I woke up in a foul-ass mood the other day. Not just grumpy, but downright growly. I was pissed about my kid’s nasty socks all over the living room floor. I picked a fight with my husband about who the fuck spilled my makeup in the bathroom (hint: it was me). I nagged at my kids to “Be quiet!” and “Pick up your shit!” and otherwise just stop being…kids. I was annoyed at everyone and everything, and stressing out every member of my family.
I honestly couldn’t even stand to be around myself and just wanted to hide under the covers for a few days.
What the fuck is wrong with me? I thought.
And then I looked at the calendar, and I knew. My period was coming the following week. That explains so much.
A couple years ago, I began experiencing new and worsening symptoms of PMS. I got so bloated I couldn’t remove my rings and eventually stopped wearing my engagement ring entirely. I got this weird pain in my side about 10 days before my period. And about a week before my period, I became completely unhinged.
If I wasn’t picking fights with my husband or screaming at my kids, I was crying my eyes out over Kleenex commercials or walking under a cloud of sadness. I’ve always been a bit, shall we say, dramatic, but my hormones became unbearable assholes. My pre-period mood swings, depression, and angst started affecting my relationships, prevented me from seeing my friends, and generally were wreaking havoc on my life.
Turns out, I’m not alone. Far from it.
And as I began looking into these new hormone changes, I began to wonder whether it was just age rearing its ugly head or if it might actually be something more than run-of-the-mill PMS.
According to the U.S. Department of Health, about 85% of women experience PMS and another 5% experience premenstrual dysphoric disorder, or PMDD. Although both PMS and PMDD have physical and emotional symptoms, according to Mayo Clinic, PMDD causes extreme mood changes that can hurt relationships and disrupt your life.
That was definitely the case for me.
Symptoms of both PMS and PMDD typically begin seven to ten days before your period and can cause bloating, breast soreness, fatigue, and changes in sleep and eating habits, but PMDD also has emotional and behavioral symptoms such as sadness, anxiety, extreme moodiness, or anger.
Huh. That might explain the dark cloud that falls over me a week before my period, and the stabby rage I feel at the slightest annoyances. Some days, I’m such a mess of emotional instability that I drive myself bonkers.
After one particularly “explosive” weekend last year, I decided to see my doctor about my condition. As I related my symptoms, my gynecologist nodded along in agreement and suggested an antidepressant or going back on the birth control pill to stabilize my very unstable emotions. I decided to first try the birth control pill option to regulate those feisty little fuckers.
The pill worked for a little while. It controlled the mood swings a bit, and I lost my shit a little less often, but it was far from a cure-all. I still felt the dark cloud of depression fall over me about a week before my period, and I was also spotting 2–3 weeks a month, which made me grouchy for an entirely different reason. No, thank you.
So for now, I’m getting a little relief from my PMDD (or extreme PMS, as the case may be) with the occasional use of Xanax to treat my out-of-control mood swings and anxiety, a supplement to help with the bloating and cramps, and a whole lot of grace (for myself, and from my family).
Honestly, just knowing when and how these mood disorders manifest (i.e., I lose my fucking shit) helps me prepare for and deal with the hormonal tornado that tears through my body and mind. And if the condition worsens, I still have a prescription for an antidepressant ready and waiting. And I won’t hesitate to utilize it.
Whether you have a case of extreme PMS or have been diagnosed with PMDD, you’re not alone. You don’t need to suffer in silence. Hormones are nasty bitches that ain’t messing around. The struggle is real. Take care of yourself.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m premenstrual, there’s a pint of Ben & Jerry’s, some Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, and a plate of nachos calling my name.