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Invisible illness sucks. If you look healthy and are of an age to "know better," you are expected to A) snap out of it, B) act your age, and C) pull your own weight. But none of those things are easy when you're too tired, too sore, too messed up in the head, and too overwhelmed.
There's little we can do to make the outside world understand our inside needs. It is up to us to take the space we need, find the tools that help, and give ourselves the compassion we are thirsting for.
Today, I'm happy to share with you all a few of my favorite things that make life with an invisible illness much easier. I hope one or more of them might be just what's needed to help yourself feel better.
He's not heavy. He's my blanket.
The newest addition to my ever-expanding PMDD Survival Kit is my weighted blanket. It has been a fabulous investment at just under 100 euros (and believe me, at that price, I had my doubts!). Sand-like or glass pellets are used inside the quilted sections of a blanket to help distribute weight evenly over the body, producing a hug-like affect that can stimulate serotonin and melatonin while reducing cortisol. The effect is two-fold, less anxiety and a much better night's sleep. Look for one that is seven to 10 percent of your body weight. I've been sleeping like a baby all night long and find myself craving my blanket during the day sometimes when I feel ungrounded or nervous.
I seem to have passed through my worst rage years (knock on wood), but when I was living them, I may not have survived without the Kundalini Yoga Kriya for Releasing Inner Anger. I'm serious. This workout kept me from going over the cliff. If you have frustration, anger or rage issues, it belongs in your arsenal. Kundalini Yoga is a science and technology that really works to strengthen, heal and protect the nervous system.
I love chocolate, but I don't love the soy, refined sugar, lead and and other toxins in it that can turn it into poison. It's a sad and long story, that cadmium, among other metals, can be readily found in cocoa products, and unfortunately, it is a result of the soil, not necessarily something that happens during processing, so there's little that can be done to avoid it. But being the chocolate addict that I am, I can't walk away!! To mitigate the negative affects of commercial chocolates, I make mine at home as pure as possible with only three ingredients:
- organic raw cacao powder
- coconut cream
- organic honey
Sometimes, I add raisins and seeds or shredded coconut. Depending on how you mix it up, it can spread thick like frosting or be creamy like mousse, or refrigerate it to be more like a chocolate bar.
A Long Hot Soak
When everything hurts, there's nothing better than climbing into a tub of hot water. Add magnesium salts and a dilution of your favorite essential oil such as lavender, and you have a real treat. I like to imagine that everything that is causing me worry or upset is melting away, being pulled out of my tissues. Pay attention to how you feel when you get out. Notice that the constriction of your muscles has released and that you can feel yourself warm and relaxed from head to toe.
Meditation... no, really!
Meditation means different things to different people. To me, it means stopping. It means trying to quiet the restless (and often antagonistic) mind. The best way I've found of doing this is by turning to youtube where one can find a bevy of meditation videos from music, to ASMR, to every kind of guided meditation experience imaginable. You can work with your angels, connect with your inner guru, try progressive relaxation, or chant yourself to sleep.
Try some of my favorites:
- If you like chilling with electronica, visit the Temple of the Divine Muse.
- If you want to work with your angels, try Ros Place.
- For guided mirror meditations, try this one, from Dielle Ciesco.
- For something more traditional, I recommend the Honest Guys.
- If you need help sleeping, maybe a little Yoga Nidra would help.
Turn to the flowers and trees.
Have you heard of flower essences? I always have some Rescue Remedy on hand for times when I wake up from bad dreams, after I have a rage event, or whenever things go absolutely haywire. It's a dilution of various flowers whose subtle energies can help alleviate trauma and emergency. But recently, I also discovered some of the other flower essences that can help with PMDD symptoms. Beech is for intolerance and irritability and Impatience (found in Rescue Remedy) is for... can you guess? Patience. It helps with frustration and agitation. I now have all three of these in my kit.
If the subtle energy of the drops don't seem to help, spend some time in the real deal. I absolutely love to buy myself colorful flowers and shove my nose into them. They are the sweetest little treasures, and I can't help but smile when I look at them... even in my worst moods.
Or go out and sit underneath a tree. Put your back against it and breathe with the tree. It may sound far out but this can actually help. And when those around us are having trouble accepting the flooding emotions of PMDD, I can guarantee a tree won't judge you!
Heck, sometimes when I'm feeling nervous, I just go out to the lawn and stick my hands in the grass and breathe. I imagine the nervous energy draining out through my arms and the clean, vibrant green of the grass flowing in toward my heart.
Granted these aren't tools that will necessarily change your life (although I must admit, a few of them have indeed changed mine). They won't make your symptoms or all of your problems vaporize, but they can bring you a little comfort when you need it most.
Have you enjoyed what you just read? Be sure to check out my other articles on Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder. You can also like and follow PMDD Life Support on Facebook. Your kind tips help me to continue building this library of PMDD-specific content.