I got my first period aged 11. At this time, I’d learnt a bit about tampons and cycles and our teacher had shown us the obligatory diagram of some ovaries passing an egg. Done, I was set. I don’t remember anyone talking about PMS. I do remember, a few months before I first came on, starting to cry more – probably about one break down every month (funnily enough) I thought I was weak and pathetic, and other kids confirmed. (they were 11, I can’t really hold them to that one) But those thoughts stayed with me, and I actively tried not to cry in public, or really at all, well into my twenties.
PMS is always something I’ve tried to laugh off. Everyone around me does the same. Being a ‘hormonal woman’ is (I’ve always believed) detrimental to the image I’ve tried to portray for years – a chilled out, switched on, professional woman, with a real-life job and a low-carb diet. Nobody wants to be ‘that’ person. Nobody wants to admit to being hormonal and a bit crazy once a month. But in reality, PMS has played a part in my life for years. And I know I’m not alone.
PMS has got me in trouble at work. I’ve flown off the handle at co-workers and sent ludicrous emails which I normally would have kept in drafts. PMS has made me think I had depression, and spend one morning a month (wildly inaccurately) diagnosing myself with bi-polar disorder. PMS has made me cry at Jeremy Kyle. Its only now, as a 29-year- old semi-functioning adult with a vague understanding of my body, that I realise how much my 11-year- old, over-active hormones were affecting me when I first started my period. I wonder how differently I would have been in my teens, my early twenties, if I’d understood PMS properly, and not felt ashamed or embarrassed to talk about it.
We don’t talk about PMS or give it any credit. We talk about it with the same eye-roll and scoff I might give to a self-indulgent Instagram story or a dog wearing a designer coat. PMS is a real problem for so many women and girls. Isn’t it about time we started acknowledging it? Isn’t it time we stopped awkward teenage girls from thinking they were pathetic for having hormones? Time we stopped fully grown adults for shaming each other about a medically recognised condition? It’s 2018. Isn’t it time we sorted this out?