The Forbidding “Reds”!

I’ve talked about this before but deal with it, I’m talking about it again.

Periods, AKA this monstrous Saw III blood bath experience, is something most cis and trans women, as well as trans men, go through. And it’s really not a monstrous Saw III blood bath experience.

There’s a huge stigma around the topic of periods. Anything to do with it, really. Period poverty, sanitary pads, the symptoms, etc. It’s considered this taboo thing that we can’t talk about. So many people, even adults, laugh at the idea of it whenever it pops up in conversation or in the media.

 

But what are periods?

Periods, also known as menstruation, occur every month when the thick tissue lining the uterus breaks down and is discharged out the vagina (period blood). This all happens with the help of two steroid hormones, progesterone and oestrogen. However, periods are much more than this bodily function in bodies that help with preparation for a fertilised egg for a baby to grow. It’s an experience. There are several symptoms, which include bloating (that feeling you get when you eat too much because we’re all fat pigs) and cramps (they’re basically minor contractions) and acne, fatigue, headaches, muscle and breast pains, lower back pain, discomfort (especially at night lying down which leads to trouble sleeping, and something I call ‘period poos’ but we don’t have to get into that.) It’s also the experience of leaking and not being able to do certain activities normally e.g. swimming. Don’t get me wrong, periods shouldn’t be considered a burden and there’s always a way to overcome these issues and inhibitions because of it but I feel like not a lot of people, especially cis men understand the whole experience of it. Some people think periods are just a tap that we release when we go to the toilet, some think it’s a continuous non-stop thing, etc. The average menstrual cycle is 24 to 38 days but periods last about four to eight days.

 

These stigmas and misconceptions and ideas are influenced by our education.

When I was in year five, doing sex education, we had a day where we learnt about menstruation. All the girls, and only the girls, were taken away. Not to another room away from the boys but away to another building (this cabin in the playground) so that we were secluded from the other year classes and from the boys in our class (because god protect their innocent little ears). Despite all this, our teacher spoke in a really soft quiet voice. This, I think, conditioned us to keep any talk of periods within the community of people, who have periods, and to be secretive about it. It made it seem as though periods are some dirty secret us girls (and trans boys) must keep to ourselves. In addition, I barely learnt anything from that lesson. I learnt that we bleed about one/two eggcups of blood but I don’t remember being specified how long periods lasted. I genuinely thought once you started your period, it would never stop until menopause (about 50 years old).

In fact, us girls also had to learn about what happens to boys even though the boys didn’t learn about what happens to girls. We learnt about sperm cells, obviously, but we also learnt about wet dreams and boners. We even learnt about masturbation! Not directly but we were told it’s okay to touch yourself and explore and discover parts of your body, whatever that means. So we learnt all of this, yet learning about the menstrual cycle and menstruation was such a taboo. It’s not very fair that the girls learnt about the experiences of boys but boys don’t learn about the experiences of girls. The argument that “boys are silly so we won’t teach them all of that” isn’t valid or acceptable at all. Boys may be “silly” because of the self fulfilling prophecy that they’re considered silly so must be treated in a way to accommodate to that. Not teaching boys about periods “because they’re silly” means when they grow up, they’re going to be silly about the idea of periods. It’s a cycle. And it support the quote “boys will be boys”, which is also an unacceptable excuse.

 

To tackle this issue, the education system needs to change. Teaching children, at a young age, while their brains are still developing, can create positive schemas, a framework that helps to interpret information, for periods. Sex education and PSHE lessons need to be changed so that every gender learns about periods to help normalise and take it seriously. We need to take it seriously not just because almost half the population experience it but because there are so many issues regarding periods such the financial and environmental cost (many menstruation products take ages to decompose) and period poverty, which is not being able to buy sanitary products due to financial issues and constraints. This is a big issue for homeless people, refugees, asylum seekers, etc. Period poverty is also a big topic that needs to be taught in schools (possibly in RS and PSHE). Here are some shocking statistics I found from Free Period

  • 40% of girls in the UK have used toilet roll because they couldn’t afford menstrual products.
  • Over 137,700 children in the UK have missed school because of period poverty. If a girl misses school every time she has her period, she is set 145 days behind her fellow male students.
  • 1 in 10 girls can’t afford to buy menstrual products according to Plan International UK.
  • Menstrual products cost more than £18,000, in a women’s life (£13 every month).

 

Education changes and matures attitudes towards topics, such as periods. And that’s exactly what we need! If people become educated, I’m so sure we could  make a huge difference to societal approaches to periods and issues revolving it.

I also think teachers and people, who have periods, shouldn’t talk to younger girls in a way that my teacher did with me and my class. We should discuss periods with girls so they feel comfortable with it and not scared of it and make them understand it’s a normal thing. The majority of the population wouldn’t exist without periods!

 

Here are some period charity websites you can donate to and learn from:

  • Bloody Good Period – “We supply 16 asylum seeker drop in centres based in London and Leeds, and our ambition is to supply many more food banks and drop-in centres across the UK, so that everybody has the right to a bloody good period!”
  • Action Aid – “Provide sanitary kits in our humanitarian response work, alongside other essentials including food, water and shelter. We have distributed sanitary towels (and aid) in crises.”
  • Freedom4Girls – “We actively support women and girls in both the UK and in developing countries, who struggle to access safe sanitary protection by offering not just disposables, but environmentally-friendly, washable re-usables and menstrual cups.”

 

What do you think? Do you agree with what I said? What are some other ways you think we can normalise and overcome the issues and stigmas revolving periods?

 

-Shay

Survival Guide For Year 12 Students!

It’s the end of summer and back to school!

Whoop whoop! 🎉

 

And I’m in my last year of secondary school/sixth form, which a lot of people would be happy about, but I am sad about because I really do love my school and friends and my subjects. I enjoyed year 12, which is equivalent to 11th grade/junior year in America (and not sure about other countries). Therefore, having gone through the experience of year 12, I want to share little tips on what you should do to minimise stress and regret later in the academic year!

 

Consolidate Your Notes

After every single topic you’ve finished in your subject, go over your notes and textbook for that topic and write up revision notes/flashcards/whatever method you prefer to revise from. Do that after every topic!

I know it sounds like a lot and a faff but honestly, if you write up your notes after the topics, you will understand it more, which will be helpful because those topics will also be applicable to other topics, most likely. It also means that you would have finished writing your revision notes so come the summer term, you won’t have to make those revision notes. You can just start learning off them. Writing up and understanding notes in your own way and method will also make it easier for you to remember.

Trust me! You won’t regret doing this.

 

Organise Yourself, Child

This is something I really wish I did. It’s filing away your notes after each topic.

For example, after your subject teacher has officially finished going over a topic and has moved onto the next, write up your consolidation notes and then file away the notes you made in class into your subject folder. The mistake I made was leaving all my notes in my refill pad and slipping in loose sheets in the front until the whole notebook was full and hard to look at and I couldn’t use it. It’s horrible. It actually stresses me out, right now, thinking about it. It takes hours to sort through and organising it and filing it away.

Just start from day one and organise your damn self! Also, it might be a good idea to get a different notebook for each subject so you don’t get confused or things don’t get messy. And it will get messy. I’ve learnt the hard way.

 

Make A Revision Schedule

At GCSEs, I didn’t have a revision schedule. I just went with the flow and did whatever I wanted or thought I needed to revise that day. And truth is, it worked out because I got decent grades, which I’m happy with. That isn’t going to work for year 12. Nope. I tried to make it work but it didn’t.

You need to make sure you focus on each topic and make sure you learn every detail you need. I know this may not be helpful for all people but I made a calendar of each month and wrote in each day a chapter or topic I would read over and do questions on, taking into account days I couldn’t revise due to other commitments. You can even throw in a chill day but so long as you stick to the schedule and it has every chapter and topic you need to learn fit in, you’ll be absolutely fine.

I was getting really bad grades in the big psychology tests we did, like Es and Ds. I ended up getting the highest grades, like As and Bs, by the end because I stuck to a schedule and learnt and revised all the topics and evaluations. And that was only in about a month, which I can’t guarantee will happen for you but it shows that your grade can really go up!

 

Past Papers Are A Student’s Best Friend

Everyone had their own revision style and method and you should experiment at the beginning of the year to find which one works best for you. If you want me to make a post on all the quirky and classic methods I found, comment so!

However, every student should do past papers, no matter what revision method you do. Always do past papers on top of your chosen personalised method! Do as many as you can and look at the mark schemes and just keep doing them over and over again. Do the same ones a month later and see if you do better. Past paper will help you! I wish I did more!

 

Don’t Be Cocky

I found a lot of people thought that just because they got As at GCSEs, they were going to be fine at A Levels. That’s very wrong! A Levels are way harder and some people say that it’s the hardest stage of your education, even more than University. So sorry to scare you but it’s going to get hard. You can’t just sit back and relax and hope that your A*s and As at GCSEs will help you.

And don’t boast or be arrogant. No one will like you and it’s annoying. 😂

 

Talk To And Make Friends

Year 12 is one of your last years in secondary school/sixth form/college/high school. I’m not sure how it is in other countries but for all I know, in year 13, it’s mainly work and spending your free periods revising. That means year 12 is the year to have a bit of fun, while still maintaining or reaching for good grades. Make a balance of fun and work. I made a lot of friends in year 12 and it was also one of my best years at school and I made a lot of good memories, which you should do too! It’s one of your last years so try and pluck up the courage and confidence to do things your wouldn’t normally do, that are legal and not stupid, of course!

And try to take advantage of the opportunities that come your way! Don’t be scared.

 

Reward Yourself

If you do work hard, you need to reward yourself every week or so. Go out with your friends, go see a film, go to a party on the weekend, do something fun! We’re like dogs. We need to be rewarded for a behaviour to be done frequently so if you want to feel motivated more, you need to reward yourself every now and again.

 

Mental Health Is More Important

Despite what I said, at the end of the day, your mental health is the most important thing. I understand that year 12 is pressurising, especially with students who are aiming really high e.g. applying for medicine, etc. If you find that your mental health and even physical health is suffering, stop for a sec and try to get help or find ways to calm yourself down, etc.

I got really stressed at one point because I was overthinking and the school was putting a lot of pressure on us. I ended up feeling really depressed and experiencing symptoms, which I hadn’t experienced in ages. My eye kept twitching at certain points and I even started struggling to breath – it was really weird, don’t ask. I ended up spending a day writing a list of all the things I was worried about and making me stressed and wrote solutions next to them. I also talked to people about it to get it off my chest.

I know you might not agree with this but your mental health should come first, for several reasons like stress can actually affect your memory badly, and doing badly in year 12 really isn’t the end of the world. Don’t try and put yourself in the position to end up doing badly but if you do, there are always ways to fix that in year 13.

Basically, make sure you’re a happy bean! 🙂


 

Hopefully you actually take my tips into account. They will be really helpful if you take action on them. A lot of students told me the same advice at the beginning of year 12, which I ignored, because I’m stupid and stubborn. You’ll probably end up telling the next year 12’s the same advice.

Apart from that, enjoy year 12 and good luck for all your exams!

 

I’d love to know what subjects you’re doing or any advice that has helped you before, no matter what year you’re in.

 

-Shay

 

P.S One last tip that you should really use even if you decide to ignore the rest, above. Don’t give your pens or pencils to anyone. They may say “I’ll give it back” but that just mean “I’m gonna keep this and hope you forget about it or are too nice to ask for it back.” TRUST NO ONE! (Apart from me and my advice, of course. 😀 )

Great Scale of the Universe!

It’s the end of exam season and I wanted to remind those of you, who are doing or did exams, about something important. (Even if you’re not doing exams, this is still applicable to you.)

 

In the grand scheme of things, we are dots. We are atoms, in terms of size, to the planets and the galaxy. We’re just tiny creatures that inhabit one small blue planet amongst billions.

There are literally giant rocks crashing and burning up in space. There are potential life forms, other than the ones on our planet, that could be figuring out, right at this very moment, how to survive. There are supernovas and planetary nebulas and black holes sucking in anything close by. There are little bots roaming around Mars and space stations hovering up in space.

There are probably crazy undiscovered animals deep in the massive part of the ocean, we haven’t even ventured to yet. There are forests being chopped down and species of animals dying more frequently than you think.

There are people popping out more people and people that don’t get to be people anymore. There are nuclear weapons that could destroy countries and lives. There are things being kept a secret from society.

There are mysteries and classified information we might never know about our world.

Your cells are diving every second and there cells within your blood, which are basically a union of heroes to your body. You have air passing in and out your lungs. You have hair growing out of your living, breathing body.

We’re just a small generation in the great history of Earth. There have been the beginning of this planet (however you believe the world was created), dinosaurs, king and queens, an era they thought smoking was good for you, ancient Egyptians, Greek mythology, wars, etc. In comparison to all that’s happened, we’re just a second that’s gone by.

 

That bad grade you got means nothing.

That being said, your education, or whatever it is you’re doing, is important for your life but a bad A level grade or a bad grade assignment you turned in, or even if it’s a bad day you’ve had (or bad week/month/year), it’s a very small inconvenience in the great scale of the universe. I know it doesn’t seem small because you are the centre of your universe; it’s your life, you’re the core of it all. But it really isn’t as big of a deal as you think it is.

There’s always a second route you can take, which isn’t all that bad. I can say from my own experiences and others’ experiences that when you get into a bad situation, that seems like your entire future is over, there is always a safe and good solution out, which turns out being for the best. And I’m not just saying that for the sake of being relatable and positive and inspiring, I’m saying it because I’ve been through rough difficult days and I’ve gotten out of it. Turn your bad situation into a success story! 😄

Don’t dwell on what’s happened, it’s not worth jeopardising your mental health for. Think rationally, and seek other options or ways to solve your problem. Sometimes that solution is time and just waiting and being patient.

 

Although, don’t brush off your situation as unimportant and something you shouldn’t address because it’s ‘silly’ or ‘stupid’ to you but revaluate your situation and understand it’s not the end of the world or of you. There’s ALWAYS a safe way out. There’s ALWAYS a solution.

It’s okay to have a melt down, just don’t stay in that meltdown forever. Cry and then refocus on what you need to do.

 

I’m stating this now since exam season is kind of over (I sympathise with those, who still or are now starting exams) as I didn’t want any of you to read this and think that means you don’t need to work hard or strive for good grades. However, I know some of you might be thinking and regretting decisions you made in the exams, which you can’t fix now. You might be upset or frustrated over an exam you did but it’s okay. It’s not the end of the world – a saying, which I hated to hear from people, but it really isn’t.

 

If anyone needs advice or someone to vent to, you can talk to me! Leave a comment or contact me here! Or stare at calming cat for a while. He’s calming.

 

-Shay