This week is Mental Health Week and I have 5 words I’d like to share -
It’s. Not. Just. Your. Hormones.
How many times have you heard this? How many times have you sucked the air to the back of your top teeth and said it to yourself?
“Oh, it’s probably just my hormones…”
We learn from such an early age to play down our feelings and sometimes the biggest ones of all get played down the most. I’m talking… about being premenstrual.
The time before our period comes is different for everyone. Some don’t even notice being premenstrual but many others notice the hell out of it and around 5% of us will manage with an extreme form of it - known as PMDD (or pre-menstrual dysphoric disorder).
My lovely mother, says it’s the time when she feels most like, “ramming cars” and “biting into her water glass.” She has never done these things by the way. I feel more likely to bang my toes and hips, like my skin has prickles in it and that my ‘crap filter’ is dialed right down, to about 0.6. A common definition explains that-
“PMS typically involves intense tiredness, irritability and depression, which is easily aggravated by any other stress. Many women become weepy, have difficulty making decisions, feel a drop in their physical and mental abilities and quickly snap at those around them.”
So we learn to expect these symptoms, to tolerate them and to grit our teeth and wait out the few tetchy days, until the blessed release of menstruation brings with it (a potential new set of symptoms and) a sigh of relief.
And if something really pisses us off while we’re pre-menstrual, we say to ourselves and each other, “It’s just my hormones.”
Because we are socialised to feel that at this time, we are more likely to be irrational, overly emotional, hysterical and even crazy. But by reducing our feelings to mere hormonal byproducts, self-doubt becomes the default. And in effect, this is another form of period stigma.
So here’s a tip. If you are premenstrual and something is deeply giving you the shits - write it down. Because as we are dropped into the hormonal vacuum that occurs before menstruation, we can be prone to the odd truth bomb and these should be handled with care. Don’t dismiss them. Write them down and then come back to them, when you have your period. If something is still giving you the shits then, when your body is slow and soft and letting go - IT’S A REAL THING! Your Feelings Are Real.
So honour them, in the month ahead. And if something is Really Big? Run it through a whole cycle and then add it all up at the end for your answer.
Look after your body and pay attention to your precious self and what your deepest feelings are telling you. Because if you ignore them, you most certainly will feel like snapping-actual heads off. And that lovely prickly energy is desperate for an outlet, so make the most of it - spend it wisely, doing something that makes you feel like the most you. Then, everything you say, is less likely to come out like a lions roar. Being pre-menstrual is powerful - so use it.
And if you need help, ask for it. Find a doctor or health practitioner, or naturopath, or someone that specialises in women’s health and can give you the support you need.
Follow mygreatestperiodever on Instagram and catch the show, My Greatest Period Ever next at the Woodford Folk Festival December 27-30 2018.