I have a history of highly irregular and absent menses. Even though I developed many signs of puberty early, I did not get my first period until the spring of my 8th grade year- just before my 14th birthday. It remained irregular, both in frequency and flow, for the next year and a half until I lost it for about two years due to an eating disorder. I re-began menstruating when I was almost 18, but it remained irregular.
I am almost 24 now, and I wonder if we are finally getting into a routine. I’ve been tracking my period since September, determined to analyze any patterns and figure out the ups and downs of my mood. I’ve learned that my cycles have been lasting about five weeks, and I am now able to (often) identify my premenstrual behaviors, attitudes, and emotions.
It is a huge victory- to know that I don’t just suddenly think the world is ending and I’m dying and everything is awful and I can’t stop crying or having panic attacks. It is just hormones – which when said by some people seems condescending and dismissive. When I tell myself it is just hormones it is liberating. It is not my true self.
Tracking my menstrual cycles in conjunction with mood, anxiety levels, sleep, and other instances of note- say, socialization, specific worries, or travel- has been a highly rewarding process so far.
Knowledge is not just power- it is empowering.
I feel like less of a stranger to myself these days and that is a beautiful thing.