is time to mourn all of the experiences i can’t have.
barring that, i need to strip off the insecurity and closemindedness and have some goddamn fun, at least just for one night.
i just left a very fun party because… well… i am not sure why. i needed to get out of the whole college culture mindfuck for a minute. the whole atmosphere is all about coyness and flirtation and that is really inappropriate for me to be participating in. even if i weren’t in a relationship, i am so not equipped to deal with talking to people who are even remotely interested in sleeping with me, possibly, maybe. the fun of it is sucked out by the feeling that i’m doing something wrong and constantly misleading people into thinking that i’m just another potential prospect. i’m not trying to do that. i can’t do that. but that seems to kind of be the point for most of the people i talk to. as an interesting aside, the band i just saw was called The Everyone’s Gonna Get Laid Tonight.
i couldn’t handle the feeling that i was not part of the same game as everyone else, so i left. i came home to one of my roommates having loud sex.
i am, so far, unable to come to terms with my crushing jealousy of everyone around me.
I’ve had Implanon for just over a week now, and I am so in love with it already.
I had my insertion done at the Cornell student health clinic, and it went really well. My gynecologist there (who I actually really like, for a gynecologist) talked me out of Mirena and into Implanon. I hadn’t really considered it because of the Norplant recall in the 90’s, but she explained how Implanon is different, and what the benefits and drawbacks are. I set up my insertion appointment, which was supposed to be around the second day of my period. The procedure was a small office visit, and the whole thing took about 15-20 minutes (not including the insurance fiasco–since no one’s heard of Implanon they threatened to not cover it, and at $853, I’m really glad I managed to get that sorted out).
Implanon is inserted into your upper arm of your non-dominant hand, where your arm rests against your side. If you make a fist, you can feel where the bicep and tricep meet–it’s just around there. First, she marked off the spot where she would insert it, and another point that would be about the end of the device, so I could see where it would be on my arm and how long it is. Then I got a whole bunch of lidocaine shots to numb the area. Anyway, there was also a nurse there that was holding my hand and asking me about spring break, so I didn’t really see the procedure. That’s probably all for the best, but I really was thinking “Oh no, how will I tell all the details to the internet if I’m not watching carefully?!”
Once my arm was entirely numb, she inserted the rod and then had me feel it with my right hand to make sure it was there and that I knew what it felt like. Then I was all bandaged up–really, it seemed like overkill–with steri-strips, gauze pads, and some of that huge medical wrap stuff, and it was all secured with that masking-tape-like material. I hardly go out to parties, but it figures that the one night I wanted to, I’d have to keep this massive bandage on for 24 hours. After I removed it in the morning though, I just replaced it with a little bacitracin and a regular band-aid. I was supposed to ice it three times within 24 hours, but I had the insertion done in the morning and then had class all day. It really didn’t swell too badly at all, and there was only minimal discomfort at any point. It also didn’t bruise at all. That’s… incredibly unusual, as I’ve bruised like crazy from all my piercings, and my doctor said to expect some nasty bruises. There are a few little red spots, I assume from all the lidocaine injections, but they’re fading quickly. There was a little stinging at the insertion site later that night, but nothing worse than any other cut. I should also point out that I’m unable to take OTC painkillers due to stomach pain, and I still made it through the whole thing without any serious pain. Or any pain at all, now that I think about it.
It’s absolutely fabulous to not have to think about birth control. Every night at 9:30 (the time I used to forget my pill) I get real smug and feel like I’ve outsmarted someone. I mean, I obviously don’t have much of a pregancy risk, but I definitely use it as period control (Sarah Haskins is all over this thread). I haven’t noticed any side effects yet. I might try to blame my awful skin on Implanon so I have an excuse better than genetics, but really, I just have super terrible skin. My arm is still a little bit tender, but I can feel the rod under my skin and that’s pretty cool. Other people can feel it if they’re really careful–I think I’ve only yelped at one person so far. But I have to reiterate the best part: I don’t have to think about this for THREE YEARS! That’s such a relief! No more worrying about when the pharmacy is open or if I can cover my co-pay or if I left my pill pack in the pocket of the coat that I’m not wearing or maybe another purse or… Yeah. What a relief. Plus, my doctor said that the average Implanon user that she sees will have a period about every 6-8 weeks. That’s awfully thrilling–more time to frolic and play and enjoy life between cramps (which might be a little bit better, too).
Dear Vulvar Vestibulitis,
You are being incredibly distracting. I have so much work to do, I can’t focus on being in pain right now. I don’t know why my pain is getting more frequent and more intense, but I seriously do not have time to think about this right now. Sitting in studio and wondering why, exactly my crotch is so stabby and on fire is not an acceptable use of time. I encourage you to go away immediately.
Thank you for your consideration,
Attention privileged, puritanical, assholes: just because I am a godless heathen does not mean that I fuck everything that moves or am guilty of “sexual sins.” Kindly piss off.
Once again, something about my outward appearance/attitude/loud feminism/lack of religion/something has convinced someone that I’m a total whorebag.
AS A MATTER OF FACT, that almost couldn’t be farther from the truth. And I can’t say a damn thing about it, because pelvic pain is pretty silencing, and no one wants to hear about it. So as usual, I channel my rage to the anonymous internet.
First off, how, exactly, is someone with vulvodynia and vaginismus going to find all these partners with whom to be promiscuous? While I’ve never had a one-night stand or anything resembling one, I think it might go something like this:
[at a party or some other social gathering]
Dude/Chick: Yo, let’s talk about something like school or music or travel.
Me: Okay, blah blah blah.
Dude/Chick: Want another beer?
Me: Oh, actually I don’t drink. [I just hold this cup so my hands have something to do and I’m not the only person here without one.]
Dude/Chick: Yeah, why’s that? -or- Bye.
Me: Um, family history, would you like more detail?
Dude/Chick: That’s cool. -or- o_O Bye.
[Somehow miraculously progresses through my social anxiety/general awkwardness to some kind of hookup situation]
Me: So there are a few things you’re going to need to know before we begin… [vulvodynia, vaginismus, vulvar vestibulitis, no quick movements please, you may scare it]
Dude/Chick: O_O BYE.
So as you may understand, I’m a bit confused as to how I am committing these egregious sexual sins that someone else’s god is so upset about. Is it the part where I CAN’T HAVE SEX?
I think what the real problem here is as follows: some asshole is uncomfortable with sexuality and is mad that I haven’t joined him in the ranks of obedient followers, ignoring sexual impulse and condemning others while probably still making time to furitively masturbate in the shower, crying and repenting afterward. You can go on and on about how “everyone’s guilty,” but no one’s gonna convince me that a life of shame is the right path. Even if I can’t have sex (by hymen fetishist standards, at least), I’m still going to have a damn good time and not feel ashamed about it. Just, umm… probably not with someone I’ve just met. And you know what? Even if I did fuck anything that moves, your ridiculous concept of “sin” is useless to me and has no place in my life. So, hey. Fuck off, buddy.
I returned earlier this week from a school trip to India. It was an amazing trip and I learned a lot, but this space is to tell you all about the adventures of my dysfunctional bits, so, onward!
My group spent the first night at a “guest house” in Auroville, India, near Pondicherry. The guest house was beautiful, but the name is a bit misleading. It was more like… rustic cabins in the woods, and with shared bathrooms. When we arrived (around 2:00 a.m. after an extremely long period of traveling) we were told that there was one bathroom for the 12 of us, plus the other guests. I went to check it out, as my picky vag is difficult to bring along on camping trips, and to my dismay the guest house bathroom featured a Turkish toilet. While I’m pretty capable of roughing it in a lot of ways, the whole peeing thing is always a major issue and the squatty potty wasn’t gonna cut it. A lot of my pain is caused by overly tense pelvic floor muscles, and squatting, combined with the fear of peeing all over the ONE pair of pants that I brought on the two week trip was officially Not Okay. Luckily (?) my roommate threw a shitfit, as she is not at all capable of roughing it, so we were moved the next night and the rest of the class came to join us later. I had to use the Turkish toilets twice during the trip, and each time I had a few muscle spasms for the rest of the day. That’s not easy to deal with during a class trip. I don’t usually tell anyone about the spasms anyways, because there’s nothing to be done about them and nobody wants to hear it anyway. It makes walking quite difficult though, as the pain shoots down my legs and sometimes stays in my lower back for awhile. Unfortunately, it was revealed after we moved that there were bathrooms all over the place and some had Western style toilets that I could have used. My roommate would have none of it, anyway, but I really would have liked to stay at the guest house for the whole trip.
The wacky period-month continued for the first part of the trip, but stopped after a few days. I thought that after literally WEEKS of bleeding that I would be done, but that wasn’t the case. While visiting the temple at Chidambaram (where Shiva danced the world into creation), I started back up again. Of course I didn’t have my cup on me during our day trip after I had stopped bleeding, so I managed to fashion something out of Kleenex for the day. Once again, I don’t use commercial pads or tampons because the bleach and chemicals damage my stupid-delicate-flower skin, so of course I was an itchy mess for a little while following the Kleenex incident. Plus… I only brought one pair of pants in a concerted effort to pack lightly. Because there’s clearly something wrong with my menstrual “cycle” (I use the term loosely as there seems to be no cyclical pattern whatsoever lately), I also managed to overflow my cup a few times a day. If you’ve never used a menstrual cup, I’ll tell you right now that it’s pretty ridiculous to be able to do that. If it didn’t suck so bad and mean that something’s probably wrong with me, I’d be kinda impressed with myself. To add to the discomfort, I tried to empty my cup in this tiny bathroom at this weird-ass truckstop restaurant that we were taken to during the trip. Because I’m the clumsiest person I know, I managed to get blood all over myself, my underwear, and the floor. But only a little tiny bit on my one pair of pants! I didn’t notice it until a few days later though. This post makes me sound gross.
Because my period was so irregular and stop-starting, every few days was like the horrendous second-day-period. The worst possible cramps, backache, kicked-in-the-crotch-achiness, and the whole deal. I brought the bottle of painkillers that I was prescribed at my last specialist visit just in case. I took a couple of them the weekend that I got them, while I was visiting NYC. My stomach was killing me that weekend, but I figured it was stress or something I ate. Obviously it couldn’t be the pills, because I specifically said that I needed something that wouldn’t hurt my stomach–not like aspirin or ibuprofen, which absolutely kill me. So I wanted to take some in India, and my roomie asked what they had given me, as she also can’t take ibuprofen. I said I didn’t know, I didn’t really think to check because I just needed to take *something* safe, so I had just been popping them without looking. So I look at the label, and it’s just something really generic, just white tablets with IBU 600 printed on them. Hmm… IBU, IBU… what could that be? And then it clicked. THEY FUCKING GAVE ME 600mg OF IBUPROFEN. It took me awhile to figure out, because, hey, that would literally be the stupidest possible thing to give to someone who asked for a painkiller other than ibuprofen.
In conclusion, I need a new specialist. I decided a long time ago that I’m not going to fuck with any doctors who can’t manage basic listening skills.
So now I have no painkillers, but hopefully soon I’ll have no periods (or at least better periods). This morning, I got Implanon placed into my left arm! I’ll make another entry all about Implanon as soon as I have time. Have a lovely weekend, dear readers.
I finally saw the Vagina Monologues performed live on the Cornell campus. I think it made me sad. Or maybe that’s ’cause I lost my job yesterday. Who the fuck knows? Whatever, time to shout into the vast tubes of the internet.
For this entry only I am going to ignore the issues of sexual violence that are discussed in the Monologues and that are a big part of V-Day. I absolutely recognize and appreciate what V-Day does to raise awareness about violence against women, but this entry is solely comprised of my personal reactions to the experience of seeing the Monologues performed by my peers. Ahem.
Seeing women up on stage talking about vaginas is a pretty powerful thing. There aren’t many spaces where that is acceptable, really. It’s fun and happy and gleeful to hear women speaking positively about vaginas. Unless you hate your vagina, in which case it’s kind of upsetting and confusing. Okay, so it’s not that I hate my vagina. At least, not all the time. It does some cool stuff. It bleeds, and I can use that to feed my houseplants. If I try really hard it can make sounds, and that’s amusing sometimes. And I’ve always thought I’ve had a pretty good-looking vulva, if I do say so myself. But hearing women who could just as easily be me–hey, a white/tallish/female Cornell student isn’t hard to find–talk about how great sex is and how they’ve come to love their vaginas… well, it kind of pisses me off.
Why can’t I be them? What’s wrong with me? Why did I get the shit end of the vagina stick? Why can’t mine just work properly and have great sex and be loved? Forget my classmates, why can’t I be a tree or a bird or the sky or an ornamental shrub, perhaps a Hydrangea? Sure, it’s melodramatic, but then I wouldn’t have to consider these issues at all.
But that’s not the case. I am me, and my body is dysfunctional. How am I supposed to love my vagina if it hurts? Many of the positive parts of the Monologues can’t resonate with me, because I’m not used to discussion of sex beyond heteronormative/penetrative. I know that “sex” is much more than what our narrow cultural narrative allows, but penis-in-vagina is so deeply ingrained into my schema for “sex” that I can’t separate the two. I can’t (yet) discard the idea that sexual intercourse is sex, and therefore I am dysfunctional for not being able to engage in it. Even though I’m luckier than some and can experience pleasure under the right conditions and if I concentrate real hard, I still associate my vagina with pain. I have primary vaginismus, meaning that I have experienced pain every. single. time. I’ve ever attempted sexual intercourse, from the first time ’til whenever the last time was. And that’s not fun or happy or gleeful at all.
Beyond all that, what I wouldn’t give right now to be comfortable in skinny jeans. (I wear them anyway ’cause I’m a hipster. If only I lived somewhere warm, I’d wear skirts every day.) Even if I get past all of my sexual hang-ups, I still won’t be able to ride a bike. I think what the
hugely limited discourse about pelvic pain is missing is that vulvodynia affects women in ways that don’t involve a penis at all. I can’t love my vagina until it’s pain free–whether in cute pants, lacy underwear, on a bicycle, sitting down, walking, or, yeah, filled up with someone fun.
Just because I’m in a pissy mood, I’d like to state for the record (and for any radfems that might stumble across my wee little blog) that “someone fun” could take a lot of different forms or gender expressions in the future. I’m dealing with pain and dysfunction for myself. If I take 60 botox shots to the cunt, it’s because I REALLY WANT TO WEAR PANTS AND SIT DOWN. Not because I’m under duress from the patriarchy, not because uh oh the boyfriend might l-l-l-leave me if I don’t. Okay? Got it?
You know, I think what started as sad and whiny just became pretty fierce. I’m ready to love my vagina. If that means physical therapy, fine. If that means shedding old ideals of what does and does not constitute “sex”, all the better. With any luck, by this time next year I’ll be up on that stage professing it with the best of them.
I had another follow up visit with Dr. Levey this morning, and I’m feeling a bit unsettled. I haven’t been doing enough as far as biofeedback/dilator therapy goes, and I totally got called out on it. I make a lot of excuses to myself about why I can’t get started properly: month-long yeast infection from hell, too many classes, too much work, not enough sleep, too much work, too much work, too much work. Well, fine. I’ve just gotta drop a class and sleep less. I think I’d be a little less determined if the pain wasn’t gaining on me. I’ve been having odd spasms lately, and I don’t really care for that. There’s also some irritation bullshit going on, and I would really like to walk around/wear underwear/sit with my legs crossed/whateverthefuckelseI’mnotabletodonormally.
Speaking of which, I had a glance at my file when the doctor left the room, and apparently at my last visit I was diagnosed with vulvar vestibulitis.
Okay, sweet. Thanks for letting me in on that little secret. Maybe I’m just pissed at having to pay out of pocket and needing an (incredibly expensive) ultrasound at my next visit. But… maybe I’m just pissed in general. HOW did I leave that office without hearing about this diagnosis? Oh well, I guess. That’s what happens when you enter into the system of western medicine–you know fuckall about your own health and you pay lots of money for your continued ignorance.
See, toldya I was pissed.
Anyway, my glance also afforded me the full name of the mystery ingredient in the topical cream. It’s Neurontin, aka Gabapentin. Because gabapentin is always prescribed off-label, I’m now completely reassured that there isn’t anything sketchy going on here. There’s one pharmacy in midtown that mixes this stuff up, and I’m sure that it could be replicated anywhere else, so long as the prescribing doctor was comfortable doing so without regulation.
Other things from the file that made me LOL:
“More than 50% of this visit was spent counseling the patient”
“Current problems – detail view” (this section had its own little scrolly bar, hah)
Alright, back to business. I mentioned the various period-related problems I’ve been having, and now there’s the possibility that all of these things are related. I’m not sure, how, exactly, that would work. Maybe he just meant that some people have shit luck? But now that means that I have to come in for an ultrasound next time, just to see what’s up in my uterus that might be making it rebel so horribly. Dr. Levey also suggested an MRI, but… no thanks. Last time I had to take out my face metal. They told me it would be fifteen minutes, so I removed the lip ring and handed it over. I woke up in the MRI about 45 minutes later, and the piercing had closed, I had to shove it back through, I was far away from my official titanium-ball-screwer-onner… it was just bad news all around. I am so not willing to do that again (and this time twice, and through cartilage, eww). I just keep diverging from the point.
Hopefully, the ultrasound will show that I’ve got a massive uterus that’s totally fit for the Mirena. Levey’s office has an anesthesiologist and they would be willing to put me under for the insertion. But it would cost $1400, aka more than a month’s rent in Manhattan. I’m such a fucking badass, I can handle it. I’ll just go to Planned Parenthood, pay the $150 and hope for the best without being knocked out. There are plenty of rich pill-poppers at Cornell, it wouldn’t be hard to find something to take the edge off, and I’m sure it’d cost a hell of a lot less than $1400.
Either way, I’ve got to do something about this, and fast. I’ve had cramps for a week, and for no good reason. I tried to start stacking packs of pills so I wouldn’t have to deal with this shit at all, and it severely backfired. Instead, the cramps got worse and the bleeding lasted longer. Oops. I’m still not able to take any OTC painkillers though, and this is absolutely unbearable. I mean, I have to function anyway, because nobody really cares about cramps. They’re just a lady-pain, made up in my weak little lady-brain, after all. God, I’m just crampy and mean and bitchy and rambly, I’ve gotta stop writing to the internet now. Speaking of rambly, I’m getting a tattoo tomorrow, I’m back in the city, I’m not doing any work for a day or two, I’m going to eat some Indian food, omg yay! Alright, we’ve all had enough. I swear I’ll start writing decent posts again soon, sorry.
I’m sitting in studio trying to get work done. I don’t know why but I am in a dead panic thinking about this doctor’s appointment next week. Seriously, it is over seven days from now, and I feel like I am about to have a full on panic attack already. I think it’s because I just wrote it down so I won’t forget to go. So now I am thinking about it, oh god. Oh god. No one is here but a bunch of grad students I don’t know and my phone is dead so I have to tell the internet.
Internet, I am freaking the fuck out. Already.
What’s worse is that I finally made a consultation appointment for the Mirena IUD. That’s not until early March, but I’m nervous about that, too. I can’t stay on top of the pill well enough for it to be effective, I’ve only heard complaints about the patch, the ring is way too expensive and there’s no generic, and I’m too scared of the new Norplant because one of my cousins had the worst experience EVAR with old Norplant. I need something hormonal because without some kind of regulation I’ll spend at least a quarter of every month curled up around a heating pad, unable to move or function. How ridiculous is that? I can’t have sex but I desperately need birth control. My, what an inconvenient body I have.
I’ve tried hippie methods of all kinds, believe me. None of them worked out, although the lavender oil massage was pretty fabulous. Now that my stomach is permanently ruined from years of triple-shot espressos, a lifetime of way too much stress, and tons of painkillers, I can’t even take Advil for a headache anymore–let alone the extra-strength crap I’d take to get through the cramps of doom. Even with like four of those shiny blue and yellow Tylenol I still couldn’t deal back before I was on the pill.
Anyway, it seems that Mirena is pretty much my last resort on the period-control front. I’m spotting all the time from not taking the pill regularly enough, and Mirena would basically end my periods-from-helllll for five whole years. That sounds so fabulous. It’s just that… the q-tip test is hard enough, I can’t even imagine how the IUD insertion is going to go. When I absolutely *must* have pelvic exams, I have to request the pediatric speculum. I wonder if they’ll be able to use that for the insertion. It’d be nice if they could just put me under and I could wake up with a shiny new Mirena in my uterus.
Maybe they could put me under next week, too? It’s just a follow-up appointment, it’ll be fine. I can calm down a bit, at least. OH LOL, let me tell you something hilarious, my friends. When I scheduled this follow-up, the receptionist gave me a card that said “FU Pelvic Pain.” FU Pelvic Pain, indeed.
So here she is, whining to the internet.
Just so you know, this post originally started with “A quick profanity-laced rant, since I wouldn’t want y’all getting too optimistic and hopeful from the last post.”
It turned into 800+ words. Oops. Anyway, here goes.
Being back at college fucking sucks, as far as psychologically dealing with pelvic pain goes. I swear, if I have to hear about one. more. drunken hookup, I am going to lose my fucking shit. I overhear the same damn conversation a few times a day. Walking to class. In line to get lunch. In an elevator. Really, in a fucking elevator.
I always tried to avoid feeling envious of “normal” people with “normal” sex lives who can “normally” fuck whoever they’d like. But you know what? I absolutely cannot handle it here. I have never been more crushingly jealous in my entire life. Well, except maybe when my fuckup of a sister got lots of attention and undeserved presents. That sucked too. But really, to have “omg guess who I did this weekend” as constant background noise really just serves as a convenient reminder of how Not Normal I am. I know that nobody gives a shit and their conversations have nothing to do with me. I know they aren’t being intentionally hurtful. I know that they are free to treat their sexuality however they’d like. But it’s just such a visceral reaction for me to want to just scream at them that they’re taking it for granted! Not everyone can do what they can do! Every time, I get that awful help-my-chest-is-caving-in feeling. I hate it. Even just thinking about it. It’s a Friday night. And pretty much everyone else here can do what they wish with their bodies, and I am incapable and broken. Fuck. This quick rant got longer and more depressing than I had intended. Since you’ve read this far already, I’ll keep going.
The larger problem here, of course, is not the absence of sex, but the absence of a sex drive. Maybe that’s what I’m really jealous of–sexuality in general. I dunno exactly what my problem is, but it’s fucked up and I’d like to fix it. Perhaps I’ve always been like this? I don’t think so. I’ve certainly felt more sexual in the past than I have for the last couple months. As much as I hate pop culture’s depiction of vulvodynia, I have always felt that Sex and the City’s misguided and inappropriately lighthearted romp through pelvic pain was unintentionally apt. In the show, Charlotte is diagnosed with vulvodynia, and the gals call it a “depressed vagina.” Maybe it was a “sad vagina,” I don’t quite remember. Of course she was cured within a week after popping some tricyclics. But the “depressed vagina” part is kinda accurate, I’ll admit it. It’s depressing to feel abnormal. It’s depressing to feel like the person you’re in bed with would be having a billion times more fun with someone else. It’s just… sad.
All the reassurance in the world isn’t going to cure a lifetime of being inundated with the message that a woman’s worth is tied to her sexuality. Although I logically know that current reassurance is legit, past experiences with “oh, it’s okay I totes love you despite how messed up you are. just kidding! i’m fucking our friends!” is still way fresh in my mind, even a couple years later. Even typing out my belief in the legitimacy of said reassurance is kind of scary, because there’s *always* the miniscule chance that someday it might come back and bite me in the ass. At least in the last relationship I kept my naivete and trust off the internet. It would have been a lot more painful if I had a visible reminder of just how much I believed it. Anyway, that’s diverging from the point, which is this: I think my sad vagina finally got the best of me and killed my sex drive. I’m pretty pissed about that, by the way. Unfortunately, I can’t will it back into existence, so I’m not sure what to do. The concept of sex seems nice, but my body is just sort of “meh” about the whole thing. Or maybe it really is all in my head this time and it’s my body that’s fine with it? I can’t even figure out what the problem is, so I don’t know how to begin fixing it.
Anyway, I have to go to a party soon. Can’t wait for the early afternoon flurry of texts asking me to “guess who I hooked up with, tee hee hee!!”
God I am such a cynical bitch. I hope you’re all okay with that. Just in case the people from the internet were wondering, I’m just as sardonic and mean in real life.
I just got word today that the first crowdsourced vulvodynia book is set to be released on February 24th, and my blog is to be featured in it. The book is called Vulvodynia Heroes: 190 Women Share Their Experiences and Treatments, and is available here from CureTogether, either as a paperback or .pdf download. The absence of real women’s voices from healthcare has been one of the largest detriments to receiving proper funding for research of conditions that affect women. This book is only possible because of the wonderful support networks that we have built online and in our communities–something that’s awfully hard to do with a topic that’s so often shouted down, when it’s even talked about at all. The patriarchal doctor-knows-best attitudes that surround pelvic pain (and, frankly, almost all other women’s health concerns) have gone on for far too long. It’s high time we make our experiences heard. Perhaps this book will be a step towards validating real women’s experiences and furthering our sources of support.