For Sydney-based actor, writer and producer Mia Morrissey, her relationship with her cycle has been a wild ride. Since her first period, Mia has been denied bread for 10 years when her Endometriosis was misdiagnosed as coeliac disease and been denied painkillers from doctors, who didn’t believe her level of pain.
Here we speak with Mia about her period routine, on dealing with chronic pain, her mild (major) obsession with Jamil Jameela and her back-to-basics approach to self-care.
Name: Mia Morrissey
Occupation: Actor. Writer. Producer.
Well... she likes long walks on the beach, Lindt 70% dark chocolate, moody 90’s romcoms and randomly attacking me with a flaming chainsaw whenever she so desires because endometriosis and adenomyosis. She’s totally head over heels for her Mirena IUD aaaand she’s a Sagittarius with Cancer Moon. Obviously. ...Will you accept this blood-red rose?
To be honest I’m definitely still fine tuning my period routine and it really does change depending on what each period brings...I have a Mirena IUD so I often don’t have a ‘period’ as such (meaning I don’t bleed) but I do still frequently get the symptoms.
Fun fact! (that a surprising amount of people don’t know) PMS doesn’t actually have anything to do with bleeding; It is just a result of the hormonal changes caused by ovulation. So having a Mirena does NOT mean you are symptom free! But generally, the way my body works is, first, I feel myself getting very anxious and sad and I feel insecure in my body for a few days... and then the PAIN comes (which is like a dull constant hot lava tornado in my abdomen and an aching to stop all aching in my back....to put it lightly) and I just wanna simultaneously sleep and stretch all the time.
I know to just be so damn gentle with myself during this time which means lots of water, small but nourishing meals (I don’t have much of an appetite at this stage), period undies, comfy and loose but secure clothes and ALWAYS having a heat pack on hand! After a few days I might spot for a bit (or it eventually just stops and I get this amazing surge of energy!). Then I get my appetite back and I feel creative and happy and it’s just kind of the ultimate relief. I try to make the most of this time however I can. This is my window to be a fitness, business and social queen!
There’s this common misconception that self care is all face masks and bubble baths but realistically self care has to start so much earlier than that. While I admittedly love a good face mask/bubble bath combo, that’s kinda the last thing I go to when I really need to take care of myself. When I’m in pain or am in a particularly difficult chapter of my cycle I go back to true basics. I always have a list on my wall that is labelled “Things you need to survive” and it includes:
So when I am in need of real self care I make sure I am getting enough of all of those things and prioritise them above everything else. And then once I feel adequately balanced and like I have tended to my foundation… It is STRAIGHT to a steaming hot bubble bath and fancy face mask for me! I also love treating myself to massages and have a real thing for getting my nails done.
Oh god this is a big one, but I’ll try to be as brief and pointed as possible. There is so much we still don’t know about reproductive conditions. There is just not enough information available, or research conducted. It is deplorable that only treatment options available are opioid painkillers, birth control (which have severe side effects of their own and is also a very misogynistic ‘solution’), laparoscopies (which don’t have a guaranteed success rate and are just a temporary solution for most), hysterectomies (which again, can’t guarantee relief for sure) or having children (which is just the universe being really fucking cruel considering how many people with endo/adeno/pcos struggle to get pregnant because of their conditions that pregnancy apparently has the potential to cure).
I wish people knew so many things about endo/adeno/pcos... I wish people knew how debilitating and exhausting the pain is emotionally as well as physically. I wish people knew that we are all terrified of being called dramatic or not being believed. Which is common. I wish we ALL (including myself) knew more about what these conditions actually are and how to treat/ even cure them. But we know so little. So, I’m just gonna keep educating myself and talking about it as honestly as possible as frequently as I can so other people feel more comfortable to talk about their own experiences and hopefully we can educate each other while we’re waiting for the medical community to step up their motherfuckin’ game!
Honestly most of my life I truly thought I would never be able to have a long-term partner because between the mood swings and the constant pain it was all so exhausting and such a burden for just me let alone for someone else who did NOT sign up for that kind of commitment. It has even kinda felt like an extra person in the relationship that neither of us wanted and it made me feel so damn guilty.
But now (thanks to the help of some really beautiful romantic and sexual experiences with some really empathetic, wonderful and understanding humans) I simply accept it as part of me and all of a sudden, it’s not that big of a deal. I now actually accept, or dare I say, even welcome help and support!
It’s still a shitty thing to have to deal with and I’d be lying if I didn’t say I do still sometimes feel guilty having to be taken care of or causing another person worry or hassle, but I’ve realised the more I over apologise the more of a big deal I am making it... And it doesn’t have to be a big deal at all. Truthfully, if the biggest thing in your relationship is endometriosis, I’d say something is very wrong!
Oooh ok... Try period sex/masturbation in the shower. It cleans up as you go AND the warm water is soothing on your back! Obviously only high-waisted or seamless underwear on your period. But that’s a pretty basic one. What else…OH! Get in the ocean and just float either right before you start bleeding or right after. Something about being submerged under the weight of the water but also kinda being weightless and just allowing yourself to be carried by the waves is always heaven (can you tell I’m a water baby haha). Oh, and one more I discovered recently! I have a vibrating foam roller (which I would highly recommend getting- I think you can order them from most sports stores!) but a large vibrator could also work I guess- and I kinda roll out my belly with it and it is great for some immediate relief!
“A life well bled is a life well led.”
... Or alternatively
“Nothing’s fine, I’m Torn (-up inside from all my laparoscopies...)”
My period described in 3-words... Confusing. Dictating. Exhausting.
I know my period is coming when.... I never really know. The irregularity of periods for endo/adeno sufferers (even with a Mirena IUD) is honestly one of the most disorienting and difficult parts of the conditions.
‘My period self-care toolkit’ ... Heat pack. Painkillers. (often they have to be codeine based but I do try really hard to last as long as possible without using them because honestly they are constipating as allll hell).
On day 1 you can find me.... Working and continuing on with my life as if I haven’t been anxious, depressed and in pain for days because our patriarchal society does not recognise the severity of the impact of some people’s periods on their day-to-day life and expects us to carry on as if it’s not happening!!!
I’m on my period, the TV show on high rotation is... Gilmore Girls. Always. It’s my go to whenever I feel anxious, sick, sad or overwhelmed. (I’m team Lane btw. Dean is possessive and toxic AF. Jess is a walking, talking, smoking, brooding red flag. Logan is almost fine but like... still entitled and problematic as all hell. Give us the Lane and Paris love story we all deserve.)
My period playlist consists of... Bruno Major, Lianne La Havas, Ben L’Oncle Soul, vintage Alicia Keys, Sammy Rae, Lizzo, Josh Pyke, Barbra Streisand, the Out Of Africa score and the Tarzan soundtrack. Honestly, it’s as unpredictable as my periods and as much of a rollercoaster as my hormonal emotions....
The book every woman should read... I’m currently reading ‘Show me where it hurts’ by Kylie Maslen and I have never felt so seen! I highly recommend it to any person with endo/adeno/pcos or another chronic illness if you want to feel less alone and to literally everyone else who wants to understand what people with chronic illness go through.
For more from Mia, follow her @miamoremorrissey
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