I didn’t attend Thanksgiving this year. With neither my family nor my friends. I had to be alone and to take care of myself. Because that’s what my period self demands. It holds my sanity at ransom, and if I don’t comply, I’m a goner.
I had to stay home to take care of my body. Because it has been through hell. It’s scared. Scarred. Timid. Afraid. From the trauma it has suffered. I need to comfort it as I would a child. Give it blankets and soft clothing. Feed it warm, bland foods. Allow it time to rest. I have to soothe it. To uplift it. To let it know I will not let anything happen to it again.
My body craves pressure. And release. It’s been this way ever since I can remember. And before I knew about how to provide it release in a healthy way, getting that release meant hitting myself. Throwing my body into walls and doors. Digging objects into my skin. But since occupational therapy, I’ve learned healthy ways to soothe my body. So I don’t hurt myself. So I stay safe.
There are so many things I need to do to take care of myself to prepare for what my body goes through during my period. Every month, my PMS and PMDD begin 14 to 16 days into my cycle. This means that for at least 14 days before my period begins, I have to take extra good care of myself. So I don’t hurt myself. The day right before my period, typically day 26 or 27 of my cycle, I have to be extremely careful. For I can dissociate quickly if my body becomes triggered. And if my body begins to relive the trauma, that’s when I will unconsciously self-harm. But I’ve learned ways to self-soothe. To help my body feel calm. So it doesn’t attack me.
In the weeks leading up to my period and during the week or so it lasts, here are the things I’ve learned to do to help soothe my body to prevent self-harm. To minimize the possibility of my body reliving the trauma. And to feel safe. If you are suffering, I hope you feel better soon.
- Meditate every morning. I find I need to especially on the days I don’t want to. When I want to avoid myself is usually when I have to work through the most pain.
- Do yoga every day. On tough days, I sometimes do it twice. To massage my organs and soothe my emotional pain.
- Journal throughout every day. To acknowledge your feelings and to work through your pain.
- Exercise. As much as possible. I find that the more I exert my body’s energy in healthy ways, the less chance there is of me self-harming to get the release my body is craving.
- Consume a diet high in healthy fat and protein. Because your brain and your body need it. I try not to concern myself with gaining weight during this time. I know I can balance myself out once my period is over.
- Take THC. I find that medical marijuana is the only drug that has ever healthily curbed my PMDD symptoms. I take 5 mg of a sativa-blend edible once every six hours. Because it is my medication.
- Take CBD. I take 1000 mg orally every night, and during my period, I take it every two to three hours. I truly find it helps my insides heal. And I’ve tried enough medications that didn’t work to know the difference when one does.
- Give your brain and your body creative projects. To keep each active. I make sure I read and write and give myself a project to complete around the house.
- Avoid watching or reading anything fear-provoking. I find that the less I can engage my fear response during this time, the better. If that means I have to save Watchmen for my off-period week, then so be it.
- Avoid triggering conversations. When speaking with others, try to be aware of your emotions, and if a topic arises that makes you feel anxious or uncomfortable, excuse yourself from the conversation immediately. I found that when I initially did this, people were confused, but after leaving and composing myself, I was able to come back and to explain why I needed to leave. Typically, others are understanding.
See 13 Ways to Cope with Endometriosis, PMS and PMDD* for additional ways to help your period self survive.
*There’s some overlap between the two posts, but you get the idea.