Thursday, 17 January 2019

Coping with Menstrual Isolation



Do we realize that most of what we go through come from belief systems that have been inculcated in us by our family members, friends, and other people we were in contact with in our early formative years? I had an interesting case where the lady was going through severe symptoms of pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS). 

According to her, her period was “3 days of sheer torture.” On further questioning I came to understand that ever since she got her periods as a young girl, she faced menstrual segregation.
She was made to stay separately and away from her family, eat and drink out of plates and glasses reserved for these days of segregation, stay in separate rooms, not mingle with other members of the household, not see them till they finished their daily prayers and rituals, and couldn’t go out anywhere except to school (and later, college). 

She did not like this practice and every month, a week before the onset of her periods, the dread would begin. She so wanted to be with the other members of her family, partaking in the joys and sorrows like she did every other day, on those three days. But, she was left “in the cold” as she put it. During the winters, she was literally left in the cold with just a mat to lie on and a thin bed sheet - not even a blanket - to cover herself. 

She realised that she got “puffy during those days” – which is a result of the isolation, speaking from a psychosomatic perspective. 

After she got married, the condition prevailed but not to the same extent. She could sleep on a bed and mingle with her family, but she was not allowed into the kitchen or prayer room. 

As years went by and her family turned into a nuclear one, she changed the rules for herself and her daughter but had to revert to old ways as there were frequent visits by her in laws. The story started again! It is really sad that despite growing up we still allow other people to rule our lives. 

Working on her belief system, releasing her emotions, thoughts and getting herself new strategies to cope with this situation, we worked together to set her free of this issue.

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