Week 4, Day 25: Headaches, Near-Misses and Eating the Chocolate Elephant


Welcome once again to The Periodical where I chronicle living life in ladyhood. If you’re not sure how you got here or why I’m slinging so much period talk you may want to start with my first couple of posts: Period Pants and Feeling the Fire and Embracing the Feisty.

Today we find ourselves in WEEK 4, DAY 25.

Now Playing: Ugh, I wish ANYTHING would suit my mood(s). Relying on old faves like 90s dance music is a quick save, but it won’t last long. It’s a week of musical near-misses, really.

Craving: Um, sleep. And something delicious. Salazon’s Salted Chocolate line has my heart. Organic, single-origin and fair trade yumminess, which is an added bonus. Did you catch the salt and chocolate part?

Spirit Animal:  cake-kid-matilda

Let me begin by saying I’m sorry. If I haven’t returned your emails or responded to your voicemails, please don’t be upset. It’s not because I’m in the harried, gleeful days of Week 2 or even the contemplative, ‘American Beauty’ plastic-bag-watching stupor of Week 1, no this is the “I would forget my head if it weren’t attached,” and “I’d rather curl up into a ball and hibernate for days because there’s too much to do and my brain’s too slow to process it all and everything can JUST WAIT” magic of Week 4.

Phew! Yes, Week 4, Day 25 to be exact, the special time in my cycle when making moves is at a snail’s pace. Even though my mind is telling me “I think I can, I think I can” my body and the actual time it takes my brain to spit out an action command are on par with dripping molasses. My To Do list looks like the fist draft of a Quentin Tarantino script and although I still have the desire to tackle it all, a voice inside my head says,”pffft, slow down sister. All that is NOT going to happen so you might as well just back the eff off. Have a piece of cake.” According to science I can thank plummeting estrogen and progesterone for all of this.

But I don’t digest that easily. This is a real blow to my system coming off of a Week 3 whirlwind of kicking ass and kung fu-ing the crap outta my daily tasks, and then some, and there’s a part of me that just wants to keep pushing, pushing, pushing. I must just need more caffeine! Put the kettle on again, John, it’s tea time! Wrong! Because all that pushing and piling on the caffeine leads to more tension and anxiety and eventually I crash, this particular time in the form of a fun little flashy zigzag show in my eyeballs followed by a less fun migraine headache. Blugherghfkfkfjl. Just when I was on a roll! Ready to keep tackling the world!

I consider myself lucky, though. My migraines last maybe a few hours if I take the time to lay down and consciously relax – an absolutely necessary step considering that my migraines tend to stem from stress, translating into super stiff neck and shoulder muscles which then cause the ocular, or optical, migraines that I’ve experienced less than a dozen times in my adult life.

The first time I got a migraine I was 26 years old and I was on the brink of quitting a corporate gig I couldn’t bear to stick with any longer. It’s safe to say that each migraine after that occurred very close to another pivotal life moment – another job switch, a breakup, the launch of a project, etc. – though I don’t quite remember if they all happened during Week 4 (in fact I think a couple may have occurred during week one, another especially sensitive time for me. Not to self: check into old period calendars to sleuth out. Yes I’ve been documenting my period for a long time. Hi, have you met me? Cycle dork extraordinaire, here.)

Week 4 also ushers in all this other fun stuff like heightened sensitivity to little things like smells, sights, sounds (no playlist in the world is good enough!!), tastes and words. Oh, words. And pain. Wise advice from my pal Gabrielle Lichterman, founder of Hormonology, is that you should never schedule anything painful during Week 4 if you can help it, like a dentist appointment or the cruel ritual of waxing, because it will hurt way more at this highly sensitive time than it will at other point during your cycle. No truer words have ever been spoken. Unscheduled pain hurts more, too. (See: migraines.)

Speaking of Gabrielle, according to her book ’28 Days’, today, Day 25, is an “emotional wildcard” with another ride on the “moody merry-go-round.” I could agree with that. Basically it’s a shit show mood-wise, but that’s almost sort of fun and entertaining. Adrenaline boosts help me work through some tough spots and the low points of feeling a lack of confidence and motivation get filled with the sweet sugary goodness of chocolate and the salty satisfaction of the tears of my opponents – kidding! It’s usually some sort of chip. See? Week 4 isn’t all about the mopes. In fact, it’s fab for creativity. More on that at a later cycle.

One thing I don’t like about Week 4, which yes, if you haven’t already figured it out by now would be the ever-loving PMS time, is the stigma surrounding it (which is so thick with societal wrongness I don’t have the bandwidth to cut through it right now). What I will say, though, is that sensitivity does not equal weakness. Oh no. Just because I’m hearing, seeing, smelling things at a heightened level doesn’t mean I can’t be strong and fierce and powerful. It just means I have added super powers and can smell your fear from a mile away.

Today my body and my senses are telling me to slow down, to experience, to be present, to take my time and learn to be OK with that. And it’s OK to reward myself with a cookie, too. Once I realize I can’t do EVERYTHING and that that firebreather on hormonal speed from Week 3 is taking a well-deserved nap, I can focus better on the tasks at hand. One thing at a time.

Bottom line: You know that old expression about eating an elephant? Screw it, have a piece of chocolate instead.

In other words, to sum it up:
omg it takes forever to gather my thoughts
I’m sooo extra sensitive right now
caffeine is noottttt helpinggggg
let it go.

SOS: Depending on your particular mood today’s Sign Off Song song may motivate you to keeping moving or throw your ice cream sundae at the computer screen.

Disclaimer: This is based on a 4 week menstrual cycle pattern that lasts around 28 days (mine is somewhere in the 30-32 range) most women experience hormonally. I’m not an expert, except perhaps a self-proclaimed one of my own body and cycle. You may have similar days or your experience may be completely different. My hope is that some of you can relate, celebrate, commiserate with me or at least get a good laugh out of it as I chronicle my ladyhood. Let’s be empowered. Let’s take our cycles back.

I welcome any and all thoughts in the comments!


JLHC is a writer, blogger, dreamer, cat-lover living and working in NYC. Her past and current exploits include founding and running YogaDork, starting a co-working space called tascbar in her neighborhood of East Harlem and discovering that she is an extrovert in an introvert’s body, or maybe the other way around. She believes in questioning everything and reminding herself that nothing is a waste of time. For what is time? twitter: @jenniyoga. website:jennilyncarson.com



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