By Abigale Racine, Culture Editor
Image courtesy of Google
There are plenty of jokes casually dropped into everyday conversations regarding Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS). Presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton is often the butt of many of these jokes. I should know, I used to crack some of these wisecracks myself.
Until this summer I learned that I may have, like many other women in my family, Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder- aka an extreme form of PMS.
What, is that a thing? Yes it is, thank you for asking. And yes, it’s a nightmare.
It is common knowledge for those who know me well that from seven to 13 days out of the month, I am out of commission. For a few days before my menstrual cycle, and a couple days through the duration of my period, my hormone levels drop and my body becomes clinically-depressed. If you do the math that’s 84-156 days out of the year that I am in a battle against myself.
I notice when my “favorite” time of the month is on its way. First is the chemical drop and I feel something is off, then the flashing white lights settle in and I welcome the migraine. The cherry on top is, without fail, throwing up on the first day of my period. Don’t even get me started on the excrutiating cramps that leave me withering on the floor.
The remaining time of this lovely cycle, my nerves are shot. I am anxious and I have an inability to concentrate. The littlest situation will set me off into a hurricane of emotion. While usually being a self-reliant, confident person, I become extremely insecure of myself and I question the validity of relationships of those closest to me. Despite my best efforts, I can’t control it. It’s almost as if I become a different person and I have extreme difficulty even getting out of bed in the morning.
I knew I had to do something once my condition started to affect my working and personal relationships. Honestly there is still tension until I notice a lift, when the chemical balance is restored. Even colors and scenery seem brighter–like how one appreciates their good health after recovering from a bad cold.
I used to use PMS jokes as a coping mechanism– as I use humor for most situations. Now, it is a different situation and I am outraged whenever I hear PMS as an excuse or is referred to in a jokingly manner. It is not entirely their fault, they just may not understand how serious a condition can be and, naturally, there is the patriarchal culture that is prevalent, wanting to portray males as the victims of the onset of PMS.
Granted, I have self-diagnosed myself with PMDD through intensive research, but I have been talking to my doctor about my situation. It is a long process to diagnose because it’s hard to distinguish between regular PMS and PMDD; I have been keeping a journal, noting my most severe mood swings and have been discussing other birth control options that may assist me. Given my family’s history, this diagnosis is prevalent in our own young twenties, so I have a feeling that my suspicions are not too inaccurate.
There really isn’t a “cure” either, there’s only learning how to live with it better.
I am sharing my experiences because I don’t want to continue to live this way, nor do I want others to think that they are alone in this situation, because they are not. I also want others to realize that hormone fluctuations are not something to laugh at.
Now, am I going to blow up Russia like Clinton would if she was in office? Am I trying to use extreme PMS an excuse? God, I hope not, but don’t test me by joking about it– I’m just trying to get through the day like everyone else.
About the Writer…
Abigale Racine is a senior at studying English with a focus in journalism. She is the Culture Editor of The Saint and does some freelance work on the side when she isn’t slaving away, making Frappuccino’s for a living.