Anxiety isn’t a new feeling for 18-year-old model Ali Kitinas, who is juggling life as an entrepreneur, model and soon-to-be high school graduate. Though no cycle is the same, she finds comfort in knowing she’s not the only one experiencing these emotions. Ali shares her natural remedies for battling severe cramps, being open and honest about her period with her boyfriend and the importance of puberty and periods in school education.
My emotions just go haywire, like every time. I’m 18 so I’ve had it for a few years, but every time I think I’ve got a handle on my cycle something just comes in and completely changes everything. Like the other day, I was standing in my backyard completely fine, nothing triggered it – but all of a sudden I was just crying – when there was no reason for me to be crying at all. And I was so confused.
I’m in my final year of school, so obviously I’m anxious, and that feeling is nothing new to me. But to have nothing trigger it, just all of a sudden to have tears running down my face and having this black tar enveloping my insides and feeling like all I can do is scream or cry and let it out in this kind of visceral emotional release. It's insane to think your body can just do that with no explanation and that’s just normal - we kind of just have to deal with that every month. And it just comes out of nowhere sometimes.
I think every month when I get my period it is a reminder to look after myself. It’s almost like the concept of self-care completely goes out the window until it’s that time. I meditate and I get really bad cramps so I try to do what I can to release it, like yoga, taking nice warm baths, reading poetry – do all of these things I should be doing constantly I guess. I feel like my period is a gentle reminder to look after myself.
Sometimes it’s hard to get out of bed but I do what I can: read and write, listen to music. You’ve just got to try and get yourself motivated again and release that lethargic feeling.
I get ridiculous cramps so I went to this herbal store in Newtown that I love and they recommended a wild yam supplement that really helps alleviate the pain as much as possible. I think trying to do things naturally to feel better is the best thing you can do.
I have a sad list on Spotify (laughs) that I listen to when I have a bunch of emotions that I just want to let out. So I lay in bed and I cry if I need to and I let myself feel those emotions rather than trying to bottle them up and hide them.
I’m surprised by how understanding he has been. There is a stigma that if you have a boyfriend or a partner that they would be uncomfortable talking about it. So it was very refreshing to see that he is completely understanding and wants to make sure I’m ok. He’s always checking in to see if my emotions are ok, if my cramps are ok or if I need anything. So to have someone that is so understanding of it is really cool.
I was in primary school, it must have been Year 5 or 6 and I can just remember being really confused. I think I called my mum and said “what’s happening?!” That’s pretty much all I can remember.
I wish I knew that it would be as irregular as it is. When you have sex education at school, they talk about puberty and everything that you will be experiencing and it sounds like it’s going to be very regular. Like once you get it, it’s every 28 days and it’s a very standard process.
I wish someone had the conversation with me sooner that it’s probably never going to be regular, at least not for a while, and that’s ok. But if you’re concerned about something or if you’re in incredible amounts of pain or there is something going on - go and talk to your doctor about it.
Don’t just let it sit and try and deal with it because the sooner you get something checked out, the sooner you know you’re not dying and everything is going to be ok and it makes the pain easier to deal with.
NB: Since our chat with Ali, she has been diagnosed with PCOS -also known as polycystic ovarian syndrome, a common health problem caused by an imbalance of reproductive hormones.
It’s been quite difficult because there isn’t a lot of information out there about PCOS, it’s not really something that gets spoken about very much. Even my doctor didn’t really provide me with much information about it. But it’s given me some reassurance and understanding of why my periods are so painful and have become so irregular and unpredictable. I would say if anyone is having any trouble or anything seems out of the ordinary to speak to your GP and get it checked out, rather than waiting and suffering without any answers. At least it can give you some peace of mind, and possibly you can find some solutions to help you deal with your symptoms.---
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