PMS: 3 days or 3 weeks of chaos?

The menstrual cycle is a bitch. But it is also the most incredible things too. Just reading those words may make some of you cringe and want to run a mile from this post. That’s totes cool. Normally I would have had the same reaction, so feel free to do so. All things periods will not be a regular blogging topic of mine, rest assured, but it is a part of life and so it is something that I need to share right now. A few months ago I would never have been seen dead writing a post like this. But now, my motto with blogging is ‘fuck it’. So here is proof that I am sticking to that motto. For those of you that are about to run off, please check back in tomorrow for a post involving something fluffy and light.

I remember when my periods started and I just thought they were SUCH a pain in the arse. They were disgusting and embarrassing beyond belief. As a hippy child, in my early teens a bunch of me and my friends were blessed at an annual festival, during a Menarche ceremony. One of the most cringy days of my life. But it was actually technically one of the most beautiful too. It just wasn’t what I would have chosen to do as a thirteen year old girl: have handsome guys drum around you (actually, this bit was okay), wise women bless you, and have yourself tell the world that you were now officially on the blob. Ugh. It still makes me want to vomit at the thought.

When the text-book pre-A Levels bulimia started, aged 18, my periods came to a dramatic halt. But when this pretty common stint with an eating disorder, continued into a fully-fledged and fucking hideous two year battle with it, my periods continued to be on vacation for the entire time. What a relief. This was all I could think. I felt so lucky that I didn’t have to deal with that crap every month. I would still get a bit of a tummy ache or perfectly placed pimples, at some point every month, but none of the gross-ities that came with a regular cycle. I had it all checked out and all was, medically, hunky dorey in that department. I didn’t really care anyway. Periods were a pain to me then – they were not the incredible and earthy connection to bringing life into this world.

As my eating began to increase to things other than apples, my periods came back from their two-year vacation with a suntan, ready to kick some ass. I continued to see them as an unnecessary pain.

And then I fell in love. I fell in love with the boyfriend I was together with for two years. It was almost like love turned this view of periods that I had carried for all those years, slap bang on its face. In its place came a deep appreciation for them instead. Everything changed. I suddenly had respect, gratitude – and excitement for what it means – for this crazy monthly cycle us women are given. I could bring a life into this world, man. How cool and absolutely mind-blowingly incredible is that?

Then we broke up. Knob. But the appreciation and womanly respect for myself stayed. However, I find it hard to now not see them as a pain in the arse again. Why? Because my PMS literally lasts for three freakin’ weeks. Sometimes two and a half depending on the weather. Or maybe just depending on absolutely nothing apart from wass happenin’ in my bod.

pms

I first noticed this cycle when I first developed Chronic Fatigue. I noticed that for the days during my period and for up to four days afterwards I literally felt AMAZING. I had energy, I had self-connection, I was myself. And then I would wake up on that forth or fifth day morning weighing about ten tonnes more, feeling flat, and all round shitty. And this would continue for the coming weeks until my period came and it all started again. I read the description of PMDD and felt like I’d hit jackpot. I connected with each and every word. And then I forgot about it and just carried on, not thinking it was anything I should voice.

This last year this pre-period scenario has increased to an all time high of intensity, particularly the last couple of months. And fuck it sucks. Today I have been knocked sideways I am still stuck to the wall I woke up next to (not literally). It’s two weeks since my last period and I woke up today with intense pain, hot flushes, weakness and lethargy like I cannot articulate, anxiety that is overwhelming and unnatural, totally discombobulated, and a mood that had FIRE written all over it. This is when I wonder whether I’m actually insane (which I’m not), because my brain doesn’t feel like mine. This is how I used to feel when I have my actual period. Not ten days freakin’ before, mid month. But, apparently, this is the start of the ovulation phase and this is just what goes down.

The pissy thing is, that it’s not like I had a two-week blissful break up until now. Exactly three days after my period finished (and I had felt AMAZING), I woke up one morning feeling as though I’d been smacked in the face and body with a spade. I felt depressed, exhausted, unmotivated and all round shitty. This lasted every day up until yesterday, easing slightly for a few days in-between. Thank God I am not working at the moment because there is no way I could have done anything apart from potter, and rest, mindlessly like I did today. And I’ve still got about ten days to go until the big finale.

This is roughly what PMS looks like, except it misses out the part where I am lying flat in bed or on the floor (or any other flat surface I can find) because I cannot move anywhere else. You get the gist.

photo 1-44

photo 2-40

photo 3-35

Today I went to see a new herbalist because I have just been feeling so desperate with this scenario that just feels as though it’s getting worse each month. I took myself back on the tincture Agnus Castus again anyway (get on it people, it’s a total wonder herb) and so we decided that I would keep on trying this and see if this PMS shifts. I will keep you posted on this one.

The main plus in all this menstruation business is the knowing that it is not me, it is the hormones. The fuckers. I never knew the date my period would come. I had absolutely no clue about the female cycle until just this month. I embraced being a free-spirited period haver. But, it turns out, it is SO MUCH EASIER to know roughly when it is coming, to understand what is happening in your body (and therefore in your mind too), and to feel connected to the whole month as a journey, not just the messy 3 or 4 days at the end.

I thought it was cool to not pay attention to this aspect of my body. Turns out it’s so much cooler to know it is the hormones and not spend hours worrying that I am an anxious and raging fucking lunatic, or an overweight lethargic bloated depressive. I am just a woman having a human experience. Bring on the babies, I say. 

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4 thoughts on “PMS: 3 days or 3 weeks of chaos?

  1. ahaha! glad to know i’m not the only one who has PMS for three weeks. part of that three week includes one or two days where i’m angry for no apparent reason, and on day of being hypersensitive to everything, one day crying on and off (that might be the same day as the hypersensitive day) and one day of clumsiness. i hate the three weeks…lol

  2. I had PMDD after I got PTSD at 18 so I wonder if it’s your PTSD influencing your periods? Once I had a better handle on my PTSD symptoms I didn’t have the PMDD-just plain old sucky PMS. Before I used to feel homicidal and rage filled for several days to a week before starting my period. But once I got my PTSD under wraps some the symptoms improved. Do you do yoga or meditate? I find that they help me if I do one or both regularly.

    • Thanks so much for your comment. That’s really interesting about the PMDD and PTSD link – it got me thinking and my periods, both the pain and the PMS got increasingly worse as my pre-PTSD depression kicked in. I think the reason it is so bad at the moment is because I have recently come off a three month stint on anti-d’s which knocked me so so physically. So I think it is the tail end of that….I hope! But it was bad before too. I find mindfulness so so helpful – it brings distance between whatever state I am feeling and me. So, even if the emotional symptoms are as kicking, I can still ‘find myself’ beneath it all. So it is the physiological symptoms that I am finding the hardest. Did you find the physical stuff eased as the PTSD got better? I am doing a lot of trauma release work so hopefully this will help. What helped your PTSD shift? Or what helped you manage it better, along with yoga and meditation? And how are you? Thanks for this. Big love to you x

      • Hi, sorry for not getting back to you sooner. I’ve been on my other blog and falling behind in reading/comments.

        Oh my physical symptoms were less bothersome than my emotional ones. For me, I like being calm so my anger and feeling like killing someone bothered me a lot more than my cramps and pelvic/lower back discomfort. Also I didn’t start meditating until 2010-10 years following my suicide attempt and development of PTSD. I’d learned mindfulness five years prior to that but hadn’t started meditating or doing yoga. Plus I had an eating disorder that made me hormonal and imbalanced. My weight was usually slightly underweight to very underweight but not quite emaciated (ED-NOS). I still got my periods but they were always irregular yet I never missed any.

        The thing that likely helped me most with my PTSD was having my abusive mom die. A few years after her death I managed to face some things and finally forgive her. Other factors that helped were having several therapists who cared about me and didn’t give up on me and my brain “healing” some (I had brain damage after my last suicide attempt). My brain took several years to “re-calibrate” since I remember having my worst symptoms in the first five years following my overdoses. It’s really only been the past couple of years that I have started seeing the light at the end of the tunnel so to speak.

        In summary the things that helped my PTSD and PMDD:
        1. Brain damage improved over the years
        2. Helpful therapists who didn’t give up on me
        3. Stopped my ED-NOS
        4. Mom died
        5. Realized I wasn’t to blame for what happened to me as a child
        6. Mindfulness & DBT
        7. CBT
        8. Meditation
        9. Insight and self acceptance/ self compassion
        10. Trust/belief things would not always be this way and hope for future
        11. Sense of humour
        12. Creativity

        Those are just what I can think of right now.

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