Welcome to Period Diaries, a series in which we ask real people how they eat, sleep, and live on their cycle in an effort to end the stigma around menstruation. Period.
In this edition, a 38-year-old Training & Quality Manager from Texas remembers growing up in a house of four women and breaks down her period week, from “shift mode” to cramps, cravings, and hot baths.
How many days does your period usually last? 7
How heavy is your flow (1 to 5)? 4 (heavy)
How regular is your period (1 to 5)? 4 (regular)
Symptoms: Cramps, headache, bloating, cravings, mood swings the week before
Preferred Period Care: Pads (I have never been a fan of using tampons just because of the physicality of how I have to use the product)
What was sex education like in your household?
My parents were very transparent about sex. They never shied away from the topic. They preferred we heard it from them rather than from any one else. My mom is the one who placed a condom on the banana to illustrate safe sex to us. She was very direct about how babies were made and how they definitely did not come from a stork.
How did your parents and siblings react to you going through puberty?
Honestly, because I am the youngest of three girls, I can remember it being a smooth transition into what they call womanhood. I was fortunate to have parents, specifically my mom, who talked to me and my sisters at a very young age about puberty, so that when it actually happened it was not a complete shock. I know a lot of girls did not or don’t have that support.
I am sure living in a house with four women affected my dad more than anyone. Poor guy made a lot of trips to the store to buy our period care products. I remember him always taking one of us to the store with him so that he did not have to stand in the aisle deciding which product to buy.
How comfortable are you with buying period care products in public?
As a teen, I was horrified [at the thought] of anyone from school seeing me buy such personal products. It was just my luck that that always happened—and it was usually one of the little boys from my school. However, as I have gotten older, it is no sweat or embarrassment at all; it’s actually second nature.
I wake up for work, still tired/fatigued. I go to the restroom and notice a light red stain in my underwear. It has arrived.
“The Shift” usually occurs on day two. I don’t know if this happens to others, but I literally feel a mental/physiological shift and I am fully in “I don’t want to be bothered” mode.
9 a.m. — I have already popped a couple of Tylenol to at least get me through to lunch, but soon my cravings start. It’s always either Blue Bell’s Cookies ‘n Cream, a Snickers bar, or a Pepsi.
4 p.m. — Trying to make it through my last meeting of the day, but I have to take more Tylenol :(
7 p.m. — Deciding if it is worth it for me to eat, because right now I am just tired, irritated, and want to crawl in bed. I take a hot bath.
Still in Shifting mode :( Cramping is always the worst for me on day three!
10 a.m. — Finally out of bed, which I am sure my dog is excited about because she has been waiting for her breakfast. However, no morning walk. Tylenol time!
2 p.m. — I woke up late, but I am already ready for a nap. But, hey, I guess I should eat something first (more than likely, take-out).
5 p.m. — I absolutely did not complete anything on my to-do list. My bed and the couch are usually my best friends on day three.
The Shift is slowly going away. Though not as severe, I still have cramps and need some Tylenol.
8 a.m. — I’m actually able to take my dog out for her morning walk. When I get back, I make some breakfast. An egg sandwich is usually my go-to.
1 p.m. — Do a little housekeeping, nothing too heavy.
6 p.m. — Make Sunday dinner and prep my meals for the week ahead.
Shift mode is completely gone! I am almost at the finish line and back to light bleeding :)
8 a.m. — Back to work. My mood swings are pretty much gone.
4 p.m. — Finishing up the workday—no Tylenol needed and also less bathroom breaks :)
Besides very light spotting, I am pretty much back to myself again!
I’m still using a light liner because my period likes to play tricks on me sometimes, but for the most part, it’s over!!!