Ugh, PMS. As if cramps and bleeding once a month weren’t bad enough we have to suffer from premenstrual symptoms like mood swings, cravings, depression, you name it. Some of you may be lucky and your periods come and go with little to no disruption to your everyday routine. For the rest of us the entire menstrual cycle can be a massive pain, literally and metaphorically speaking. I got my period when I was 13 and I’m now 31. In all of those years I’ve had everything from periods that came and went without making much of a fuss to ones that had me skipping out on work or school or whatever obligation I had. However, it’s my most recent bouts with PMS that really caught me off guard. Sure, I’m used to the typical symptoms like crying easily at almost nothing, gritting my teeth at the slow walker in front of me, but the past year has been riddled with monster versions of PMS, like PMS symptoms on roids. Intellectually I knew I would be fine and had a hunch it was brought on by PMS yet emotionally I was a wreck, felt like I wouldld never come out of it, and the symptoms were debilitating. PMS in any form is never fun lately I’ve come to seriously dread that time of month because of all the emotional turmoil that comes along with it.
So what are the differences between normal PMS and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)? Simply put, PMDD symptoms are more or less the same symptoms as PMS at a more severe level. MayoClinic says;
… [it] is a severe, sometimes disabling extension of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Although regular PMS and PMDD both have physical and emotional symptoms, PMDD causes extreme mood shifts that can disrupt your work and damage your relationships.
How I get Through It
Diet I monitor what I eat leading up to my expected PMS time. A lot of sugar and caffeine can quickly set me down a spiraling emotional roller coaster. Trying to eat well helps my whole body function better and, in turn, my brain. Cutting certain things out may not completely get rid of symptoms but will likely alleviate them.
Stress This is the most important for me, personally. Sometimes I’m not too bad at managing stress, other times it feels like it’s going to swallow me up whole. I find if I force myself to not be as rigid about getting things done I’m a bit better. Other times I have to consciously think my way through it by recognizing the PMDD for what it is and being easier on myself until it passes.
Guilt The sooner you can scrap the guilt the better! At first, I had a lot of shame that I was having so much trouble coping with something supposedly so natural. What’s more is that so many people discount PMS as a legitimate issue because the term is thrown around so much and not necessarily understood. Of course fluctuating hormone levels are going to have an impact on ones emotions but sometimes it can undoubtedly be too much, especially when you’re expected to carry on with things as normal. PMS is part of being female and is not unique but how we experience it and cope with it is, just like all other aspects of life.