Archive for PMS

Who Is This Crazy Woman? Oh Wait…

Posted in Parenting, PMS, women's bodies with tags on January 23, 2013 by sexandthesinglesoccermom

So, I’m rabidly hormonal. Within the past few days I’ve felt homocidal rage, abject grief, joy and peace. The events of the last few weeks are not helping this situation.

Over the weekend I did my first training hike to prepare for the big May hike; we did 4 miles that went fairly well, except for the dizziness I experienced on the first incline. That could prove problematic! Still, I’m no wimp; I’ll just train harder!

I attended a birthday party thrown by the ex and his new partner. As it was made clear that this was THEIR party and I was only invited (and asked to make the birthday cake) by their good graces, it made for a bit of awkwardness. Mostly, it was fine. When the parents who are my friends asked what the timing/plans were for the party, I replied with a straight face: “I’m sorry, but I’m not sure. You’ll have to ask *****. It’s their party.” Any attempts at coparenting have been rejected by the father of my children with the statement “It’s just not worth it.” Of course, any desire by him to alter his scheduled  nights with our children results in an instant attempt to get me to rearrange my schedule. Apparently, “coparenting” is worth it to him if it involves a night out on the town. It’s only “not worth it” if it only involves his children’s welfare. Otherwise, he simply can’t be bothered. Do I sound bitter? Well…I’m working on my anger issues with him. He provides me with such wonderful challenge to evolve as a person.

My job is currently up-in-the-air. A raise promised to me 9 months ago, then retracted, left me struggling to cope with the financial changes in my life. I have spent the last two years proving myself in a new job role and taking on whatever is asked of me (even if it’s outside the scope of my actual job at times). To see people hired in off the street at only slightly less than I make (and several hired in at more) after 5 years of employment is leaving me resentful and frustrated–especially when I am living paycheck to paycheck. I’m torn, because this job is important to me and I WANT to stay in it. Yet, I also have to provide for my family. I’m trying to meditate on it before I make a decision. I’m definitely in the “see what is out there” stage right now though. It’s a daily stress that I’m battling, wondering if I’ll be having to find a new job soon.

Which brings me around to my original problem: I’m hormonal and crazy right now. Every challenge I’m facing feels harder. I know that in a few days I’ll feel more at peace, but right now I alternately feel like weeping or punching someone. I know I have to go home tonight and train for this hike and I just want to throw myself on the floor and scream: “I don’t wanna!!!” at the top of my lungs (while kicking the floor loudly). I want to go home and lie in a hot bath for about an hour, while sipping wine and reading a good book. Then I want to climb out and have someone waiting to stroke my hair and soothe me and offer comfort. Oh…and bring me ice cream. Or pie. Or brownies. There’s only one time of the month I want sweet stuff and dammit, I want it NOW! Then I want to sit in my chair, with my cozy blanket and watch mind-numbing tv. The thought of NOT being able to do all of those things infuriates me and makes me want to start sobbing at the same time. Instead, I’m going to go and get on my stupid elliptical, with the resistance cranked up. Then I’m going to walk the dog, followed by laundry and housework. Maybe the endorphins will help to negate the crazy swirl of chemicals flowing through my cramp-riddled, aching body. Maybe.

If not…look out world! I’m going to be playing some Death Cab for Cutie and Sarah McLachlan at full volume. I might NOT do laundry. I might even eat sugar! I’m like a woman possessed…all sorts of craziness might ensue. I might stomp around my house or even cry if I feel like it.

Sigh. Even my crazy is too tired to pack much ooomph.

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Prolific Thoughts About PMS From A Hormonal Mind

Posted in women's bodies with tags , , , on October 30, 2012 by sexandthesinglesoccermom

According to a recent study done by the University of Toronto, PMS may be a myth. Right now, I’d like to hunt down each individual researcher and punch them in the face, then weep over their prone bodies and beg their forgiveness sixty seconds later. Or maybe bake them some cookies and try to help them UNDERSTAND why PMS is NOT a myth by using compassion and reasoning…I’m tearing up just a bit thinking about how copacetic the conversation would be. Wait…maybe I should just go with the punching. Yeah…clearly they are idiot people who have a problem with women. Hmmm…I think it’s time to go and take some more midol for the cramping and hideous back pain.

PMDD (the medical term for PMS)  is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders — the “psychiatric bible” – and has been shown to cause depression, insomnia and  other behavioural and physical symptoms in the second half of the menstrual  cycle. Of course, Dr. Sarah Romans goes on to state that the disorder is relatively rare. She further spins the study to lay out the idea that women use “PMS” to fully vent anger, sadness and irritation 1-2 days a month, because the rest of the time we are expected to be lady-like. That by allowing ourselves a medical reason to be cranky or cry, we can still work within society’s parameters of acceptable behavior for women.

Personally, I think this woman needs to be punched in the face (but according to her, I’ll only allow myself to think it for a few days a month, while suppressing my rage the rest of the time).

While I do think she has a glimmer of an intution about something real in how our society treats and handles women’s emotions, I also think she is a loon. By conducting a study (which primarily seems to have consisted of finding flaw with previous studies) and stating that PMS is a myth, then laying out a feminist framework for why PMS has become a crutch for women within our society, she actually undermines women and the way their bodies work.

W0men’s bodies are constantly in a state of flux (no pun intended), chemically. Our hormones ebb and flow like the ocean and have even been linked (although studies both substantiate and refute this, depending on where you look) to the cycles of the moon. During the second half of the menstrual phase,  or pre-menstrual and menstrual, estrogen and progesterone levels start to decline Without getting too technical, during the luteal phase of a woman’s cycle (beginning at ovulation), if the egg that is released is not fertilized, estrogen and progesterone levels begin to drop. These hormonal levels are at their lowest with day 1 of the follicular phase (menstruation).

At neuronal synapses, estrogen increases the concentration of neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. It affects their release, reuptake, and enzymatic inactivation. It also increases the number of receptors for these neurotransmitters. So in other words, the good stuff that makes us feel happy and have a balanced mood. The common side effects of low progesterone are severe migraines, unexplained anxiety, the feeling of malaise, hot flashes, poor sleep patterns and vaginal dryness.  So what do you get when both estrogen and progesterone drop…

Oh, wait…you get PMS!!! The chemical changes that take place in our bodies in the latter half of the luteal phase and in the beginning of the follicular phase are real, not imaginary and not a cultural phenomenon. It leads to back pain, leg pain, stomach cramps, fatigue, breast tenderness, migraines, mood alterations and many other symptoms. Of course, no two women are the same, so the extent to which any woman will experience any or all of these symptoms depends on her own chemical makeup.

Personally, my back hurts like I’ve been hit with a baseball bat for about a week and I have serious stomach cramps for 3-5 days. Emotionally, I cry easily and feel a bit blue. I crave sugar, which rarely happens any other time (Sweets, especially chocolate, raises the serotonin levels in the brain and increases endorphins. This probably helps combat the dropping estrogen levels). The study claimed that women use PMS as a crutch to verbalize things they’re already unhappy about…well, maybe. For me, the things I’m already unhappy about feel extra intense. A song on the radio that talks about lost love, which any other time might make me feel a bit nostalgic or sad for a moment, while “PMSing” will have me sobbing like a baby. Is this a crutch? Or an amplification, due to altered chemicals, of pre-existing situations? No one claims pregnancy hormones are false or a myth, yet these are the same chemicals changing our bodies during our menstrual phases. I’ve not heard claims that “‘Roid Rage” is not true; tricking the body into believing it’s getting extra hormones (testosterone) clearly causes mood/behavior changes. What makes PMS different?

I think part of the problem lies in the fact that the term PMS has been abused and used to justify bad behavior. So let me make this simple (because as supreme ruler of the universe, I will clearly have SUCH an impact): Hormonal changes do NOT make it acceptable to act like a bitch. It doesn’t give you the right to vent your anger, sadness or hostility on anyone. There have been times when I know hormones were altering my emotions, so I would avoid situations or conversations until I was more level. PMS should be much like a warning label on a drug that reads: Do not operate heavy emotional situations during use. Know your triggers and how you react. Each woman is different. For one woman the changes that happen during her cycle may be a blip in the month; for another, it may be a challenging time physically and emotionally. Regardless, it shouldn’t excuse behavior that is unkind or irrational. Men shouldn’t get a free pass for behaving badly due to the extra testosterone that flows through their veins; women don’t get to excuse bad behavior because of PMS. Let’s keep life simple and sweet by taking responsibility for ourselves and our emotions and knowing when we need to nurture ourselves a little more because of changes in our bodies.

When I’m on the hormonal drip, as I refer to PMS these days, I would probably choose to stay home and take a hot bath rather than have the “relationship” talk with someone I’m dating. If I suddenly feel lonely and sad and think to myself, “Maybe if I call my ex-boyfriend, he’ll reassure me that I’m loved” (which is stupid at any time of the month, but somehow more attractive as an option when I’m hormonal), I realize I am not behaving rationally and I just DON’T. If my children are driving me nuts and I want to either yell or burst into tears, I give myself a time-out in my bedroom and then suggest we all go get ice cream. Ibuprofen and herbal heating pads are my friend. I avoid at all costs listening to anything by Adele, because I know it will lead to sobbing fits. I can’t begin to make relationship decisions, because it would be disobeying my hormonal drip warning label of AVOID OPERATING HEAVY EMOTIONAL SITUATIONS. I know I’m altered for a few days (okay, a week); it’s my responsibility to alter my decisions to compensate for that.

So, to say PMS is a myth is ludicrous and disrespects women and nature. To act like PMS gives us a pass to do whatever we want disrespects women and gives us a bad repuation. Show yourself some love by respecting your bodies during this time. If the woman in your life has PMS, show her some love by realizing she may behave like someone on a mind-altering drug (oh, because she is). Forgive her if she loses her temper and cries more easily. Get her a heating pad and some chocolate. Above all else, remember this: