If you're a regular reader, you'll know I suffer with pretty bad PMS - actually, I'll re-phrase that, TERRIBLE PMS. Of course, when you have endometriosis, your hormones are out of whack anyway, so what could normally be bad PMS, or potentially no PMS, is exasperated by the hormone imbalances and the existing endometriosis symptoms of depression, anxiety, bloating, etc, to produce, in my case, terrible PMS.
Before I met Natasha, I understood the link between depression and endometriosis, I was aware of how endometriosis was affecting my body and my life, but really, to be honest, I had no clue about my period. A couple months on and I'm actually shocked that I work so hard to manage my endometriosis, but allowed myself to be floored by it every month because I just didn't understand my period. Until last year, I honestly had no idea when I'd be due on, it was a complete guessing game "I think maybe it was three weeks ago? No, maybe two?" and I'd fret about whether I'd be in agony on a really important date, which usually, always happened.
I've spent the last 19 years (yep, depression started young for me), living with this awful heaviness, which every few weeks would swallow me whole, until it would clear up and I'd have one or two days of excessive highs and creativity. My lengths of depressions to me were never really in cycles, I just saw it as a stretch of darkness over my life which would sometimes get holes in, where the light would filter through.
Yet as I became more engrossed in my endometriosis journey, and started recording my period in apps, I soon began seeing patterns in my moods, but I didn't really understand it. The Forage Botanicals' PMS Self-Care course actually helped me realise what was going on in my body and why. I have been able to identify what is really something to do with my PMS, and not just another weird mental or physical issue going on with me.
I now know my cycle almost, almost instinctively. I can actually tell when I'm ovulating, because of how I'm feeling. I'm pretty sure that just before your period is when creativity usually peaks, but for me, I'm slightly different. Just before and during ovulation I feel incredible; I have the most energy, I'm happy, I feel at peace, I'm super creative and I feel really optimistic about life.
Depending on what I'm eating and how I'm treating my body, my PMS can kick in a week or 10 days before my period and even last beyond my period, which I've looked into, and is an actual thing. So instead of thinking I have a three week long depression, I'm now learning to recognise when it's to do with PMS, which it often is. Feelings of hopelessness, despair, and if I'm really low, suicidal tendencies, creep in the week before I'm due on, but now I know what they are, I don't take these feelings as seriously, I don't give them the same level of head space, I don't believe the thoughts I have when they try to belittle me.
Instead, I look at my triggers - firstly I go to what I'm eating, if I've been having sugar and coffee, I'm guaranteed to feel worse, so I'll cut that out instantly (if I hadn't already done it beforehand, in the lead up) and then, as Natasha suggests, I'll look at what's making me feel anxious or depressed. As she recommends in the course, these negative feeling aren't feelings to be ignored, they're pointing to things that may need changing or improving, it's just because of PMS that we're reacting to them in a much more severe way than usual. I take note of them, and if I can manage doing something about them then, I'll give it go, if not, I try to address these issues when I'm feeling stronger, post-period.
But for me, one of the biggest improvements and realisations, is that our period is a time for introspection, rest and self-care. Before this course, I'd punish myself by dragging myself through work (whether my paid job or my side-hustles), I'd continue booking in social events, I'd keep to my normal to do list and schedule, and be angry with myself when I got behind and couldn't keep up. Natasha's course has made me realise that this wanting to be alone, wanting to rest wanting to turn inside for a while, is completely normal, and a part of the natural process of renewal and is okay. Now I know when to start winding down my social calendar, when to start thinking about writing easier blog posts, when to be cautious about what I book in at work and most importantly, when to put a day aside for a Harry Potter binge fest. And on the other end of the spectrum, I can also look forward to the time in the month when I know I'll be feeling better, when I know I have more energy to see people, to write great blog posts, to record interesting podcasts, etc.
In addition to these insights (and there's more, but seriously, how long do I expect you to keep reading for), Natasha provides a beautiful set of self-care goodies - a natural candle, yoni (vaginal) steam herbs to help relieve cramps, bath salts which also help reduce pain, tea and goddess drops, which both support hormones and our reproductive system, whilst reducing the effects of PMS, such as low mood and anxiety. I found all of these (yep, even the candle) helped me with facing my worst endometriosis symptoms each month and made me feel more prepared, and less anxious about the pain levels and depression, because I had a tool kit to counteract them with.
Granted, this course is expensive (for me, anyway). Take me back to last year and it wouldn't have been wise for me to buy this course, the stress of trying to afford it on top of everything else would have only exasperated my depression and anxiety, so I do understand if now is not the time. If you decide it isn't the time to do this course, there are books about learning how to tune into our cycles and work with them, such as Lisa Lister's Red Code, so my suggestion is to take a look at those. If however, you can afford the course, I wholeheartedly recommend it and really hope it's as helpful to you as it has been for me.
For more information about the 4 week course, you can visit Natasha's beautiful website, or reach out to her on social media. I'm also happy to answer questions, if there's something you want to know more about, just drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org!