Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Menstrual Cycle Posters

For those of you thinking about purchasing a poster, I am almost sold out of A4 Secret Feminine Energy posters, so if you would like one, please purchase soon as I may not be getting any more printed.

I have also decided to give away a FREE menstrual guide with every A3 poster purchased while stocks last.

You can find all my posters in my Etsy store

If it's your first Etsy purchase, you can get £5 off if you spend over £10 by clicking this link http://etsy.me/1xVg453 (more info can be found HERE)

https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/ShaktiMandala



Monday, 16 June 2014

Handing things over...


Recently, I decided I can no longer maintain the PMDD-Community page and PMDD Awareness UK pages on Facebook.  It breaks my heart every time I cannot respond to a message, and the pages need an injection of energy and enthusiasm that I just can't muster now towards PMDD things.

Within a few days of the call out on the community page I had found someone perfect for the position.  It's a challenging place to be when you have thousands of likers and you can no longer continue what you started, so it was always my priority to hand over to people who I feel have every intention of keeping these spaces going to the best of their ability.  Jenn Stephan has experience in running pages and women's health, alongside being a PMDD sufferer and is looking forward to adding more content and creating conversations on the page.  I'm sure she will do just great.

So, I bid farewell to a community I have looked after for 4 years.  It is both a sad and happy time.  It will be strange not to check in on the page every couple of days and to no longer have the responsibility to reply to comments and queries.  I am looking forward to really being able to move on without thinking about PMDD or being called back to help someone else in need.  It may sound selfish, but I know I have dedicated a lot of my life to helping others while healing myself, but for this next part of the journey I need to go it alone (symbolically!).  I still run a a couple of support groups (I don't know if I might need some support during the next part of my journey, or if that's even the right place, but it feels right to still have some connections there)

The PMDD Awareness UK page is also being handed on to a lady called Victoria.  Victoria currently admins the UK support group and is looking to help raise more awareness.  Victoria's own journey with PMDD sees her recovering from a hysterectomy, so if there is anyone who can understand first hand the struggles of living with PMDD it's her.  I'm hoping she will enjoy running the page and helping others as much as I have.  Taking hold of the PMDD baton and running with it is essential to the future of PMDD being understood, so I hope these women realise they are doing a worthwhile and needed job for others with the condition.

My best wishes to them both.  The posts I make to these pages over the next few days will be my last, as I help the new ladies find their feet.  I will always remember what was achieved and how much support I got through these spaces.  If you are searching for help, go there now and ask for help.  Someone is there waiting to listen and share advice.

Much love x

Monday, 19 May 2014

Poetry by E M *Guest Blog*

'PMS: Part 1'

Hunger. Emptiness. Holes.

It may be that I shall further reduce myself,
spit out a body.
The omnipotent female core of me is alert, aware:
she will not let me sleep, rather eat, eat.
Ravenousness multiplies fat cells; hunger softens the body:
the cries of fleshy hips smothered by dark shapeless clothes,
the swollen breasts with their aching teats constricted.
I am contained. I stand prone, chained at the stake,
looking out from these eyeholes, chewing and swallowing
instinctually like a calf-heavy cow.
Defenceless against nature.

The vagina is the killer.
A penis is something but a vagina is

nothingness,
an absence
a space
Holes and hunger!
Food, a penis, a baby:
I need to fill my holes
somehow.
I cannot think until it is over;
this obsession is blinding my mind.

Let my blood flow. Let me give birth to myself. Let me return.



'PMS: Part 2'

PMS hits me.
I'm unaware and unprepared
every time.

(I forget, I change.)

Cravings without hunger;
exhaustion without tiredness;
tears without sadness.

I do not graze, I gorge.
I have no energy.
I cry.

Yes, I am utterly enslaved by my body.
It will not let me go.
I am trapped until my blood runs out.

'PMS ends'

I cannot control the floodgates.
Suddenly, I am bleeding.
I am a leaky vessel.
My blood is uncontained.
I flow in pain.
It is my time, but I did not choose it.
E M - UK

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Hysterectomy for PMDD by Jennie. Readers Q&A

A question about Hysterectomy and a response from Jennie, who has had a hysterectomy for PMDD.
Many thanks for creating such a great website.  I've just begun the hormone treatment but I've decided if this doesn't work I'm going to have a hysterectomy.  Have you had this done or decided to just live with it?
Uterus Body Painting by Bethany Roberts
I personally decided not to go down the hysterectomy route,  I tried out the Zoladex injections for 3 months and became very ill.  It was the blackest 3 months of my life and I ended up with many more sucidal thoughts than normal.  To help the withdrawal off the injections and to try and stabilise my mood, I was given lithium.  The whole experience was terrifying.  Having said that, I didn't have great support while I was on it.  No 'experts' looking after me, so it was a very unpleasant experience in my eyes.  I had got to a point where I believed there was only one way to go.  Only one option left.  Surgery.

When the hormone therapy didn't work for me I was devastated, I thought my life line had been cut.  But things changed, I began to change, and I found other ways to live with and manage the PMDD.  It's not easy, but with my body free from all medications I can be more in control.  The decision to live with it rather than go down the surgery route has been made easier with the easing of symptoms and family support.  I work with my cycle now, my life has been transformed and I am glad I didn't go for surgery.
To give you another view point, I passed your question over to Jennie Webster.  Jennie has been working really hard to raise awareness in Scotland for NAPS and PMDD in general, and she has always supported me and my projects.  Jennie recently had a hysterectomy and spent time on hormone therapy, so  I felt she was better qualified to provide an real honest answer about going down that route!
Jennie writes;
I spent nearly 5 years on hormone therapy to treat my PMDD. I used GnRH (Gonadotropin-releasing hormone) Analogues which are injections to shut down the ovaries, stop the menstrual cycle and induce a medical menopause.

These injections worked really well for me and whilst I had some issues regarding the add back HRT, I felt more like myself on this treatment than I ever have. I couldn't take any form of progesterone whilst on the injections so I had unopposed oestrogen for many years.

My gynaecologist kept a close eye on things enabling me to have regular ultrasounds to monitor my endometrium (womb lining). For a while, everything was okay but, eventually my luck ran out and I was told I had hyperplasia which is an overgrowth of cells on the endometrium. Because it was so severe, the only treatment option available to me was a total hysterectomy. I had been avoiding this surgery for years but knew that I would go down this path eventually, however, it still came as a shock.
I had the surgery in November 2012 and I don't regret it for a minute but I am now in surgical menopause and it's no picnic. I had my ovaries removed during the operation (the ovaries are responsible for the production of hormones which cause PMDD) and this means that I was thrown into menopause overnight.
I started my oestrogen only HRT again but as it takes a while for the blood levels to even out and due to previous reactions to HRT, I have to take it slowly. It’s a fine balancing act which I am only too happy to spend some time doing, but in the meantime, my body is crying out for oestrogen. I am having hot flushes, headaches, night sweats, joint pain and extreme tiredness which are all well known menopausal symptoms. I am also having mood swings (swinging between happy, sad, angry and more, rapid style) which is all down to hormonal imbalances. It seems unfair that I have spent my life suffering because of the hormones that my body produced and now I am suffering because of the hormones I am putting back in to try and have a healthy life. I am hoping to have this balance achieved very soon.
I need oestrogen to protect my bones and heart as I have gone through the menopause at a young age.  Swings and roundabouts. Every time I catch myself feeling low I try and turn my thoughts into happy ones but I’m finding it hard as I am still tired from the surgery.
The surgery really is the last option, the end of the road, the only documented real “cure” for PMDD, but I urge anyone who is considering it to be 110% sure that this is the road they want to take. It may be stating the obvious, but it's irreversible. My ability to bear a child has gone forever, I will be on HRT for the next 20 years and I run the risk of osteoporosis and premature heart disease.
There are many other ways to manage PMDD and, in my opinion, surgery should be seen as the very last resort.
Would I do it all again if I had to? Absolutely, but everyone is so individual. Please, if you are considering the operation, ensure you have thought long and hard about it and make sure that it is the right decision for YOU.
My thanks to Jennie for sharing her story.  I hope that helps some of you considering having a hysterectomy for PMDD. 

Friday, 16 May 2014

The Edge by Caroline *Guest Blog*

I'm standing barefoot, I can feel the grass under my feet. My toes are curled over the edge, another few inches and I'd be teetering.

The 'edge' is a desperate, consuming place where I feel that this is it. Sometimes I've walked towards it throughout the day, others I've woken up & I'm right there staring oblivion in the eye.

In my mind, the 'edge' is for arguments sake 'Beachy Head'. Throughout my day, its my background, it's always there. I can see, feel, hear it.

On the good days, it's sunny, warm, waves lap at the shore. On the darkest days, it's oh so black, cold & unforgiving. But the difference is, is that it's not my background, it's my here and now.

I stand on that 'edge' staring not at rough seas & blackened sky, but at an abyss of nothing and I can feel oblivion pulling me in. I don't want to be consummed by it, but sometimes I don't have the strength to walk or even crawl away. I've never been pulled in, I've come very close to losing my footing but somehow, something, someone has pulled me back.

I never stand on the 'edge' when the sun's shining & twinkling on the water, because I'm having a better time over there with family, friends, my life.

I'm managing oblivion, I'm repelling it & living my life, those days are the good ones.
The 'edge' is my background, somewhere where I don't want to go.
Today is not an 'edge' day. Today is the beginning of making me strong, resiliant, worthy of more than oblivion.

Caroline.
West Sussex, UK

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

The PMDD Underground by Rachael *Guest Blog*


My hormonal shifts are like a day trip to London. I am in a euphoric, happy state when I am above ground, then the tube ride symbolises the worsening of my symptoms before the final rush of relief.

Day 1 to 15… (approximately!)
I am up early and have already done a million jobs. I am above ground, ready and excited for the day ahead. I am looking at the famous landmarks and drinking in the astonishing history and culture; reading everything, hungry for knowledge and experience. The weather is chilly, but sunny and the hustle and bustle of commuters and tourists is interesting, purposeful, comforting, inspiring. I go clothes shopping and everything fits; looks stylish, trendy and flattering. I have lunch with friends; I choose a healthy selection of foods and I feel empowered and happy. I am intelligent, chatty and funny; I smile at the world and the world smiles back. I walk with my head held high and a confident swagger, secure in my life’s purpose: proud to be British, proud to be alive.

Day 16-day 28… (approximately!)
I descend the steps to the underground… people push past me and I trip, dropping my handbag and a million different painkillers spill out (none of which work), along with a lipstick which looks ridiculous on me anyway. Seriously, can you WATCH WHERE YOU ARE GOING YOU TOTAL IDIOTS!? Does this little old lady NEED to be walking in front of me right now?

Calm down I tell myself… they’re just people… going to work, going shopping, doing all the same things they normally do- it’s you that’s changing. I descend a few more steps…. Phew! Why does it have to be so HOT down here, seriously what is WRONG with the world??

I fight the crowds to purchase my ticket… how much?? That CANNOT be right, surely? Oh and when did this dress get so tight? My boobs feel like they’re going to explode. Everyone is looking at me and wondering what the hell I’m doing here, I don’t deserve to be using this service…just look at me!

I stand on the platform; everything goes into slow motion. I am alternately hot and cold, anxious and fidgety and nauseaus, angry and fighting back tears…. Oooooh look, a vending machine!! I NEED CHOCOLATE NOW!! It’ll make everything better, it couldn’t be worse. No-one cares if I put on weight; no-one fancies me or likes me anyway. What are you staring at??? Sod off… you’d eat chocolate too if you had my rubbish life.

Looking at the digital countdown on the clock, next tube in 2 minutes… I am relieved and scared at the same time. What if there’s a big push? I can’t handle being squished between strangers with BO and trendy skinny girls with their exciting lives and amazing shoes. 1 minute 30 seconds… I can literally feel time passing.

The tube arrives, I’m not ready for it. I don’t really want to go there anyway… I try to turn back but my way is blocked and I have no choice but to get on. Oh the NOISE!! The pain of the screeching brakes and the flashing lights. My head is going to explode! I feel panic rising and I do not know what to do…
Then it all goes quiet, the tube goes through a tunnel. Everything is black and cold, like the end of the world. I feel like I’m on the Hogwarts express and the dementors are feeding off every happy memory. Well, at least you don’t have to go through this every friggin’ month Harry!!! I want to cry and cry and I have no idea what for. I can’t even see or hear another human being; I am all alone.

The train begins to slow, the lights flicker on and faces emerge from the darkness. They are kind, friendly and familiar. My breathing returns to normal and I start to take an interest in my surroundings. Oh fab, I’ve just found an apple in my bag. I do like my hair like this, it’s looking nice today. Slowly, gradually, normality returns and I leave the tube station, emerging once again into the light.

There… that wasn’t so bad….was it? I enjoy a blissful few hours in the sunshine before I have to go home again. But how? Maybe I can take a bus? A boat? Steal one of Boris’s bikes? Mount a zebra from the London zoo and bareback it up the M25? No… there’s no option, it’ll have to be the tube.
I psych myself up… ready? 3…2…1…

Rachael, UK.

Monday, 12 May 2014

PMDD: one of evolution's unfortunate developments by E M

I was furious, upset, and most of all confused, stuffing random objects into an overnight bag while my partner sat staring at me, amazed. Why doesn’t he care? I thought, why does he just sit there, while I suffer this way. Because of him. With all of my being I hated him; I despised him. All of the love I usually felt toward him was gone, and I was terrified. I am no longer in love, I thought; I am devoid of love. Hatred, anger and fear were my primary emotions, and confusion fuzzed them all up in a most disconcerting manner. Strangely, I also wanted to laugh. (Women: hysterical, hormonal lunatics? Never! How I hate being controlled by my own body.) My partner was sighing with frustration and saying things like Don’t go, where are you going? I told him that it didn’t matter, since he didn’t care anyway. About an hour later, I was lying on the sofa, crying, while he went back to sleep in the bedroom. He didn’t care about me; he’d rather sleep than comfort me. Everything I thought made me cry harder. I didn’t leave, in the end. Instead I took some painkillers to numb my mind and rather ashamedly unpacked my bag.

The above paragraph is a true representation of the sort of situation that occurs monthly for me. I have PMDD, and it attempts to destroy my relationship every moth. Sometimes I think that it’s an evolutionary thing; that, because my partner has failed to impregnate me, my body’s response is to try to push him away in order to make way for a new, fertile mate for when I next ovulate. Now, I do think that theory makes a lot of sense, but it doesn’t really help me. The fact is, I can’t have a child at this point in my life; and even if I could, doing it to avoid PMDD is surely not the best reason to have children. Do I feel resentment toward my partner when I experience PMDD? Always. Usually – and this began long before I even thought about or heard about the theory above – I start to doubt his long-term commitment to me, and feel that he doesn’t earn enough, save enough or do enough. I think that he doesn’t love me and is only in this for the sex. I worry that he is cheating on me, that he isn’t interested in me. I have all sorts of conflicting and disturbing thoughts. Now, it’s not that I never have these thoughts unless I’m in the PMDD phase, but usually I can keep a handle on these thoughts and if they do arise, they aren’t serious concerns, they don’t bother me much and I don’t act on them. But that couple of weeks before my period arrives, I am often simply unable to ignore any little thing that happens or keep a sense of perspective. PMDD takes away that control, that perspective. Like many PMDD sufferers, I feel like Jekyll and Hyde. I fear, as King Lear said, I am not in my perfect mind. I believe that PMDD heightens any concerns I have regarding my ‘mate’ and is a way of saying: You’re not pregnant – find a more suitable man. PMDD is a warning to me and a deterrent to my mate.
But in our society, PMDD is not an evolutionary advantage; it is not helpful. For the many women who are physically, mentally, emotionally or financially unable to have children, have already had their children or who do not want children at all, PMDD merely destroys many facets of life with no benefit to the sufferer or the sufferer’s society. The interference in my relationship with my partner is by far the most destructive aspect of PMDD, for me. I worry that my body will successfully drive him away, that he will eventually give up on me, having to endure my hormone-crazy self every single month. I have actually come to long for my period to come so that it can all be over again – that’s how serious PMDD is. Compared to the emotional pain of PMDD, the physical pain of a period is a breeze

by E M, UK.
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