Tuesday, 26 June 2012


As a long term sufferer of PMDD, I spent many years hating my womb, my cycle, my periods, they brought me so much pain and sadness.  Sent me crazy, upset and hurt the people I love and sometimes they succeeded in ruining my life.  I have not been able to work, participate in normal life, normal social activities.  I became reclusive, scared, isolated.

Throughout my teenage years, I discovered Paganism.  After years of learning Tarot cards, reading about the other worlds, and generally being fascinated by all thing esoteric, I realised there was a name, and a path I could follow.  I was already pretty in tune with the seasons, after growing up on the side of river banks and dog walking, but the Wheel of the Year and Paganism, opened my eyes, gave me structure and helped me to understand the different energy held within each season.

This interest developed further in to Witchcraft.  My late teen and early twenties were spent in Covens and working as a solitary witch.  I worshipped the Goddess, a female deity.  This felt more natural to me than anything I had learned with regard to the Bible, Christianity or Catholicism.

During my first pregnancy age 20/21, the PMDD symptoms began to worsen.  I had experienced extreme mood swings from the age of 13, but pregnancy brought me severe depression.  When my daughter was born I fell into Post Natal depression and the mood swings came back worse than ever.  I finally found out a name for my disorder when my daughter was 4 years old.  Pre Menstrual Dysphoric disorder.  Although I suffered from patches of depression over the years, the main symptom was extreme, uncontrollable mood swings, followed by 'normal' days when I couldn't believe how different I had been when under a dysphoric spell.

I hated being a girl, a woman... I hated my cycle, my periods.  I felt the 'curse'.  I had in fact joked when I was younger that I was cursed, or jinxed...  after a suicide attempt aged 28, I visited a Christian Pastors wife,  (my Aunt had begged me to see someone and took me to her) who told me I was being punished for 'dabbling with Witchcraft' and worshipping a Goddess and not THE God.

By that time I'd had my second child. Breastfeeding had held off the severe moods for 8 months, but they returned when I stopped feeding my baby, and gradually became more and more unbearable.

I HATED my womb.  I HATED my body, my cycle....  It made me miserable, ruined my life, made people stay away from me... I was misunderstood.  For others to even begin to understand why I was the way I was, I had to educate them in a disorder that at that time was being dismissed by the medical profession as non-existent... an excuse for women to misbehave... a disorder created by the anti-depressant companies to sell their product to a huge market of women who suffered with PMS.

My life felt wrong... I felt like I didn't belong on this earth.  I was confused.  How can I worship the Goddess yet hate the very thing that made me female.  I felt like I didn't belong anywhere. I felt like a hypocrite.

I slowly walked away from my intensive practice with the Craft.  I began to focus on my kids and surviving as a mother.  Goddess knows I needed to.  The PMDD made being a mother hard.  Hard on me and my children.  They lost their Mum for most of the month.  They walked on eggshells and ducked for cover when a rage took hold.  The guilt was unbearable.

Leaving my spiritual practice behind for a few years did me more harm then good.  I ended up in a bad relationship, which almost destroyed me.  I had nowhere to turn.  I had left my Pagan family.  I had let go of my spiritual connection believing it wasn't helping me.

When I finally managed to escape the bad relationship, my life began to change.  I slowly recovered my spiritual practice, but this time in the form of astrology and shamanism.  Slowly, slowly at first, but over a couple of years, I reconnected with my Goddess, began reading and learning, and re-finding the skills I had left behind.  I still hated my womb.  I was trying different medications in the hope that something would curb the mood swings.  I had met a new man, a good man, someone who I fell madly in love with.  I didn't want to lose him because of my disorder.  I even tried a chemical menopause, which is an injection that stops all your hormones and puts you into a menopausal state.  At this point, I was hoping that it would work and I would then follow that with a hysterectomy, but it all seemed too extreme. After all, there was nothing actually physically 'wrong' with my reproductive organs.  There was nothing wrong with my hormones.  My problem was my body's sensitivities to the changes in hormones.

18 months ago, I began Googling 'Spiritual Menstruation'.  I was desperately looking for a spiritual explanation for my mood swings.  I was looking for what was going on within me on a spiritual level.  To my delight, I found a website that explained my menstrual cycle in a spiritual way.  It explained how it was connected to the seasonal energies, the phases of the moon, the wheel of the year.

LIGHTBULB MOMENT!!  Something switched inside me.  Years of reading and learning flooded back into my mind. EVERYTHING I had learned during my years of studying Paganism fell into place.  I could apply it to my cycle, I could begin to understand my cycle.  I felt like I had a map.  I had a guide.  I felt like I could see where I was going wrong.  The original article I read can be found here http://www.moonsong.com.au/spiritualmenstruation.html

I then found an author, Alexandra Pope, who had written books on the topic of spiritual menstruation and divine feminine energies.  The Woman's Quest is a work book that helps a woman get in touch with her menstrual cycle.  It guides you through, it gives explanations.  It helped me discover where I was going wrong.  This book really 'saved' me.

As I read through, I realised everything that SHOULD be helping me, I saw as an enemy. Everything that didn't fit with society and everyday life, I saw as an inconvenience, I saw it as a burden.  When I began to understand how I could change my perspective and USE these energies instead of fight against them, my life began to change.  I began to heal.  I didn't talk about these idea for about 6 months, as I spent time getting to grips with it all.  To change a lifetime of hatred into love was not a quick process.  I had to see if these idea would work.  I had already come off all the medications, namely anti-depressants, and after 6 months of working with cycle awareness, I realised that the Mirena could I had sat in my womb, was hindering my healing process.  Not to mention the agonising symptoms I had begun to develop with it in my body.  Almost a year ago now, I had it removed.

After suffering a massive 'Mirena crash' due to the progesterone in my body beginning to flow again, I settle down into my own rhythm within 6 months.  This meant I no longer had an IUD controlling my hormones.  It meant I could get in touch with my own cycle with no interference.  This was a scary time, as I had been on medications/birth control for my entire menstruating life.  It was new territory.
I decided to find a counsellor, to help me get through the transition.  Again, I found an excellent counsellor local to me, by searching for a spiritual counsellor.  I needed someone who was going to accept and understand my beliefs.  I have been with her for 10 months now and can see and feel massive changes within me.

So 18 months on from discovering cycle awareness, I now honour my womb.  I now LOVE my womb.  It holds so much power, power that if left untamed can create huge problems in my outer life.  I should know!  I observe and listen.  Every cycle is a new, fresh opportunity to learn.  Understanding the cycle phases now helps me immensely.  I attended a workshop with Alexandra Pope in London, which really helped me get to grips with the ideas behind cycle awareness... you can read about this here  http://naturalshaman.blogspot.co.uk/2011/11/creating-menstrual-health-workshop-with.html

My connection to the Goddess is stronger than ever.   By honouring myself, I honour her.  By loving myself, I can heal.  Being kind to myself and listening to my body's needs means my PMDD has improved ten fold.  I still struggle through some months, I still experience mood swings, but the way I deal with them has changed.  They no longer cause pain to those around me.  Friends and family are now realising that I can only do certain things at certain times of the month.  I am not a failure because I am different, or because I am sensitive to the hormone changes in my body.  If I need to rest, I need to rest.  If I can't meet up with a friend because I'm pre menstrual or bleeding, people accept that.  It takes a lot of explaining, but those that care understand, and those that don't are really friends.

I recently missed a friends wedding due to being due on and feeling low.  I was in retreat mode and just needed quiet time.  I felt awful.  I was gutted to have missed their celebration, but to go would have meant a possible melt down, and I no longer force myself to go through that.  I sent apologies and spent the weekend trying to forgive myself for letting them down.  In reality, they still had a wonderful day, and I managed to keep myself balanced and care for MY needs.

Knowing your body and mind and what you need is key.  Even with books like The Woman's Quest, every woman is an individual.  Ladies with PMDD know only too well that what works for one person, doesn't necessarily work for another.  The only way to heal is to work with your OWN body, your OWN needs, beliefs and values.  Observe and learn from your cycle.  Listen, fulfil your needs.

I will always be 'the odd one out'.  It is unlikely I will ever hold down a 'normal' job, this in turn can make life a struggle, financially and bring issues such as low self esteem, but I will find my way.  Society has very closed minded views on how we should all be.  PMDD, PMS, hormone disorders are still so misunderstood.  Women are expected to be like men.  They aren't.  Our cycles give us a full spectrum of emotions and energies throughout the month, they fluctuate.  One day, women might be allowed to utilise these cycle changes within society and the workplace, they might be respected for the different energies they hold within.  We can all but hope for this change, but I sense it will be a long process.  So long as women put up and shut up, do what they can to fit into a masculine society, we will never be heard.  Never be afraid to be female, and celebrate our differences.

Change your perspective, change your world.  It's challenging, it's exciting, but most of all, it can lead to deep healing to all women, and encourage others to follow suit.

Your womb is not the enemy.  Your ovaries are not the enemy.  YOU are your own worst enemy.  We have the power to create our world.  We have the power to stop making the same bad choices, to stop making the same mistakes.  It is possible to break the destructive cycle of PMDD.  There is no magic cure, but it IS possible to live with it, manage it and be happy.  I am living proof.

To read more of my writing about cycle awareness, follow these links:


I decided to create a visual aid to help me understand my cycle energies.  For me, it really helped me to be able to SEE the cycle.  I created an A3 Poster.  If you are interested in the poster, please visit this link http://naturalshaman.blogspot.co.uk/p/energy-cycle-poster.html

If you are interested in reading my blog about PMDD, please go here http://meetmypmdd.blogspot.co.uk/

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