I have always believed in a mind-body connection, but it seemed kind of vague and hard to quantify. I’d notice that when I was happy I felt better physically…but on the other hand, perhaps I was feeling happy because I felt well physically? In the world of cause-and-effect, it could go either way. Not particularly definitive.
But now I have actual physical (pun intended) proof. Without a doubt. There IS a connection between the state of my mind and the health of my body.
(Warning for male readers: the rest of this post acknowledges the reality that women have a monthly cycle.)
In the almost three decades that I’ve been getting my period, it has been irregular. In fact, irregular is far too understated a word to describe the erratic variations I’ve experienced from month to month.
It would be anywhere from three weeks to seven weeks between cycles. Sometimes it was four days, usually it was eight. Sometimes I only had mild PMS but cramps so bad that it sent me to bad all day. Other times, I had 10 days of PMS but mild cramps. Many months I had terrible bouts of both.
It has been like a never-ending roller coaster and I could never see what was around the next bend. I always had to carry supplies with me when I traveled because I had no idea if it would show up. I stopped looking at the calendar as a means of prediction decades ago.
My brief foray into trying to control my cycle using The Pill was an unmitigated disaster because the hormones were a nightmare on my body. I’ve tried herbs, homeopathics, Chinese herbs, meditation…you name it, I’ve tried it. And nothing ever came close to addressing the issue.
A few months ago, I was with some female friends and we were talking about the symptoms each of us experienced around our periods. In the middle of the conversation, I burst into hysterical tears. (Thankfully they’re very good friends and they weren’t freaked out!)
I was in such a state that for a little while I couldn’t even talk. So I wrote the words that were flying around in my head. Here they are, totally unfiltered and unedited:
Nothing ever worked to regulate my period because at a basic level, I never felt like having an easy, regular period was possible for me. I didn’t deserve to have an easy, regular period – I needed to have a heavy, irregular period so that my image of myself as a dirty, ugly person would persist. This is PUNISHMENT. Continuing to have an irregular period allowed me to continue feeling like a victim of my period rather than feeling like it was my partner in creating my life.
OHMYGOSH! That’s a whole lot of crap to be carrying around and attaching to myself and my period. No wonder it sucked!
This wonderful group of women supported me as the cathartic sobs took hold of my mind and my body.
That was five months ago. And since that day, my period has shown up every 28 days. On the nose. Five months in a row.
This has never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever happened before. EVER. And while I still have some PMS and some cramping, it is a TOTALLY different experience. And I can actually predict when they’re going to happen, which is amazing!
The funny thing is that I’m so used to NOT looking at my calendar, I keep getting surprised when it shows up on time!
This is life-changing stuff. I know that may sound hyperbolic to men or to women who have never had problems with their period. But for those of you who have problems with your menstrual cycle, I bet you know what I mean.
I no longer feel like my cycle is controlling me. I no longer feel like a victim of my body.
After 30 years, it took one afternoon to totally change my body’s relationship with itself. And there is absolutely no question that the shift was a result of an emotional release.
My mind let go of some old crap and my body got healthier.