By: Suzan Hutchinson
HI! I’M SUZAN.
I began my menstrual journey at age 15 with a belted pad and knowledge that a week each month my body would betray me.
I was lost where periods were concerned and embarrassed to ask for help/advice because all my friends started at 12. My periods were so heavy that I wore plastic panties and still leaked often. I remember leaking on my clothing and what I sat on at school, on the bus and at home.
No one talked about periods. I thought my experience was unique – that I was odd. Embarrassment kept me silent. Periods made me sad. I hated my periods, dreading when it would start and the messes I would make, and the embarrassment I would feel.
Tampons were my salvation and I used them religiously — I would often use 2 or 3 tampons together. I got TSS at age 21 but kept using tampons – I was more afraid of leaks than of dying from TSS. I slipped into the pattern of making it through each month by hanging onto the fact that for one week I would like who I was.
That pattern began to unravel as a friend shared with me the wonders of my cycle and especially the joys of menstruation and revealed the truth that I am “me” every day of my cycle. And that “me” is awesome no matter if it’s Cycle Day (CD) 1 with cramps and flow, CD 14 with ovulation, or PMSing CD 26. Each day of my cycle offers something uniquely mine.
My life changed forever when I began to embrace my cycle. Instead of working against my period, I began to work with her and she began to reward me in ways I had never imagined. I began to enjoy my cycle, even the parts I had previously hated. I looked for the strengths that menstruation brought and sought ways to work with my body during that time. Menstruation became the highlight of my cycle.
Currently my work as a menstrual activist and educator includes many roles: mentor, friend, writer, speaker, teacher, and perpetual student. I also serve as the Director of Connectivity for You ARE Loved (a non-profit that raises awareness about TSS) and as the Manager of North American Operations for Lunette (makers of an amazing reusable menstrual cup).
Have any questions about TSS or menstruation in general? I want to hear from you! Check out my blog where I talk about all things menstruation or send me some love at firstname.lastname@example.org :).
What was YOUR first period story? Comment below!