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Sep 24

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Proof of the mind-body connection. Period.

PeriodI 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.

Amazing.

Period.

About the author

Leah Carey

Leah Carey is the Chief Miracle Officer of The Miracle Journal, where she writes about the large and small miracles that happen in her life every day. She is a life coach, speaker, journalist, freelance writer, and lover of life. In all of those pursuits, she works with people to identify what’s already right in your life so you can build an even more joyful and fulfilling daily experience from that foundation. You can find her on Facebook, , Twitter, and YouTube.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.themiraclejournal.com/2014/09/24/proof-of-the-mind-body-connection-period/

2 comments

  1. Jen

    Leah, thanks so much for sharing! I can totally relate to this mind, body AND spirit connection of our lives and our menstrual cycles.

    In January of 2010, I moved in with my (then) fiancé and unexpectedly stopped getting my period. After countless doctors visits and testing, there was simply no medical explanation for what was going on with my hormones and menstrual cycle. I was simply not ovulating and menstruating. Granted, I had also been taking the pill for over a decade (since high school) and had recently stopped when I began a yoga teacher training course and more holistic lifestyle.

    Then the swarm of advice came in: go back on the pill, get hormone shots, one Obgyn even advised me to continuously try to get pregnant because that’s what a young, healthy woman’s body is made for and nothing would regulate my system like having a baby.

    It was absolute chaos, externally and internally, for me!

    As a yogi, acupressurist, and intuitive woman, the unhappiness in my relationship as well as the signs to end it, were there all along, but I was literally fighting against my Self (mind, body & spirit). I was suppressing my own wants, needs and who I was… and, in turn, my womanhood was simply going with the flow of who I was choosing to be, which was: unhappy… going along in a relationship that I knew wasn’t right… praying, hoping & wishing that I’d never have children with this man, etc.

    Fast forward… we got married in May of 2011 (after postponing once in September of 2010). Still no period.

    We had lived on the first floor of an old family house and several weeks after getting married my grandmother passed away (who had also lived there when she was first married… as did my parents, and great-grandparents). My husband and I were there at her bedside, which brought back some painful emotions of his own father’s passing. That night, he had a terrible nightmare and was screaming in his sleep, and while sleeping, ended up beginning to strangle me. It all happened so quickly, and he quickly woke up and as I tried to jump out of bed to turn on the lights, I had fainted. (On a side note, I would just like to say he was probably the most non-violent person I had ever met. I’m not accusing him of trying to hurt me, he was totally asleep, which was even scarier for both of us.)

    There was a constant state of fear looming in the house after that. For months we did not sleep in that bedroom, nor next to each other. And, yes, we were “newlyweds.”

    For our first anniversary, we moved all of our bedroom furniture into our other bedroom in an attempt to start anew. At 3am, on the eve of our anniversary, I woke up extremely hungry. Starving, in fact.

    So I got out of bed and made myself a bowl of cereal. I don’t even eat cereal. I usually despised it. But I was hungry, and it was easy. Open a box, pour into a bowl, add some almond milk and viola! A thoughtless meal that would hopefully hold me over until breakfast in the morning.

    I can vaguely remember sitting there, feeling glum and looking down in disgust. “What was I eating?” … “What was I doing here?”… these were a few of my many thoughts.

    I still had a half of bowl of cereal left but it was revolting to sit there unhappily any longer. I dreaded going back to bed, but I felt like I had to at that moment.

    Plus, I really lost my appetite thinking about how one whole entire year had passed since our wedding day.

    So I stood up, didn’t even push my chair in and walked back towards the bedroom.

    As I reached the bedroom door, which was only approximately ten feet away from the kitchen table, I was startled by a loud crash.

    The brass ceiling fan above the kitchen table where I had just been sitting, made a clean split with the ceiling and crashed directly onto my bowl of cereal, the table and chair I was just sitting in, within seconds before. The entire table, the chair, the bowl…. Everything was shattered into pieces by the impact of this antique (and extremely heavy) brass-ceiling fixture.

    What a wake up call!!!

    If I had one more bite of cereal, I would have most likely been dead!

    Life is short and can be taken from us in any moment… is it really worth choosing to be unhappy?!?!

    I know this story doesn’t sound so “period-related” but I’m getting there, I promise. And, it all intertwines with the mind-body-spirit connection, how our internal and external worlds are aligned.

    As I was cleaning up the broken pieces of wood, the shattered pieces of glass, and dealing with my disoriented husband, I was angry at first. I was crying, and quickly something within me remembered that there was way more than this physical mess in front of me to be clean up. As I was picking up the pieces, I began to pray. I remember thanking God for this, and asking for the courage to help to get me to a better place. I didn’t expect it to be that night, or the next day, but I specifically asked that within a year, I would somehow feel like myself again and be in a better place.

    (I must admit, I also felt a little Liz Gilbert-ish, and thought of her pre-“Eat, Pray, Love” journey as she described herself sitting there crying one night, unhappily married and praying in desperation for guidance on what she should do.)

    The pieces can easily be cleaned up, but it might take some time to be put back together or to realize which ones can be discarded.

    Fast-forward… another year. Our 2nd anniversary is quickly approaching. We’re still together, still somewhat content… STILL. NO. PERIOD.

    10 days before our anniversary, I saw a Facebook post from a mutual yogi-friend/nutritionist, who needed an assistant for her upcoming detox retreats in the Bahamas. She asked that anyone who was interested respond with a little blurb about themselves and she would go with her heart/gut on choosing her new assistant.

    It felt like a far-fetched dream, and I never thought I would’ve been picked… but she chose me! I was ecstatic. Yoga, healthy food, working with a world-known nutritionist… in the Bahamas!

    Then she told me to hurry up and book my flight because I needed to be there within days. Ahhhhhhhh.

    At first, a ton of reasons (excuses) sank in as to why I couldn’t go. What about my job? What about my anniversary? What about my future-sister-in-law’s scheduled brain tumor surgery? And… was I really going to let these three main things hold me back from one of the first things I had been excited about for as as long as I could recall?!?!

    The job part ended up being easy. When discussed with my boss, he left me with the ultimatum that if I wasn’t at work on Monday, I no longer had a job. Yes, I felt partly crazy in walking away from a place where I had worked for 3 years and although there were aspects I didn’t like, I ultimately loved working with the patients and helping them along on their journeys. I knew, deep down, it was no longer for me. The long hours and extra “crap” was exhausting me. So… just like that… I no longer had a job… and I had never been happier!

    Second, I briefly talked with my husband, and he assured me that an anniversary is just a day and we could always celebrate another time. (And after our first anniversary, who really knew what to expect any way). All in all, he was completely supportive of me going on this journey.

    And, lastly, I apologized that I wouldn’t be there during my future-sister-in-laws surgery or immediate recovery, but that I’d be sending my prayers and since I was newly unemployed, I’d be glad to help in any way during her recovery for the entire summer. She was completely understanding, and said she would be mad if I didn’t go because of her.

    Those three mind-obstacles were literally hurdled within minutes, as soon as I decided to lift my leg in the direction of my own truth and happiness.

    I was completely nervous and scared. In fact, I think I even texted you from the airport, Leah… something along the lines of “Yes, I can’t believe I’m really doing this.”

    I had been to the Bahamas before so I felt comfortable navigating my way alone to the yoga ashram. I would be staying there in a tent for 2 weeks.

    I was nervous, anxious, excited…. Most of all I felt free.

    Severe thunderstorms welcomed me to this tropical island. I unpacked, went to dinner and the events for the evening to mingle a bit and then headed back to my tent. The wifi didn’t work, my iPhone was dead and I was afraid to plug into the wires that ran from tent to tent in the rain, so I amused myself by singing in the dark. The only song that came to mind was “Welcome to the Jungle” by Guns N’Roses… so I sang/hummed it over and over, out loud and in my mind.

    What the heck was I thinking… quitting my job to lay in a tent in a tropical storm and pray not to get electrocuted?!?!

    Suddenly I was struck with the worst bout of stomach cramps I’d ever experienced. At this point, I hadn’t had my period in 3 ½ years. I thought to myself… “Come on, there’s no way this could really be happening right now.”

    I prepared to weather the storm, got my flashlight ready and trekked out in the heavy rain to the nearest bathroom.

    No sign of my period, but I could feel it was coming.

    I walked back to my tent and tried to sleep through the night, even with these unbearable cramps.

    I awoke the next morning to nothing but sunshine and a heavy period. As awful and gross as this may sound, I ended up having my period (as heavy as imaginable) for the entire time I was there in the Bahamas.

    When I spoke with the teacher I was working with, who instantly became a mentor to me and one of my dearest friends still, she reminded me that our bodies respond when we are in our truth, living our truth, authentically and for ourselves.

    Please note: I spent our 2nd anniversary far from nearly being killed by a ceiling fan, and certainly “in a better place.”

    Fast-forward, again… a month later, I wasn’t really sure what to expect… Did the trip regulate my hormones? Would I have a regular period?

    I had changed a ton of my thoughts and beliefs, I had tuned into myself again, and altered my consciousness about my diet. I explored plant-based eating, and since have shed 40lbs. Not much, on the surface, had really changed with my marriage though.

    It would be another 6 months until I got my period again. I was out in New York City, during a snowstorm with two of best and lifelong friends, and finally, said out loud, that I wanted a divorce. This was a huge moment for me. I had felt I wanted this for nearly as long as I was married, if not before we even got married, but I for some (and many) reasons did not have the courage to act upon it or even say it out loud.

    It was as if surge of electricity shot through my entire being. And, yes, that night I got my period again.

    Only this time, it didn’t stop after a week or two weeks. It didn’t stop for 3 months!

    Again, I had gone to several doctors and nothing was adding up or making any sense to them. I didn’t need or want hormone shots, and wasn’t thrilled about taking the pill. I’d made a personal decision to ride this (crimson) wave until it stopped. I went for regular blood tests to make sure I wasn’t anemic due to this heavy blood loss, and everything always came back fine. After all, I was eating nutrient-dense and antioxidant-rich meals, courtesy of my inspiring time in the Bahamas.

    My apologies for the grotesque details, but I just kept on bleeding. My husband and I had grown even further apart each and every day that passed from the time I went to the Bahamas nearly 6 months before. It also helped me realize how very different we always were, and all of the extra effort that I knew on my end I was putting in just as a front to make things seem bearable and okay every single day.

    I was becoming myself, and rather than letting all of that extra effort exhaust me and take away from who I am, it somehow shifted into love for myself. And amongst this love for myself, a new love for him was awoken too. A love in the sense that I wanted the best for both of us, and that didn’t necessarily mean it would ever happen by us being together. I wanted to be myself, and could tell that we both were trying to force something that just wasn’t right. I wanted him to be himself too.

    Eleven weeks of bleeding had passed. Some days lighter or heavier than others. In all of the research, and soul-searching, I knew I had to talk to him and my family.

    I had been talking to myself about this moment for what felt like an eternity.

    I anticipated the time when I would finally be able to talk to him. If I could leave my job and pick up and go to a foreign country and camp out in a tent during a tropical storm, I should be able to talk to a guy I married, right?!

    I talked to my parents and two sisters earlier in the day. They were nothing but supportive. Thank God for them!

    Then I talked to my husband that same evening. It didn’t go as smoothly as I had hoped, but it ignited the conversation. And as we all know, “you can’t start a fire without a spark.”

    I’m pretty sure that we both knew it was over that night.

    Ironically, my 12-week period had ended that evening too.

    Some may think these irregular menstrual moments coincided with these major life moments coincidentally. Having lived through them for nearly five years, I firmly believe that our inner thoughts, feelings and emotions directly impact our physical bodies.

    Several weeks passed and I finally filed for divorce, on our 3rd anniversary. No near-death experiences, or glimpses of paradise. Just me signing papers with an expensive attorney walking distance from our home.

    And, yes, a regulated menstrual cycle.

    1. Leah Carey

      Wow, Jen – this is AMAZING. Thank you so much for sharing your story. I’m looking forward to talking to you about all of this soon! <3

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