From the moment I got my first period in 7th grade, I’ve been at war with my body. Menstruating meant I was no longer a kid. My body no longer resembled a prepubescent boy. My face began to break out with acne. I had to buy bras. I had to wear pads. All of these changes were negative in my mind. These physical changes led me to despise my body in its entirety. At the onset of my eating disorder, my period became more irregular and eventually went away. In my eyes, this was incredible. The less I ate meant my period would go away. And if my period was nonexistent, then all of those physical changes that my body went through during puberty would reverse.
Fast forward nearly 6 years, after my ED took the reigns of my life and led me to inpatient, residential, then outpatient treatment. During these times, I was completely amenorrhoeic. Yet by this point, my views of my period were changing. Even more, my views of my entire body were changing. I learned so much about the human body during treatment. And, although this isn’t rocket science, I learned how incredibly important it is for a woman to menstruate. With the help of different books on femininity and womanly sexuality, I wanted my period. Getting my period meant that I was truly a woman with a beautiful woman’s body. I no longer desired the body of prepubescent boy.
Most importantly to me, the return of my period meant a huge progression in my recovery journey.
I’m happy to say that on May 28th, I made that progression. I woke up in the morning following my typical routine of using the bathroom, but there was something obviously different this morning. And when I realized this, I cried happy tears. I ran downstairs to my mother, who has been alongside me on this long journey of recovery and embraced her in the biggest hug. I reached the milestone that I once despised but recently longed for. I’m experiencing the menstruation side effects with an open and warm heart, even the negative ones. While the cramps aren’t favorable and my body image is testy, I can only smile. These side effects are shared universally my menstruating women. And I am one of those women. My body is unbelievably and astonishingly powerful. I never thought I would be so excited to wear a tampon. Or to be so emotional over a cheesy rom-com. Or to have stomach cramps. Or to have my period! But as they say, you don’t know how important something is until it’s gone.
Now that I’ve experienced the loss of such a natural bodily phenomenon, I realize how important and beautiful menstruation is and will forever cherish it.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Renee Collett
Renee Collett lives in Hamden, Connecticut.
She is currently studying English-Professional Writing at Southern Connecticut State University.
At Project HEAL, Renee is dedicated to sharing her story and experiences throughout her recovery in order to inspire others to learn and appreciate their authentic, beautiful selves.
She is passionate about reading and writing and spreading her optimism/positivity to those around her. She can often be found outside in nature, at coffee shops, cuddling with her dog, or anywhere surrounded by people (major extrovert— she thrives in crowds of others)
Renees favorite ice cream flavor is peanut butter chunk...though she’s never met an ice cream she didn’t like.