Adventures in the female reproductive cycle. 

This is going to sound, potentially, very stupid and young of me, but having been on fairly heavy-duty contraception since the age of fifteen and finding that the NHS’ new brand of it did NOT work for me (#bringbackimplanon), I am only just coming to terms with my cycle. Sort-of.
I still don’t get periods. That was one of the things I looked for when I was browsing through new contraceptives – I know there are people who think that being in touch with femininity means embracing Mother Nature’s gift, but honestly I’ll take clean sheets and nice knickers above some kind of witchy holistic version of womanhood any day. This means that for years I have been defining my womanhood in other ways – in the way that I look, dress, paint my face, as well as my association with feminism and feminist literature and subcultures that are built around women (like pinup) and consider my period an inconvenience rather than any kind of marker of adulthood, femininity or shared burden.
What my new contraception HAS thrown up is a hormonal cycle that is evident in my skin, eating habits and mood. It wasn’t obvious I was moody or depressed because my body was premenstrual but my uterus wasn’t, nor was it obvious that my skin was bad for any specific reason. It is only in the third or so month of this cycle I have realised that my skin has gone fine-fine-radiant-craterface on a week-by-week basis for three months now, and that the craterface period is accompanied by sugar cravings. Frankly, I had thought it was the other way round: my demand for cake had resulted in the pockmarks my face deserved, and once I managed to rein it in (or – not want it as badly) my face went back to normal. But, as we know, correlation is not causation, and by this stage I think it is more likely that my hormones are playing havoc with my face and I will be able to predict these semi frequent breakouts but not do an awful lot about them. A shame, really, as lovely skin was the other effect I sought in a long-acting reversible contraceptive.
The grouchiness is fascinating. This is the famed wandering uterus that women have been oppressed for for aeons! Finally, I too can become too irrational to do my job, incapable of debate online and indecisive about everything! I look forward to seeing the burden my sisters have carried this many years!

I have been a bit more crabby.

I know that not all women experience biology in the same way, and I know I have been a /little/ more than a bit crabby (sarcasm probably helps me in my job, though), but I did not experience it being a big deal. I haven’t cried, haven’t panicked, haven’t expressed a deathwish towards anyone I wouldn’t have done so anyway whilst hormonal. I remain capable of rational thought and capable of holding a position of responsibility.
All in all, if I could reverse my biology in the medium term I would, and I completely understand the decision of people who don’t want children to remove themselves from female reproductive biology permanently. I do want children (in the long term), but until then I want to go about living my life and not bleeding on things or being accused of hysteria when really, it’s a bit of an inconvenience.

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Thunder only happens when it’s raining (Freudian Shit)

I have been having very strange dreams recently. Bad dreams, but I don’t know if you can call them nightmares. Usually my nightmares are completely debilitating, strange, and focused on images or aesthetic, and I wake up sweating and in need of reassurance. These dreams are taking aspects of my life that can never meet and mashing them together to create an unnerving experience, and confusing me between the real and the unreal. I am waking up disoriented. Last night, I dreamt that my headteacher wanted to see me after school, but my boyfriend came to pick me up for date night and insisted I could see him after – we ended up wandering through my school to a colleague’s office. In addition, something happened to another member of staff which confused me greatly when I saw her and she was jolly this morning, and I had to search my mind to remember that it happened in a dream.

I hardly ever remember my dreams properly, except for nightmares (because of the way they wake me up), so this is all very new to me and very unnerving. My disorientation has been lasting too far into the morning – thank god I work with children and have a mask I wear in front of them anyway! It’s the children who tend to shake me out of it – by having to pretend to be my hunky dory perky self I slowly become her, and the dreams become last night’s problem. Although one of my students did say I look tired today… and it has been making me sluggish, and distracted.

When I was a teenager we became obsessed with online dream dictionaries, and each morning my friends and I would search for some symbol which had been there in last night’s dream. Mine were always deeply specific – not just a snake, but a snake in a glass case with an apple in its mouth, or some other thing which wasn’t there – and darker than my friends’. No joining ginger pirates on adventures for me! As such, I’m a little sceptical of Freudian dream analysis. I can well believe that dreams are the guardians of our subconscious, and that they are the key to understanding our worries. But I don’t believe these symbols can be the same for everyone – how can my experiences lead me to have a cake symbolise the same things as it would to a German scientist 100 years ago? How can teeth be the same thing to me as to my friend? And what does it mean when my dreams are no longer symbolic, but linear? The pseudo-Freud that all of this simplistic dream analysis falls apart, surely. But since I can’t afford to see a proper analyst on the regular, one who knows I’m obsessed with having white, straight teeth and have a crippling spider phobia, shit Freud will have to do.

To-Do

  • Finish introduction to Eagleton’s ‘Ideology of Aesthetics’.
  • Pick crap up off bedroom floor.
  • Write a poem.

For those people who were worried about the throbbing vein in my eye.

I do not have diabetes! I am not dying! I have not developed psychosomatic eye problems! I have early signs of optic nerve inflammation, a 90% chance of that not developing, and a stronger glasses prescription in the bad eye. She also recommended I get computer lenses –  admittedly whilst telling me all about the medical community debate about whether they actually work or not – because of the strain I’m putting my eyes under and because I don’t need them for distances.

I’m actually quite glad about this – it proves that I a) did the right thing by choosing the optician rather than my GP. They did several tests on their fancy machines and she instantly knew the symptoms and the recommendations for if my symptoms worsen (actually saying go straight to the eye hospital if so, which is concerning). They’re having me back in a week for one more test. It also proves that b) I am not imagining things, my mind is not creating bigger problems than the ones that already exist (this is a BIG load off my mind – I do not need to be seeing spiders where there are none again) and I can trust myself to take my actual symptoms of my actual problems to professionals, who can actually help me work them out. In actuality.

I’m not thrilled that I have to get new glasses – not only is it expensive (even for cheap ones), it’s a shame to get new frames as I currently have two pairs of cute, vintage-y tortoiseshell ones that everybody seems to like. I was quoted £110 to have these ones re-lensed by Optical Express, which seems frankly excessive, but may have it done by an online-only company (as if they can’t do it cheaper from a warehouse not in London and mail them back).

I’d also like to say a big thank-you to my Englishness, as the eye test was free (thanks Martin Lewis Money Saving Expert Dot Com) and I doubt I would have gone had it been necessary to shell out for it. God knows how anybody in America is diagnosed with anything, and my sympathies as it only gets worse for young people and ordinary working people and anyone who isn’t a very rich white man or Ben Carson.

Basically, hooray for no diabetes! Although, I am currently drinking my first Starbucks in about a century, and if they get their way I will definitely be diabetic soon. #sugarcoma

(My new look? Vote for your fave.)

To-Do:

  • Proof-read and primp Modernism essay
  • Persuade everyone I know to listen to You Must Remember This
  • Buy the Lush face mask that will get rid of my gross zit face (according to the lady on the Nars counter)

Anxiety is beginning to make me feel sick.

I will not have this, not right now.

I’m not going to accept having to ‘eat over’ the pit in my stomach that tells me I’m not hungry, feel sick, don’t need water.

I’m not going to accept my body’s craving junk food.

I’m not going to accept the overwhelming urge to go straight home to sleep after work.

I’m not going to accept that I don’t care about my job, because I do. I’m not going to accept that I care about all of the irrelevant things, because I don’t.

I’m not going to accept the urge to shout at people, because I don’t actually want that.

I’m not going to accept the urge to not speak to anybody, because I will be energised by their encouragement.

I’m not going to accept that I can’t take the pressures of life, because I can. I’ve done this all before.

I’m not going to accept that this is me.

To Do:

  • Finish essay 1
  • Watch The Love Witch
  • Eat food

Have I actually developed neuralgia, though?

Underneath my left eye I have developed a twitching pain spasm. My eyes are not bloodshot or particularly watery, I haven’t got a bruise or done anything to it, it goes away for hours at a time and because of all these things it is deeply worrying to me.

I don’t usually google my symptoms, but I had to this time because I was genuinely unsure whether to go to the doctor or not. Can you legitimately turn up at a doctor’s office and say “I have a pain, sometimes, that seems to have no effect on my life and appears to be caused by nothing? By the way, I am a diagnosed sufferer of anxiety and depression, so it all might be in my head.” Apparently I probably have diabetes, multiple sclerosis or shingles – which is surprising, since the internet usually tells you that you have cancer. I was all ready to ignore cancer and read the other stuff, but it turns out you don’t have shooting face pains for no reason, and that they’re right about it usually being the left side.

I am sort of refusing to accept that it is anything. I believe it to be psychosomatic until it hits me, when I am convinced I have some kind of grotesque infection that will result in me losing an eye. Sometimes I think there is a tapeworm living in my eye and eating it from the back, but even when I think this I know it is ridiculous. I don’t want to go to the doctor about it – what will I do if it’s nothing and I have to just live with it? What will I do if it’s something and I have to deal with it? I have decided an appropriate compromise is to go to the optician’s. I don’t need new glasses so they’d better not tell me that my prescription has changed, but at least I can be sure they will take an x-ray of my eye before they tell me to go away.

Anyway, here is a beautiful play about health and love and possibility and the futility of human life. I saw it in London with Louise Brealey and Joe Armstrong, and it is truly wonderful.

Four Weekends.

I have four weekends until my next uni essay is due in. Two bank holidays. One evening of plans in all of that, and yet… I am irrationally worried that I won’t get my work done. The anxiety is creeping up on me like a sitcom kiss, present in all my conversations like a season finale, making the hairs on the back of my neck rise at the slightest thought of anything I ought to be working on.

The problem is – and that is if this can be called a problem – I care. This is the first thing in my life that I have felt really driven to succeed at, the first that I have felt that it is possible to succeed whilst actually wanting to. In my mind, that has manifested as a demon that whispers ‘if you fail it’s your fault‘. I know I’m capable, but I’m scared of finding out I’m not. When that’s combined with ambitions for a top grade, normal job/social life pressures and the fact that everybody else I know graduated years ago, it stops being just about procrastination and getting my fucking act together, it feeds off my poor brain chemistry to cause crippling inertia and several interconnected and irrational fears.

meta-chart

Essentially, what anxiety is telling me to do is cancel all my plans and curl up into a ball. That part of my brain wants me to cancel my plans so that I can work on my essay, whilst knowing full well I will not be able to work on my essay in this time due to mind being all over and regrets and fear of failure and mania. Fear of incorrect citations is new, and I’m not super sure what to do about it, other than ignore it and check it at the end.

Usually what I do in this time is go to the library – you can’t watch Drop The Dead Donkey re-runs in the library because people would glare at you, and it’s much more compelling to work than it is to stare off into space so I end up getting (some) work done, even if I’m not in the right frame of mind. But the library is closed for Easter, and it’s cold in my room and easy to be distracted.

If anybody has any motivation tips, I would really appreciate it. This is my big bug-eyed first-world-problem demon, and I need to stab it in the neck.

darth-mauls-death-o

Whilst I was writing this, the friend I was supposed to be seeing tonight cancelled our plans and gifted me a free evening. To work! At my nice clean desk that I tidied yesterday! Yes! Work! I wanted to see the friend not the theatre production anyway.

Everyone glamorous is pretending. For sure.

What do you pack when you go and see your parents? I always have to make an effort when I go back to Leicester as you never know who might see you. I always sort-of hope that after my years ho-ing with no-hopers and the (obviously) small-town bullies of my youth (b27693fbfcc0322d045d706d193829b3_sparkly-snowflake-clipart-1-snowflake-clipart-gif_420-300) I will run into somebody – anybody – I know, whilst looking like The Girl Who Lives The London Life. I want to be smart and distant and distinctive and too good for people who thought that was weird for those exact same reasons in the past, and Leicester is a small enough town that it might actually happen. So what I pack is a full arsenal of makeup, my nicest (distinctive) clothes and some niche, difficult books. Also stuff I want to leave at my folks’ place, as I very rarely go back, and I invariably forget something major and have to go to Superdrug (this time – deodorant, last time – tootbrush). I am not the queen of packing.

Glamour is hard – my back is bloody killing me from sitting in the back of my dad’s Jaguar, and it was so windy my Grand National hat kept nearly blowing off my head. My skin is bad now and I already have a noticeable chip in my nail polish (did I seriously used to paint my nails every two days? Eurgh, what grotesque effort). But the glorious thing about the times I do this is that being petty like this is marvellous for imposter syndrome: when your only aim is to look like the platonic form of you, it’s easy to remind yourself of everything you want to be, all of the aspects of your own personality that you’re proud of, all the weird knowledge unique to your interests. Damn, you thought my interest in old movies was something to make fun of? Check out my film-noir hat. Oh, you thought I was too intelligent for my own good? I hope you see me reading academic interpretations of difficult poetry. You thought I was a loner? The truth is I was always aloof, and I’m more interesting than you ever were.

The truth is what, though? Achievement of the day (possibly of the week, not sure, it’s early days yet) is coming to work. The fact that I’m here sticking labels on Holly Bourne novels is a fucking miracle. But there’s also a fucking dope photo of me that I made my mum take, though, so I’ll count the week as a success. As long as I look like I’m glamorous, nobody knows my life is held together with double-sided sticky tape, and in that moment I didn’t care, because I was showboating everything I wanted to be to people who didn’t appreciate me when they could have. Hot damn.

You should try it.

TO-DO:

  • Clean makeup brushes
  • Listen to an album that sounds good to somebody that wasn’t a teenager when I was
  • Apply for more jobs
  • Put one foot in front of the other

(In case you do want to listen to a band that was cool when I was 15 and never since, try this. They’re also on B&Q adverts. I’m not sorry.)