Unplanned Rest Days, the Past, Women’s Health

I think this post may be the most random. It kind of bounces between different issues of disorderly eating, recovery and women’s health but, I think that it fits this way so read at your own risk.

It’s days like these that allow me to realize that I have made progress no matter how much I want the time to pass. I’m on my period today and I just feel… bleh! I don’t feel like moving or doing anything today so, I won’t. Although, I have had worse and more painful periods, I am going to rest easy today. That is something big for me because a year ago I would have convinced myself to exercise through the pain. Today isn’t a rest day. I would have taken some Ibuprofen and persuaded myself to continue on my “healthy” diet regardless of the sharp period pains that worsened with hunger.

I remember clearly exercising for 1 hour and 24 minutes through my cramps: warm up, full body strength workout and, Tabata for cardio. I told myself, I needed to keep on pushing and finish the workout. I put myself through torture. I also hate taking medications so frequently (I know ironic for a future pharmacist, right) so, sometimes I would wait until the pain became unbearable. I pushed through the workout because pain tolerance is supposed to be higher during menstrual cycle or cardio helps with cramps. But, I’m sure research did not mean what I was doing to myself. I was on a calorie deficit that was not meant for long-term purposes.

There were days where I ended up in fetal position on my bathroom floor at 3AM by myself thinking ‘just rip out my uterus already,’ knowing full and well that I love my uterus. But, the pain at that moment was too much. Monthly, I worried that something was wrong with me and my hormones but, I was afraid to find out. I am still afraid but, I know there is a problem. Some problems were resolved by my fixed eating and exercise habits but, I still have that underlying presentiment. Still through all that, I made sure that I exercised 5 days a week for 1 hour and 24 minutes, cramping, tired, and hurting in more ways than one.

To some people taking an unplanned rest day is normal but, to me, this is a big deal. It means that I am making progress and I didn’t even have to convince myself as much. I’m proud of that so, I just had to write about it. However, in writing this, I realize something. There is so much shame in womanhood.

This next bit could be a post on its own but I feel like it fits here for now. Even to write this post and talk about “womanly issues” such as the menstrual cycle, I was hesitant. I always feel this hesitation before pushing it away when it comes to women health issues. It was taught to be a secret. It is stifling. It makes it hard to talk about the issues that we, as a woman, may experience. Experiences that make our time on earth different from that of men. Yet, we are so hesitant to bring up our differences for fear of seeming weak even in emergent situations. We find ourselves weakening our own voices and the voices of other women, even in the medical community.

For example, in my first visit to a gynecologist, it took some courage to mention my menstrual cycle issues. What helped me was the fact that she was a woman so surely she could be more understanding but, I was quickly shut down and given a lame excuse for my cramps, hair growth in unlikely places, heavy bleeding, and irregular periods. There was no further probing and I was told to take ibuprofen as if I hadn’t tried it before. Ibuprofen will not explain what is really going on with my body. It is only a temporary bandaid for a larger problem at hand. Yes, it solves some people’s problems but if I need prescription strength Ibuprofen like clockwork then, clearly, there is some underlying issue. I understand that, as women, we have struggled to be equal to men but, ignoring our differences may make us sicker, weaker, the very issue we are avoiding. There is strength in our differences whether through our anatomy or our experiences of life. We can be strong and still be female too. Strong and feminine energy does not have to exist in separate planes. So often we downplay period pain, endometriosis, and other women’s health issues as “fake” issues that can easily be looked over and dealt with the same way we unfortunately do with mental health. It is extremely detrimental to the livelihood of women when their health issues are disregarded as nonexistent by men, other women and health professionals especially. Our body is made up of multiple parts. We are only as strong as our weakest link. Strengthen your mind, love and embrace your body, all of it. Take care of your health. I’m done standing on my soapbox for now.

Thanks for reading my long rant,

Shika

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Shika Tamaklo is a pharmacy student attending Mercer University. She is a college lifestyle blogger who writes on fitness, health, student life struggles and, occasionally dabbles in creative writing.

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