I find myself in a really dark and unpleasant space at least several times a month. A space where I feel (like no matter what is going right in my life) worthless, empty and down. I am aware of the patterns. It's the week before my period cycle is due to start, and I know I'm not alone, women around the world from all walks of life experience this. It's known to many as PMS, Premenstrual Syndrome.
What is PMS? According to the National Association of Premenstrual Syndrome 'The precise causes of PMS have still to be identified, but there is compelling evidence that symptoms are directly related to the fluctuation of hormone levels in the monthly cycle. As PMS is absent before puberty (onset of menstruation), in pregnancy and after the menopause there is clear indication that cyclical ovarian activity is an important factor in explaining PMS.'
'Common psychological and behavioural symptoms are: mood swings, depression, tiredness, fatigue or lethargy, anxiety, feeling out of control, irritability, aggression, anger, sleep disorder, food cravings. Common physical symptoms are: breast tenderness, bloating, weight gain, clumsiness, headaches'
Aside from the biological internal riots that cause mayhem in my system, I have an additional layer of cultural shame to carry with me once a month. Being born into a hindu family, I have been taught that periods are dirty and shameful. I have been told not to attend religious ceremony, to stay out of any food preparation (not too bothered about that one), and even being refused a hug from my own grandmother who knew I was on my menses.
The reasoning I have been given, is that during your period you energy is going downwards to wards the earth. When you are on you're in spiritual pursuit your intention is to send you energy upwards. The conflict that may arise could be harmful to all others involved, so best stay at home and out of harms way. WTF! This drives me nuts. Especially as in the hindu pantheon most of the collection look at gods and goddesses! Symptoms of the male dominated world view perhaps? My personal experience folks.
I posed the question of why we are in quarantine during this phase to my grandma. I asked her why and she responded ' well when you are on the toilet would that be an appropriate time to pray to god?' I replied with 'if you're having bad dioareha, you might'. Needless to say she was not impressed. Side note - I love my gran to edges of the universe, but still. Ffs.
On the subject of quarantine, I'd like to share with you one saving grace of my exploration into this theme. The Red Tent movement. The Red tent is a world wise initiative where women come together once a month to nurture, share and care for each other. The movement was born out a book by Anita Diamant, who wrote the fiction novel, The Red Tent in 1997.
The movement talk about how 'She wrote about a time when tribal women in the desert bled together on the New Moon, and during this time they would all gather in the women’s Red Tent. Her book struck a deep resonance with many women who yearned for such a place among us to go and to be.'
I was lucky to have this community of women around me. But what about when you're are having a melt down and unable to turn to a group of women? There is the usual, eat well, avoid alcohol and caffeine and junk food...you know, the usual drill
Well in the spirit of empowerment, I'll share the top 5 things that have literally saved my life at times of utter mental peril. I pray they help you or your loved one too.
1) Starflower oil or Primrose oil - You can find these capsules in both vegan or vegetarian options available at most health food shops. For a better sense of balance, and to reduce the urgency to kill people around me I take one a day, a week before, and during my actual period week.
2) Exercise - Yes a boring one we all know to help state of mind regardless. I like gentle walks or yoga to sooth and warm my bones. Something you enjoy, and feels right to your body.
3) Comedy clips- watching Youtube clips, an action requiring least amount of effort. For those massive duvet days this playlist is a win.
4) Circle of love - I was in my bed feeling awful when I envisaged nurturing women in my life. My aunt's, my friends, my mum and a few other special ladies in my life that love me dearly. I imagined them in a circle around me, sending love from their hearts to mine. I was in the middle and doing my best to receive this love. I held this visualisation for 5-6 minutes before diving under my duvet once more. 10 to 15 minutes later it happened. Like a bolt of lightening I shot up out of bed, it felt like a surge of energy was charging my body, I jumped into the shower and started my day. It was spooky, but effective.
I'm sure there are many more ideas and self help ideas that can support us through this time. Please feel free to share what has worked for you! to help others that find them selfs in 'that' space at least once a month.
Love and light to you my lovelies X