Amenorrhea – Where do you look when your periods stop?

Amenorrhea is the absence of menstruation  

In 2014 I moved to London and my periods stopped.  

Within a couple of months the stress I had placed myself under to get a flat and job resulted in me eating very little and dropping from 50/55kg to 41.7kg.  

Prior to 2014, my periods came every month. I rarely had any symptoms in the week leading to my period, but when it came, it was nothing short of horrendous.  

If it came at night (which frequently it did), then I would have a mass exodus of everything and anything from my body leaving me sleeping on the bathroom floor in an exhausted heap because I was fed up of going from my bed to the bathroom every five seconds. If it wasn’t that, then I would get restless leg syndrome and my legs would constantly shake beyond my control or ability to stop it. Even when exhausted they would continue to shake.  

The cramping pain would be equally unbearable by day, living on painkillers for a week at the maximum dosage I was allowed, often having to take time off work.  

Moving to London was a huge step up for me and while I had lived away from home when I was 16 and was used to being away from family, now the sole responsibility of finding somewhere to live was on my shoulders. And yet, I wasn’t completely alone. In hindsight, I had tons of support but couldn’t see it and I had the belief that I had to do it all by myself.  

It wasn’t until my periods stopped that I realised how much I had shut myself off from acknowledging and claiming that I was actually a woman. I know – the oddity of this statement has not been lost on me. 

Once the periods stopped I had the space to see and feel what my relationship with myself truly was. I had a long-lasting momentum of constantly ignoring my body, where any messages would get smothered with gaming, my food choices, self-criticism or negative thoughts. It was through the support of the Universal Medicine modalities that I started to heal and see how my choices were impacting on my body and any future choices. 

I continued to live in a victim mode and acted like a small child for some time further because at the time it seemed convenient to absolve myself of any responsibility for the state my choices got me to, but things started to turn around with the combined help of Universal Medicine modalities, practitioners of esoteric healing modalities and conventional medicine.  

With the Esoteric practitioners, I worked through my hurts, expectations and beliefs. I joined a sacred movement class and during this time I got to see how my behaviour of throwing a tantrum as a kid and getting attention was still being played out in my 20’s. Eventually, I learnt that such behaviour only drained my energy and since it wasn’t getting the desired response, it started to fall away.  

My journey of rebuilding my relationship with myself started with the Gentle Breath Mediation once a day. Esoteric Yoga I later found to be a huge support in rebuilding a connection with my body and the essence within it. I began to see that at my core I wasn’t something to be ignored but actually very beautiful and worth taking care of. I laid a foundation to build a relationship with my body whereby I trusted and followed more how my body was needing me to live than what was coming through my head.  

Of conventional medicine, I had all the appropriate tests and scans and it all boiled it down to I had to gain more weight. At one point I tried to force the weight gain but it wouldn’t work, so I gave up. Within a space of about a year my weight stabilised at around 52-55 but still no period.  

Over the course of these four years, conventional medicine would suggest the pill to give me a fake period. I didn’t want to take the pill and carry on as usual as somewhere deep down I had a sense that the root of the matter wasn’t going to be healed if I did do this. Eventually, I would take the pill for one or two courses then drop it. Months passed then I’d pick it up and drop it again. However, towards the end I found that this resistance to taking the pill built up more hardness towards myself. In the end I went back to the pill when I felt it was supportive to prevent bone density degradation.  

When I did have a bleed from these induced periods the way I experienced them during my teenage/early 20s came flooding back in, waiting for me to address it. I found that while wearing pads, my pelvic floor and groin muscles would be super tight, and having become more aware and taken greater care of my body this behaviour felt very painful. Over time I learned to relax my muscles and not tense up and clench in fear of something bad happening. I found this to be a supportive aspect of the pill as it did get me to look at how I was with myself during my period.  

Over time and as my relationship with my body strengthened, the scared little girl persona dropped away. The weight returned naturally, I felt more steady in myself and found that the best place to be is not in my head (mind) but in the stillness of my body which without fail every time made sense and a massive difference. 

Between January and April 2018, I wanted to change jobs but couldn’t due to certain circumstances. In reaction, I started to eat more (working in a restaurant made this extra, super easy to do) and went up to 65k. Now I was well over the recommended weight from the doctor but felt this was not a true weight for me either. What did happen though was my natural cycle restarted.  

Since my periods came back I have had to relearn how to be with the process. It is still syncing itself as in, it is still taking time to regain a steady set number of days, but the way I am with it now has changed.  

Before the pause in periods, I would get no pre-menstrual symptoms. The week before my first returned period it felt like my breasts were constantly on fire and I actually thought I was becoming mentally unstable because I was so reactive. It was only once my first returned period came did I realise that I wasn’t going mad but it was pre-menstrual tension. I know now that these before symptoms are a message to be listened to and since I’ve been looking at that and as a result of observing how I live between the periods, each week before my period the tension has lessened in intensity, I no longer feel like I want to bite someone’s head off! Likewise, when my period has come, I have not had such extreme symptoms like I used to have. I have not experienced restless legs nor do I live on painkillers anymore.  

I now marvel at how supportive and responsive my body is back with me, either starting my period in the night, or just after work or on my day off, giving me the first day/hours a chance to rest. I also love how the flow works as well, very light in the evenings and moderate during the day and consistent throughout and over the months.   

These days I take far more care of myself while I am on my period than I did ever before and I know that how I am living will be all brought back to me in the periods to come. I have this in my consideration whereas before I did not. I never had any connection between how I was living and the symptoms I was experiencing. 

Knowing what I have learnt through this experience I consider having had Amenorrhea a blessing as it has allowed me to stop what I was doing and go deeper into the relationship I have with myself which ultimately then effects the relationship I have with life and everything and everyone else around me. There is far more to learn and this time I approach it more openly and want to enjoy getting to know and care for myself deeper as this then equally extends outwardly.  

By Leigh, UK

For further inspiration…

Periods and joy in the same sentence? Totally possible.. Shevon shares her experience.

A woman’s cycle is an opportunity each and every month.. what are the different phases of our menstrual cycle and what are they showing us? Check out this three-minute video.

Women – Honouring our Body Image and Appreciating our Reflection

When we look at ourselves in the mirror, what is the relationship we have with the image reflected back at us? How much do we appreciate ourselves?

A while ago I was in a shop trying on some clothes. The lady in the next cubicle came out looking stunning. She was trying on a beautiful dress – and her friend immediately expressed to her how gorgeous she looked. This lady did look gorgeous, and I could feel she loved the dress. The dress fitted beautifully and I could feel a grace in her quality as she stood in front of the mirror. It wasn’t that the dress made the woman into anything, it was that the woman in her beauty made the dress shine – she shone in the dress. I observed as the woman in the dress got distinctly more uncomfortable as she looked at herself in the mirror, and made some comments that picked fault in how it looked to her, and she decided not to buy the dress.

Continue reading “Women – Honouring our Body Image and Appreciating our Reflection”

Accepting and Expressing Greatness — A Story About Shoes

Since childhood I have had an issue with my feet.

They always looked too big to me and my toes seemed too long, out of proportion as to how I judged beauty to be. As an Asian woman, I grew up holding onto the image that beauty is being soft spoken, never drawing attention to oneself and about having tiny and delicate feet, as most of the women that I grew up with had small feet, and I would compare myself with them. I would deliberately buy shoes that were a little bit too small, convinced that my feet should and could fit into them. In consequence, my feet would suffer but there were always justifications for doing this, such as in time the shoes would either ‘magically’ stretch, or that my feet were actually as I believed them to be, smaller and more delicate than they are.

Continue reading “Accepting and Expressing Greatness — A Story About Shoes”

Body Image: Vintage pictures vs Modern ideals

Recently I was looking online at ‘vintage pictures’ for inspiration of images that I could put up in my room. What I discovered littered between sepia images of flowers, old keys, and the Eiffel tower, was quite revealing: I found articles/advertisements, similar to the one below, for women who have poor body image, advocating weight gain by saying: “Don’t think you’re “born” to be skinny and friendless”…. “If you want to look better by adding desired pounds and inches of welcome weight… try WATE-ON”, and “Men wouldn’t look at me when I was skinny”. In a nutshell these body images show skinny as the undesired body shape and the one to get rid of. Continue reading “Body Image: Vintage pictures vs Modern ideals”

Self-loathing, My Closet, and Me

The weekend before last, I was feeling great in myself, no feeling of self-loathing in sight and whilst tidying my room I decided to go through the clothes in my closet. I was in the mood for a deep clear out, and it was definitely needed!

My Closet and My Body Image

Around two and a half years ago I put on a substantial amount of weight (around 10kg) and within a number of months another 5kg got added more gradually. This was a consequence of not wanting to move forward in my life, and instead digging my heels in. As a result a lot of my clothes, especially jeans and dresses, didn’t fit me any more. My body image hit rock bottom, and my self-loathing skyrocketed. Continue reading “Self-loathing, My Closet, and Me”

A Vulnerable Moment

by Kate Greenaway, BaAppSc (Physiotherapy), Goonellabah, Australia

The other week I had one of those Stop and Take Notice moments. I was walking around the local swimming pool to the women’s showers in my wet bathers, after having a lovely time in the pool. I was a bit cold and one of the males on staff was walking towards me. I had spoken to this man before and I knew him to be sensitive, sweet and completely harmless. I could feel he was going to look at me as we passed and all of a sudden I was feeling extremely vulnerable – my body went into an old pattern of pulling my shoulders inwards and caving my chest in – like I did when I was a teenager at the beach in my swimmers walking past men who stared at my breasts. You see, even though I have a petite frame, I had really large breasts as a teenager and I used to get awful, sexual comments from boys my age, AND older men. Being a curvaceous young woman was agony for me so I used to hide my body in large shirts. I thought I had moved through this and healed those self -conscious years, so I was shocked to feel this in my body now – in my late 40’s and feeling mostly content with my body. Continue reading “A Vulnerable Moment”

Women, Comparison & Love

by Anonymous

Having grown up with 3 sisters, I know all about comparison and jealousy and competing for attention… And I know all about covering things up with niceties, manners and politeness when presenting to the rest of the world, yet knowing full well the feelings that are underlying between us.

When I reflect now, it’s sad to feel the way that we were with each other and in some ways, still are. How is it that 5 beautiful women (including my mum) were all living in the same house and, for a lot of the time, there were unspoken resentments, jealousies and judgments towards one another. It’s been hard to admit, but if I am really honest, that is the truth. And I played a full part in that. It is painful to feel that I measured myself constantly with my sisters and also with my parent’s expectations. Instead of expressing and getting it all out there in the open, we tended to hold things in and keep it all under lock and key, letting it all build up – with the inevitable emotional explosions from time to time. And all the while, so often our words and actions were laced with the insidiousness of anger, frustration or disappointment under the guise of ‘politeness’ or ‘niceness’. Continue reading “Women, Comparison & Love”

Returning to Tenderness

After a life of tennis training, drug taking and ‘Do-It-Yourself’ in overdrive, practitioner Mary-Louise Myers shares how she eventually came to find a truly tender way of being with herself.

by Mary-Louise Myers

I was a gorgeous little girl who started playing competitive tennis at seven to win my father’s attention: each time I won a match he would pat me on my head and say, “well done, little one!” (I don’t think he could remember my name!). That was my way of getting the attention I was craving for. I was Victorian junior champion at a young age and continued to spend all my younger years training or playing in tennis tournaments around Victoria. As I reached teenage years I realised that I did not even enjoy playing tennis. I now know that I only did it for recognition and acceptance.

I gave it all up and started down a path of anorexia and bulimia. My father was obsessed with his own weight and his family’s. My sister was given diet books at around the age of 13, mind you, looking back she was simply going through a chubby stage and I was championed for being skinny. From a young age there was a lot of emphasis on how you looked, not your being. (Please note I am not in any way, shape or form blaming my parents; they were good people who did the best they could.) Continue reading “Returning to Tenderness”