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Meet Tigerlily, my cat. She was a stray who wandered up our driveway one morning, mewing, cold, and starving. Now she's a bonafide member of the family, an absolute gift and treasure. She's taught me so much about how to cope with my premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). I thought it might be nice to share Tigerlily's wisdom here with all of you. So here are six great life lessons in PMDD from my therapy cat and feline guru.
When I'm in a mood, I don't have to pretend to be otherwise.
Cats don't bother to hide their feelings. They aren't trying to be polite. While my kitty is usually happy to see me when I walk into a room, sometimes she can't be bothered to look up. Sometimes, she'll even chatter discontentedly at me as if to say, "You are not meeting my needs, human!" I love how natural she is, how unpretentious, and real. She reminds me to be real. She reminds me it is okay for this human to be part animal.
When my body is sore or super fatigued, I need to pandiculate.
What the heck is pandiculation? Animals do it all day long. We sometimes do it too without realizing it ... Just not as often. But, animals tend to be more embodied than their human counterparts!
Pandiculation is like a yawn for the entire body. It's what we do naturally when we wake in the morning, but I can't quite call it a stretch because pandiculation is special. It requires three steps:
- tensing the muscles
- s-l-o-w-l-y lengthening them
- completely relaxing
These are the keys to pandiculation. It isn't about pulling or forcing anything, but rather, feeling sensually awesome. Tigerlily is a pro at it! Turns out, pandiculation can reset our nervous system. It's like a reboot, and when PMDD sets in, I need all the resets I can get.
It's perfectly acceptable to lie around all day in the sun.
When my symptoms are really horrible, my body aches, and my brain feels like over-sensitized mush, having a long list of things to do becomes an impossibility. There will be days when I just don't want to do anything. Taking most humans as my example, I feel guilty when I slow down. But taking Tigerlily as my example has taught me that it is perfectly acceptable to sleep all day long when I need to. She also reminds me that it's okay throughout the day to take sun breaks, even when I feel super productive. We all need time to simply rest and regenerate, without the guilt trip!
When I claw at people during my symptoms, it's just my nature.
Though an exceptionally affectionate kitty, Tigerlily does occasionally get snippy and scratchy. Sometimes, for no reason at all, at least no reason I know, she'll grab at my leg ferociously. There are other times when she forgets I don't have thick cat-skin and her play becomes a little too physical, so I wind up with a scratch or two. She doesn't mean to hurt me at these times. She just playing, giving me love bites.
PMDD changes my nature. I can become a very different animal. It isn't that I want to hurt anyone, but I just can't seem to garner the awareness to stop myself all the time. Tigerlily has shown me how to be more compassionate toward myself during those times.
Too much stimulation, and I will claw at you!
When I am in the throes of PMDD, I, like many women, become hypersensitive to noise, smells, thoughts, conversations, questions, foods, and people. It's easy to become overwhelmed and lash out. I've seen this behavior in my cat too. She loves to cuddle and be pampered, but she does have a murder button that when pressed can turn my sweet Tigerlily into an actual Tiger. She can flip in a millisecond. Sound familiar?
A little unconditional love goes a long way.
Even if Tigerlily gets upset with me, eventually she comes around weaving through my legs again waiting for dinner. She's very quick to forgive my grumpiness and occasional lack of attention. She's taught me how to be a little kinder and gentler with the people in my life, to remember that sometimes it is best to let things go. After all, we're all just doing our best in life. And when I extend that kind of energy outward, it is easier to accept when it comes back at me.
I recently invited followers at PMDD Life Support to post photos of their furry friends. Join us!
Have you enjoyed what you just read? Be sure to check out my other articles on premenstrual dysphoric disorder. Your kind tips help me to continue building this library of PMDD-specific content.