I’m going to start things off with a healthy dose of TMI: I got my first period the summer after fourth grade.
I was at Seaworld with the effing Girl Scouts and thought I shat my pants. I was mortified and didn’t want to tell my troop leader because, helloooo?! I thought I soiled myself. I stuffed some toilet paper in my undies and carried on, pretending to adore being splashed in the mouth with whale piss.
That evening, all the girls got to call home and I ‘fessed up to my mom:
I think I crapped myself.
But it can’t be crap. It keeps…coming.
Is this bad? Am I dying?
Audible sobs. You got your period! And I’m not even there! What are you going to do?! Aren’t you swimming tomorrow? Do you know how to use a tampon? Should you ask someone to—
Audible deep breath. Okay, tell your troop leader to get you some pads. The ones with wings. And welcome to Womanhood.
And so began my monthly journeys, most of which led me straight to the bathroom doubled over in the kind of pain that ended with vomiting. My boobs didn’t get bigger, my figure didn’t get sexier; I got zits and cramps. So far, Womanhood sucked.
To control the cramping, which was forcing me to miss at least one day of school a month, our family doctor recommended I go on a low dose of birth control. The look on my dad’s face upon hearing my name in the same sentence as birth control will forever be emblazoned into my mind.
My aunt actually called my mom “concerned” that I would take advantage of being on the pill. For those curious cats out there, of all the pill’s possible side-effects, “you’ll turn into a big fat whore” is not among them.
So there I was, not yet in middle school, menstruating like a sophomore in college, responsibly prepared for sex, but only interested in The New Kids on the Block.
Fast forward almost 20 years (holy hell! TWENTY?!), and after two kids, I’m left with a serious case of PMSS, or Pre-Menstrual Syndrome on Steroids. Here’s a brief rundown of the psychotic manner with which I conduct myself when under the influence of PMSS:
I put my kid’s sippy cup in the refrigerator and it fell over. I cried.
My already low threshold for stupid completely disappears.
In a rush to clean up, I grabbed for a toy and missed. I grabbed again. Missed again. Had this happened a week prior, I would have laughed. While suffering with PMSS? I picked up that sonofabitch and threw it outside.
I don’t care if my kids see me cry, but I HATE, I LOATHE this sudden burst of anger that hits me and that they bear witness to. I feel out of control for a split second, and that just ain’t me.
For the record, I have never taken out my anger on a person, especially my children. I do, however, have a patched hole in my wall that would love to chat…
If you’re on Facebook and have “liked” my WhenCrazyMeetsExhaustion page, you may have seen my plea for help or the outpouring admissions that so many others suffer with these intense and sometimes frightening symptoms. Some of you suggested cutting out caffeine during PMSS, others suggest regular exercise. I was surprised to see the number of ladies who recommended Prozac, Xanax, and other prescription drugs for relief. I’m a bit ignorant of meds like these; I thought they treated only severe depression and anxiety. That’s what leads me to:
Is this PMSS more serious than I understand?
Should we suck it up and drink decaf?
I try to bring levity to dark situations, but it’s only funny until it’s scary, and I don’t want to get to that point.