We've been wanting to interview the award-winning creativity coach, consultant, and best-selling author, Jerico Mandybur for quite some time now. She's just badass. For Jerico, when it comes to her period, she likes to keep it simple. Tracking her cycle with the moon, she encourages everyone to monitor their cycle closely and get to know its various stages.
Name: Jerico Mandybur
Occupation: Author, coach and consultant
Location: Gadigal Country, Sydney
Before I got my period, I had been praying for it to come for years. Mostly because I really loved reading “Are You There God, It’s me Margaret” by Judy Bloom in Year 4 which is all about periods. I think I even told a couple of kids that I got my period at that time. Lies! But it didn’t actually arrive until almost the end of Year 7, at which point most of the kids around me had already gotten there’s. So it’s arrival was a bit “meh”. I already knew all about pads and tampons, so when I went to the bathroom before school began and saw there was blood, I just grabbed a pad and go on with it. I didn’t even tell my mum. Technically, I still haven’t!
I haven’t been diagnosed with PMDD but when I read about it, I strongly relate. The few days before my period arrives, my skin breaks out and I become highly emotional, to the point of intense distress. I sob uncontrollably at the drop of hat and feel like my whole life is crumbling down around me. It’s horrible! But I’ve learned to accept it. Once I bleed, all that intensity vanishes and I feel much more stable. But it’s still a little punishing. I get chronic migraines around my first day, so I tend to need a day or two to just collapse in bed and treat the migraine, as well as cramps. I also ravenously crave chocolate and pizza.
Being autistic and ADHD, in my experience, just makes my periods that much more challenging as all my senses are heightened and I’m easily overwhelmed. So around the beginning of my bleed is when I’m the most likely to experience what’s called a shutdown or a meltdown.
If it’s during the colder months, I love cradling a hot water bottle and wearing trackpants, while I work from bed or from the couch, with a blanket. I’ve traditionally worn organic cotton tampons during my period, but as it’s gotten heavier I’ve become cup-curious, which is why I love Scarlet so much!
My self-care routine doesn’t change too much while I’m on my period. I tend to just try and keep it consistent with the rest of my cycle—apart from cutting myself more slack and “vegging out” a lot more. So I lean on my usual practices of meditation, tarot, and journaling big time! I tend to want to journal more during my period, because I get more emo and contemplative. My period always, always lines up with the New Moon, which is a time for “going in” and reflecting on feelings and desires for the cycle to come. So this is really convenient for me! I write lists, set intentions, and try to hold space for whatever it is that I’m feeling.
I can be a little lax with movement practices in my general life, hence why I try to ensure I do some form of yoga or walking or even just dancing around my house. Anything that feels cathartic and keeps my blood pumping, without the pressure of the “exercise” label. I tend to dread movement, but I always feel better for it during my period. It tends to lessen my cramps and it’s an amazing distraction from those first 24 hours of emotional rollercoastering!
When I’m a few days out from my period, I notice my skin gets a little sensitive. I have dermatitis on my face, which makes my skin red and a little burn-y. So I used a prescription cream to treat that while maintaining my regular routine. Which is cleanse, tone, serum, moisturize. In an ideal world, I would use a hydrating mask 2-3 times per week and a brightening mask once per week, but I usually CBF with that when I’m in my period feels, so that’s usually the first thing to go! I’m not fussy on products, but I prefer to reach for natural stuff. I also take a shit tonne of vitamins and naturopath-prescribed products that contain things to elevate my mood and stabilize my digestion (which my period messes up for some reason). Things like St John’s Wort, chamomile, ashwaganda, chlorella, magnesium, and B2.
Right now, I love using a basic Sukin cleanser, straight witchhazel toner, Image Skincare serum, One Love Organics moisturizer, and Naturopathica and Alchemie masks. For my hair, I use Bread Beauty Supply shampoo and conditioner or else Shea Moisture. And I’m obsessed with those soft-bristled scalp massagers—very relaxing.
Being in a queer relationship, in my personal experience, is really helpful there. Because unfortunately the majority of straight males are still weird about period sex. But it doesn’t tend to stop me. It’s more likely that I might not be in the mood, due to being sensitive and tired. My partner is always gentle with me when they can tell my period is imminent. They’ve learned to notice the tell tale signs of an encroaching period-related cry-fest and will just hold space for me to move through it. Blessed.
I’m lucky enough to work from home, so my period doesn’t effect my work life too much. The only difference is that I might have a hot water bottle on my lap, under my desk lol. I also have the benefit of a regular cycle, so sometimes I’ll block out my availability to give myself that first day or two to rest. This has been the greatest gift I could give myself, as a self-employed person! It was pretty difficult working in an office and having a heavy and intense period like mine. It only last for three days on average, but the flow was such that I would change my tampon up to five times in one shift. Now, I can free bleed all over the place, if I feel like it
My best advice is to monitor your cycle closely. It’s so simple, but so many people don’t! Get to know it’s various stages and what your body requires from you in each one. Then (importantly) actually act on your body and your mind’s needs. If you feel tired, sleep. If you’re hungry, eat! The way we’re raised encourages us to just repress it and “get on with it” as if it doesn’t even exist. But eff that! Talk about it with the guys in your office. Gross out anyone who’ll listen to you! Normalise the heck out of it. Not just for yourself, but for everyone else who has a period—now and to come.
It means that periods are discussed just like the weather. It means that everyone in your life who DOESN’T get a period still understands all facets of them 100 percent. It looks like free period products in every bathroom (for both genders) and public space. It looks like better sex education in schools and a complete reform on the gendered treatment of young people. Have you heard the anecdote about NASA scientists who asked a female astronaut if 100 tampons were enough for a week-long mission to space? That is what we’re up against! Our world’s greatest minds know next to nothing about periods. A positive future would mean that kind of comment never happens again.
I think the biggest fail of reusables is our own internalised shame about blood. While some people embrace them wholeheartedly, I’ve spoken to many people who still feel weird about it. As if it’s too messy or inconvenient. There’s a general unease around seeing or touching blood, even in progressive circles, that I would love to see disappear forever.
It’s just blood! Not toxic waste. Not poo. Just blood. So get a grip!