[Quick note to the gentlemen: I know that at first glance, this post may appear to be geared entirely towards the ladies, because, well, you don't exactly suffer from PMS (although some people claim that men also get a type of bitchiness once a month, but that's another story altogether…) If, however, you have a woman in your life who suffers from this malady, you are very much affected by it, and you know it. Also, this post explains some pretty complex principles using the example of PMS, but as always, you can apply them to a variety of subjects.
One warning though: I'm going to disclose some fairly personal information about myself here. I am a woman and I get my period every month. I know. Shocking. And I'm going to talk about it. If you think that reading about this will ruin the romance for you and make you not be able to look me in the internet eye anymore, then maybe you should skip this post. You have been warned.]
From the time we’re around 12 or so, we women go through a monthly transformation, not unlike that of Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde. Our ovaries seemingly begin to twist themselves into knots, just to torture us (because really, what could possibly be the point behind having to go through that kind of pain??). We become tired and sluggish from loss of blood (or at least it feels that way, the doctors keep telling us we’re losing less than a cup, but what the hell do they know?). We become ravenous monsters in search of pretty much anything edible, but we’ll bitch slap a kitten in order to get to a box of chocolates. We cry at commercials, and dissolve into heaps of self-loathing and pity one moment, only to turn around and threaten our normally beloved hubbies with dismemberment if they don’t bring us some Ben and Jerry’s within the next ten seconds. And while the men in our lives are bewildered and more than a little frightened by this change in our personalities, it’s no cakewalk for us, either. It’s like our bodies turn against us and we lose all control.
My own experience (possibly TMI)
I used to have horrible periods. There wasn’t a month that went by when I didn’t spend the first 2-3 solid days and nights of my cycle completely zapped out on painkillers. It was the only way I could work or sleep or stay sane. My energy level would be so low that I’d barely be able to schlep myself through the day. I’d turn into a total ditzbrain, suddenly unable to perform the simplest tasks without screwing them up. On several occasions, I had to run out of a business meeting, so that I could burst into tears in the bathroom, because I took something that someone said WAY too seriously. And even though I knew in that moment that I was overreacting, I couldn’t stop it. I HATED my time of the month. We were most definitely not friends.
But it got me wondering: Why would nature set it up this way? Why would women be biologically designed to suffer every month? Over the years, I started to piece together the answer and as I did, my own suffering ceased. I don’t mean that it’s become tolerable. I mean, I can’t remember the last time I took a painkiller. My 8-10 day Red River Rafting Trip turned into 2-3 days (I’m not kidding). My mood swings pretty much completely ceased. My time of the month became a non-event. I still don’t love it or celebrate it, but it no longer affects my life. My scary monster turned into the equivalent of a Reality TV star at a party. They’re there, but no one cares.
How nature intended it:
In my quest to figure out why God and the Universe had condemned the female half of the species to a schizophrenic, torturous existence, I began looking at other mammals, notably, anything that wasn’t human. And it turned out that human females were the only ones that suffered. Monkeys who are on the rag don’t go crazy once a month and kill off all the males because they left the toilet seat up. In fact, animals don’t seem to be too affected at all by their time of the month. They take it in stride. It happens, but it’s no big deal. We eat, we sleep, we poo, we bleed. Who cares?
What’s more, when we look at indigenous and “primitive” (as in untouched by the modern world) tribes, those women also didn’t seem to suffer nearly as much or as long. Sure, many have developed belief systems that state that women should not work during that time, and some even sequester the women in a separate building for a few days while they bleed, but this isn’t because they’re shunning the women or think them to be crazy or incapable. In most cases, they’re actually honoring the women, considering them extra-intuitive and spiritual during this time.
Given everything I’ve come to understand about who we really are and how the Universe works, it never made sense to me that we were meant to suffer. And my research seems to be backing up my intuition.
We suffer because of the way we live
We experience our periods the way we do, because of the way we live. We are generally not in balance with nature, or the way nature designed us to be. And this imbalance causes our discomfort.
There are many factors that contribute to how much any given woman suffers when her Aunt Flow comes to visit. Obviously, we’re not all the same. But since we do all adhere to some basic biological beliefs (the beliefs that cause our bodies to function in pretty much the same way), some of this info will be applicable to all women.
The way we eat contributes greatly to the way we feel. This is true at all times, but becomes especially relevant when the red eyed monster comes to town. If you’re filling your body with a bunch of chemicals, non-foods and processed garbage, it’s not going to function properly. Your body has the ability to stay alive even if you feed it the equivalent of nuclear waste, but there’s a cost: Your body has to basically cannibalize itself in order to keep you alive if you pour sugar in its gas tank. It’ll run, but it won’t be pretty. In addition to chemical waste, foods such as dairy, soy (all non-fermented soy products like soy milk and tofu will mess with your hormones), sugar, caffeine, wheat and even meat can greatly affect how you feel during your menstrual cycle. Try cutting down on these foods or even doing a full on detox in order to rid your body of these substances. See if it doesn’t make a huge difference. Then, you can re-introduce these foods one at a time to see if you have a reaction to them.
Ensuring that your body is getting proper nutrition (not just NOT the stuff it doesn’t need, but plenty of the stuff it does need), is also a great way to cut WAY down on overwhelming cravings. As I explained in my post on Intuitive Eating, your cravings were actually originally designed as a mechanism for your body to tell you what it needs, nutritionally speaking. So, when you crave an apple, it’s because you need the nutritional components that an apple contains. When we eat non-foods, however, those signals get screwed up and then our cravings are all over the place. What’s more, when we’re suffering from malnutrition (as almost everyone in the West is, believe it or not), those cravings get even worse. The better you eat, the more accurate your cravings will become. I still crave chocolate around that time of the month. So I put a large scoop of raw cacao into my morning smoothie. And the craving goes away. My body got what it needed. (It’s not the sugar we’re craving, it’s the chocolate. Raw cacao has TONS of vitamins and minerals in it that nourish the body. It’s actually one of the healthiest foods on earth in its pure state.)
I saw the greatest improvement in how I felt during my cycle when I ate a 100% RAW diet. When we feed our bodies in the way we were designed to (real food, mostly fruits and vegetables), and when we listen to our bodies (if something gives you indigestion or gas or cramps, STOP eating it!), our bodies begin to function the way they were meant to and suffering diminishes.
Global /Communal Beliefs:
For most women in the Western World, the pain and discomfort we experience during the Crimson Curse is simply accepted as fact. We expect it from the time we get anywhere near puberty. We see our mothers and aunts suffer and we just know that our time will be the same. The pain is an unavoidable part of being a woman. TV commercials tell us that our physical and emotional pain is normal and offer us relief in a convenient little pill that just happens to be packed with enough drugs to knock out an elephant (although, possibly not a menstruating one…)
No one ever mentions that this suffering is NOT normal, that it’s a sign that something is a bit off. Oh no! Don’t worry about that! Just take a pill, grab a hot water bottle, or lock your husband into a terrifying steely-eyed gaze and inform him through gnashing teeth that he’s just going to have to “deal with it”. Except, it’s not normal. And we’re not supposed to feel that way. And when we do, something is off. We are not in balance. But of course, if we expect to be in pain, not only will we be much more likely to attract it, but when we do, we’re much less likely to do something about it.
We don’t recognize PMS and menstrual pain as a problem because we’ve been told this lie that it’s normal to feel that way. The emperor, ladies, has no freaking clothes.
Personal limiting beliefs:
And then, of course, we all have our own beliefs that will get in the way of us feeling great all the time. This will vary from person to person and will manifest differently. One woman may have fears around her fertility and since the uterus and menstruation are symbols of that fertility, she may manifest massive issues every month that mirror that fear. Another woman may have unresolved feelings of helplessness and massive cramping every month may make her feel exactly like that. Control issues can be at the heart of monthly problems, as can repressed anger, feelings of unworthiness, self-loathing, inequality, etc. In short, it’s a very personal thing.
But here’s the good news: As we clean up our emotional garbage by making feeling good a priority, by noticing how we feel and shifting our perspective, when possible, to thoughts that have a higher vibration, we also shift the physical manifestations of those limiting beliefs. As we feel better emotionally, we feel better physically. And yes, this includes our “Special Lady Time”.
So, now you know why you may be having such pain and discomfort before and whilst you’re riding the cotton pony, and what you can do to avoid it in the long term, but, what do you do in the meantime?
What can you do during a PMS attack?
Once you’re in the throes of PMS, it’s just like with any other highly emotional situation. Once you’re in it, there’s not much you can do to stop it. You just have to ride it out. But, you can control how you react to it and how you experience it.
- Acknowledge what’s happening. Yes, you’re overreacting and you know it. When you take a moment to acknowledge that it’s because of PMS, it becomes a lot less scary. You’re not flipping out for no good reason, you’re flipping out because your body is preparing to go into its “Hey, I’m not pregnant!” time. It often helps to simply acknowledge that you’re not bonkers.
- Use your freak out for the power of good. As annoying as those mood swings are, they are still emotional reactions, albeit amplified ones. And what do negative emotional reactions tell us? That’s right class. Negative emotional reactions always tell us that we’re thinking a thought or focusing on a belief that doesn’t serve us. Now, just because you may be blowing something small WAY out of proportion, what you’re REALLY reacting to is a belief that you carry around with you all the time. It doesn’t just show up once a month. So, if you pay attention to exactly how you feel and follow that feeling back to a thought, you can use your freak out to uncover some of your limiting beliefs and release them.
- Give in to it. Do what you can to feel better. Notice that you’re not feeling good and instead of trying to push through it so that you can prove that women are NOT the weaker sex, damn it, try honoring yourself. Give yourself permission to feel like an overemotional, drained of all energy, achy, painy, puddle of self loathing. That’s how you feel. Stop fighting it. And then, do what you can to actually feel better. Take a nap. Get a hot water bottle. Eat a box of chocolates. Sip some tea and blubber into your hankie while watching old movies. Take a walk and smell the flowers. In other words, instead of doing everything you can to deny this part of your shameful self, like a person who has the flu but refuses to acknowledge it because strong fighters don’t succumb to viruses, give in to it and allow yourself to actually feel better. This doesn’t make you weak. It makes you emotionally smart and self aware. Also, pampering and soothing yourself will make you less apt to resent your husband for not being able to squeeze a watermelon out through is nether regions. Just saying.
The bottom line is that suffering, any suffering, at any time of the month is not “normal”. It’s not necessary and should always be taken as a sign of some kind of energetic imbalance. It’s a sign, just like any other manifestation of resistance, that you’re holding on to some beliefs that aren’t serving you. Even the foods we eat have their own energy, and our food choices will often reflect vibrational discord that’s already present (and/or cause more). Everything always comes down to our vibration. PMS and menstrual pain is not part of being a woman, no matter what the media and pharmaceutical companies and your Aunt Frieda will tell you. There is hope. When you find your own personal balance, this monthly discomfort can absolutely be a thing of the past. Of course, then you’ll have to find another excuse to scarf an entire box of chocolates while everyone around you trembles in too much fear to even mention it…