By Monet Bush
There is a common misconception that your menstrual cycle is just your period! It’s so not true, even though I used to buy into that too. But over the past six years, I’ve learned so much truth about the menstrual cycle and it has changed my life.
I used to be doubled over in pain throughout my cycle, with massive hormonal breakouts, and mental symptoms through the roof. Now I write this as a lady with a V who knows her follicular stage, ovulation stage, luteal stage, and menstruation stage like the back of her hand and has the proper diagnosis. Throughout my wellness journey, I’ve learned about living with PMDD, being misdiagnosed with Bipolar Depression instead of PMDD, how my cycle can aid me in my work if I use it to my advantage, and how I can balance my hormones to deal with the pains and suicidal ideation of PMDD.
Now I type words I’ve never thought would come from me: I LOVE MY CYCLE, and even better, I understand it! I’m happy to have it back and even more excited to begin sharing some of the steps that got me here.
I was diagnosed with bipolar depression when I was 19. A couple of bad choices later, horrible relationship management (lack of ability to remain present, angry outbursts, leaving), suicidal ideation and the worst highs/lows, I found a pattern.
I noticed that my symptoms only started after my period and lasted until the start of my next period. Throughout my 6-year wellness journey, I have learned some things we stopped teaching due to the taboo around periods and lack of understanding in a world highly catered to non-POC men. I learned that there are four stages of a cycle: Menstruation, Follicular, Ovulation, and Luteal! So just imagine all 3 of these stages being hell only to receive relief during one phase. After noticing this pattern with my cycle, I searched high and low for a new doctor in my area.
I was beyond grateful to find Kiara Eily of Carolina Center of Restorative Medicine. If you are in North Carolina or down to travel, she will change your entire life. She can prescribe conventional medicine as well as holistic medicines. Holistic was very important to me because I noticed that sometimes chemicals made me feel worse or cause side effects with me. I went back for rediagnosis with my notes, her online symptom chart, discussing pages of my health history, and a healthy diet but 60+ regained pounds. I found out that I’d been treating my brain with medications (at 19 with carbamazepine from the Bipolar Depression diagnosing doctor) and holistically when switching to a holistic lifestyle. But what needed treatment were my hormones. I was diagnosed correctly with PMDD, Insulin Resistance, ADHD, and a Vitamin D deficiency from Dr. Eily. I also learned that of the women who go through life with PMDD “an estimated 15% of women with this disorder will attempt an act of suicide in their lifetime.” – IAPMD – formerly Gia Allemand Foundation. Things made so much more sense given my own experience with suicidal ideations.
I cannot diagnose you, but I can tell you what my main symptoms were:
- Mood Shifts
- Heavy Depression: I would wake up some days wanting to end my life when nothing had changed. It felt like the grief, sadness, and pain of losing my entire family in one day, I imagine.
- Inability to Function: this included eating, working, moving, excluding to use the restroom on some days
- Excessive Weight Gain (even with rigorous diet)
- Tender Breasts
- Irregular Cycles
- Very Profound Food Cravings
- Feeling Absolutely Unattractive During the Weeks Leading up to my period (I always felt like a goddess afterward. But, during this time I would genuinely look in the mirror and want to cry or avoid photos all together.)
My doctor prescribed me with 6 holistic medicines. She even gave me a conventional emergency prescription to take if the natural medication took too long to kick in. My husband picked up the conventional prescription for me, and to this day I still haven’t had to touch it.
Since being treated for just 2 months with the 6 treatments, I feel better than I have ever felt since my first cycle at age 12.
I share this because the wellness industry will make you think that sometimes you need to work harder, stronger, be more, eat better. I’m telling you as a woman who started her journey undiagnosed, worked out 7 days a week and added more time to compensate for cheat meals. I lost 56 pounds and still felt horrible. We need to stop this culture.
Now I work out moderately (3-4 times a week) and can use intuitive eating without seeing my weight fluctuate. I’ve lost 33 pounds with regular activity, and I’ve lost that tight, uncomfortable feeling in my face. I take long walks without worrying about how I need to make sure I get in a specific amount of steps because I have gained the will and desire to be active again due to proper treatment. If you have to bust your butt in the gym to maintain a healthy weight chances are there are underlying issues…and don’t let Chad from Instagram who could care less about women’s health tell you that “One cheat meal can’t make you fat, just like one good meal can’t make you fit.” This is true for healthy functioning bodies, but if you notice fluctuations in your beautiful body, don’t think you have to work harder. Go to a doctor like mine who will have you fill out pages of history before seeing you, ask you to track your meals and symptoms before coming in, and sit with you for 2 + hours discussing and understanding you.
Please don’t underestimate the power of a doctor who will take this time with you. Before my wellness journey, I sat down with a conventional doctor who legitimately heard my concerns and told me I needed to eat healthier and work out more. She said this as she sat across from me eating a Yoplait yogurt…something laden with sugars that I wouldn’t even touch because I had noticed my bodies reaction to things laden with sugar, yet was still gaining by the minute. I told her how often I worked out (at that time 5 days a week alternating between cardio and strength 2 hours a day) and she informed me I needed to amp it up!? I felt drained, tired, and like I was working against something. It turns out I was, but her response made me feel like I was lazy and seeing her in perfect shape while eating a Yoplait and essentially fat-shaming me sent me into a frenzy of unhealthy workouts. She didn’t even run a blood test.
You are not alone, and there are doctors who will take the time with you. Find them, and if you are reading this right now, please, I can honestly tell you there is a way to get you on the right regimen to make your quality of life better.
I will be sharing more of my journey, my regimen, and updates on the Wellness section of my blog, so if you’d like updates sign up for my mailing list here.
As always keep fighting warriors. The battles make for an epic winning-the-war story, and I thank you for reading mine!
About the Warrior
Hey Warriors! I’m Monet Bush, a Corporate Graphic Designer turned Wellness Graphic Designer/Blogger. I was misdiagnosed 6 years ago with bipolar depression.
Throughout the past 6 years, I’ve embarked on a wellness journey. I was treating my brain because of my misdiagnoses while my hormones ran amuck! I lost 56 pounds, gained it all back plus more, became holistic, learned about self-care, the works! Now I’m a cycle-syncing, light-radiating, holistic-living woman whose winging it. Sometimes I get a thing or two right, and I love to share it. Sometimes, I get a million things wrong, and I love to share that too. This is the day and age of knowledge and candor, and I’m so happy to be here and fighting with you all.