Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Something to ponder...

Think back to when women lived in tribes, in huts, outside. In fact.. you don't always need to think back, there are places on the Earth where women still do.
Firstly, there is no sanitary products. You use rags. There are no toilets or running water. Women would come together in a moon lodge and sit to bleed together. They separate themselves because they are at their most powerful in a spiritual sense. They also separate themselves and stay in a safe place for practical reasons...
I read recently about a tale of a tribal woman, caught out, away from the village. She began bleeding. The smell of fresh blood brought wild animals. She is faced with an almost certain attack and death. She climbs a tree and uses her clothes to soak up the blood. She stays up the tree and waits....

What survival instinct is it that switches on our anger and fierceness? Makes us bitchy, crazed, raging, critical, powerful?

IF we are not safe and secure during our period, we may suffer the remnants of this ancestral survival instinct and fear for ourselves. In the wild, the smell of blood equals food for animals, women are vulnerable... We now over compensate for that vulnerability but making sure we scare off everything so we can be alone and safe...
It's like looking up at the Moon and stars and realising that our ancestors looked up at the same Moon.  Every time we bleed, we connect to every woman that has ever gone before us, we all share the same experiences, and women, ONLY women are part of this club. 
No man, no matter how strong, virile, amazing or good can bleed without dying, regularly, like a woman.  No man can ever truly understand the wisdom found in bleeding.
Women are so sacred to this planet.   ♥ 

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Creating Menstrual Health Workshop with Alexandra Pope

Last Saturday, I attended a workshop run by Alexandra Pope and Sjanie Hugo Wurlitzer. The workshop was about 'creating menstrual health' and as I have been reading The Womans Quest workbook for the past 8 months, It seemed like a good opportunity to meet the author and other women who were also interested in the menstrual cycle's energies. I feel like I am a world away from the state of mind I was in when I first contacted Alexandra... a plea from a desperate woman, to someone who might be able to understand what I was going through. We chatted via email, I downloaded the thought provoking workbook, and joined her community site.

I was around day 18 of my cycle, so heading into unstable territory, so I arranged for my partner to drive me to Fulham in London and get me to the venue. I don't cope on trains and tubes very well, especially alone and in the second half of my cycle.

The venue was beautiful. It looked like a converted church and had the most beautiful stained glass rose windows. Everyone was welcoming and open. It is always a daunting thought, meeting lots of strangers all in one go, but there was a lovely energy in the room, and as women do when they get together.. lots of chat and laughter. The whole building was beautiful, clean and calming. As we moved into our work room, yet another stunning stained glass mandala faced me.

The day consisted of a lot of chat and discussion on the menstrual cycle and where we may have issues. We explored the similarities between out menstrual phases and the seasons experienced on the Earth. I am in my element with correspondences and symbols, and loved widening my thoughts and knowledge of this divine code.

Our inner Spring, is very similar to our outer spring. This 'Springtime' represents pre-ovulation, when the fog of our period lifts and our light and energy returns. Many of us (PMDD sufferers) will call this 'one of our good weeks'. We feel like ourselves again, we have energy, we want to get on with life again. There is an innocence about this time, and it is a time we should spend nurturing our ideas and making plans. New shoots are growing, life is returning to the earth... and you.

Inner Summer relates to ovulation. The Sun is high in the sky and everything is fertile and blooming. We are 'out there'. We can be social, we can enjoy life. It is a time for manifestation. Another 'good week' for many, although this too can bring a difficult time for some. If we are not fulfilling the things we want (on the most basic bodily level this would be getting pregnant), there becomes a fear of summer's end, of missing the chance, of the wheel turning all to quickly.

Inner Autumn is pre-menstruation and is when PMDD sufferers will hit the 'bad times'. Most will start losing a grip on reality during this season. The Earth is retreating, leaves are falling, the cold winds pick up. It is an unsettled and unstable season, flitting from late balmy sunny afternoons and bright crisp mornings, to stretches of dull grey rainy days, storms and more rain. Our energy and flow begins to slow down, we get forgetful and easy to enrage. Women with PMDD need to really try and understand this season, and learn how to harvest it's fruits and develop and awareness of what is really going on inside them.

Our inner Winter is connected to our menstruation. Our whole month is connected to how well we bleed and deal with our period. Just think to days gone by, when we had to harvest as much as we could all year to just survive the winter. If we are careful and look after ourselves, we will reach the Spring. If we have been smart and resourceful, we may even reach Spring still strong and healthy, rather than starving and weak. If you allow the natural need to retreat and hibernate, if you honour and listen to what your body needs, if you get enough sleep and good food, you have the potential to reach the Spring, empowered, full of anticipation rather than dis-empowered, full of guilt and stress.

There is much more I could say about each season, in fact, I could write a couple of posts on each one!! So I will leave that there for you to digest and contemplate. I am obviously describing a cycle, but everyone's cycle may be different. They will most certainly feel different things at different times and for different reasons. Interpretation comes down to the individual, and you cannot forget the different life stories of each individual and their own reactions to each season. How do you feel about each season? Do you have favourites? How do you cope with each season?

As above, so below, As within, As without – A Witches saying.
What goes on outside us, is often a mirror to what is going on inside us. I'm sure it's no coincidence that I have a hard time through my inner Winters, and also suffer from SAD during the outer Winter. Maybe if I learn how to love the inner Wintertime, I will also heal my SAD?

We followed a guided meditation spoken by Sjanie, and stopped periodically (through each season) to write and draw down our visions. We discussed with partners our experiences and feelings.

We then got into groups and each discussed a season. The rest of the day was unpacking all the words we had thought of to describe how we feel about each season. It was very enlightening and heart warming to hear other people's stories and to feel so connected to other women. It was also re-assuring and exciting that other women understood these concepts and each and every one of us felt that we all knew it anyway. 

We have all had this potential, this inner knowledge, like a glimmering, ornate, gold box full of our inner strength and power, full of the words of our ancestors and subconscious. Alexandra and Sjanie gave us all the key to unlocking this magic box, and I'm sure that every woman there will be sharing this knowledge with anyone who would care to listen for many years to come.

There is a revelation to be had in exploring these ideas, there is a REVOLUTION to be had by every woman, to educate, to share the knowledge, to break down all the stigma and hatred that has been pointed at our menstrual cycles. To reclaim our menstruation as our sacred time, to be allowed to become whole, rather than living the half life we are all supposed to live because it is socially acceptable. As a woman, I will demand respect, from myself and others during my bleed. It is a magical thing to bleed as we do every month. We get a new chance every month to heal and learn and understand ourselves.

If you are interested in The Woman's Quest and Alexandra Pope's and Sjanie Hugo Wurlitzer's work, please visit these websites:

My Healing Journey

It's been a long time coming, but I finally feel like I am really figuring out the root causes of my PMDD. I have always believed that illness is as much in the mind as it is in the body, and PMDD is very much a disorder that can start in the body and create a difference in the mind... HOWEVER... it would then be just as possible for the illness to start in the mind and manifest itself in the body.
I am now 34, and since being diagnosed at the age of 27 I have tried every medication offered to me. I have dabbled with many different alternative therapies, and I now find myself out of options in the traditional sense.

Along my path I have used:
Prozac, citalopram, valium, zoladex, lithuim, copper coil, Mirena coil, St Johns wort, 5HTP, Quiet life tablets, rescue remedy, evening primrose oil, starflower oil, homeopathy, yoga, counselling, art therapy, aromatherapy, vitamins, B6, zinc, magnesium, cod liver oil, meditation, 5Rhythms dance, massage nutrition and exercise.

The past 18 months has brought about massive changes in my life. My home life has changed dramatically from one of pure hell and stress, to one that is supportive and much less stressful. My children are now that much bit older, and at 6 and 13 are at school and able to do a lot more for themselves. I have an understanding and loving partner, and a wonderful dog that gets me out of the house even when I don't really want to go out!

I have been medication free since July 2010 apart from a Mirena coil, which I then had taken out this August. I currently regularly take evening primrose and starflower oil capsules, hormonal balance vitamins and rescue remedy. I watch what I eat (but there is room for improvement) and exercise regularly.

I am 4 cycles into my medication and synthetic hormone free life, and I can honestly say I feel much more in control of my PMDD. The journey I have been on, has made me appreciate what it feels like to be free of all medications and hormonal treatments. I still have the odd crazy moment, or feel depressed and hopeless, but I am learning new ways to deal with these times AND on how to view my whole cycle.  I am learning that these are different states of mind and being, and I need to change the way I am in the world to use these changes effectively.

For the past 8 months, I have been following information and advice given in The Woman's Quest by Alexandra Pope. I have also delved into deeper research and study on female shamanism and the energy of the menstrual cycle. Last Saturday I met Alexandra during a 'Creating Menstrual Health' workshop she was holding in London. I had a really enlightening time....

On a spiritual level, I would describe my PMDD experience as having a spiritual death and rebirth every month. Just like a Shaman when they go on an inner vision journey, when they perform soul healing on their clients. This then got me thinking. What if the distress I was experiencing was because I was having a shamanic experience. What if, I am so sensitive to the psychological changes that I am actually symbolically going through a death and rebirth every month? Once I saw it this way, I wanted to embrace those times and see what I could learn from them.  Women were the original Shaman, with awesome changes flooding her body every month.  Changes to be respected and honored.

I am now learning to ride the wave. To use the different qualities I have throughout the month to benefit me, rather than hinder me. When you begin to work WITH your cycles energy, you uncover something magical and empowering. I am now excited to be blessed with having periods, and every one that comes, I learn something new. I still have some degree of fear regarding the dark times, and I also have a new fear, of how I begin to live my life when I have been so ill for so long. I am having counselling again and working on my shamanic and spiritual practice
I am reminding myself that healing is a long process, that nothing is set in stone, and that the only way to keep on getting better is to keep on learning about myself and TRUSTING that I know what is best for myself.

I no longer hate being a woman, I no longer fear my period.

You would not have heard me say that 2 years ago. For over 10 years I hated being a woman, I hated my bleed, I couldn't understand what I had done wrong, why was I being punished? I didn't understand. Despite studying and practising Paganism and The Craft (all Goddess walks of life) for many years, I still had a block and fear regarding my own feminine self and my cycle. I think I was desperately trying to find a connection to the feminine, to the Goddess, as my own natural connection had been severed.  All I have to do is re-learn and re-connect to my bleeding time, to my natural rhythm.  When I stopped my spiritual practice, I became more ill.  Disconnected from the source.
I am now actively honoring my cycle, my inner divine feminine. I am learning shaman techniques for working with 'other worlds' or my subconscious self, and I feel the inner strength again, I feel the reassurance that this is the right path for me. I have been lost for so long, and now I feel I am walking with the flow, I am learning better ways of dealing with myself, looking after myself and how to get support from those around me.  

The future doesn't look bleak any more, It looks exciting. Every cycle is a new chance to learn and change, and I want to make the most of it.

Monday, 7 November 2011

A big THANK-YOU...

.. to everyone that has visited my site.  Mood and Musings has now reached over 9000 page views!

Please continue to visit often, pass on the link and share with others who may be interested.  Maybe I can hit 10,000 by Christmas!

The most popular articles have been:

What is PMDD? -
What is Dysphoria? -
Mandalas - A tool for coping with PMDD -
A PMDD Crisis Guide -

With lots of love

Cat xx

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Happy Celtic New Year!

It's the 1st of November, and the start of the Celtic New Year. Pagans celebrate this with the festival of Samhain, a time to honour our ancestors and bloodlines. It's a time for reflection and thought, a time to be still and listen to the insights we are being given.
It is also a good time to evaluate the past year, look towards the coming year and make plans.

It's been a while since I updated this blog about my personal life. My writing has been focused on creating articles and sharing my personal views and ideas, so I will now, take the chance to look back over the past year and share a little about how 2011 has been for me.

Last November, I shared my story with the local newspaper. This was a massive event for me, as to open up my life to the public was very scary! The reality was that, no-one recognised me in the street, I wasn't judged by the whole world, and life carried on as normal!

After the story came out, I started a private online Facebook support group, which grew steadily and proved to be a successful way for women to chat to other sufferers and find support, advice and friendship. Current membership is around 70 women. I also admin the PMDD-Community page, whose 'likers' now stand at over 500.

I had hoped to go on national TV with my story, however, the slot they wanted me to fill was right in the middle of January. Possibly the worst time for me as I suffer with SAD too, so I had to cancel. I am hoping it may happen in the future, when I feel strong and well enough to actually go on television!

One of the biggest challenges for me this year has been my relationship. As all women with PMDD will tell you, having and keeping a relationship is one of the hardest things to do. My partner and I have had another rocky year, splitting up and getting back together, but neither of us have given up yet, and hopefully 2012 will be a much better year for us (what was that? Wedding bells? Haha.. fingers crossed!)

The success of the support group meant that I had a steady flow of women requesting to join. The groups work because they are small, so a second group was created, to allow more women to have a sanctuary to visit everyday. I now have another group of over 60 women, all happily chatting and helping each other through the difficult times.

My desire to raise the awareness of PMDD has continued, and I wrote to and met with my MP in the summer to discuss how PMDD can become more recognised and how we could make sure it become a recognised disorder by the World Health Organisation. This is still a work in progress, and as you can understand, only being able to work on these things during my 'good' times means it's slow going. I will be sharing a blog post with more details soon. I have not stopped trying and will continue to raise these issues with ANYONE I feel can help to educate and lift the profile of PMDD.

I also became completely medication free this year! After all my negative experiences with prescription medications, I had cleared all but the Mirena coil from my being. In August, after many months of suffering agonising cramps at ovulation and menstruation I had the Mirena coil removed. Not one medical professional would even consider it was the coil giving me so much pain, even suggesting that I must have an STI, rather than admit the coil was playing a part in my trips to A&E in agonising pain. All STI tests, obviously came back clear and I have had relatively pain free periods since it's removal. It also made me realise it was having a massive effect on my feelings and moods. So I am very pleased to now be completely med free, and still surviving!

More recent achievements have been to start another new group on Facebook that solely focuses on the natural healing methods for PMDD and some exciting breakthrough's with a couple of larger UK charity organisations.

Wellbeing for Women, a charity that helps to fund women's research, will be featuring my story on their website in the next few months, which may also then go on to other publications in the UK, and the best news is that I have been asked by MIND, the UK's biggest mental health charity to be a guest blogger and start a discussion about PMDD. I am hoping they are also considering including it on their list of disorders on their website and producing an information leaflet!

Seemingly small steps, but ones I hope will help to change the awareness of this disorder for all women, to allow more research, better diagnosis and treatments. I have many more plans, and will never stop standing on my soap box on behalf of all the women still too unwell to do it themselves.

Love to all my readers!
Merry Samhain and a Happy New Year!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...