Guest post by Jessica Vineyard

I hated it every time it came. It stole in like a thief in the night. A dark cloud of gloom accompanied by a horrid surge of adrenalin. A sinking feeling of dread. A sense that I would never feel like myself again.

I had recently experienced a terribly painful breakup and, while it had been several months prior and I now felt pretty good for the most part, I still experienced a periodic, gripping, gut-wrenching, mind-numbing pain. Perhaps I couldn’t really pin it on the breakup any more.

Then I had the good fortune to read 4 Seasons in 4 Weeks. As I read the bullet points in each seasonal chapter I recognized some of my symptoms. I started tracking immediately. Since I’m way past my physical cycling, I tracked by the Moon phases. In other words, my monthly Day 1 was the day of the New Moon.

It didn’t take long to discover that these times of feeling immense hopelessness, enormous sadness, and the loss of something I could no longer put my finger on came most often during my Summer week, the last week of the Moon’s monthly cycle. I thought I was on to something.

In the beginning, although I was tracking regularly, I didn’t actually look at the monthly rhythms that I was experiencing. More frequently, I found myself having a “gloom attack,” racing to my 4s4w book, and madly skimming through the chapters to find descriptions of my symptoms. It took a while, but I eventually started looking ahead to see what seasonal rhythms were coming. What I discovered astounded me.

Before I describe what I learned, let me say a little more about what I learned when I would look back at what had happened during my cycle. I found that these gloom attacks occurred very predictably—nearly always in my Summer week. When I’d have them, I would feel as though I always felt down and depressed, that I never felt good. So when I did feel good, I didn’t pay attention. I began to spend all my time worrying about the next attack. Weeks would go by, but I knew one was always just around the corner. When the despair descended, I could once again confirm that it happened in week 4. This was getting old. Where was the benefit?

A light came on out of the blue one day. How about looking ahead and putting the 4s4w philosophy to work, girl? Since I knew these attacks came in my Summer week, and I intellectually knew they weren’t indicative of my constant state, I started to bring more of my awareness to the teachings of the other weeks. Week 1: oh, relax? Rest? Right. I’m just crawling out of a hole, for goodness’ sake! Hey, stop fighting it. Just try it. Read the Fall chapter, lady. That’s the point. Oh, right. Okay, fine.

I started to notice that I felt better than good—I felt great!—in Week 2, Winter. I had tons of energy and wanted to move my body. I started to enjoy looking and feeling good. During Week 3, Spring, I made a point of connecting with friends I feel good being around. And by the time the horrible Summer week was upon me, it wasn’t so horrible any more. I still felt the sinking feeling, but instead of fearing the worst, I just allowed myself a few days in bed, quiet and alone, with a good book, a cup of tea, and my phone nearby in case I needed to talk to someone.

And you know what? Those gloom attacks are almost non-existent now. I realize I was feeding them by not caring for myself the rest of the month. Now, when I have a particularly fabulous day and I haven’t been tracking for a while, I’ll whip out my Moon calendar and my 4s4w book and confirm the best instead of the worst. Hey! No wonder I feel my very best today! It’s the Full Moon!