Author, vlogger, and trainee counsellor, our columnist Grace Victory delves into taboo topics, and shares her raw, personal insight each month
In 2016, I decided it was time to come off my contraceptive pill. I started taking it when I was 19, without being fully informed of the side-effects these hormones could have on my health. So by the time I was 26, I had this sudden realisation that I had no idea what I was putting into my body.
Being the inquisitive woman I am, I began some research and stumbled upon hundreds of articles that spoke about the link between the pill and reproductive or menstrual issues, which really resonated with me. My periods had become few and far between, and I often sensed a huge disconnection from my body on a spiritual level. I felt I was silencing my physical form from doing its thing. So I came off it, hoping my problems with menstrual health would end, but in reality, they were just beginning.
A few months after coming off the pill, I started to bleed non-stop. The bleeding would sometimes be extremely heavy, and other times extremely light. After getting the all clear from my GP, and numerous tests for things like PCOS and endometriosis, I sat with myself for a few days. I could hear my intuition telling me that this was my womb healing, and now was the chance for me to connect to my cycle. So that’s exactly what I started to do.
I read books, I meditated, I attended womb-healing circles, and I began to journal my cycle daily. I would write how I felt emotionally and physically, the colour and feel of my discharge, as well as any other symptoms and feelings I thought were relative. After a year or so, and with much patience and inner belief, my body started to respond. My periods became more regular and consistent, and slowly but surely my flow became ‘normal’ for me. I recognised stress would make my period late, and one month my bleed would last six days and another it would last three to four days. Without journaling, I wouldn’t have known any of this. And then I noticed something in my journal entries that completely shocked me.
There were times every month where I felt hopeless, sad and actually quite depressed. I would cry and cry, and sometimes I didn’t even know why. It felt like a thick grey cloud was following me, that made me change into a completely different person. I would become more needy, passive aggressive and snappy. There have also been times I couldn’t get out of bed in the mornings because life felt a bit too much. I would sleep more, eat more, and scream more. I was a hot mess. A beautiful, wild, mess of a woman.
You see, we aren’t really taught that we are cyclic beings, and therefore our bodies and moods will change throughout the month. Due to hormones that can sometimes change dramatically, how we feel can change dramatically too. If you’re dealing with other mental health issues, these can feel unbearable during your bleed – they become heightened and exacerbated. Spiritually, it’s like all the things you need to reveal and heal are bleeding out too. There is something to be said about allowing our stresses and anguish to shine during this time. If we really think about it, we often play it small and struggle to stand in our power, maybe our bleeding allows us to change that?
There is no shame in admitting you feel a little off balance at this time, or any time for that matter
There is also a condition that has now been recognised as premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), which is very severe PMS. It is very real and something that so many people experience. If you’re a highly sensitive person, you are more likely to experience PMDD due to increased sensitivity to hormones. You’ll know what is ‘normal’ for you, and what mood swings are manageable or unmanageable. It’s also worth saying that understanding a dip in your mental health because of your cycle can help to ease confusion, and give you an understanding of why a low mood is occurring.
For me, I now know that when I am hitting a part in my cycle where my hormones are going to affect me, I keep my schedule more free and I have my period self-care tools on hand. I try to honour whatever I feel during this time, and I let my therapist know that the period cloud is on its way. Planning is key for me, so I am not knocked for six with an unexpected mental health dip.
There is no shame in admitting you feel a little off balance at this time, or any time for that matter. Speak to your GP, and do some research on connecting to your womb so that you can understand your cycle better.
The cloud will float away eventually. Love Grace x
Come back next month for more from Grace!