My PMS journey has been a long and confusing one and only when I have reflected on it that I have realised how much it has impacted my life.
As a teenager I was put on the contraceptive pill by my local family planning clinic with no real idea of how much it would impact me. Not long after I turned into an emotional wreck. I would cry all the time and contemplated ending my life a few times. I remember once standing on the side of the road with a plan to run into it and then realising 'what on earth am I doing, this isn't me'. I stayed like this for years until I came out of a relationship and stopped taking the pill. I believed at the time that I was just a teenager with really bad depression but looking back I know it was the pill that impacted me.
A few years later I went back onto the pill and experienced the same symptoms all over again. This was when I put two and two together. I was ok for 3 weeks of the month but whenever I had my break I would turn into an emotional wreck. I would cry for no reason all the time and it was really getting to me. I went to the doctor and said that I thought it was the pill impacting me and she said that this could not possibly be the case. She diagnosed me with depression and anxiety and put me on anti-depressants.
I stopped taking the pill but after this things didn't change drastically. I was left with really bad spots (something I had never had before) and was constantly tired from the anti-depressants and so I took myself off them.
After this, I started to notice a pattern in my 'anxiety/depression' in that it only appeared for 2 weeks of every month, the other 2 weeks I was a confident, happy and content person. I started noting my symptoms down and have realised I follow a set pattern every month:
- 10 days before my period - the dreaded spots appear
- 7 days before my period - mild anxiety sets in, I start questioning my experience of the world and what I am doing in it
- 5 days before - severe anxiety starts
- 4 days before -irritability kicks in - I turn into one of those horrible girlfriends you see in the supermarket digging at their partner for no reason whatsoever (and have no idea I am doing it)
- 3 days before - Can't socialise, social anxiety gets really bad, I analyse every conversation I have with people and I think that all of my friends hate me. I also find it very hard to be in work at this point (my job as a social worker involves difficult conversations, judgements and conflict on a regular basis and i find it really hard to take at this point). I am also really tired.
- 2 days before - depression - I usually cry at anything minor (for example losing my favourite pen at work) and also have intense bad food cravings and severe tiredness
- 1 day before - depression continued and more bad food eating, severe tiredness.
- Day of period - major pain and tiredness.
- Day after first day of bleeding - I am a totally fine, happy, confident and resilient woman who is a fantastic social worker and a positive human being!! This lasts for around 2 weeks and then the decline starts again.
I wouldn't mind all of this except my anxiety which starts around day 7 gets so bad that I end up doing really stupid things. I constantly think my life is terrible, lose all of my confidence and decide I need to solve this by doing something drastic. When I first graduated my first social work job lasted 5 months because in a day 7 moment I had a panic attack in my car, decided I couldn't do it anymore and handed in my notice.
I also once convinced myself to leave a job I absolutely loved because I was anxious about it not lasting forever and convinced myself I needed to find something else in preparation for when it would eventually end. All because of a day 5 moment of madness. This is a big regret of mine and I still miss that job and think about it most days.
One time when I was around 23 I had been accepted onto a 3 month fully funded volunteering programme in South Africa - this was the opportunity of a lifetime and I was very excited. However, I was due to fly out around when my period started and the week leading up to it i started to have doubts about whether or not I could do it. The day before my anxiety got so bad I worked myself up so much that I pulled out. The day after I was meant to catch the plane I came on my period and realised what I had done and couldn't believe it- I really wanted to go and felt confident in doing so but it was too late!
This is what I hate about my PMS, it's like a weak, unconfident and severely anxious person enters my body for 2 weeks and then leaves. The worst part is the feeling of not having control over it, and of other people (including doctors) not understanding it. Luckily I have a very understanding partner but I worry he may lose his patience with me one day. It also makes it very hard to work and that's sad because I love being a social worker but my PMS greatly reduces my resilience levels.