Your Period Is Not Supposed To Be This Bad: How Stress Affects Your Cycle.

Whenever my sister or I started a new cycle, our grandmother would wrap us in blankets, make us tea with medicines she’d picked, and tell our youngest uncles –– who always enjoyed teasing and messing with us –– to leave us alone.

“Don’t bother her,” she would say. Or them if we were going through it at the same time. Usually just one look with what my uncle called her wolf eyes was enough for them to quickly scurry away.

Squeezed into a small apartment in the projects were sometimes ten or thirteen of us, more if any of the other Native people or other neighbors in the building were there to hang out. It was hard (okay, impossible) to find a space to be alone. Your best bet was the old single-seater from the 70s that some stranger had passed on with its fading tan leather peeling off. Soft, comfy, and wedged into one of the corners of the living room made it the best place for at least some seclusion.

My point in sharing this story with you is that it was hard to do what our people consider most important during a new period, or what we call küyentun, a moon cycle/experience:

Limit interactions with other people.

If you ever notice yourself feeling more reactive to other people (and the things they do) during your period–– that’s why.

Our people have always understood that our energy will shift into survival to prepare the body for a new cycle. You might call it a hormonal change or any other term this dominant culture uses–– it doesn’t matter. What’s important to recognize is that during this time, we are much more “sensitive” to what’s going on or happening around us.

But the symptoms we see in this culture–– the intensity and amount of pain people experience during their cycles–– is not how it should be.

If you recognize yourself in the words of any of these women…

“My body feels like it got hit by a bus”
“I can’t think normally for two days.”
“My bones feel heavy and hurting.”
“Hating everyone if they say a single word.”
“Feel like I am dying.”
“One minute I’m crying over a lost dog sign, the next I’m filling with rage over someone coughing in their hand instead of the elbow.”
“Crying because someone breathes.”

… please know it’s not “just the way it is.”

Stress and trauma have a direct impact on our cycles.

When we experience stress (personally not a fan of this word because it minimizes what’s happening inside of us) it changes our energy into survival. Even if you think you’re just stressed, your energy thinks it has to protect you or help you. 

Imagine you’re sitting in your car when you suddenly see another car that’s about to hit you. You can’t run. You can’t fight off the car. So how do you think your body will respond? It will tense up, right? In this instance, your survival energy tells your body to use the “freeze” survival response–– basically turning your body into a shield to protect you.

Whether you’re going through something stressful, something traumatic, or... yes, you guessed it, you get your period…

Your energy will go, “ok, time to step up my game.”

And it will change into survival so that your body can respond and give you the best chance to get through it.

The problem is that we live in a culture where you’re not taught how to let your body finish this survival energy (or “stress”) so that the responses stop. Instead, you’re taught to take Tylenol. Extra strength. To “suck it up” and move on with your day and your responsibilities.

So instead of finishing the cycle like nature intended, it stays in your body. And then your period starts, and your body shifts its energy into survival, again, to help you through that. Cake on the cake. (Can I say that? Mmm, cake. My favorite.) Anyhow…

That’s why periods become so much worse than they’re supposed to be.

And you start to see symptoms like these…

  • Feeling forgetful and tired
  • Piercing migraines
  • Fainting
  • Losing your vision
  • The inability to decide if you want to scream or cry for no reason at all
  • Vomiting
  • Insomnia
  • Headaches
  • Soul crushing anxiety
  • Frustration and irritation

Or worse… your cycle stops completely.

We (in this dominant culture) have to stop pretending this is normal. I promise, if you ever visited our community–– or any other Indigenous community that lives as part of the land and not this industry– you would notice that a lot of the things you’ve always considered part of life… don’t exist or don’t happen in any other place but here.

Including these really bad period symptoms.

So does that mean you have to pack all your things, leave everything behind, and move to a remote spot in the mountains? No. Break all connections and stay away from people for a week every month? No.

Something my great-great grandfather said, that’ll always stick with me, and you’ll hear me repeat often is this:

“To survive, we’ll have to learn how to walk in two worlds.”

While we can’t change all the stress and trauma we’re exposed to in this world…

We can let our bodies finish the cycle so we don’t have to live with it.

We can let it not affect our other life experiences, like our periods, our relationships, our health, well-being, peace of mind, and so much more.

I do it. And so does the women who’ve learned how inside SLG, my online healing program. (Which btw, if you don’t want to miss the next opening, make sure you get on the waitlist here.)

Changing your period from being a horrible once-a-month experience to something you barely notice (without special juices, products, and gimmicks that make you dependent on yet another aspect of this industry we live in), is not farfetched, at all. It’s very possible.

For now, there are 3 important things you can do for yourself:

  1. Days leading up to the start of your new cycle, start limiting exposure to things you know tend to trigger you into survival/stress. That includes social media and watching the news.
  2. Take grandma’s advice: drink warm liquids and keep your womb warm, especially when your flow starts. She always said a cold womb will cause a lot of problems (this is where trauma comes in, but that’s another story).
  3. And the most crucial thing you can do: make learning how to release stress from your body (to not be in survival anymore) your main priority. You learn this and everything else will follow.

Your body has the power to take care of itself–– you just need to learn how to let it.

Now, I would love to know if there’s something about your period that you’re now thinking, Hmm… maybe it’s not supposed to be this way?

Let me know in the comments ❤️

Pewkayal, (until we meet again)
Mandy Kvyen

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