She stained her skirt. The boys laughed. She laughed too, at their naivety! It’s one of those days of the month; not a lot of women look forward to, unless…well, I bet you’re smart enough to guess.
Menstruation or chums as known commonly is something every woman has to deal with. Yes, it’s uncomfortable, painful and it makes women cranky. When the tongue craves for sweet-sour pickle, and a mother, aunt or grandmother warns against touching the jar to keep the pickle from getting bad. Deeming nature’s way to pronounce a woman. It’s a taboo, entering the shrine of the creator who put that mechanism into a woman. Feeling hungry and craving a hot bowl of Maggie, but can’t enter the kitchen. Well it’s not just women swinging from mood to mood, turns out the society is PMS’ing too. India has come a long way with modernization in technology and thought, but has yet to experience a change in mindset. True to the pledge, we are a country that takes pride in its culture; and that has us rooted.
I am sharing a therapy of a family battling such social conventions.
Mumbai opened its arms to this young aspirant years ago. Times were harsh but did not deter his ambitions, years of toiling, yielded fruit. An unknown name from yesterday became a rather well established garment trader. Years passed, increase in wealth did not take him away from his roots. He woke up early every morning, prayed earnestly and ended the ritual with a session of yoga. Marriage did not change him either. He took on responsibilities and fulfilled them to the best of his abilities. His wife a simple woman who kept her head covered was the first to wake and the last to sleep. She was obedient to her husband and instilled the same values in her two children. As years passed, the children grew old enough to make career choices. The elder son chose to pursue IT as a career. The second son took up his family business of garments. The elder son was liberal minded. He was of the opinion that men and women share equal status in society. Years later, he was married to a rather lively girl with good family values. With a new member, the family was ecstatic. As days passed bitterness grew. The elder son was torn between his family and wife. To find a solution, he approached Joel for a Therapy appointment. Like I mentioned in the previous article, Joel grills all such requests and fixes a slot only and only if he feels the client the genuine and believes in the possibility of transformation.
I had a one-to-one therapy session with the wife. As the secession progressed, I discovered a pattern in the family’s behavior towards her. It was during her monthly cycle that she faced most torment. Two ways to address the problem were suggested- (1). She was asked to challenge the mindset by stating it as being a natural occurrence, like defecating and urinating. (2). That a meeting be arranged between me and the parents. The latter did not materialize. The husband was then asked, to talk the family into meeting. They agreed to meet this time around. The session was conducted in the presence of me and a female counselor. The aim was to bring to light the myths associated with menstruation.
During periods, the body emits some specific smell, which turns preserved food bad. While it is certain to maintain hygiene, there exists no scientific evidence showing menstruation as the reason for spoilage of any food. As a part of maintain hygiene, using a pleasant scented mist or deodorant could help prevent foul smell.
Avoiding sour food like tamarind, curd and pickles do not interfere in menstrual flow. Physical activates/exercise aggravates menstrual flow, while in reality it helps relieve a menstruating woman with symptoms of premenstrual syndrome. Exercise also releases serotonin, making one feel happier. Small walks or a 15 minutes session for Yoga was suggested, instead of a heavy workout.
The family was made aware that it is important for a menstruating woman to take rest. Hormones are at its lowest and thus a woman is not at her optimal. Lack of adequate rest could worsen PMS, which could lead to more serious bodily issues. The wife was asked to include beans, being an abundant source of fiber. Foods having high levels of vitamin B complex, such as legumes were suggested. Rich sources of magnesium and calcium were suggested in the form of green vegetables. The family was informed that eating right not only supplies nutrients and vitamins but also aids in reducing fatigue and menstrual pain. Use of heating pads was suggested to relieve pain as an alternative to painkillers. Placing a bottle of hot water directly on the lower abdomen could be used as a quick fix to heating pads. Lastly, keeping the interest of mother Earth in mind, suggestion of using re-usable pads indoors and at night was made. Menstrual cup were suggest as hygienic and an environment friendly option.
The family was made aware that it is not a woman’s choice to menstruate. Menstruation is as natural and answering natures call.