Tag Archives: premenstrual dysphoric disorder

blood and tunes and fruits not always of wombs

zine: Fruits of My Labour #3 ‘bloody oath (available from Junky Comics, Brisbane)

drink: blood orange gose (orange ale) (4.2% ABV, 355mL can) by Anderson Valley Brewing Company (California, USA)

music: Wet Lips (2017) by Wet Lips

It turns out after reading through all the possible choices of yesterday’s zine, there was an option to go perv at potential bookshops, some cool supernatural action, and kebabs after drinking and dancing despite dinner beforehand.

I’m also trying to get through my Shazam queue which is hours of songs long. It feels like forever since I got to listen to music that isn’t in my car CD player or designed to help me settle into sleep (Hildegarde von Bingen and Grouper, I’m looking at you babes). Tonight was either going to be The Slits’ Cut, but I went with Wet Lips to keep the blood/bleeding theme consistent *wink*.

Anyone that has ever menstruated has most likely experienced the following: shame, stains, not having sanitary products at hand, cramps, dejection, more shame (particularly because Catholics love that shit and think all pubescent females are dirty), and more misery.*

The flies and/or ants really have it bad for my beers: they keep flying into my bloody full glasses, grrrr. Screw it – I’m not tipping my beer this time (hoping the ABV will save me), but if I get sick then you know why. Goses (singular: gose, pronounced go-suh) are supposed to be fairly low in alcohol content but this one’s fairly hefty. And yeah, it’s sour, not really that salty and there’s a healthy presence of blood orange, in a pulp and cloudy fruit juice kind of way.

Coincidentally, Wet Lips’ first song on their self-titled album is called ‘Shame’. There’s also one called ‘Hysteria’, and one called ‘Period’. The album is over almost as fast as I can down my fly-attacked beer.

Bloody oath‘ begins with the reminder that not every woman menstruates, or has a uterus, and this is important. As also explained in my lengthy endnote below, some people will experience shame and trauma around the good ol’ Auntie Flo (who actually has an aunt Flo?!).

There’s lots of colourful illustrations, and the zine begins with a piece about how periods are portrayed in (seemingly) predominantly feminist films (Clueless, The Hot Chick, Ten Things I Hate About You, Mean Girls, and Juno). It does finish by mentioning that the series Broad City deliberately does not use periods to shame or as an opportunity to belittle or make fun of those who have periods. That’s kinda the show that Broad City is though, yeah? Who doesn’t want a bond like the one Abbi and Ilana have?!

Then there’s a great piece about using sponges for convenience from the viewpoint of a sex worker, but consider my mind blown! Possibly TMI but if you have PMDD, overnight pads and super tampons can only absorb so much. You will fuck up your sheets. You will be grumpy about it in the morning even if you’ve woken up every 2-3 hours to change your chosen products.

It almost makes me miss the times my body (I assume – it is a side effect, but not many people talk about it) has just stopped having periods for months, or having them sporadically because of fairly regular ECT. From experience, it’s taken about a 9-12 months for some sort of cycle regularity to return. I have also noticed that PMDD symptoms only really became obvious in the last four or so years? Not that I would’ve noticed before: too busy being chronically depressed, hehehe SIGH. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got a healthy supply of self-hatred, but the way PMDD morphs my sense of self and sense of what my body is…it makes me hate being born with female reproductive parts so, so much. I start to get fantasies about ripping out my ovaries with bare hands and about how cool that would be (that is not cool – I’m just explaining how…intense the body dysmorphia can get). I don’t want biological kids, so it seems pretty bloody unfair that you can’t just up and go to your GP and beg for a hysterectomy.

The hormone drop post-birth would probably be too much for my depression. I don’t ever want to entertain the notion of not being able to care for a baby while having to convince myself to hide just how much I want to die.

No, it’s not an easy thought to sit with, but a lot of what mood disorders are are very lonely and isolating. And there are times when you’ll burn out even the most empathetic, understanding mate, lover, or family member if you voice any of these concerns. I’ve had people tell me my depression is nothing compared to the loss suffered by an acquaintance having an ectopic pregnancy. Society values reproductive-related health more over mood disorders – provided you’re reproducing, or wanting to.

So what the hell did people do before menstrual cups, synthetic sponges and Thinx underpants?! Cloth pads/rags! The next essay is about what to not do when using, preparing or laundering reusable cloth pads. God, how did people cope back then, honestly. And how ace would it be if free bleeding were socially acceptable. I get nosebleeds all the time and when they have happened in public (common), people have been freaked out and worried (I find it intensely embarrassing), but if you get period on your clothes (which admittedly leaves me mortified), it’s somehow seen as gross, or dirty.

Because this zine is Brisbane-based, there’s some info about the Brisbane Period Project and there is also one for Melbourne too! They donate products to the homeless and those who can’t afford sanitary products, and are trans-friendly. Anyone who needs their service is welcome. Also a timely reminder that thank goodness sanitary products aren’t subject to tax anymore in Australia! What the hell took so long?!

Natural, plant-based remedies were also used back before modern pharmaceutical privileges were available, and there’s a page about some of these options for pain relief, anxiety, generally encouraging the related muscles to relax the fuck down. It sounds like most of these were used as tea/infusions or as essential oils.

Last three contribs I’ll mention: there’s some great info on why folks can miss their periods (obvs, if you’re concerned about irregular or missed periods, please see a doc you trust) and are pretty certain they’re not expecting (ovarian cysts), an excellent playlist (fuck yeah!!!) for ‘music to bleed to’ (I’d like to add The Slits’ Cut and Wet Lips’ self-titled to that!), and an excerpt that acknowledges that some Indigenous and Eastern spiritual traditions treat fertility, womanhood and puberty with a sacredness and reverence we’re not exposed to today.

Bodies are amazing. They could get so many things wrong, but for the most part do a loooooooot of things well. But aliens are still not going to visit us, our minds and sense of consciousness is far too daft for them to want anything from us.

Thanks soooo much Junky Comics for recommending this as a zine to pick up/take home. Apologies to regular readers – I apparently have a lot of feelings (to lovingly borrow the line from the girl with a heavy flow and wide-set vagina in Mean Girls).

*************

*In case you’re wondering, I wrote ‘Stain, guilt‘ about this very phenomenon. Becoming part of the menstrual clan, no matter what particular cishet white non-intersectional feminists tell you, is not a cause of celebration for some folks. Since my diagnosis with PMDD, and my cycle being made irregular post-ECT, it’s made menstruation a consistently more miserable bodily experience. I joke that it’s a pretty goregrind experience (it’s not normal to use up a months’ worth of sanitary products in a week). The only thing I’ve ever been lucky with in this regard is a high pain threshold (when I do get cramping), like go me. It’s more painful on the bra-caged boobs when they go all ‘go-go Gadget enlarge/swell’.

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purple pink purple green

content warning: slight mention of self-medication with alcohol (not reviewing alcohol for this one though!)

 

I know, I was supposed to have one of these up ages, but got slammed with work. I started a new job, came off my second antidepressant (because I’d gained too much weight, and guess what, now I’m just not sleeping as well) and had a few freelance deadlines that had quick turnaround.

I know, I know, living the overworked, underpaid creative dream but I feel like because my mental health isn’t an acute worry, I can’t really refuse the ace work that’s coming my way. It does tend to mean on days off, sometimes I just sleep the whole bloomin’ day or try to do as little as possible. I also finally got confirmed as having premenstrual dysphoric disorder, and the months where it doesn’t pwn my mood, there’s just so much blood. Been joking that I’m a DIY pagan ritual (probably inspired by a particular scene in s3 of Outlander – Jamie Fraser isn’t the only red babe…?)

Anyway, maybe some more cheerful stuff! Finally got to go through a stack of zines I bought when visiting Brisbane and found that I’ve got two copies of the zine I’m reviewing today. Nice one, doofus!

zine: The Tundish Review #5 (Apr 2018) by various authors; edited by Katelyn Goyen & Nick van Buuren

drink: Macro Wholefoods matcha (with milk and maple syrup) to make a matcha latte!

I’m going to lay off the booze for a couple of weeks because drinking when you’re run-down or have epic insomnia is not a good idea (yes, I’ve been less responsible before, and not proud of it). It’s weird but am also slightly proud of myself for wanting to develop healthier habits since I got a regularish job?

Matcha lattes are so first-world wanker I can’t even but I love them: I love how bitter matcha, and how rich it is with milk and soft, caramelly sugar. I suck at making them, but am practising while I have access to my dad’s fan-ceh milk frother whatsit. They’re also a bit of an energy kick in the same way tea is? I’m actually one of those weirdoes who isn’t kept up by black tea, but forget drinking coffee regularly on my current dosage of my day antidepressant unless I’ve had three full meals a day, if you know what I mean…

The Tundish Review is a zine from Brisbane, where the Queensland Poetry Festival was. Part of the festival had a mini-zine fair at Bloodhound Bar (omg I drank so much good beer there – Trois Mousquetaires ho-lee fark! and even got to share a bottle of one of Moon Dog’s Black Lung iterations with Healthy Party Girl!), and you gotta support the artists and buy all the zines when you can!

Um, so the zine. Gorgeous line illustrations and starts with a poem by Robbie Coburn about fucking Rimbaud. Ouais, ouais, ça je sais, Rimbaud est magnifique et tout les poetès veulent manger son cul dĂ©funte, I get it: Rimbaud’s a big deal to European poetry and he kind of had a rock star life before rock stars existed, but NNGH. I dunno, let’s make a bigger deal over Louise LabĂ© or something?

I’m sorry, that turned into a rant. I shouldn’t be knocking a more accomplished poet than myself based on what their inspirations are – I can be pretty insufferable when harping on about Sir Thomas Wyatt (making heartbreak cool, yo, in early modern English, gush! You lust after that swan Anne Boleyn!). And look, it’s a lovely poem but maybe I just expect to be shaken and turned on by contemporary poets in all possible ways. It’s a beautiful poem for a reflective, quieter headspace.

But then I will still go all mushy over a villanelle? Isn’t that just as wanky-exclusionary as being in love with Rimbaud? ‘Villanelle for the sleeping Orlando’ by Frankie Brown is poignant, has striking imagery and I totally want more after the poem is finished! It’s also not a strict villanelle, so it doesn’t read as forced or contrived.

It turns out I’m not the only person with a rant up my sleeve! ‘Existentialist Letters’, addressed to Sartre may just have restored some faith in humanity, it’s just the kind of continental philosophy/anti-Anglo-Aus snark you need and picks apart some of the privileges first-world wypipo have…and abuse.The croissant rant is inspired! Maddeningly, it doesn’t say who it’s by, pout!

Raelee Lancaster’s ‘An open letter to my father’ is heartbreaking in all the right ways and a shift in emotional tone from debates above to the deeply personal. These are the sorts of contemporary poems that shake a reader to their core…I don’t think even think my work now is as brave, vulnerable and reflective as Raelee’s? Will it ever be? This is why I shouldn’t be knocking younger poets like above…? *blush* I heard Raelee read her work on a local indie radio station and remember being hungry for more of her work (which you can find in Overland).

Is it okay to admit that I needed a lot of time between now and reading Raelee’s poem? For all the right reasons…guess that’s part of the sensitive creative thing, eh?

John Ballot’s ‘Just-a-boy and his shadows’ has sparse, cut-to-quick imagery about driving at night. The attention to tension and grip on the steering wheel, and how it can give away so much about a person if their face belies none of the stress or concentration needed for driving. There were so many ‘yes!’ spots in the poem, but this line made me exhale loudly:

bark is steel at 160kmh

One of the uniquely Australian experiences I will always remember is driving in areas of complete darkness, It reminds me of when my family first moved to Melbourne, and how some parts of it still had dirt roads! That halo of ‘perfumed light envelops You’ as you try to swivel your steering wheel as quickly and as economically as possible to get back into better visibility where things feel less daunting.

The next poem is a hybrid poem-as-recipe or perhaps vice versa: ‘Cocoanut Cake: an Emily Dickinson Recipe’, which takes lines from Dickinson’s work, and a recipe of the aforementioned coconut cake which you can get at the Poet’s House at Harvard College (not university). Dickinson’s poetry is the kind that years later, you can still be finding koans in her single lines that didn’t occur to you, oh, twenty years ago? If you don’t believe me, check out ModPo. I did it a few years ago when I wasn’t well enough to write or do anything at a sustained level – it really helped me find my way home to poetry and literature. It doesn’t say who mixed/arranged this poem, but it’s really fun!

Morgan Kinghorn’s ‘Criminal Code Act 1899 sect. 224, 225, 226’ starts with each stanza with a question of the same form, and then asks for qualifiers on that initial question. It’s an interrogative poem, with erotic and existential turns, ending with the subject framed as the ‘other’ or an abstraction. It’s an odd one, but in a really satisfying way, and the images and questions are simple but feel necessary.

While at the Queensland Poetry Festival, it was a relief to be able to talk to another poet of colour about how obsessed white poets are with centos. Yes, I get that they’re all about skill and poetic craft, but they are also quite classist: they’re meant to make poets (like me – autodidact poets are not considered good at their craft unless they mimic their ‘intellectual betters’ very, very well) without their knowledge feel second-rate. You’re basically showing off what you’ve read, and then ‘remixing’ other peoples’ works and continue the lineage of homage-wank (reification of new exclusionary ‘canons’). You bored reading this rant yet?

‘Alphabeat Soup – @realCagedTrump’ is a cento using (dear god) Donald Trumps Twitter updates interlaced with Maya Angelou’s ‘Caged Bird’ – this is the kind of playful genius one wants from art! It’s heartbreaking (as anything to do with Trump if you have half a heart is, I’m not budging on this), and it’s also the kind of poetic innovation that old white male exclusionary-town poets wouldn’t catch themselves doing. Also kind of scary as I imagine the poet who wrote this cento had to become very familiar with The Donald’s Twitterstream which sometimes reads as if he’s a fascist or a contemporary of Ezra Pound when he got all ranty.

Andrew McGowan’s ‘Grimace’ is naturalistic and gruesome and set in an Australian gothic sort of aesthetic. The strongest parts are where nature’s brutality is documented and not ‘explained away’ – e.g. ants eating and decaying a dead bird, ‘Dragonflies and mosquitoes murder / each other, a colossal hum.’ The place setting is compelling, and I wish the poem focussed more on that and really pared back mentions or statements from the human subject. I’d be keen to read more poems set in this place of quiet, implied menace.

The second-last piece is a mini-essay called ‘Good Form’ about rhyme, half-rhyme, slant rhyme, internal rhyme and eye rhyme. It’s a bit down on nursery rhymes (but the greats Pope, Shakespeare, Poe, and Chaucer are okay, YAWN. Christ: reading Chaucer in middle English is really fucking hard work). It does end to say that poets should be open to wandering off the rhyming path, which to be honest, if you haven’t hit upon that now as a practising poet (ideally you should be able to do both rhyming and non-rhyming poetry) best to start trying ASAP?

Then to end, there’s an exercise! ‘The Man From Snowy (Blank)’ suggests that you:

fill in the blanks to create your very own canonical Australian ballad. Whether you’re naughty or nice to old mate Banjo try reading the Good Form feature on rhyme first and see what you can do with this dusty ABABCDCD rhyme scheme here.

Always good to have a bit of audience participation! Might have a go for next Patreon blog post when I review the other Tundish Review issue I have…

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life-life balance

It could be PMDD symptoms, or that I haven’t made time to see my psychiatrist in two months, but lately it’s been harder to leave the day’s work behind and properly relax. I’m struggling to finish reading novels (which isn’t usually something that happens?!), and been writing a lot more, and depression symptoms have been more just stop, sit, and NAP, or anxiety symptoms mean it’s harder to fall asleep, and harder to get up because once I’m out of bed, my brain won’t switch off. The nap, thankfully, helped loads.

It’s difficult to reinforce boundaries around being too busy because I haven’t been this functional in nearly two decades. I’ve stayed up late for a bit – on purpose…brew a big mug of tea, read a zine (that doesn’t have pieces of mine!) for sheer enjoyment, but keep making excuses. So while my ‘heart’ is asking why the hell am I so exhausted, what my head is actually saying is the reasons:

  • I submitted a suite of three poems inspired by indie computer games as part of a ‘Women Writers of Colour’ commission on the theme ‘collaboration’ which should appear in the Writers’ Victoria membership mag next month…? Am thinking of working on a few more and compiling them into a separate zine at the end of this year
  • becoming a Women’s Melbourne Network committee member hasn’t felt like work, and in forgetting this, I also neglect that commuting takes up a lot of energy! duh me! Also, Janet Mock knows our bookclub meeting took place and thrilled does not begin to describe <3
  • I pitched and submitted work to a few publications that last year would have been too terrifying to even contemplate reading (no, really, just read that last sentence. Yes, I’m not-normiesplaining)…I feel like no one talks about these sorts of things when you’re reemerging back into life (or emerging into life for the first time with arms wide open)
  • am gathering reading material for some more formal reading/casual teaching arrangements, and can’t find my sodding most recent passport (my older ones are pretty funny!) which is a nightmare for trying to get current police checks (for the record, I’m British and have indefinite permanent residency in Australia)
  • have completed a fifth of a planned chapbook of poems on the private psychiatric ward patient experience (it’ll mainly be funny, honest, or rather, I hope)
  • I’m a reader for an online mag called Syntax and Salt, and their next issue is devoted to poetry so I’m excited because so far, I’ve been reading short fiction!
  • edit 6/6/2018: because the individual named here is anything but a positive experience to deal with, I have actively deleted any involvement with them and do not wish to insinuate any form of association with them. Thanks for understanding

Okay, now I get why I took an extended siesta and missed out on a joint beer collab launch at one of my fave drinking holes (Bar SK, case you’re wondering)! Crying.

Let’s get down to business.

zine: ‘Hook Up’ volume 1 by Anthony Nocera

There’s a few snippets from (gay) hook-up apps, and then narrative from the writer about his interactions and memories of meet-ups. No holds barred, etc. but quite funny and oddly touching – no pun intended! I mean touching in that way sexual contact can make people be intimate towards one another for a short amount of time before they float off into their lives. There’s also a bit from/about Helen Razer on the whole marriage equality sitch. I wish I could remember when I bought this…it was definitely before the above was even on the table in parliament…or was it? The narrator also explains that he/they told the people he/they were hooking up with that he/they were most likely going to be writing about the interactions/meet-ups! It’s got interesting cut-up collage illustrations throughout, and it’s a bright blue, neon pink that makes me think it’s done on a risograph press? It’s also restricted to persons aged 18+.

beverage: Bright Chocolate (choc factory in Bright, Victoria) cacao tea

Nearly a year ago, I froze my arse off in the name of research for Froth, and went home with some sweet goodies from the Bright chocolate factory, which also had this ‘tea’ from the disposed cacao husks. I’m probably not selling it, but it’s divine, and really smooth the same way good chocolate is!

music: ‘Dead Start Program’ by John Tejada

I still buy CDs, and I really want this one. It turns out that I’m still a minimal techno tragic. It has a lot of what I liked about an earlier album of his, ‘Logic Memory Center’, and yes, it does hurt to have to use American English spelling (joke…but I do misspell type them in first go!). I find minimal techno’s repetition comforting and puts me in a frame of mind to better concentrate.

I do feel a lot better and more rested now. My cat having settled nearby on my bed, pretending to sleep but glancing over every so often also helps.

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