PMS, PMDD, cycles, and creativity.
Please note: I am NOT a medical professional. I am sharing my personal experience and always recommend to do what feels right for you and consult a professional, especially if you are dealing with depression and/or need help now. The National Suicide Prevention hotline is available 24/7 at 1.800.273.8255.
In our society we have a limited view on PMS and women’s cycles. We’re taught to hide it, to be embarrassed by it, and to avoid oversharing. We mock it. We try to cover it up with ice cream and wine and painkillers. We do everything but listen to our symptoms and embrace our cycle as a powerful creative force.
PMS. PMDD. Whatever you want to call it, I begin to experience this every week or so before my period. It can become debilitating, and this is when doctors make the distinction between PMS vs. PMDD. I’ll turn into a person I don't recognize -- someone with no vision, persistent anxiety, and a microscopic fuse.
In addition to the emotional issues, once my period arrives I spend at least a couple days in bed, curled in a fetal position and maxed out on Midol.
For the past month and moving forward, I'm trying something different -- attempting to treat my PMS/PMDD from a few different angles, without birth control or other medication. I've tried birth control multiple times over the past 10 years and have consistently had negative experiences. I know it works for some people, just not me.
I’ve been following Alisa Vitti's food protocol (she has a wonderful app called My Flo that I 100% recommend) to address hormonal imbalances in a natural way through food, exercise, and other lifestyle shifts.
My multi-layered approach to easing PMS and embracing my natural cycle includes:
Dramatically reducing caffeine consumption. I will drink one small coffee/day only AFTER I've eaten breakfast. Before this month I was drinking 3-4 cups/day.
Limiting alcohol consumption to just one drink (usually a small glass of wine) once or twice a week. Prior I was drinking 1-2 glasses of wine almost every night.
Taking probiotics and eating more fermented foods.
Taking CBD oil in the week and a half leading up to my period, and upping the dosage the week before and of my period. I haven't had my period yet, so I can't say if CBD helps cramps, but it has helped stabilize my moods.
Turning inward with compassion and love, recognizing my triggers and reactions, letting myself express them immediately and move on as swiftly as they came. (No big deal, right?) Some books that have helped me in this process are Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom by Christiane Northrup M.D. and You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay.
Last weekend I found myself in the beginning stages of PMS, and I had a unique experience. I felt highly sensitive and emotional, and lashed out on a couple occasions, but I came back to center after expressing those emotions. And when I did, I felt a raw, strong-yet-soft energy coursing through my chest. It felt like an internal pump, flushing creative life through my system and peeling back layers of resistance I'd built up. I'd never felt anything like it.
I am learning the importance of how I respond to my symptoms. During PMS I typically put my blinders on, breaking out the Netflix and ice cream, binging and attempting to numb it all out, which is typically how we're taught to deal with that time of month.
Not only is that potentially dangerous (I believe binging on TV and sugar actively contributes to my feelings of depression) but it's also missing a huge opportunity that is unique to us as women. I have a hunch that some of our deepest, truest, most profound creativity can be realized during this time. As women, we are creators. Literally. Our periods are here to remind us of that. By nature, we create. We have an innate connection to this world because of our bodies and cycles.
And, well, I think that's pretty spectacular.
I'm only in the beginning of this journey and I'm realizing some huge truths that are totally reframing my period mindset.
What if instead of anticipating those weeks as a time to numb out and "just get through it" with my head down, I saw it as an opportunity to connect with the deepest, most raw parts of myself? What if I took care of and expressed compassion toward myself when I am emotional? What if I allowed this time in my cycle to reveal truths I needed to hear, communicated by my body?
I'd love to hear from you. Do you experience painful periods? Have you experimented with alternatives to birth control and pain killers? Have you found creative energy through your period? Please feel free to share in the comments below.