Since my early twenties I have had severely irregular periods and could go three to six months, sometimes longer, without any.
I was overweight, moody and had excess facial hair.
I felt uncomfortable as a woman.
I was diagnosed with Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) and so began my journey with ‘fixing’ my periods.
For as long as I can remember I’ve tracked my periods, complete with my own shorthand, noting symptoms and any other details I felt to include.
We’re talking 20 years here.
Initially, the main reason was because I didn’t know when or if I’d get the period.
What is PCOS?
Internet search would inform one that PCOS was first ‘discovered’ in 1935. Estimates suggest between 5 and 10% of women aged between 18 and 44 are affected.
Symptoms can vary and be more or less severe, but in general they can include irregular periods, hormonal issues, excess body hair, mood swings, weight and fertility issues. According to medical claim PCOS is not curable but can be treated and managed.
I’m now 51 and for the last 15 years I’ve had regular periods which are less heavy and with less PMS symptoms than ever before. They just flow, and I genuinely love having them. No longer do I have all those terrible symptoms and the dread I’d felt for years around my periods is now gone.
It’s been a huge celebration to get to a place where I have regular periods, usually every 30 days or so, and my whole body and attitude has changed. I’ve lost significant amounts of weight and those mood swings are now a thing of the past. I am more on an even keel than ever before. My whole approach to life has changed, and I now enjoy being me. I can safely say that I do delight in being a woman.
For years I’d felt being a woman was a chore and my issues with periods and having to work so hard to have something close to regular ones, I took as a confirmation of that struggle. I’d have that inner voice which said, you’re born a woman, and it’s your natural state of being and yet, here you are with facial hair, which looks really ugly, periods you’re never entirely sure of, excess weight and a general clumsiness around how you feel about yourself and who are you. There wasn’t an ease or a joy in being who I was, rather a struggle and a tetchiness which wasn’t pleasant for anyone, not for me or those around me. Put it this way, you really didn’t want to cross me (!)
After my initial diagnosis I tried many things following hormonal tests and consultations with endocrinologists and gynecologists. I was prescribed Dianette, a form of the contraceptive pill which addresses hirsutism and gives you ‘regular’ periods. For 8 years I took Dianette and it worked in that I had what you might call ‘regular’ periods. My facial hair became less whilst in addition I had electrolysis and laser to address it. Otherwise, I was still overweight and still had mood swings.
Eventually I decided I wanted to find out how my body really was and how my periods were really going.
I came off Dianette.
I was disappointed, but not surprised, to find that my periods returned to being as irregular as ever, without the prop of Dianette, and that not much had really changed.
Much research followed, as I wanted to find another way to address it and not just mask what was going on. I read many forums, talked to many people who discussed how important diet, and in particular sugar, was with PCOS. I began seeing a nutritionist who specialised in Women’s Health and started taking supplements, chromium in particular to help support me to reduce my sugar intake. For a while I dabbled in many alternate methods including homeopathy and herbs, which brought my periods under control to some degree, so more regular, but still up to 6 weeks in between. Nevertheless, it all felt like I was managing the symptoms and just scratching the surface of the greater, underlying problem.
Having understood that diet and lifestyle were key for me, I continued experimenting with food – dropping dairy over time, cutting back on alcohol to reduce my sugar intake and dabbling with dropping wheat, all of which helped my weight. However, I lacked consistency and so I yo-yoed in my weight and continued searching for other ways.
Finding the Esoteric Breast Massage
My first EBM was revealing to say the least.
During my session I felt very strongly how the left side of my body was rock solid, like concrete, and I had this feeling that my body was split into two halves. I was shocked, surprised and curious, and it stopped me.
The woman practitioner was super considerate and treated me with a tremendous level of care and respect.
I felt safe.
Something in this experience asked me to continue, and this was the first time I had stopped to consider what might be going on underneath all the physical symptoms I had, what might be going on in my inner unseen to the eye world.
Almost all of my work to date with my PCOS had purely been about dealing with the physical symptoms and getting to a point where I functioned right (to some degree), but nothing beyond that. I just wanted to fix it, and I saw it as a way to fix me as a woman.
From having never looked beyond having things function ‘right’, I now began a series of both esoteric healing and EBM sessions slowly exploring what I felt and my connection to me and my body, and how I felt about being a woman.
I continued refining my diet and beverage consumption over a period of time. There was no regime but as I experimented I found that the less I had certain foods and drinks, the better I felt. Without trying at all, weight just fell away. I started to feel more vital. All these changes I implemented supported me to accept myself more, and to not feel like I am my own enemy.
Principally by bringing more understanding and beginning to have those conversations with myself where I questioned the ideals, standards and expectations I had and the associated harshness with which I applied them. This largely (if not solely) came about as I met people who inspired me to consider that it is possible to be loving with yourself and mostly that they did not judge me for how I was or had been, but gave me the space to consider that the way I had been operating did not have to stay, and that it was within my remit to change that.
It was very important to be shown and to understand that I could be fragile and delicate, and that neither were dirty words and that others graced me with the space to see that. In addition, it was crucial to see and know that how I’d grown up and the harshness and survival I’d gone into, at that place and time, did not have to continue. That I did not have to be a victim, and more importantly, that I’d never been one at all. And that, that old way of being was not normal.
It was a gradual process, of taking the blinkers off, and letting go of the rigidness with how I’d been and starting to see more of the horizon around, to knowing that no matter where you’ve been, you can be loving and seeing that you can try new things, and that you can fail, pick yourself up and start again. It was like allowing a shaft of light into my inner world, which offered a different possibility of being and once that was seen and understood, it became possible to consider that I too could live that true way of being.
I moved differently, I allowed myself to enjoy life, to enjoy the people in my life and to deeply appreciate who I am. That being me exactly as I was, was something to nurture and cherish.
This allowed me to look beyond those physical ways of being into considering how I’d been treating myself, how I’d been speaking to myself, and as I did, I changed, my body changed and my periods changed. Over time they became regular.
But this was less about a goal and more about the general quality of how I was with myself and with all others around me, so in fact my previous drive was about being ‘normal’ and having regular periods, now it was more about living with and moving myself in a quality of care and love that deeply honoured who I am, not because of anything I did, but simply because I was me and worthy of this.
As I embraced being the woman I am, exploring my unique flavour in how I wanted to express that woman, there were the physical things, with clothes, with make-up (yes, new ground that), but most importantly it was a change in inner attitude which said there is something here which is precious and to be honoured and it’s in my power to do that. In all of this my body responded, and flourished, and I felt a freedom and a lightness in me I’d not experienced to that point, something I could not and did not want to ignore, but wanted to live and express. That shaft of light just kept getting bigger!
Having EBMs helped me to understand that I had not been valuing myself as a woman and felt something was innately wrong with me as a woman. I could feel and see that I’d despised myself and had not considered myself worth taking care of.
During EBMs I connected to and felt in me a deep feeling of stillness, a tender pulse and something precious deep within me, something that was always there no matter what. It moved me deeply, and supported me in wanting to live and honour this more in my day to day life. It meant I started to choose to be less hard on myself and began to take even greater care of myself, my diet, how I thought of myself, not in order to fix anything, but because I got to feel for the first time ever something beautiful and gorgeous deep in me that I wanted to take care of.
This did not happen overnight. It has been a continuing journey, and the support I’ve received from having EBMs and from its practitioners has been key. Having role models in my life who lived the gorgeousness of who they are as women was a huge support in allowing me to understand that this is possible for me and for all of us as women.
I’ve discovered I am a beautiful woman and I now live and dress as one, more and more each day. For me, addressing PCOS meant that I needed to understand and feel that beauty in me. I needed to understand that underneath it all I have in me that preciousness, and in doing so I was able to make the changes outwardly in my life to live that inner knowing.
By Monica, UK
Linda’s experience of PCOS: self-love and feeling beautiful.
Our choices in the way that we live affect our periods and our health as women.
What is the Esoteric Breast Massage?