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The Snark Serial: Seeing Red

by Alexandria Mansfield

“The Snark Serial” is a snark-filled take on life from one of the team’s bitterest writers. Alexandria Mansfield will offer sarcastic remarks, seething reviews and snide satire to more digest life’s bumps and hiccups – and the occasional win. She will also suggest a weekly snack pairing to munch on while reading. (Warning:  Not all snack recommendations may be edible.)

The drooping eyes and stomach-clutching as I groan and moan and roll around the bed like a feral cat who just lost its tail in an unfortunate meat cleaver incident can only mean one thing – menstruation. 

For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, it’s the time of the month during which about half of the population bleeds due to their reproductive systems “cleaning out,” or something like that. 

Many times when people talk of menstruating – or having their periods, as the colloquial term for this well-experienced phenomenon – it’s followed by uncomfortable laughter, blushing or shared horror stories of wearing white pants on the wrong day or “toxic shock syndrome,” which is scary enough to make anyone ages 13-50 not want to even look at a tampon. There is never a positive story about a period, except for those occasions when someone is happy to have it simply because it means no baby production is happening this cycle.

As I breathe through another round of cramps that feel as though a tiny man is trying to punch his way through my uterus with a foam finger, I’m here to tell you I love my period.

Yes, you read that right. I love it.

The Best Period

As someone who does not want children, my period is a monthly reminder that I’m in the clear and is a sense of relief for me, even when I know conception wouldn’t have been possible during this cycle. But, my period has become even more welcome in my life since it has been missing for almost three years.

I was on the birth control Nexplanon, a three-year implant in my arm, until this spring, and during that time I had my period four times in total – two of which were back-to-back with just a week break last April due to COVID-19 stress, according to my doctor. Some people would consider this a blessing, especially those who take birth control to relieve some of the worst period symptoms, like it lasting 10 days or more or having cramps so severe they pass out or vomit.

Not me, though. Since getting my period at 12 years old, I have been a proud owner of what I call “the best period.” It is highly predictable, coming on time every month, resulting in uncomfortable cramps which can be relieved with ibuprofen just on the second day. It usually lasts just five days and is even kind enough to wait until I pee in the morning before it officially begins.

Now that’s a polite period.

Plus, it’s a great excuse to give in to cravings. Calories don’t count the same when you’re on your period, right? I’ll take an extra slice of cake every night, please and thank you.

Still, I thought I would be relieved when I didn’t have to deal with menstruating at all when I got on birth control for the first time in spring 2018. But before long I realized I actually missed my monthly visitor. I missed the regularity of understanding why and when my mood swings would come. I missed the notice that “Hey, you are not pregnant”. I missed knowing that my body was working and doing exactly what it’s supposed to do.

Back To Normal

I am lucky enough now to be celebrating my first month of having my hormones back to normal. It truly made me feel like I was coming back into myself after being away for a while. Messing with my hormones made me numb at times of boredom, unavoidably depressed when even the smallest plan didn’t work out as it was intended to and full of rage at the drop of a hat when inconvenienced. 

When I say I was mad, I mean I was furious. About everything. My resting heart rate had never been higher and my anxious habits never more prominent as I internalized the anger I felt or, on the worst days, took it out on my husband.

A sock on the floor? That was a full-blown deathmatch. Having my family cancel a trip to visit? Nice knowing you, say goodbye to your Christmas presents. Truly, I don’t even remember what I said to my mom a few months into Nexplanon. I do remember her response: “You’re meaner now than you were when you were a teenager and your parents were getting a divorce.” I must have been pretty bad, huh?

I describe myself often as a person who is always angry and covers it up well, and to an extent, this is true. There is always some sort of injustice to be mad about. There is always something that I can find that fuels a fire in me. But, instead of trying to do something to fix the problem, I was stuck in a helpless cycle of drug-induced emotions and fog.

I apologize if this description of my experiences with menstruation and birth control is a dry one. Ironically another symptom from the birth control *cue the rimshot on the drums.* I truly cannot express how grateful I now am to be returning to my most natural form. A raging feminist who feeds off the destruction of the patriarchy instead of one who gets muddled and subdued by hormones that don’t belong to me.

It can be a slippery slope – pun intended – when it comes to having a period. But I wouldn’t trade mine for the world. I enter this new phase of my life where I focus more on letting my body tell me what it needs and do what it wants. This includes ending a long run of counting calories, overexercising, forcing myself to stay awake when I’m tired and other destructive habits I formed in the name of seeking perfection and productivity. I’m happy to report that it’s my time of the month. I am bleeding. And I’m feeling good.

Suggested snack pairing: An entire red velvet cake to be consumed only in bed.

For more complaints, observations and general raging, follow me on Twitter @Alexandriammans.

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