Tuesday, June 28, 2011

PMS and Other Things That Suck

Hormonal mood swings are one of the lovelier aspects of womanhood. Not only are they lovely for us, but they’re lovely for everyone around us who has to deal with us when we’re experiencing them. Moments of anger, sadness, or total outright bitchiness for no apparent reason… it’s not anyone’s idea of fun.

You know, this is one of those subjects thats been written about by a lot of people and not once have I ever read anything on the subject that didn’t bug me or make me roll my eyes and say “Seriously? They wasted ink on that?” Most articles aren’t helpful at all, and I don’t really find anything written with biting, bitchy humor to be either entertaining or identifiable. I also don’t think I have ever seen anything written on the subject that would give men any kind of idea what it’s like or any kind of accurate description of what we go through. So… what the hell, I might as well take it on, since, at the moment, I happen to be engulfed in it.

I can’t speak for anyone else, only myself and my own experiences with this, and I’ll be honest, this isn’t like… a FUN subject for me to tackle. Honestly, I’m writing about it because writing is how I cope with things in life that suck. For me, there are months when PMS takes the form of “raging bitch” and months when it takes the form of “sobbing mess.” As you probably just guessed, this month has been “sobbing mess.” Actually, it’s been a little of both; I had a couple days of raging bitch and a couple days of sobbing mess. Today has been a roller coaster of both but mostly sobbing mess.

Unfortunately, though there are over the counter pills out there that are supposed to help with symptoms, they really don’t. There are reports stating that women honest to God do benefit from chocolate at this time in their cycle (personally I am a chocoholic anyway, not just when I’m going through this) and that’s a lovely concept… and it’s why women joke about chocolate all the time. Wine, too. You hear us talk about both of them with the kind of enthusiasm most men wish women had for blow jobs or football like they’re magic elixir or something.

I recall being a teenager and talking about this with a friend of mine. We both knew that when we flew into a hormonal rage and acted like lunatics that it was PMS causing it, but we had no control over it whatsoever, and later would feel terrible for things we did or said. We felt like it was awful to have to apologize later, rather than just simply not behave that way in the first place, especially considering that we knew what we were doing in the moment. I can’t speak for her, but for me, at that time, it was literally impossible to control myself. My theory is that as a teenager, the hormonal imbalance must have been much greater.

In my early 20’s I was dating a guy who, one month, after I had been a total bitch and later apologized, said to me “You know, that ranks right up there with ‘I was drunk’; it’s no excuse to treat people like shit for a week and then say ‘oh, I had PMS’ like it’s a get out of jail free card on your Monopoly board.”  Initially, I was really angry with him. After all, it was hormonal and I couldn’t control it. But, the more I thought about it, the more I agreed with him. I knew what I was doing when I was doing it; now I needed to find a way to stop myself from being a bitch.

I happened to be lucky in that my cycle was always something you could set your watch by. Not only did I know what day Mother Nature would show up but for many years, it happened at exactly 6:30 am, give or take 15 minutes. I’m not kidding, I know that’s nuts, but its true. It made it extremely easy to map out when I’d start to experience mood swings. Once I was able to determine when it was going to happen, I started making a huge effort to figure out how to control my words and actions when it hit. I’ve definitely mastered not taking my raging hormones out on the people around me, though I do still get into those uncontrollable bitchy moods. There are days when *I* don’t even want to be around me.

As for the crying part of this lovely condition… well… that’s another story. It’s not really as if crying or being a mess in that respect causes a fight with anyone. Sure, it might annoy the hell out of them, but it certainly doesn’t offend them. I’ve never really battled all that hard against the crying jags, I mean, as a chick, I find the hysterical bawling my eyes out every so often to be cleansing and sometimes I can even laugh about it later. Like when I find myself overcome with emotion because of the coffee commercial where the son comes home from the military and makes coffee to wake up his mom. Forget it, I’m toast on that one.

And that brings us to the really FUN part of PMS. Its like feeling your emotions in some kind of crazy fun house mirror. Weird stuff gets magnified and looks way out of proportion, but seeing is believing in a mirror, and feeling is believing in life. When you have PMS, things that normally bother you a little become these giant insurmountable problems and you believe your crazy hormonal imbalance when it tells you that your life sucks. Before you know it, you’re so depressed that you’re bawling your eyes out and you have no valid reason for it… but you THINK you do.

Today, for example, I got deep into the sobbing mess mentality. I was feeling every single negative thing in my life on a scale so gargantuan that I really don’t know how I got through the work day. Everything in my life that sucks came right to the surface and took over the front and center of my whole existence and ran my thought processes all day. I was talking to a friend and telling her how I was feeling, and as I was listening to myself, I knew that in a day or two, I would not feel nearly as strongly as I did at that moment.

I don’t have all that tough of a life. I mean, I live in the USA, which, to begin with puts a person right up there just in terms of infrastructure and opportunity. I have a good job, I have a lovely teeny little house, a decent car, food on my table, and for the most part… good health. I have a great family of origin, and wonderful friends. I know all of that and I’m thankful for all of it every single day of my life. But, on days like today, things that suck, like having little health problems, being broke, and having a still fairly broken heart over my last relationship all seem like the end of the world. They become so enormous and heavy on my shoulders and unbearable that I just want to crawl under the covers and never come out.

On some level, though, somewhere deep down, I know it’s only a temporary condition, and tomorrow I’ll be me again. And, as I said, I can only speak for me. Yeah, I have PMS and there’s a few other things I have that suck… lactose intolerance, gluten intolerance, arthritis, a crooked spine, bad hips, chronic fatigue, and a budget that leaves me in the red every month… but happiness truly is a choice and if you know that your cycle is frigging up your world once a month then do something about it. Maybe your solution isn’t as simple as mine was. If you’re finding your life disrupted or if you have people in your life who you find yourself apologizing to even though you knew you were wrong in the first place, please talk to your doctor. We are women, and our hormones do flux, but there’s no reason on earth to be unhappy once a month.

Some of us truly do indulge in a glass of wine, some chocolate, a bowl of ice cream, and feel better. Some of us require putting a lot of thought into when to expect it, focus on signs and signals of it creeping in and taking over, and do our best to take control of ourselves. Some actually do need to seek medical help. For me, I know that exactly every 28 days I’m going to host Mother Nature and that 4 days prior I’ll begin to experience moods that “aren’t me.” As they arrive, I have to make a real effort to keep myself grounded and mindful of the world around me and how my words and actions will affect others. That’s not to say I put myself last, not by a long shot. I just try to balance my needs with the needs of those around me, and it’s far more of a thought process on those four days than it is at any other time in life.

Today was a tough day. Worse than I’ve had in a while… but I made it through. Ain’t nuthin' but a thang.

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