Last year, seemingly out of the blue, my periods went from a few inconvenient, mildly cramp-y days, to a week of total mayhem. Not only was I weepy and constantly on the verge of tears, I was angry — actually sometimes furious — and so, so confused. I’d try to break up with Kevin, I’d contemplate quitting my job or finding a new job, and I’d inevitably get in my car and drive; I was literally trying to run away from myself. “A woman’s period is like once a month her body accidentally hits caps lock on her emotions,” tweeted Aparna Nancherla. Well, I felt like mine was on caps lock, plus one million exclamation points, bold, italicized, and size 72.
Here was the tricky part: even when I knew I must be PMSing (I even had an app that sent me alerts!) I couldn’t bring myself to let go of the thoughts that raced through my mind. “This must be true,” I’d reason, “because this is how I’m truly feeling, and a feeling is a feeling — it isn’t made up, it’s real.” All the emotions; the anger, the confusion, the certainty that my life wasn’t going as planned, were so concrete, palpable even, that they overrode the tiny voice inside my head that would say, maybe this isn’t how you actually feel? Every month without fail came the hurricane, followed by a cautious Kevin suggesting, as carefully and lovingly as he could, that maybe it could be PMS? IT’S NOT THAT, I’d wail. Fast forward a few days later, and with a clear head, I’d ask, “What happened?” (followed by one million apologies). It sometimes felt like a total blackout.
It seems kind of crazy now, when I look back, but it was debilitating, and it was taking a toll on our relationship. So, I started doing research. And then one day, I was listening to a podcast about birth control. I had switched from the pill to a non-hormone IUD, and even though my actual periods had become heavier and longer, I didn’t think it would affect my PMS, or emotional state. A doctor’s appointment confirmed I was suffering from PMDD, which I’d never heard of before. PMS on crack, basically. PMS so bad it becomes you, and drives you to feel and act in ways you wouldn’t otherwise.
I was put back on the pill, this time in an effort to stabilize my moods. While I’m not thrilled to have to take hormones, it feels like a small price to pay. These days, my PMS is much, much more manageable. But something has also shifted: I’ve started to understand the natural ebb and flow of my emotional state. I can feel one way, and it doesn’t mean I am that way. Feelings, even the worst ones, are fleeting. Short meditations, even just five minutes, have also been immensely helpful.
If you feel comfortable, I’d love to know your own stories. Do you get PMS? How do you cope with your own mood swings? I have some friends who barely notice a change, while others become bedridden.
Thank you guys for reading 3 Chairs and always being such supportive readers!