Thursday, 26 April 2012

Thoughts on the Pill

I'm on day 20.  I can feel the irritation and narkiness that comes with my pre menstrual phase building.  This the time of the month often brings about a rant, and today, what really grinds my gears (yes, that was a Family Guy reference) is all the talk about the contraceptive pill in the UK at the moment.

A news story came out today, in which an NHS report suggests that girls as young as 13 should be able to walk into a chemists and get the pill, without having to see a doctor

Apparently, this already happens in some parts of London.  It is also currently possible to walk into a chemist and buy the morning after pill for around £25.  Some chemists were also talking about allowing women under 25 to gain free access to the morning after pill. 
...It follows a pilot scheme which found the number of women needing emergency contraception "dropped significantly" in the year following the introduction of over-the-counter access to the pill.
Well... duurrrrr.... what a surprise! 

Currently, teenage girls would need to speak to a doctor to get a prescription for the contraceptive pill, or go to a family planning clinic, where they would be seen by one of the qualified doctors there.  I'm not sure that parents have to be made aware of this or not, but at least the girl would have some proper advice given to her...  Blood pressure is taken, along with weight and other general questions and checks.  If you aren't grown up enough to ask your doc or go to a clinic, the you probably aren't grown up enough to be on the pill.
Allowing teenagers as young as 13, free access to the pill, with no medical guidance or advice is completely ridiculous.  I am so sick of the media and people banging on about the pill like it is a sugary sweet that magically stops you from getting pregnant. 

The contraceptive pill contains chemicals.  It contains synthetic forms of the hormones estrogen and progesterone (progestin).  They work by suppressing ovulation.  Some brands contain both forms (combined pill) and some just contain progestin (min-pill).  They don't work by magic.  They interrupt your natural rhythm, and stop your natural cycle.

Doctors and pharmaceutical companies will have you believe that the pill is THE cure for mood swings, it's the cure for acne, depression, for irregular periods and more... AND that all those things are abnormal and should be treated.

Hormones are created in response to signals from the brain.  Hormones are like a radio signal, and the receptors are the antenna.  When you take the pill, it over rides the radio signal.  It sends it's own signals to the receptors that stop ovulation.  The body's natural receptors then get used to this signal, and act accordingly.  But what happens with long term use?  or in young women bodies that are still forming and whose hormones are still settling down?

I know there ARE benefits to the pill...
 It has been shown to protect against cancer of the ovaries and the womb lining and pelvic inflammatory disease, a major cause of infertility in women, and (they claim) it can make periods more regular.  However, it is not recommended for women over 35 who smoke heavily, obese women, those with high blood pressure, a history of heart disease or blood clots and other illnesses, such as breast cancer.

I also know that a few ladies find it helps their PMDD, but the success rate is seriously hit and miss, and I would question if it is ever a good option for women who are sensitive to hormones.

My rant is really that all this talk about the pill being handed out to stop kids getting pregnant is only one part of the story.  What about the use of synthetic hormones in girls that are barely developed themselves?

So, 13 year old Rosie, who has only just started her period and whose hormones are still going crazy and haven't settled down yet, goes out to the chemists and get's the pill.  Her doctor doesn't know and nor does her mother.  She decides to go on it because she's heard it might stop the horrible spots she's been getting and she also really likes Jake and he really likes her and cos he already watches a ton of porn on the internet, she thinks he might want to have sex.  She is being responsible and doing the 'adult' thing in getting herself protected against pregnancy, but she hasn't talked to anyone other than her mates and the nice man at the chemists.  She can't tell her mum cos she would freak.  Rosie knows nothing of the effects the pill could have on her, neither does she understand what's in it and how it works...  Rosie and her mum don't talk about such things.  It's too embarrassing, and her mum would just think that she is a slut and is only going on it to sleep with boys....  Rosie has barely got used to her body having a cycle, her body has barely got used to the new hormones, then BAM... the pill enters her system and the cycle is gone.

Rosie is in control, she feels grown up and responsible.  After six months on the pill, Jake decides he wants to take the relationship further...  Rosie is hesitant but knows she can't get pregnant, so she decides the time is right.  She has some condoms in her purse too, which she knows help prevent catching STD's, so she asks Jake to wear one... He says there's no need, cos she's on the pill, and he hasn't done anything with anyone... reluctantly Rosie agrees.  She doesn't want to lose Jake or upset him....

Rosie and Jake have been together for a couple of years now.  They are 15 and have been sleeping together for a while.   Rosie's mum knows they are close, but doesn't know for sure if her daughter is having sex, and she tries to blank out those thoughts and ignore it.  It's too embarrassing.  She sort of assumes they aren't as Rosie has never asked about the pill or anything.  She puts Rosie's outbursts and mood swings down to her teenage hormones and just accepts that her daughter doesnt want to share anything with her.

Then, Rosie finds out she is pregnant.  She is 16 and about to do her GCSE's... HOW did that happen?  Maybe it was those few days last month when she forgot to take the pill... she took one late and thought it would be ok... or maybe was it because she was ill and on antibiotics for a week?  Rosie didn't know the pill can stop working of you take antibiotics.  Her mum is gonna go mad... The shame, the fear, she feels sick to her stomach.....

Maybe, the freedom of taking the pill could lead Rosie down the path of sex with more than just one person.. maybe she could end up with an STI, or get pregnant and not know who the father is.
What gets me with all of this, and it's a familiar story all over the UK, is that the communication between mothers and daughters is weak.  Mothers are not teaching their daughters what they need to know.  There is no communication, no passing on of advice.

Rather than try and throw a magic pill at every young girl in the hope of making the UK's teenage pregnancy rates look better, why are we not questioning WHY these young girls are having sex so young.  Why are we not looking at healing the relationships between mother and daughter?
Why is it that teenage girls have such low self esteem and think so little of themselves that they seek to have sex at such a young age?  Why are we not teaching young girls how to respect their bodies and themselves?  helping them to understand the changes and risks involved with sex and contraception?

No one really knows the long term effects the pill can have, or what it may do to a young body that is still forming.  I started taking the Pill at 13.  I was showing signs of PMDD but no-one knew that back then.  I also suffered from really bad acne and depression.  The pill was given to me to cure it all.. to make me better.  When I look back, I wonder if my mood swings at 13 were just perfectly normal.. extreme yes, but I have since found out I am sensitive to hormones, but what if taking the pill at 13 actually caused my PMDD.. what if it messed my system up for the rest of my life?

What I do know for sure is when I came off the pill aged 20 (that's 7 years of synthetic hormones and no ovulation) is that I felt completely different.  The pill had never stopped the mood swings, in fact, by the time I stopped taking it I was getting some pretty extreme episodes.  I became pregnant a few months after stopping the pill.  It was a planned pregnancy as I had just got married.  I experienced severe depression during my pregnancy and post natal depression afterwards.  PMDD came back with a vengence along with my periods and motherhood was very difficult.

My body didn't know what a natural cycle was.  It had only had 6-7 cycles before I got pregnant.  I truly believe that our natural cycles prepare us for being pregnant.  Without intervention, it is possible to become in tune with your menstrual cycle.  You lean how you are at different times of the month.. you can FEEL the changes.  Each cycle is a chance to learn something new about yourself.  It's an inner tool, that we simply throw away when we start taking the pill.

By encouraging young girls to take the pill as soon as they start their period, or for other ailments that could be helped by other methods, we are stealing our daughters ability to learn from their cycle.  We are taking away that inbuilt natural blessing of being a woman...

We need to heal the mother daughter relationship.  Many of the current generation of mothers have grown up on the pill, and don't ever question it.  If it was good for them, then it's good for their kids....  I urge you to think twice about ever putting this drug in your body, or allowing your daughter to.  There are other ways of preventing pregnancy, there are other ways of dealing with mood swings, acne and depression.

Here is a great link to a piece by Dr Erika Schwartz.  She has written a few books on hormones and the menstrual cycle, and I found her response to a worried mothers question a really good read.  I would recommend you take a look.

And as for the increased risk of sexually transmitted diseases and infections... or how the pharmaceutical companies make us believe in whatever will make the most profit for them...
well, those rants are for another day....

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Incy Wincy Spider

Incy Wincy spider climbed up the water spout
Down came the rain and washed the spider out
Out came the sunshine and dried up all the rain
and Incy Wincy spider went up the spout again!

No... I havent lost it completely.  It just dawned on me that this little nursery rhyme sums up PMDD!

We are Incy Wincy Spider, climbing up the spout.  That is life, that's part of our cycle.  Incy Wincy starts out at the bottom of the pipe... slowly slowly... starting the journey to the top.  The Spider reaches the top and see's storm clouds brewing.  Incy grips on for dear life, she knows she may not make it through the storm.  It start's to rain, and despite Incy Wincy's attempts to hold on to the top of the pipe.. the rain washes her out.  So now she is wet, dumped on the ground below.  She looks to the top of the spout again, and it seems so far away, but the Sun comes up, dries up the rain and dries off Incy Wincy, and she feels full of life and energy to start the journey again.  Remind you of our monthly battle against our hormones?

The water element represented in the spout and the rain is another feminine symbol.  Water is fluid and changeable, just like out emotions.  Hormones are like a drop of ink into a glass of water, they spread through the body, permeating everything.  Water and the feminine, would then connect us to the Moon...  the shadow, the storms.  Then the Sun comes out and everything is good again!  This little rhyme is packed with symbolism!

I have always been interested in the symbols behind our stories, myths and legends, so why not interpret this little rhyme!?

The spider is an interesting symbol.  The spider represents creativity, fertility, harmony and balance.  It is also symbolic of the past and the future.
There are many tales of Spider women in different cultures.  Many traditions consider the spider as the weaver of the fabric of life where they introduce both writing and the making in clothes.
In America storytellers composed myths of a spider woman who was present at the dawn of creation before humans were created. The spider woman taught people how top weave.....
The Spider symbol is associated to creativity and cunning always seen when the spider is dangling at the end of its thread. The symbol here will therefore be a sign of good luck because different communities think that it is bringing down joy from heaven. Amongst weavers it is a symbol of their craft. Spider is associated negatively in Europe because it is associated to hangover from the days of the Plague where it was thought to have spread the disease. Sourced from
In Greek Mythology, the Goddess Arachne, was turned into the first spider.  Her father was a shepherd, who dyed wool the most beautiful of shades of purple.  Arachne was a skilled weaver, and was famous for her tapestries.  It was thought that Athena was the best weaver in the land, and she had taught Arachne to weave.  Arachne had challenged her to see who had the greater talent.
Athena's tapestry was holy, depicting the Gods and Goddesses in all their beauty.  Arachne's tapestry, although just as brilliant in execution, showed the ungodly side of the world, including Athena's father Zeus in compromising situations with the women he seduced and cheated with.

Illustration by Giovanni Caselli
In disgust, and fury, Athena ripped Arachne's tapestry to shreds.  Arachne had insulted the deities.  She realised that the truth being told in that way was too bold, that others were not happy to have such reality laid out before them.  She became so depressed and ashamed that she hung herself.

Athena, took pity on Arachne, and decided to let her live.  But as punishment she would forever hang, spin and weave.  She turned Arachne into a spider for being so vain as to believe she had a right to comment on the behavior of the Gods.

The message in this story is more of a warning.  The risk a woman takes (especially if she is talented) when she speaks out against the grain, when she questions authority, or an established order is high.  We are reminded that to speak the truth is to come from a place of love and compassion.

Anything said out of hatred, ego or pride will always hurt the person involved and more than likely you yourself.

I love it when my brain takes me off on a tangent, and then all the things I research connects in some way.

Just like Arachne, we develop this brash kind of truth telling.  Some call it The Critic, or the Bitch.  It's when we feel we are being challenged, and we panic.  The hormones are rushing and we lose all sense of what is right and wrong.  Our tongue becomes spiteful, we spew fury from a place of hate, believing we all of a sudden have the right to criticise others and 'tell them a thing or too'.  When we are in this place, we have to try and find calm.  Try and remember that the force we are feeling is hormonal and that the people around us are not 'out to get us' or purposely annoy us.  The only path this will lead us to is depression, feeling terrible and regretful and even suicidal.

If we can learn to look after ourselves and not expect everyone around us to figure out whats going on in our minds (especially when we don't know half the time either) we can have an easier time.  Truth, given kindly and from a place of love, will have better response from our loved ones.  If we can feel a storm, we don't have to drag everyone down with us.  It's batten down the hatches time.  It's tell your partner you need extra sleep that afternoon, or you have to go for a walk, or get away from the house.  You don't need to scream and tell them that everything they are doing is annoying, or wail and exclaim how unloved you feel.  If you have people around you who love you, they are there because they love you...  Just take yourself off somewhere to calm those irritable thoughts.  Stop the spring getting wound till it pings.

Incy Wincy could give up, she could throw a tantrum about the fact it rained again, but whats the point?  Why waste all that energy?  She has a spout to climb!

If you are interested in reading more about stories and their symbolism, I would recommend the book, Women who run with the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes.
Obviously, this is just my interpretation, and others may look at it differently!

Many Blessings!

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Alternative Menstrual Products.

A few posts back, I mentioned I used a Mooncup.  I had never blogged about it before as I just assumed that ladies would know about it.. however, with the help of my support group, it soon came to my attention that some didn't.

Did you know?
  • A woman will dispose 16,800 pads or tampons in her lifetime.
  • Approximately 20 billion pads, tampons and applicators are sent to North American landfills annually.
  • In the UK alone, 4.3 billion disposable sanitary products are used every year.
  • Disposable pads and tampons are made primarily of bleached kraft pulp or viscose rayon, the origin of which is wood cellulose from trees. What makes these products perform so effectively is the use of high tech chemicals such as super-absorbent acrylic polymers (SAPs) surfactant-laced gels and leak-proof plastic backings. The long-term health and environmental impact of these ingredients is contentious and largely unknown.
  • More than 170,000 tampon applicators were collected along U.S. coastal areas between 1998 and 1999. 
(Stats and Facts from Lunapad, Mooncup and Diva Cup)

I found out about menstrual alternatives about 13 years ago.  I had a new born baby and was already a cloth nappy convert.  I heard of the Keeper Cup.  Some friends used them and would talk about how great they were.

I decided to buy one, and at that time, the company were offering a money back guarantee!  I used it for a couple of cycles, but it was pretty alien to me.  Tampons were easy, clean and pretty much always reliable, but when I first tried the Keeper Cup, I leaked everywhere.  I was worried about leaving the house in case I leaked, and I just felt it wasn't right for me.  So, I sent it back and went back to tampons and pads.

Since then, other cups have come onto the market.  The Mooncup, Diva cup, Femmecup, Lunette Cup, and LadyCup, to name a few.

The original Keeper Cup is made from natural gum rubber (latex) and has been available since 1987.  For ladies who like everything they use to be from a natural source, these are ideal, unless you have a latex allergy!  The other cups are made of medical grade silicon, and eliminate any worries of latex allergies.  Some even come in a range of funky colours!

They are all essentially the same in shape, and perform the same function.  Most come in two sizes, pre birth and post birth (or over 30 years old).  The size of birth canal changes after you have had a child, and as you get older, so you will need a bigger cup than before!  Priced at around £16.99, they aren't going to break the bank either!

Last summer, I decided I would try the Mooncup.  I hated tampons and towels, and I am much older and wiser (and patient!) then I was in my early 20's.  I was really quite excited about it, and going in with a much more positive attitude helped!  Before I had been afraid to try again as I had failed with it the first time round.

It took a couple of cycles to really get used to inserting it.  Wearing it is simple, just like a tampon, you put it in and forget about it.  I had to cut the tail off completely as it hurt.  I cut it shorter and shorter until I couldn't feel it when it was in. It's still easy to remove and I have found the tail isn't essential to removal!

I leaked maybe once or twice during the first cycle, then, as I got used to inserting it, it became second nature.  Just like when I first started using tampons, it takes a while to get it right, but once you have, you don't even have to think about it.  I still wear a panty liner on the heavier days at the start of my period, just in case.  When the cup gets full, you may have a little bit of breakthrough bleeding... that's my indication that I need to empty the cup.  The cup can be left in for up to 8 hours without any worries of toxic shock syndrome, and because it's medical grade silicon, and not a bleached, chemical filled paper based tampon, it does not upset the pH balance of the vagina, nor strip the area of it's natural fluids.

To insert, you fold the cup up into half, then quarters.  I find it's easier to squat to get it in right, and if the cup is wet.  Then as you push the cup in, you let go of the folded cup and it springs open (a bit like a pop up tent!).  The cup sits much lower than a tampon, so it's quite strange at first as you don't need to push it in that far.  If it's not in right, I can feel it when I stand up, so I will take it out and re insert.  To remove the cup, you simply get hold of the base of the cup and squeeze.  This releases the suction and you can pull it out, being careful not to spill it!  Pour the blood down the toilet and give it a rinse under the tap, then use again!
Pads from Wemoon
My next step is to get some washable liners.  These are pads made from fabric that soak up any leaks.  They can then be put through the washing machine to be re-used.  There are some lovely ones available, or you can make your own!  If you are interested, visit Honour your flow, New Moon Pads, Wemoon, or Lunapads for more information.  Fuzbaby is a great site if you want to attempt to make your own!

Another alternative is to use menstrual sponges.  These are made from natural sea sponge and work like a tampon.  A pack of two will last around 6 months, and are a good choice if the menstrual cups are a no go for you.  Sea Pearls have a handy info guide for more information.

After using a menstrual cup for 8 months/cycles, I am converted!  I don't spend any money on tampons anymore, and a box of panty liners last around 3 cycles, so I've already saved the money I spent on buying a menstrual cup.  It''s better for the environment, and is really convenient!  I will never go back to tampons, and will soon be free of using paper pads too... It's a no brainer really.  I can limit the waste I produce by changing ONE thing.  If all women did that we would reduce the amount going to landfill by a huge amount.

Follow any of the links in this article for more information, and if that's not enough, check out some of these websites!

Plush Pants
Moon Times
Earthwise Girls

Monday, 16 April 2012

Bees and The Goddess

Melissa – Goddess of the Bees by Cat Stone 2012
Prismacolor, fine liners, acrylic paint.
Melissa is a given name for a female child. The name comes from the Greek word μέλισσα (melissa), "honey bee", which in turn comes from μέλι (meli), "honey"...... Melissa also refers to the plant known as lemon balm (family Lamiaceae; genus and species Melissa officinalis).
The Melissae - At the temple of Aphrodite at Eryx, priestesses were called “melissae”, which means “bees,” and Aphrodite herself was called Melissa, the queen bee. To read more
Bees are sacred to Venus, they are the symbol of the Goddess and the Sacred Feminine. Venus is the ultimate feminine energy. Venus rules Fridays, beauty, harmony and nectar of life. She is the Goddess of Love. She represents joy, rapture, art, music, food, indulgence, attraction, desire. In Greek mythology Venus is Aphrodite from whose name comes the word "aphrodisiac," that which induces desire. From Venus' name comes the word "venereal," which literally means "of lust."

Albert Einstein, once said that "if the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe, man would have only four years to live".

It is estimated that one third of the human food supply is down to insect pollination, most of which is done by the honeybee. Bees are being affected by Colony Collapse disorder, which is when a hive suddenly lose all it's worker bees. The hive suffers and dies. The bee population in the United Kingdom dropped by around 30% between 2007 and 2008. Pesticides are also killing our bees. Seeds sown with pesticide results in contaminated nectar.  
After six weeks, colonies exposed to the pesticide were lighter than the others, suggesting that workers had brought back less food to the hive. But the most dramatic effect was on queen production. The naturally-fed hives produced around 14 queens each - those exposed to the pesticide, just two (

Bee's are truly important to human life. As a feminine symbol, they conjure up images of millions of dedicated Melissae, working for Gaia, Mother Earth, keeping it alive. Their pollinations brings us fruit, flowers, plants.. the world would be very different without bees. The queen bee gives life to all the other bees. Far from being in control, she is their main life source. She will populate the hive. A good queen bee can lay 2000 eggs per day in the spring.

The symbol in the centre is the symbol of the sacral chakra. The sacral chakra is located below the navel in the area of the womb. It is the centre for creativity, for emotions, feelings, sexuality, manifestation, balance, honouring relationships and learning to let go. It is coloured orange, and it's element is water. Water is mutable, flowing, and feminine. Honey is one of the foods connected to helping cleanse and open up the sacral chakra.

The mandala features the Flower if Life pattern:
The Flower of Life is the modern name given to a geometrical figure composed of multiple evenly-spaced, overlapping circles. It is considered by some to be a symbol of sacred geometry, said to contain ancient, religious value depicting the fundamental forms of space and time.
There are many spiritual beliefs associated with the Flower of Life; for example, depictions of the five Platonic solids are found within the symbol of Metatron's Cube, which may be derived from the Flower of Life pattern. These Platonic solids are geometrical forms which are said to act as a template from which all life springs.

The basic symmetry of the Flower of Life - radiating hexagonally outward from the centre and branching off into more hexagonally radiating structures - is also the basic shape of a snowflake. Life originally evolved in water, and all life on Earth requires water as the essential compound of life. Therefore, an additional aspect to the symbolism is to be found in the fact that the geometrical structure of crystallized water is also the basic structure of the Flower of Life (

To find out more about helping preserve our bees, follow some of these links!

British Beekeepers Association
Vanishing of the Bees
Bumblebee Conservation Trust

All artwork © Cat Stone 2012

Blessed Bee xx

HAWMC blog challenge

So.. I did ok for a week... then it was time to bleed, and ever since my thoughts have been far from blogging.  So, herein lies the issue with PMDD.  There is no continuity.  I kept looking back over the prompts and every single one seemed like an impossible task.. where as a week before they all seemed challenging and exciting.

I have not been sleeping well, and generally I've been focused on keeping myself balanced and stable.  Every time I got stressed about the blog challenge, I just had to walk away, and forget about it.

I kinda feel like I failed...  but then, I have to think about the fact I DID get a weeks worth of posts out.. and compared to my normal rate of 2-3 blogs a month, that's pretty good going!  I have got some good ideas for blogs in the future and will always have the prompts to fall back on!

As writing seemed impossible, I got on with a new drawing.. which, even if I do say so myself, has come out really well.  Seeing what I have achieved makes me let go of any guilt of disappointment over not continuing with the blog challenge.

That's what it's all about.  Releasing the stress.. weighing it up and really asking yourself if it's worth getting upset about!

Most of the time, that's NO!

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

I will never forget you...

4 years ago today, I lost a very special lady. Beryl Adelaide Mathers.
My Nan.

Her choices brought my Anglo Indian family from Secunderabad in India to the UK in search of a better, and safer life. She married Ken, a Yorkshire man and engineer in the Merchant Navy. 
She was a nurse during the war and drove an ambulance for the Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service for India. She had 4 children and loved brightly coloured flowers and clothes, sparkles, cooking, birds singing, sunshine, gardening and possessed a wicked sense of humor. 
No one's curry was as good as hers and every ones plants, no matter where they were, were ripe for pinching a cutting from.... 
Alzheimer's took her mind long before her body, but she was still Nan... Mum.. 

I thank the Goddess that she managed to hold my babies in her arms before she left. Fae was born on her birthday and is a joyous reminder of a wonderful woman. 

I love you Nan... Miss you ♥

Monday, 9 April 2012

A bit of a stumble

So what happened to my blog challenge posts for the past few days?

That would be a late period, followed by finally getting my bleed on Saturday, coupled with Easter weekend and family commitments and a new drawing trying to be birthed (it feels like the slowest process on record when the kids are on half term!)

I have had the worst cramps and it's day 3 and still going...  my mind is all over the place and the weather has turned back a few months and it's cold and pouring with rain.  The mood in my world right now is low and unstable.

I hope to catch up with posts and continue with the challenge again as soon as I can.  The nature of the beast....  Impossible to keep the flow for a whole 30 days.  I'm stumbling, but as always, I will pick myself up, brush myself off and get on with it all again soon.


Thursday, 5 April 2012

Ekphrasis Post

Day 5 of the Health Activist Writers Month Challenge.

Ekphrasis Post. Go to and write a post inspired by the image. Can you link it to your health focus? Don’t forget to post the image!

Ekphrasis: a literary description of or commentary on a visual work of art.

Art by

I love this type of challenge!! mainly because it always amazes me how the 'chance' picture you come across can be so apt.

Wow... and this image couldn't be more perfect for PMDD.  A girl alone on a dirt track.  The sky behind full of storm clouds.  A cage.

PMDD is certainly a cage of symptoms that has a door on time release.  When the turmoil of hormones looses it's grip, the cage door is flung open, allowing the real woman to escape.  Freedom.  Release.  Excitement and energy.  We fly away from the PMDD, even if only for a few days.  Then, as the cycle turns, the door slams shut, and again, we find ourselves trapped in the crazy emotions and anxiety that our sensitivity to hormones brings.  We are walking alone again, along that dirt track, withe the clouds heavy with rain.

Like the girl in the picture, we hold on to this cage, as for some, it is all we know.  The cage can be comfortable in that sense.  Plus there is an element of not being able to get rid of the cage, as that is to some extent, out of out control.  It's like out hands are superglued to the picture.

This picture, encompasses so many elements of PMDD.  Why is she sitting down? is she tired of carrying the cage?  She watches the colourful birds flying away... almost with envy that they are free and she still has a long way to walk through the storm.  It could rain at any moment.  There is uncertainty.  Just like living with PMDD...  The uncertainty of how we will feel from one day to the next.  The fear that we will be forever trapped.

But the birds DO fly free.  In the same way that every month we find that freedom, and can leave the cage, and the storm, behind.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

I write about my health because...

Day 4 of the Health Activist Writers Month Challenge.

I write about my health because… Reflect on why you write about your health for 15-20 minutes without stopping.

It's weird... for me writing about my life and disorder has become normal, but I guess others may see it as a bit bizarre or self indulgent.  I can't imagine NOT writing out the things in my head.

I started blogging over 10 years ago.  Back then, I had no idea I had PMDD.  My marriage had just ended, a relationship of 10 years.  I was on my own in a strange town as I'd moved away with my daughter who was then 3 years old.  I had a computer and access to the internet and I was stuck in alone, every single day and night, trying to raise a child and dealing with being single for the first time in my adult.

I relied on chat rooms mainly, for company of an evening and then I discovered blogging.  The platform of choice was Diary X and the computer (and internet) was run by hamsters.  I could remain anonymous, and I would type out all my feelings and talk about the things that had happened to me in my life.  I look back and cringe at the honesty.  The things I would reveal and share to the world.  I often do the same about some of my earlier posts on this blog, but the honesty has led me to where I am now.  Being able to help and comfort hundreds of other women who read my blog.

I write about my health because it gives my mind an outlet.  PMDD makes my thoughts spiral.  I find myself full of words and no one to say them too.  A blog gives me that space to let it all out.

Moods and Musings is 5 years old this year.  For the first 3 years, it was a place to feel sorry for myself.  It was a place to let out my frustrations.  When I started this blog, I had been diagnosed with Pre Menstrual Dysphoric disorder.  I didn't blog that regularly, but I knew it was there if I needed it.  It was called Moods and Musings as I ofter liked to write about things other than my disorder, and my mind wanders.. I like to indulge that.  In the past two years my focus changed.  I was fed up with just spilling out my woes, and I also figured that it was all becoming a pretty depressing read.  So, I decided to start writing articles and compiling informative blog posts that would have the potential of helping others.  At the same time I started a support group on Facebook, that has gone from strength to strength and I now have a total of 3 meeting places on Facebook for women with PMDD.

My health over the past 5 years has also improved.  My life has changed dramatically, and in turn has given me more strength to find the positive in things.  I have learned better ways of dealing and living with PMDD.  I have my journey here in front of me.... and it's out there for others to share.
I still write about my experiences, but I now try to make every post more positive.  Yes, women with PMDD are looking for women with similar stories, and to know that they aren't the only one, but they are also looking for alternative ways of coping, for tips, ideas and theories that might shed some light on their life.

So, I now blog because I know I have readers.. because I know that my articles have helped others to come to some realisation that in turn has helped them.  I STILL need an outlet for my busy mind and all the thoughts in my head, and for as long as I can find things to write about, I will be blogging!

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Superpower Day!

Day 3 of the Health Activist Writers Month Challenge.

Superpower Day. If you had a superpower – what would it be? How would you use it?

It took me a long time to think of an answer to this as I believe that there are many 'powers' that us humans have that are pretty super!

If I were to have a superpower, it would have to be teleportation.  I would love to be able to go anywhere in the world at the wiggle of a nose.. in a kitch Bewitched stylee!

On my bad days, I could zip over to Australia or America to meet up with some of my very good online friends who are also sufferers of PMDD, or find myself sitting on a beach in Hawaii while it pours down with rain the in UK.

I'm not the best at traveling, especially alone, so to be able to think about where I want to go, then pop up there a few seconds later would just be the best power.

I could go see bands that I love when they tour everywhere except for England, and catch things early in the cinema!!

I would nip over to New York to meet my favourite artist Alex Grey and attend one of his full moon events, and enrol on some of the courses in the USA that I just simply drool over when reading about!

The first place I would go is to India.  It has been my dream destination since I was a child.  I am Anglo Indian, and would love to spend time over there and visit where my grandparents lived... I would visit all the amazing historic places around the globe, but not before purchasing a very fancy camera so I could log all my travels!

Monday, 2 April 2012

Quotation Inspiration

Day 2 of the Health Activist Writers Month Challenge.

Quotation Inspiration. Find a quote that inspires you (either positively or negatively) and free write about it for 15 minutes.
Even a happy life cannot be without a measure of darkness, and the word happy would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness. It is far better to take things as they come along, with patience and equanimity.
Carl Jung
I have chosen this quote as sufferers of PMDD are on a constant mission to find happiness, often forgetting that everyone is on the same mission.  The reason it becomes such an obsession is because PMDD leads the sufferer to experience extreme states of depression and anxiety, often without the equal amount of euphoria on the 'good' days, as with bipolar sufferers.  Sure, with my PMDD I experience a rush of energy and feelings of happiness, but due to the rapid cycling of symptoms, it can sometimes be clouded by the knowledge that this will be short lived.

It is often talked about that to gauge happiness, we have to experience sadness.  Without something to measure it against, we would be oblivious to the different states of mind.  The main difference between life with PMDD and life without PMDD is the monthly cycle.  If you don't have PMDD, happy times can last longer than a few days.  With PMDD, you know that inevitably, the clouds will roll in eventually and your mood will drop.  I know that every sufferer lives in hope that this month will be the month when it doesn't happen, only to feel frustrated and disappointed when it does.

As the quote suggests, it is much better to take every day as it comes and react accordingly.  This is not easy with the busy lives we lead, with commitments and duties, but if you want to get through each month without a major breakdown, it is often essential.  When we say that PMDD affects every single aspect of your life, every single day of the month we are not exaggerating.

Patience is also key.   The dictionary describes patience as 'the bearing of provocation, annoyance, misfortune, or pain, without complaint, loss of temper, irritation, or the like'.  'An ability or willingness to suppress restlessness or annoyance when confronted with delay' and 'a quiet, steady perseverance; even-tempered care; diligence.'  When your mood drops, you are likely to be confronted with many negative emotions.  Everything can annoy you, frustrate you and cause anxiety.  The one thing we can be sure of during these times, is that they are temporary, and the same things in a week or so, will not affect you in the same way.  Therefore, to be patient, with yourself and others is a really good way to get through these trying times.

Equanimity is an evenness of mind especially under stress.  This is very challenging for a woman with PMDD, as the usual perceptions of life and the world around them is twisted and warped, however, if we can try to strive for this calm, by keeping centered, then we can get through the rough times with less stress.  Other words to described equanimity are, composure, collectedness, serenity and tranquility.  It's about staying in the centre of the wheel, while the world spins around you, rather then falling into the outer rim of the wheel and being spun around and caught up in the crazy emotions.

Women with PMDD are actually blessed with being able to feel the full spectrum of emotions, and as the quote suggests, it is essential to accept the dark times as a valuable measure of the good times.  Women with PMDD can achieve great things, they hold great strength within and are very intelligent and capable.  Every success is even sweeter when accomplished alongside PMDD, as the road to get there is more difficult for them than it is for others.

If I were to sum up PMDD visually, it would be a Yin Yang.  The black side, representing the bad days, but with a spot of white to remind you this is temporary and good things ARE possible. With the flip side being the white side, that will always contain a spot of black, representing the fact that you have travelled through dark times to reach this place.  It also symbolises the fact that within the good times, there is always a pang that the dark times will come, and more importantly, within the dark times, there is always light at the end of the tunnel.  Clear thinking will always return and life will feel good again.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

PMDD Time Capsule

Day 1 of the Health Activist Writers Month Challenge.

Health Time Capsule. Pretend you’re making a time capsule of you & your health focus that won’t be opened until 2112. What’s in it? What would people think of it when they found it?

If I created a time capsule for PMDD, I would have to include a few books on the subject.

The PMDD Phenomenon by Diana Dell would be one, as it was the first book I read about PMDD that helped me chart and get diagnosed.  From the medical point of view it covers pretty much everything you need to know about PMDD although sadly, now out of print and a little out of date, it was a saving grace when everything else failed to give me the information I needed.

My book!!  Obviously, I would need to finish it first!  It will be a compilation of many women's personal stories of their PMDD.  This book will be the real life version of PMDD.. in women's own words.

The Women's Quest workbook by Alexandra Pope.  This workbook enabled me to understand my menstrual cycle in a different way, and showed me that it isn't all bad, and there are valid reasons for the up's and down's.  I attribute most of my healing to this way of thinking and continue to learn about the spiritual side of the menstrual cycle and it's gifts.  Learning to observe and keep calm is essential to keeping on track and not letting you mind spin out of control.

Mood Charts to show the people of the future how much information is needed to diagnose PMDD.  Very few people realise how much this disorder affect every aspect of your life, and how hard it is to get the correct diagnosis.

A Mooncup.  This simple little device has helped my periods get lighter and less painful.  It is eco-friendly and means a lot less waste going into landfill.  I think everyone should try one!!  I have been using one for 8 months and my periods are now very light and only last a few days.  It's a fantastic little invention.

My Menstrual Cycle Energy Poster, that illustrates the symbolic nature of the menstrual cycle.

I would also include some of my art that I created about PMDD.

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