Sunday, March 13, 2011

Autumn Leaves

Eva Cassidy is singing Autumn Leaves while I prepare for today’s blog. Yesterday I already figured out what my subject would be, so it will be easy. I set myself down on my cozy chair with a cup of tea and stare at the blank page.

The soft sound of Eva picking her guitar captures me, and while her voice sings about falling leaves my thoughts drift off. I feel tired even though I only just woke up; I feel sad, the kind of sad you would feel after a fight with your loved one, but without having one. I want comfort, but cannot tell you what I want to be comforted about.

I realize what’s going on and I decide to listen to the song, and then replay it again and again while letting my emotions flow, until I feel I can let go and continue my day by writing this blog.

Pre Menstrual Syndrome (PMS)

For the last 28 years, once a month there are a couple of days in which I am different. The time of the month is always the same, the length of this period and how I will be different, are not. It is called PMS.

Three key features of PMS are:

• The woman's chief complaint is one or more of the emotional symptoms associated with PMS (most typically irritability, tension, and/or unhappiness).
• Symptoms appear predictably during the premenstrual phase, reduce or disappear predictably shortly before or during menstruation, and remain absent during the pre-ovulatory phase of the menstrual cycle.
• The symptoms are severe enough to disrupt or interfere with the woman's everyday life.

When we walked into the writing group on Thursday night, Mark warned everyone about the time of the month and offered his place next to me to someone else in the group. The group gave him an understanding smile and me a warm cup of tea. At that time I didn’t really understand where he made such a fuss about. I had four more days to go and was doing great (Whiner! I might have added in my head)

Different possibilities

There are months I am the first to find out that we have arrived in “the days”. These are the months that I wake up in the morning and think “what the f*** happened with me”. I wake up with my brain in a totally different mindset than normal. My biggest wants have overnight turned into my biggest frustrations, my plans have changed into have to’s, and I have changed into a whining bitch that I can’t get rid of. These are the months I wish I could step out of my body for a couple of days, just until everything in there seems to work properly again.

The good thing about these months is that I cannot deny the change. During these times I get done with myself very quickly, and by the time Teflon shows signs of being done with me, I can only support his opinion. So to take care of both of us I might go to bed very, very early or tell him I will go into the other room and that it would be better to leave me alone!

More often it happens that Teflon is the one finding out it’s “that time”. I don’t wake up feeling like I'm trapped inside another person, I don’t have the feeling of wanting to store myself in the closet for a couple of days and I do all the things I normally do. But the world has changed on me. For odd reasons Mark may seem to get easily upset with me while I just want to be useful, or he may start to announce the world that it’s “that time” of the month. Other people may also tell me that I seem more tired or irritated. And I, not knowing what happened, wonder why everyone seems so touchy and whiny around me!

We also have the months in which “the days” just pass by without noticing. And there are months in which “the days” will show by me being very physical, wanting hugs and kisses and close intimacy.

How do we deal with this?

Before I answer this, I think I have to explain the following: as soon as my period starts I am back to my old self. During the PMS period I might respond very different to things than normal; I think different; I focus and activate different beliefs. As soon as the blood flows things go back to normal.

I am not taken over by “someone else”, it’s just that during those days I seem to connect things different. As if a building with halls to rooms has changed overnight and when you open a door it’s a different room then you expected. My focus might change from all the things I want to do, to I am to tired to do anymore. And so my energy might change from yes to leave me alone please.

So, below I will list some of the things that we use in our relationship to make this period of the month a bit easier.

Announcing “the days”.
When one of us realizes that the days have arrived, we let the other person know. This gives us both a hint about the different responses we may get in comparison to the rest of the month.

Wait with big decisions.
When in the Netherlands I lived with a boyfriend and we were rebuilding our house for a long period of time, I started to fantasize during my PMS days about selling the house, while the rest of the month I was totally fine with the situation I was in. It can become very confusing if someone says one moment “ohh I love what we are doing” and the next moment says “let’s sell this crap and do something else!”
It is for me and my partner good to know not to decide anything on discussions made during a PMS period. If anything comes up revisit it after the PMS has ended and then see if the same ideas and emotions are still there.

Embrace the PMS.
Nowadays, I am more understanding of the changes and more able to embrace the differences. I can see that I respond different and say “ha, see that” without having to judge it or change it. Giving it a place to be, makes it easier. Fighting the PMS and the people around me is an exhausting task.

Be healthy.
Be in good physical shape and eating healthy foods do make a difference, so I like to point this out as a thing to focus on. But remember that your body is a chemical factory and every month things will be different. For example, this month I have been worked out more, and my PMS was increased this month, while I expected it to be decreased.

Ok, the hours have been ticking by while I was writing this piece. There is probably a lot more that could be covered in it, but it is time to stop and post, so you will find something to read before the morning is gone.

If you know someone with PMS, I hope my story has enlightened what could be going on for that person.

Have a great Sunday,


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