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kill pill: part six – no woman’s land

Photograph of Madeleine Ryan in New Zealand by WE LE MIR

Photograph of Madeleine Ryan in New Zealand by WE LE MIR

Hey, Where the Bloody Hell Are You? Can you see me? I’m waving across a deserted beach but there’s no one here and it looks like there’s no one coming? The sun is shining – surely you’re on your way? I’m trying to smile! I thought you saved me a spot, but you’re not here, Lara? Aboriginal people are nowhere to be seen, either. Nor is Bill with my beer. Did you all lie? I got here by myself and without a map, too! C u soon?!

I’m in hormonal, chemical, No Woman’s Land. I lack a hormonal cycle that is dictated by my body and I lack one that is being dictated by the pill. Every book I’ve acquired and every article I’ve read has been illuminating, but absolutely inapplicable to where I find myself right now. Week Six. Perhaps this is such a highly individualised place to be that each and every woman would write a different book or volume of books on it. Maybe I just haven’t found the right book. Maybe I need to write the book: The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Knowing Absolutely Nothing.

How long does it take to resume a natural hormonal cycle after being on the pill for ten years? Everyone has a different theory or experience – six months, two years, four weeks? What is a natural cycle anyway? Some women bleed regularly, others don’t. Some women get cramps, others don’t. Migraines, fainting and pimples, oh my. What about my natural cycle? It isn’t fair? I’ve had enough now I want my share? Can’t you see, I want to bleed, but…

Around the time of the new moon when I was sure I would menstruate for the first time since stopping the pill (not the withdrawal bleed which I experienced in week one, but an actual period) and I didn’t. When I could feel the submarine deepening, lowering and twisting all around the ocean floor, I was certain blood would come. But it didn’t. It turned out to be an oceanic road to nowhere. I’ve ended up “off the grid”. Am I in pre-ovulation or ovulation now? Did I just skip the bloody bit? Is it possible to get to the pre-ovulation bit if you haven’t experienced the bloody bit?

Do I need iron? Oestrogen? Magnesium? Vitamin B12?

Amidst all of this, a spiralling vortex has opened up in my relations with other women. It’s led me to somewhere I’ve never been before and which I’m very happy to be exploring, because I don’t feel alone in this place at all. It’s Everywoman’s Land. It’s a place where women discuss what comes with having a woman’s body. It’s a place where individual experiences are shared and through everyone’s story being so unique, everyone’s story is also the same, because it’s unique. I’ve been discussing biology with passing acquaintances, online activists, authors, customers, healers and friends. It’s felt completely natural. This is new for me. I didn’t avoid discussions about biology before, but I didn’t have anything to say on the subject, either. Or I didn’t know I had anything to say. The pill somehow hijacked my capacity for these discussions as well as the state of my body and mind.

Several of the books I’ve read look at the ways in which the pill has alienated women from each other. In Diane Stein’s Casting the Circle: A Woman’s Book of Ritual, she discusses the ways in which women used to be in sync with one another and with the moon and how this brought women together. The rhythm of ancient, matriarchal communities was dictated by their cycles. The women would disappear into Red Tents while menstruating and emerge at the time of the full moon ready to work, socialise and make love.

Right now I’m not sure whether I’m in due to be in the tent weaving dream catchers or frolicking madly under the stars. I’ve had several different women gently say to me that there’s nothing and no one outside myself that can show me the way. I can see the wisdom in that, but I don’t feel like I’m the most reliable tour guide right now. Every hour is a Wet’n’Wild ride: Energy goes up, energy goes down; mood goes up, mood goes down. I need a nap, then tofu, then a punching bag. My therapist equated what I was going through with the withdrawal symptoms of anti-depressants. He suggested I look into that. I dreamed of squashing and killing a large, pregnant spider with a book. Then I dreamed of a potential employer giving me a Labrador puppy as a gift.

My boyfriend suggested that maybe all of this is natural and I don’t need to “know” or “do” anything, I just need to let the whole thing run its course. Maybe it’s the nature of the beast.

My current boss asked me what I was up to this week and I told him I was going to grapple with writing this article because something inside me – beneath the chaos and complete anachronistic downfall of my energetic being – insisted that it was important. So he gallantly decided to help me out and this is what he wrote:

“I am wonderful

I have the knife, the axe, the hammer and the gun,

not smoking YET.

My hormones are


My boss has left in a hurry, running, avoiding the knife, the axe and the hammer. The gun jammed, lucky for him.

How many words should I write?

Sorry, was that


The man is onto something. I’ve been chasing a phantom. I travelled to No Woman’s Land and was surprised to find Lara Bingle wasn’t there. The joke is on me. Besides, her name is Lara Worthington now and she’s busy creating skincare products while raising her first child. The “perfect woman” is nowhere to be seen. So I think it’s time to just enjoy the bloody – or not so bloody – beach.

Disclaimer: Consult your local sexual and reproductive health clinic or GP before going hormonal contraceptive free. The views espoused in this article are that of the author and not Lip Magazine.

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