Disclaimer: This post was written within the throws of Christmas. The chocolate was a flowing, the wine was a pouring and the heightened anticipation for the year ahead was a rising. Nether the less, it’s 97.9% all still relevant…
2018 – Broken Genitalia & Shattered Dreams. I know, not the most positive title ever. Very dramatic. But as I lay in bed last night, after stuffing myself stupid with chocolate orange and mystery ‘chocolate balls’ from the village bakery, I thought that ‘broken genitals’ and ‘shattered dreams’ summed up my year quite nicely. It truly was the first thing that came into my head. But most importantly it can only mean onward and upwards for 2019, right? (Please tell me that’s right.)
I thought I would do a look back on 2018 as it was quite the bumpy ride. I’m kind of glad it is over. At the end of each year the negatives of 12 months stick fastest in my mind (hence the over egged title) and the small achievements just float away, never to be remembered again. But I’m hoping that writing some of them down will help me to hold on to them as 2019 begins. After all, that is what turned many negatives into true positives in 2018, writing them all down and starting a whole blog dedicated to them! Plus my Mum always says, “if in doubt, write it down.” So although I actually feel like screaming 2018 YOU LITTLE *$%”/!’#… I’ll refrain and instead open my palms heavenward and say to myself in a gentle, meditative tone, “but what have you learned, Sophie?”
RECAP! This time last year I was experiencing bleeding after sex. Every time. Bleeding after sex and pain during could be a sign of cervical cancer, especially if it happens frequently. I was given a number of internal examinations and my GP found an ectropion on the entrance to my cervix which was causing the bleeding. 6 months later, I was still bleeding and it was giving me 0 confidence and a bad sex life. I requested a smear test, but was denied one because of my age so my doctor referred me for a colposcopy. This is when the consultant found a collection of CIN 2, mild abnormal cells in my cervix that were later removed by loop excision treatment. The cells were believed to have changed due to the HPV virus which I had been vaccinated against when I was 17. I was then bleeding for a total of 6 weeks post treatment and felt like poop. It took me a long time to recover mentally. Sex became scary. I lost a lot of confidence and I spent the rest of the year comfort eating.
CUT TO NOW. I haven’t bled after sex IN AGES. Go vagina! And lube has been a life saver. I’m going for my first actual smear test this month and that will tell me whether I have anymore abnormal cells/if I still have the HPV virus in my system. Let’s hope not. I still worry. I still check my pants for unexpected blood and examine the tissue carefully after going for a wee. But my vagina and I are friends I think, we’ve come to an understanding. As long as I know how to help her, she is happy. I’ve also understood the hype behind smear tests. They are life savers. If you haven’t already, book your smear test this month and let’s all go together. One big smear party!
My epiphany of 2018 is that our mental and physical health is much more intertwined than we think. Whilst my body was experiencing the ups and downs of a semi-functioning cervix, my mind was having a mini meltdown. Even after everything was fixed and the problem solved, my head was all over the shop. I felt sad, scared, overwhelmed – all the emotions I didn’t want to feel after being put back together! It’s taken me a while to get through that. I’m now not frantically checking to see if there’s blood on the bed sheets using my phone torch and I’m certainly not crying quietly on the toilet at midnight worrying my tits off.
However, after spending so much time concentrating on the needs of my lady bits and the effect it was having on my peace of mind, I’m now faced with the real question of: what the hell am I actually doing? What will 2019 bring? As some of you may or may not know I’m an actor, currently not in work and at one point I was working 3 different other jobs, none of them to do with the arts or theatre making. In fact, I had only 6 days paid acting work in 2018. The rest of the time I was having existential crises about whether I am good enough to do it. That is still a battle I have with myself daily but I am ready for a fresh start. I’ve got to keep going! Just all the vag related stuff didn’t help. At all.
Now, the best bit. I urge you all to do the same before the New Year properly kicks in. The first week doesn’t really count after all, does it? As well as writing down all of your hopes and dreams for the year ahead, write down all those achievements you made possible last year.
- I started a blog dedicated to vaginas with the aim to make talking about fannies normal. I shared my own story in the hope that other women would go to the doctors for answers if they thought something was wrong. I wanted and will continue to try and open up all conversations related to women’s health in 2019.
- I quit one of my ‘muggle’ jobs and found a different one that makes me happier and gives me my weekends back.
- I fell in love and made the move out of London. Now I live in a teeny cottage with the sweetest man on the planet and we have a terrarium.
- I spent 6 months of the year concentrating on my vagina, followed my gut instincts on getting the right diagnosis and recovered from an invasive procedure that had left me feeling pretty yucky.
- My blog posts encouraged friends to book the smear tests and appointments they had been putting off.
- I became a surrogate auntie to baby Z and the proudest, most emotional best friend EVER.
Don’t give up. Get some acting work. Keep my cervix and vagina healthy. Watch Handmaid’s Tale Season 2 somewhere!!! Pass my driving test. Keep Gash Gossip going, make it bigger and better than before. Write more. Worry less. Go on bike rides with BAE. Eat more spinach.
Thank you 2018, for teaching me how to be open, cry until I laugh, the art of wearing sanitary pads, conquer my fears, attend hospital appointments without having panic attacks and take control. Even when I wanted to give up, you kept kicking me up the proverbial bum to stick with it. I would have said a kick up the proverbial vagina to be topical, but that would just hurt. A lot.
So many of my favourite women in this world have had their fair share of challenges this past year, whether it be in the nether regions or not. The power of us all sticking together like those two emoji’s that wear kitten heels and devil horns is paramount. Never under-estimate the power of hugs and WhatsApp messages to each other.
Thank you for all of your kind words throughout 2018, it has meant the world and more. If I could buy you all ‘chocolate balls’ from the bakery I would, but BAE and I would end up eating them all before I gave them to you.
Stick around for exciting things to come this year, including more writing, more vaginas, stuff you can get involved with and maybe even a couple of different exciting mediums to spread the Gossip. And as always, if you have anything you want to talk about here on Gash Gossip you know where to find me.
I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas & here’s to A Happy Healthy Vagina.