Goddamn hormones (or, Lessons I Learned from PMS)

(This post borders on TMI. Just saying. You've been warned.)

For most of my life, I've been spared the ravages of PMS.

Oh, sure, there's been the odd headache, a breakout here and there, cramps easily managed with skilful administration of Advil—but nothing, nothing that approaches the raging, crying, out-of-control bloaty/screamy/eaty extravaganzas that I've heard about from my friends.

My period has never been more than a minor inconvenienceuntil the estrogen gods looked down on me, laughed nastily and figured I had had it way too easy

And sent me the last two months.

All of a sudden, my usually (relatively) stable emotions yawed crazily out of control. I found myself cryingsobbingat the smallest provocations: a misunderstood text, a few social awkwardnesses, hell, even saying goodbye at the end of a night out set me up for wildly stormy weeping sessions lasting hours

Seriously. Hours. My eyes looked like big poofy pillows for days.

I spent a full week teetering on the edge of what felt like real madness—thoroughly and utterly convinced that I was flaky and ugly and unlovable, and that my life was a nothing more than a train wreck of underachievement and laziness and just so much wasted time.

(Now, lest you think I was truly ready for the madhouse, there was always some left-over practical, un-addled part of my brain standing back with its arms folded, watching me keen and wail, and thinking, "What the fuck?" As the hormonal storm rolled away, that part won out. Slowly.)  

So what's this experience left me with—aside from a now-justifiable dread of the middle of the month?

Well, it's partly been a graphic illustration of that maxim of cognitive-behavioural therapy, "Don't believe everything you think." The brain is capable of creating the most catastrophic narratives from mere wisps of nothingness. Most things are rarely as monumental—or as self-focused—as they appear.

This is your brain. This is your brain on hormones. And the two are not the same.

But, interestingly, they're not that different, either. Yes, my reactions to situations were extreme—but I also realized the extent to which I dismiss uncomfortable circumstances and feelings, and the amount of intellectual rationalizing that goes on when I really should be letting my emotions speak up. 

Being as emotionally fragile as I was forced me to express the feelings that were, after all, there all along. Snuffling and snotty, I did manage to articulate most of the time why I was unhappy—or, at least, I tried to. For me, that's a step in the right direction.

So I'm faced with another potential hormone storm soon. What am I going to do?

Well, I'm going to try my very best to remember that things aren't nearly as dire as they seem—but I'm also going to remember that this state of mind highlights lots of things that I've been ignoring, and I'm going to try and acknowledge that, too. 

I'm going to be gentle with myself, rather than beat myself up for being weepy (read: weak, at least in my head). And I'm going to try and ask for what I need from the people around me—which, for me, means a little more attention, a little extra talking, and some help to unpack what may actually be legitimate, if magnified, issues. 

(Note to friends: I don't like being left alone when I feel bad. The more attention I get, the better. I promise to be this needy only once a month. And I promise to repay in kind.)

Bring it on.


  1. I feel you! I was fine up until the last year, when suddenly I'm a mess. (And all this time I thought the period gods were on my side.)

    1. I've been trying very hard not to relate this sudden change to the fact that I'll be 37 this year--so, actually, your predicament makes me feel a little better in a nasty schadenfreude kind of way... :)

    2. Call on me anytime, baby. I like support when I'm down too.
      Love, your no. 1 blog fan-girl


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