When it comes to ‘that time of the month’, do you feel like an over-swell of emotions, a bag of needs, an over-exerted body sack? I am at the point right now- day 35 and counting of my overdue period, and I’m having a lot of trouble coping with the hormonal aspect of it. Having woken up over-tired, a pit of hunger and also feeling like death, I ate too much too early and felt the familiar feelings of anxiety and sick which were almost overwhelming. I felt like I wanted and needed to purge it all from my body, but I stayed with it remembering that the short-termed relief that came from giving into the nausea is no substitute for the long-term consequences if I chose to let my tummy speak through my mouth (in other words, to puke it all out then have to deal with additional hunger later on). Objectively, I knew my body needed the food but was just unable to process it right at that moment. Ordinarily, I would have felt quite proud of myself for feeling and following hunger, so these feelings of sickness, nausea and dizziness were products of just doing something ‘abnormal’ (how did my tummy feel from having to deal with a torrent of food, dairy and coffee before waking? Pretty awful). I needed to look at other methods of self-soothing besides the physical- to write, clean, go out, or… to rest.
I feel like we all have too much shame around our periods, in a way that makes little sense to me. Why is it that we are afraid to speak about it? What’s shameful about the cycles of fertility, creativity and fatigue we all go through each and every month? I have never really been shy about expressing how I feel during various parts of my cycle. I feel like our bodies have a cycle similar to the moon. With ovulation comes a feeling of balance, brimming, a peaceful feeling of just being. With each pre-menstrual bleeding, comes averse feelings of tiredness, fatigue, hunger and, in my case, feeling out of control and losing my handle on the reins of my life.
Traditionally, a lot of societies would force a girl who was PMS-ing- a girl in the lacteal phase of her period- to rest more. In yoga, it is said that one should take ‘moon days’ and not exert yourself when one is having their period. Although, in my case, I feel I need to take a week of moon days before my period. I feel this type of practice does honour the body’s cycle of creativity, rest and recuperation. After all, our body has just gone through the process of creating a potential life then discarding it. Building and evacuating the womb could be likened to building and demolishing a house or hut. If we imagine what is actually going on in our bodies, it is no wonder that we are feeling so tired and moody!
I feel the need to address the PMS portion of this equation- is it that bad to feel like you are losing control? Why the need to always stay on top of things? I realize that I have very poor coping mechanisms in and around anxiety moments. My brain goes off on its own little tangent and I feel like my body feels this compulsion to follow along with it to not-so-pleasant paths. Paths that often neglect the needs and desires of the physical body. This time, I am trying to sit with my feelings and realize that just because my brain has gone off the rail does not mean the world has ended. In a few hours, I will forget even I felt this tumult of emotions. So why am I over-compensating it right now by obsessing, going over each and every neural circuit like it is some type of live-or-die survival protocol?
I have not found a way to ‘out-talk’ the disordered voices in my head. I find that when these voices hit, I can rarely self-soothe because of the clutter and noise. I feel restless and I need to get it out somehow. The anxious energy I feel spills forth in every pore of my body and my body also swells and increases in size, making it physically uncomfortable to be present with it. In a way, the physical expresses the mental which makes me unable to really avoid the reality of the present. I need to escape, in some way, but I also cannot. The only way, I know, is to lie down, to be present, to do exactly what my entire body is fighting against. To sit with the uncomfortable sensations in my body and to know that all things have an end.
I really love the creative cycles that come every month after I stop bleeding, or even the serenity that washes over me when I start to bleed. However, like many others, I have a lot of trouble embracing the turbulent waves that hit me towards the end of each cycle, what with its noises, farts, storms of emotion and torrents of hunger. But perhaps I can use this ‘cycle out’ as a way to confront my own coping mechanisms- how I deal with anxiety, with stressors- in order to develop new ways to self-soothe, to self-talk, to sit-in and move through the overwhelming experience of being in this body, on this earth.
Update: Having written this entry, my body has relaxed and my tummy let go off some of its bloat. I feel also much more peaceful and calm. So I think I did the right thing, in the end. Also, the world did not end!