Compassion for Cycling Moods

Some folks have cycling of moods. Others cycle with the moon. Most of us have some natural cycling. This could be in the form of premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), a bipolar spectrum disorder*, or ups and downs with certain hormones or hormone replacements. For example, some folks who are on hormone replacement therapy can track their cycle and notice it align with a friend’s cycle. Cycling is so natural that many people even cycle with the moon.

Cycling has been depicted in literature for centuries. Having depressive or manic cycles is nothing new. I often wonder how much trauma is associated with cycling. For example, you may have noticed your premenstrual symptoms worsen around the beginning of the pandemic. What a traumatic time for some. In general, people may notice some highs and lows as they try new things at this point in the pandemic. For example, some people are noticing feeling more disconnected or new racing thoughts as they engage with people more in-person. Don’t get me wrong, I’m forever grateful for being able to be vaccinated and there are several of my family members in Iran who may not be able to get vaccines. I also notice folks struggling with their mental health. It parallels something like getting help after a war. Folks are crawling out of the corner that kept them alive these last several months. They may need even more tender care than when the virus was at it’s peak. If you notice yourself having some ups and downs we can take into context what is happening right now and extend heaps of compassion.

I like to extend compassion to these parts of us that are up and down by noting what arises and then getting in touch with what the part is trying to express. For example, is there a part of you that is exhausted? Does she need tender words of affirmation? Does she need to be heard? Some examples of when this part needs to be heard are when we feel tired and sassy or when we wish our emotions were more aligned with the thing that happened. When you feel yourself have big feelings rather than man-splain or invalidate yourself, note that part of you begging, maybe even screaming inside to be heard and scared that we are abandoning ourselves or that someone will leave or reject us.

You can utilize components of internal family systems (IFS) therapy to first calm your nervous system. I do this through touching my hand to the skin over my heart and really feeling the temperature and texture here while love shines from my hands to my heart. If you feel safe and relaxed you can ask to talk with this inner part for a few moments. You can envision this part of you sitting on the couch and handing them a warm cup of tea or hot coco. You can ask this part of you what’s going on. You can listen attentively, even if the reaction is huge. In fact, when the reaction is big we can give that part of ourselves even more tenderness. I offer those parts even more love. Note that part and then invite this tender part of you to share what is happening through imagery. This can help us have even greater compassion for those ups and downs. If you’d like help finding someone to walk you through these imagery exercises feel free to reach out to me.

With kindness,

Dr. Joharchi

*If you feel your bipolar disorder or other cycling is in need of assistance please do reach out and get the help you need.

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