Cramping, bloating, hormonal breakouts, weepiness, and irritability—the familiar but oh so dreadful symptoms of PMS. Roughly 75% of menstruating women suffer from some variety of PMS. Symptoms can begin as early as two weeks before the onset of a woman’s period. Often, these symptoms—particularly those concerning our emotions—effect our relationships and performance at work.
Indeed, during my most severe instances of PMS, I’m extraordinarily sensitive to the everyday injustices of the world, and I just want to cry. All. Day. When I was a freshman in college, it got so bad that my doctor suggested I take Prozac specifically for my PMS—and I wasn’t the first person he’d made this suggestion to! Apparently, this is pretty standard.
No wonder we call this monthly phase “the curse.”
Yet, while I usually dreaded that week, I couldn’t help but notice that it put me in deeper touch with how I felt underneath all of my polite smiling—however painful that process can be. I’ve now come to appreciate and view this time as spiritually informative.
In Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom, Christiane Northrup explains it beautifully: “The luteal phase, from ovulation until the onset of menstruation, is when women are most in tune with their inner knowing and with what isn’t working in their lives…the ‘veil’ between the world of the seen and the unseen, the conscious and the unconscious, is much thinner.” Although our emotions may seem exaggerated or unproductive, with a little introspection, we may learn from them. Over the years, I’ve realized that I’m never crying about “nothing” or “something silly.” Something minor may trigger the water works, but it’s never the real reason behind my tears.
The Role of Introspection
In an inspiring interview on the subconscious with Marie Foleo, Dr. Cathy Collautt emphasizes the importance of “gentle introspection” when we feel at odds with our emotions. While applicable at any time during your cycle, a judgment-free inventory of your feelings during your premenstrual period can turn into a rich, guiding experience.
Dr. Collautt advises us to be humble while we introspect—our subconscious is incredibly powerful. Trust it, and be willing to learn from it. Dr. Northup even describes our premenstrual, “lunar” wisdom as “sacred.”
I find that writing helps me learn from myself more than anything else. Through my journal entries, I’m better able to articulate my specific needs and why I’m feeling the way I am. During that rough year of college, my journal was filled with the wisdom that the man I was with didn’t love me back and that staying with him was self-betrayal. (Looking back, I should have acted on this knowing much sooner than I did!)
Whether you’re feeling weepy or lethargic, don’t be afraid to slow down. (I know the thought is scary sometimes, but the world will not implode!) Step away from your tweets, your house cleaning, your overbooked social calendar, and the five other things you’re juggling. When we slow down, we’re more receptive to intuitive guidance. Repeat after me: There is no shame in brewing a cup of tea and tuning out. (And tuning in to yourself).
What about the other half of the month?
…otherwise known as that time when we’re mysteriously hotter (thank you, ovulation).
Dr. Northrup describes the first two weeks of our cycles as creative, upbeat, and energetic. During this time we’re likely be more outwardly focused, making it a good time to dive into projects (or make a baby, of course). After reading this, I immediately noticed this tendency in my own life. There is definitely a vibrancy in me that I wish I could bottle! I’ve now learned to take advantage of it and consciously enjoy it.
That being said, I don’t know where I would be without the necessary, and ultimately welcome, intrusion of my truth-telling lunar wisdom.
Have you noticed your noticed your own emotional energy ebb and flow depending on your cycle? (And have you made that cup of tea for yourself yet?)
Photos: Peaceful Dumpling, Nick K via Flickr