Updated: Jul 25, 2019
Last week I posted a blog about a recent mental breakdown I'd had. Turns out there's more to it than meets the eye.
I'm about to turn 48. I've been having my period since I was 10. It's reasonable to assume that although I still have regular periods I'm likely to be in the part of my cycle called perimenopause.
So that mental breakdown I had a couple weeks ago was definitely linked to my hormones. But what I'm coming to learn about this stage of life is that if I were to blame it all on hormones I'd be missing something rather large.
That something is the fact that there are parts of my psychology that are asking to be healed.
I've always had a lot of fire. And it can come out in a few different ways. I'm ambitious, motivated, driven … they are all part of my fire; my ability to get things done and move forward wouldn't happen to such a degree if I were less fiery (or feisty).
I also have a lot of anger. And when I say a lot, I mean A LOT.
I've befriended my anger over the years and thought I'd gotten to a place where it was mostly manageable. My anger is part of what I call the Passion Spectrum - motivation at one end, anger at the other. I'm OK with the occasional outburst. Because mostly I can sit in the fire of my temper and no longer spit it out at others.
Unless I choose to. In which case, when I unleash that fire, I'm fully aware that I'm doing it. What Buddhists call 'responding' as opposed to 'reacting'.
Although, not always, of course.
This recent episode which I'll call My Breakdown involved a raging fire of reactive flames. I was aware I was being brusque, challenging and openly disagreeing in situations where I'd usually smooth things over and create harmony.
But this time there was no filter. It took me about three weeks to see that I wasn't really aware at all. In fact, the complete opposite is true: I was engulfed in a seething stream of "fuck you" and no amount of meditation, yoga or lavender baths was putting out that fire.
So I checked my Period Tracker. (No, this is not a sponsored blog). I saw that my week of Hellfire (when I was at my most fiery) was the exact same week that I was ovulating.
Now, the reason I'm telling you all this is not to give you an education in the menses of women, (although, it wouldn't hurt for us to have more openness about a topic that roughly half the planet experiences Every Month. But I digress…) I'm telling you this because despite me being well aware that I have the ability to exude volcanic rage, this was different.
My anger wasn't just because I was pissed at something (or someone). This rage wasn't just in residence – it was taking over. I was under threat from a hormonal version of Donald Trump – and his army were living inside my ovaries.
So, I visited a naturopath and after two days of herbal support I'm feeling MUCH better and back to my more soothed self.
However. The story doesn't end there.
As I spoke to the naturopath, she mentioned that shamanism (yes, I live in Byron…) views the end of menstruation as entering a new phase. And that not only is our biology changing, but our psychology too.
And that got me thinking.
I can see how this change is HUGE. For most of my life (bar the first 10 years) I've had a period every single month. My hormones have dutifully enabled me to weep blood which (for me) feels like a rite of passage. I've always loved the fact that I have my period because it lets me know I'm alive and it reminds me how much Woman I am.
And although my periods are still regular, the fact my hormones are shifting means it's time for me to do the same.
The short version is this: I'm coming to the end of my time as a fertile woman and it makes sense that the repercussion of that will involve the end of other things too.
What those other things are, I'm yet to discover. Maybe I have to decide? I don't know. But I do know this:
If we ignore our own seasons – as in, those natural life changes that occur – and don't consider the effect those changes will have on us, and how they will interact with our personal temperament, then we're missing the most important and juicy parts of life.
I have anger. But I also have drive. I have periods. But one day I won't.
Everything is on a continuum. Nothing stays the same. Even if something (like my period) occurs for 38-40 years, at some point it will end. And it's helpful to consider this.
Because change is inevitable. And if all we ever do is "get on with it" and spend zero time reflecting on who we are and how we're being (as opposed to doing) then Life is a waste.
True Life exists when we become aware of our place in the world. And I don't mean behind the CEO desk or on stage when we (finally) get that big break as an author, actor, painter or whatever.
I'm talking about knowing who we are so we can connect with each other. Being in tune with Mother Nature and our own nature.
If I had overlooked the potential hormonal aspect of my breakdown I might still be in it. Equally, if I were to overlook my tendency towards anger and what I'm angry about (in the greater sense: family issues, unhealed trauma) then I could just take the herbs and be on my way.
It's easy to not take accountability for our actions and to just pop a pill and keep going. But underneath any physical change is an equal emotional shift, and likewise, any emotional cause will have a physical effect.
It's the Law of Nature. Everything is connected. Nothing stands alone.
So if you find yourself feeling low, unsteady and unsure why, take a look at the bigger picture. What is unhealed in your life? What grudges are you still holding onto? Where are you being critical towards others rather than looking inside and dealing with your own pain? Where are you being stubborn and what are you really afraid to let go of?
I'll guarantee there's way more to your story than you think. But think we must.
Self reflection is as important as seeing a naturopath (or GP, whatever you vibe is). We are not just our bodies. We are a teeming mass of hormones, atoms, DNA, thoughts, actions and cosmic stardust and nobody is in charge of that complex and God-like mix other than you.
It took a few days of herbs for my hormones to settle, which means now I have the mental space to consider this next stage of Life and how I'd like express my personal cosmic mix as I move forward.
My mental breakdown was a Wake Up Call. Not just to how I'm working and living in a day-to-day sense, but it was a wake up call from my Spirit. The part of me that is always in flow with Life. And the part that if I step over or brush off as simply "hormones" that I'd be in danger of becoming disconnected from.
So, for me, perimenopause and a tempestuous nature are an intensely blazing combination that I intend to look at and take care of. My work right now is to consider that combo and find a way to harmonise the two.
My Breakdown was pulling me forward so I can Wake Up To Myself and heal some more. The more we heal, the greater freedom we have. It's time for me to let go of my childhood and workaholic-hood (also called adulthood) and get ready for whatever's next. Spirithood?
I don't know what's next because this isn't the stuff that gets talked about much. But this is the stuff of Life. Because breakdowns (and breakthroughs) are something we all share to a greater or lesser degree.
So it makes most sense to me that being present to my Life is what's important now. To be aware of how and who I'm Being as less concerned with what I'm Doing.
My mental breakdown was one of the greatest gifts I could ever receive. Because now there's room for deeper reflection and something new. And nothing makes me feel more alive and awake than fresh starts.
So, how do I feel about perimenopause now as opposed to a couple weeks ago?
Bring it on.