The Truth About PMS That No One Ever Told You
PMS is not a myth, but it is only half of the story.
Being “hormonal” sucks. When that time of month came around, I often felt irrationally irritated, hopelessly sad in a way that I couldn’t explain, and my comfort food cravings were suddenly irresistible.
It felt as though my emotional state was beyond my control. As though all I could do was hold on tight and wait for the storm to pass, and hope the significant others in my life would be understanding.
It was scary in a way. We all like to think we are rational people, and when we start acting irrationally and have no way of stopping ourselves, there is a terrifying feeling of being out of control, of not being who we want to be and feeling like a horrible person for the things we are saying and doing. But it’s not our fault.
Or is it?
Growing up, I had always heard that we females just got hormonal at this time of month and it was okay. Everyone else should understand and deal with it because it is not our fault, and we can’t control the hormones raging through our body.
It is like an army of hormones invades our bodies and takes our minds captive for a few days. Some people get it worse, some people get it better, but the one theme that seemed certain was that this was an outside force coming into us and taking away our willpower. Like a demon, if you will.
Sure, you can try to control yourself at times, but it is very difficult.
To me, it was scary to feel out of control. It was even scarier knowing that people who were “exceptionally hormonal”, as a holistic practitioner once called me, were more prone to postpartum depression and the like.
I was afraid that I would be one of those pregnant ladies from hell, sitting on top of the refrigerator and crying into a pint of ice cream. If regular monthly hormones turned me into a mini witch, what would crazy pregnant and postpartum hormones do to me?
I asked this question once to my therapist and she looked at me as though I had just fallen from a different planet.
What do you mean you are exceptionally hormonal? What are you talking about? You clearly don’t understand hormones at all!
I was completely taken aback, having never heard a second perspective on the topic. Everyone I had discussed it with always agreed and commiserated. To be told there is no such thing as exceptionally hormonal? That our hormones don’t turn us into witches? Was this lady for real? Had she never gotten a period?
Turns out, everything I had been told about hormones- was only half of the story.
Yes, at certain times of month, out hormones rage and attack our sensibilities. That part is true. All that means though, contrary to my previous beliefs, is that it lowers our guard in a way that allows our deepest emotions to surface.
A person who has unresolved issues, who is not feeling whole deep inside, all of that “stuff” surfaces when their defenses are broken by the barrage of hormones.
You see, I thought these hormones were bringing out feelings that didn’t exist, bringing up something new that would pass together with the period. To think that these feelings were always a part of me and I just didn’t access them on a daily basis- that was incredibly enlightening.
That meant, all I had to do to rid myself of these outbursts, is to look deep inside and resolve all of that “stuff”. Once the murkiness was gone, my hormones would have no power over me. Being “exceptionally hormonal” I discovered, was a symptom of something not feeling well inside, and perhaps a deeper sensitivity to those feelings, but not a disease of its own!
It was curable, and I was on the way.
Amazingly, a year later when I did get pregnant after having done a lot of work on those deep unresolved feelings, I was a happy and calm pregnant lady. No comfort food cravings, no crazy moods and wellsprings of tears. No existential crises. And after the baby was born, it was just more of the same. I felt so liberated knowing that we DO have control over our emotional well-being, and that PMS can’t touch that.
I believe it is a huge disservice when we teach girls that there is nothing they can do about feeling down when they are experiencing PMS. Yes, it is normal; no, it is not out of your control. Feeling overwhelmingly sad for no apparent reason, only when you are menstruating, just means that your barriers to that murkiness inside are so high that you would never know it existed if not for your hormonal army reminding you. It means there is an overwhelming sadness deep inside that you need to take the time to find, understand and work through. And then the next time your army of hormones comes along, there will be nothing for it to expose…and those days of the month will become unrecognizable in their normalcy.
It’s time to take back the reins of our emotional well-being. If we find ourselves snapping in irritation, we need to find out why. True, we are in a compromised state, but all that means is that the truth has room to come out. We need to deal with the root of the problem so that we can be all around healthy, happy people.