cycles of the moon, as women for hundreds of centuries have. When the moon disappears and then comes as a sliver I know I’m about to bleed hard, or enter a state where I am getting great insight from daydreams. This sense of living under the moonbeams is a cool glass of water to me; I never really knew I needed it until I realise how refreshed I am through it.Wild Power Book Giveaway  Lulastic

Wild Power is a mystical book, and I hope that that isn’t a barrier for people. Alongside the expansive, spiritual descriptions of the two vias of the menstrual cycle, and the four seasons, and the five chambers, it also has heaps of frank disclosures from women about their cycles. It is a beautiful thing to read about another woman’s insomnia fuelled by worrying about injustice, war, the Jungle in Calais; I have a similarly themed sleepless night that visits me every month at the same time.

I wish every young girl could get a copy of Wild Power. It’s an antidote to the bloodhate and a lifeline in a patriarchy.

You can get it here at the Book Depository (affiliate link) but I also have a copy to giveaway to someone- come on over to this Facebook post to see how to enter.

Would love to hear your own stories of menstruation. We need to talk about it more, to take all the shame away and bring us more understanding. xxx

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  • Kathryn 19 July, 2017 at 7:06 pm

    Wow this could not have come at a better time for me, thanks Lucy. I’ve been recording my periods for ages now, partly because of a worrying time of irregular bleeding but also because of trying to conceive a second time. Since I’ve started doing this I’ve felt I’m becoming more in tune with my body & feel now that I should be recording more information on what is going on through them onto – physically & emotionally. I’m going to check out that book now as I don’t have Facebook so can’t enter your giveaway. Thanks for this post.

    • Lucy 19 July, 2017 at 7:39 pm

      Oh cool Kathryn, it’s amazing how such a simple act can have quite far reaching impacts on our lives hey? Much love to you as you journey with this x

  • Lissa 19 July, 2017 at 8:07 pm

    Loved this post Lucy <3
    I've been exploring this part of me too – why aren't we taught about our periods properly when we are young, instead of learning/figuring it out once we are 20 years in?!
    Are you familiar with Lisa Lister's work? Her books put me onto tracking my cycle and what a revelation that was! The magic between our cycles and the moon is particularly special.

    I have a blog post on this topic too if you are interested in a wee look 😉 ( called sacred or dread)

    • Lucy 21 July, 2017 at 8:53 am

      Yes, please share, i would love to read it! THank you for your comment Lissa!

  • Liz C 20 July, 2017 at 9:04 am

    I was blessed with a mother who was very practical about Body Stuff, so I went into it all with knowledge and resources. And I really, really am at a stage where I’m looking forward with glee and anticipation to menopause and the next phases… I’m nearly 44, and my mother was through by 46, I’m hopeful everytime I get a big fluctuation of a clockwork cycle… maybe THIS TIME will be the last?

    Debilitating cramps and hemorrhage since I was 11. No medical reasons for it–but I nearly delivered our first in the car because I had delayed heading to the birth center because labor *never did* get “stronger than menstrual cramps”. Short breaks during pregnancy and nursing. Losing 3-4 days of every month. Having to plan work and anything else in life around my Bad Days.

    I watch my daughters with a mix of hope and sadness… so far, they’ve had a lot easier time of it than I have, and I’m glad. But I want to share good strategies with them in case it does go harder for them… how to design self-employment so you don’t get fired for having an Inconvenient Uterus, how to speak to medical people so you can get actual help instead of shoulder shrugs, how to make sure you have stored supplies and meals in the house for days you can only be upright 15 minutes at a go.

    I track faithfully, and make notes faithfully, and email them to my poor spouse, so he knows a bit ahead which days I will not be a functional person, and bless him, he takes up every speck of slack as often as possible, hooks me up to the TENS unit so I don’t add vomiting from the pain to the fun-fun-fun mix.

    I *crave* the peaceful coexistence with my Girl Guts. But they’ve been trying to escape and destroy me for 33 years, and I’m basically done trying to make friends. At least I’ve made peace with the strategies that have been keeping me sane dealing with it?

    Timely topic today. I’m in “countdown to travel restrictions” right now, looking a little bit forward to the insomnia and zero sleep window that will let me make progress on several big projects, and dreading trying to manage music performances when I will have to take a 5 minute break every 15-20 minutes for four hours… Yay glorious womanhood, so mystical and wondrous.

    • Lucy 21 July, 2017 at 8:54 am

      Oh wow, how amazing that you have come to fnd a way to work with your cycle even in it’s extremity. You are amazing. I seriously think you should read Wild Power too – I feel like there would be heaps of resonant stuff in there 😀

  • pepperice 22 July, 2017 at 10:46 pm

    Taking charge of your fertility is another book you might like 🙂

    I really changed my feelings about my period when I first started using a menstrual cup. I still wouldn’t say I love it – ttc doesn’t exactly inspire warm feelings towards it but I accept it as a normal part of my life and my body now rather than feeling disgusted or aggrieved that I have to deal with it.