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Menstrual cycle awareness saved my life (part 1)

Menstrual cycle awareness has quite literally saved my life. Despite experiencing crushing lows, debilitating pain and extreme uncontrolled rage for much of my bleeding life from menarche at 11 through to learning how to cooperate with my cycle at 29, I consistently turned down medical intervention. Maybe I’m a masochist but I felt that the pain and rage were happening for a reason and I didn’t feel that numbing it out was going to help me move through it.

I had tracked my cycle and moods in my journal from my first period at 11 and at 24 I added the next layer of

noting the physical, mental and emotional fluctuations alongside that. This was pure preservation for myself and others. I needed to know when the dreaded transition to the premenstruum was due so that when the familiar, persistent and incredibly strong urge to crash my bike into a bus arose I knew to expect it and therefore prevent it from becoming a reality, when the sudden red rage arose I had at least half a chance of leaving the room before completely destroying trust in my relationship. It was really useful to be able to pre-empt these depressive, destructive and debilitating days but it didn’t really help me to know how to cope with them.

At 29 I signed up to a Well Woman Yoga Therapy training course with Uma Dinsmore-Tuli and on receiving the recommended reading list, bought all 3 by Alexandra Pope (the queen of menstruality!). Reading The Wild Genie, Wild Power and The Woman’s Quest absolutely transformed my life. One quote in particular resonated to my very core with absolute truth and started the process of changing my relationship to my cycle, which in turn went on to transform my mental and physical health beyond my wildest imagination.

‘Imagine a doctor telling you to ignore your circadian rhythm. Ignore the natural inclination to sleep at night, just keep going until you drop. Not only would it be difficult to order society, it would be madness for your wellbeing. But in essence that’s what’s happening to women when we’re told to ignore the rhythm of menstruation.’ ~ Alexandra Pope, The Wild Genie

The menstrual cycle affects everything we do and everything we are and yet we have been taught to ignore, deny and hide this powerful, elemental force. We have been taught that to bleed is inconvenient, to talk of bleeding is shameful and embarrassing to those around us and to admit that we shift and change is somehow admitting to weakness. One of the most poignant responses I ever heard to the argument that women are lesser because they are changeable was that ‘limits do not equate limitation. The real limitation comes from not having any limits’.

As I began to learn about how my cycle was affecting me not just physically but also psychologically through the practice of menstrual cycle awareness, I began to discover that I could free myself from suffering by learning to accept and cooperate with my cycle, rather than reject and neglect it. At 29 years old after 18 years of suffering I had my first pain free bleed by simply accepting my need for solitude at the premenstruum and my need for slowness at menstruation. Not only was my bleed pain free it was also ecstatic and joyful. I felt at home, grounded, blissful and connected. A far cry from the wailing pain, hanging over the toilet bowl retching and overwhelming feelings of disappointment and failure that I felt when I couldn’t continue with life at my usual pace. I had tapped into something much bigger than all of this. I had remembered the sacred secret of women and from this moment on my life began to flow in sync. I became more productive, more content, less stressed, more able to speak my truth without hurting others and most importantly for me, my life gained the meaning, purpose and depth that had felt missing for a lifetime. I truly began to understand menstrual cycle awareness as the essential practice of coming home to myself.

Carly x

Learn more about menstruality and menstrual cycle awareness here:

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