Every month we ask several women in our community to share their experiences with all things periods.
This month we have the super talented and close friend of mine, Karina. She lives in Dublin and is a well known psychoanalyst and is currently writing her second book! Her first Artful Eating is out now and available to purchase.
Name: Karina Melvin
Occupation: Psychoanalyst, Author, lecturer
Tell us a little more about your journey to doing what you do now (courses, inspiration, previous fields of work etc):
My career has taken quite a circuitous route, with many of the things I do now, like writing, podcasting and my online course being quite unexpected, but organic projects which grew as a consequence of my original training. In another life, I was a primary school teacher in a young offenders detention centre, an all Irish language school and a school for children with learning disabilities. I also taught Drama and Musical theatre and worked in the charity sector. In my late twenties, I returned to University to study a BSc in Psychology, followed by a hDip and then an MSc in Psychoanalysis and an MA in Addiction Studies. I now lecture in University College Dublin in Psychoanalysis, I run a clinic, Sandymount Psychotherapy and an online Program Artful Eating, I have a Podcast of the same name and my first book, Artful Eating: The Psychology of lasting weight loss came out last year. My latest passion is working with Ilo on this new and very exciting project. The through thread in my career so far has been my appetite ( excuse the pun) for learning, teaching and working with people. I love what I do and the people I’m privileged to work with.
Can you fill us in on why you felt it was important to work with ilo and what their message means to you:
As soon and I heard about ilo I was immediately excited. This is such a necessary and important project for women by women. I’m still surprised at how little we know about periods and period poverty and ilo is providing the tools both practical and physical to help women of all ages and stages in their life to embrace their body and understand periods. I absolutely love this message, values and philosophy of Ilo- its time for change!
How do you feel about your period (has this changed over the years, did your first experiences affect your thoughts towards it etc?
For years I took the contraceptive pill which massively masked the symptoms and effects of my period, since coming off the pill my flow has changed, my body has changed ( although this also coincided with becoming a mother) and I now experience the cramps and discomfort during my period. I embrace having my period as it means that all is well with my body and it’s following the natural course of things.
What’s your first memory of your period and how do you feel it’s affected your relationship with your period over the years (perhaps indicate length of time you’ve had it, emotions you felt, did you parents give you the low down etc):
I went to boarding school and got my period there for the first time so it was a cause for great celebration amongst the girls- it felt like a right of passage and everyone was so supportive and happy for me- it really was lovely. I think that first very positive experience set the tone for my relationship to my period. I don’t notice any major mood shifts or cravings, it’s just a very natural and positive part of my femininity. Also my mother was a nurse so she never shyed away from explaining about sex or periods. She was so clear on how the body works and how miraculous and wonderful it is, I never felt in the dark about things like my period.
Have your periods changed over the years or maybe you haven’t noticed?
They changed when I came off the pill, they last a bit longer and I sometimes experience craps where I never did before. But I don’t take anything for them, they just pass in time and I feel fine!
Do you think it’s important we start to talk openly about our periods and why, if not, why not?:
Yes! I think it really is one of the last taboos. I think we should talk about them with our partners as there are a lot of misconceptions and I know you all know there is nothing more annoying than a man saying to you “ Are you due your period?” !! It shouldn’t be taboo, its a beautiful and necessary part of the miracle of life so let’s celebrate it!
What sort of period products do you use (tampons, cups, free bleeding etc)
I use the ilo tampons and I have to say they’re the best I’ve ever used. I love that they don’t have an applicator- such an environmental waste, I love that there are different sizes to match your flow and I also love the packaging ( sorry if that's a little superficial, but it makes me smile and I’m happy to carry them around with me). I’ve always used tampons- that's what one of the girls gave me back in school and they seemed so easy and straight forward, so I never bothered to tried anything else.
What are you favourite female empowerment accounts on social?
Ilo.women of course!
I love Elizabeth_Gilbert_writer - she is so wonderfully empowering for all, but as a woman, she really speaks to me.
I also adore tavitulle She is funny, smart and has a unique voice and point of view. Shes very sarcastic but so sharp and witty, if you don’t already follow here please do check her out!
Finally lightning round:
When you have your period you feel relieved!
You crave chocolate Food when you have your period.
Favourite song to listen to when your bleeding, hmm depends on my mood, but probably anything by Miles Davis.
Whats your favourite season of your period and why Spring, because its all about renewal and I’m really reminded of that when I have my period in Spring*Jette to insert link to blog post about seasons of your cycle*
What’s one thing you can’t live without when you’re bleeding and ilo tampon! Seriously.
How long does your cycle last about 5 days, but 2 of those would be really light.
What are the three things (yoga, breathing etc) that connect you with your cycle. Meditation and sleep. Sorry I only have two!
Social media links and website accounts please too lovely:
Karina Melvin on instagram