Tuesday, 14 July 2015

PMDD in Chat it's fate magazine.

Today, my story came out in the August edition of Chat it's fate magazine.  I was contacted by them earlier in the year to share my story about PMDD, the menstrual cycle and my art.  I felt this was a way to raise some awareness of how severe PMS can become, along with how I came to heal myself from the worst symptoms.  If you would like to read my story you can find it in all larger newsagents for the next month.

If you are interested in finding out more about PMDD, please check out my PMDD blog, Meet My PMDD, or visit the UK's National Association for Premenstrual Syndrome (NAPS) or the USA's National Association for Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder.

To find out more about the alternative ways of understanding the menstrual cycle, please have a read through my Natural Shaman blog, particularly the article I wrote for Indie Shaman magazine, The Magic of the Menstrual Cycle and my experience at a menstrual workshop with Alexandra Pope.

Sign up to learn more about your menstrual cycle with Red School Online.  Red School Online is a new way to learn about your cycle, with peer support, fantastic learning tools and private group chat.  Go check it out!

Red School also features some of my work in their teaching materials, you can find my poster in my Etsy store.  If you would like to see more of my feminine art work, please visit my gallery over at chaoticat.com.

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Question time!

During the month of April 2015, I am inviting questions via my Facebook Page.  If there is anything you would like to ask me, then please leave a message on my page and I will do my best to reply in the form of a blog post.

The first question left on my page by Elizabeth is:

I'm wondering why it is you've distanced yourself so abruptly from the PMDD movement? 
So many women were inspires by you and you helped so many with getting going.

I am very grateful for the first question as I still feel people don't understand why I no longer write about PMDD or have much to do with the pages and groups I created.  Back in December 2013, I wrote a lengthy blog about my reasons for moving away from the work I was doing.  You can read that here.

The main reason I have distanced myself from the PMDD movement is to enable my own healing. Over the years, it became very apparent that no form of medication, hormone treatment or other would work for me.  I also had clear lines that I wouldn't cross, so very much came to the end of the road of options.  In giving up all medications, hormone treatments etc, I was leaving myself very vulnerable and exposed.

I had only started the blog as a way to express myself and share what was happening to me.  I had never imagined it would get so many readers and that I would meet hundreds of women through my support groups etc... I never knew I would set up support groups in the first place!!  I had no idea I would go to a newspaper, attend a PMS conference, end up on a Mental Health website or start an awareness movement!

Doing all these things gave me a positive focus and something to spend my time on.  For around 4 years my life was nothing but PMDD.  Dealing with my own symptoms, writing blogs, sharing stories, supporting people in the support groups and often going above and beyond what should be expected of a mum of two from Hampshire.  It often supported me. Making friends and finding others who wanted to raise awareness and start groups was a bonus.  I made so many lovely friends, met so many lovely people, and really felt like I had made some small difference, even if that difference was just uniting women so they could support each other.

It would be worth noting here that it wasn't all a wonderful experience.  I have been publicly and privately attacked, and had to deal regularly with stress and problems that arose in support groups. Quite often this stress would send me down a bad road, and I would then suffer the effects of simply being on the receiving end of someone else's problems, even though I'd only tried to help or keep the peace.

In all the chat and support groups, I realised that I was not going to be happy with a lifetime of pills, or surgery etc, and my spiritual healing began...  Working with my cycle and having to completely change my way of thinking meant that I could no longer write about things the same way.  In fact, as I was learning and going through it all, I couldn't write about much at all.  I didn't understand it enough to share it with anyone.  My focus had to move away from the groups and blog.  My focus had to be directed at me and nothing else.  You can read a little about this journey here and here.

I have changed my life.  It is unrecognisable from the life I had when I started this blog. The only way I could do that was to heal myself my own way and that meant stepping away from the PMDD environment.  Even saying I have PMDD is going against all the healing I have done.

For me, I could no longer identify with PMDD.  I had to see myself as well, not un-well. Telling people I had PMDD just affirmed it every time.  I could no longer talk in the groups as I was trying a method of healing that most didn't really understand.  I couldn't keep taking myself back to dark places, and being part of the support groups and pages meant I regularly had to deal with dark things, or be reminded of them.  I felt guilty, like I was turning my back on the people I'd met and who had supported me through stuff many times. I had to move on though, despite everything I'd built.  I had to let it go as it was the only way I was going to heal.

I had never dreamt of being a PMDD spokesperson, or activist, I had never daydreamed of running support groups and awareness campaigns.  All of it just happened, and a time came, where I could no longer sustain it or be a part of it.  I had to be completely selfish.  I had to walk away and focus on my own healing.  I was not going to be taking meds, or going for surgery.  What I was doing was completely changing the way I think and see my dis-order. This required total commitment to myself and meant I had to step out of the PMDD world.

I now find myself feeling very different towards PMDD.  You could say it's almost a complete U-turn.  I don't feel the same way about it as I did.  I can't write about it like I did, and as yet, I still don't have the vocabulary or time to explain it all.  Imagine being told that to heal yourself, you need to deny PMDD exists in the way it is currently understood.  That you need to avoid meds and hormones and that you need to possibly change your life completely.  Essentially, that is what I have done, so you can see why I don't want to shout about it, despite feeling amazing and completely different to how I was just 6 years years ago.

I am proud of what I've achieved but can no longer support it in the same way.  I am thrilled others have grabbed the baton and continued the race.  NAPMDD is doing a grand job of continuing raising awareness, and I am so pleased someone is working hard to get the word out.  For many, the support is needed, for all, research is needed, and that will only happen if women put on the pressure and find ways and people who can make that happen.

For me and my 'PMDD' I have to follow a different path.  The support groups helped me for a while, then became a source of stress.  The writing and campaigning gave me something positive to do with my time and helped me make sense of it all.  The experiences I had and knowledge I gained was simply amazing, but all I wanted to once I started feeling better was paint and create, follow my dreams of being an artist and teacher.  I couldn't do any of this is my days were full of PMDD.

I now fill my time with colour and paint.  I teach meditation and using art as meditation.  I have a volunteer job and one day, I may be able to be self employed and work properly again.  My relationships are better, my kids are happier.  I'm happy with my life and with the potential paths that lay ahead.  What happened with my PMDD blog, the groups etc was all an essential part of me getting where I am and I will always be grateful for the experience.  I will never forget the friends I have made along the way, and will always support the 'cause' in my own way, even if others think that way is strange!

To see my art, head on over to www.chaoticat.com or check my Facebook Page here!

I hope that answers your question Elizabeth.  Thank you for participating!

Friday, 3 April 2015

PMDD Awareness Month 2015

Show your support! 

The National Association for PMDD is continuing the PMDD Awareness month throughout April. 

Use the hashtag #pmddbrave

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