Irrational things I have done while hormonal:
- Beaten an old Hoover to death with it’s own Hoover Pole because it wouldn’t go around a corner.
- Cried at the Kerrygold advert. The stupid one with the box of soil.
- Scraped the hob clean with a Stanley knife. Angrily. For two hours.
- Cried in my bosses office. Not my boss’s office. All the bosses. Ever.
- Threw my engagement ring in the bin.*
- Listened to Coldplay. Cried.
- Eaten an entire six pack of ice-cream mars bars in under 5 minutes.
- Slammed my own hand in the door of the wardrobe because I couldn’t find the shirt I wanted.
- Tied a hotwater bottle to my lower back with a dressing gown belt. Wore to work.
- Pretended to my family I had actual flu so I could go to bed for two days.
- Smoked. Angrily. While crying.
- Picked a fight with my husband because he wouldn’t let me leave the immersion on for ever and ever.
- Cried while reading happy stories to my kids because I’m simultaneously obsessing about fucking them up.
- Walked into a piercing parlour and had both my nipples pierced. (No idea why. I just did it)
- Screamed with my head underwater. I read that Angelina does this. It actually does help!
- Cried at yoga class. Cried in the bath. Cried on the bus.
- Shouted at my children when they didn’t deserve it. Cried immediately afterwards.
- Thrown all the dinner in the bin. Because it ‘Wasn’t right’.
- Drank all the white wine. Then all the red. (Because dinner was in the bin)
All of these are clearly bonkers. And all of them were made twenty times worse because I was pretending not to be crying, pretending not to be angry, pretending that EVERYTHING WAS totally fine. FINE!!! I’M FINE!! But I’m not fine. And I’m not alone. We all get a bit irrational every now and then.
Ah, PMS. The wonderful crazy world of hormones. Yup. I’m blogging about periods and PMS. I was inspired by an incedible article in Grazia last week, by a marathon runner called Kiran Gandhi.
Harvard graduate, and M.I.A.’s drummer, Kiran Gandhi divided global opinion with the revelation she’d run the London marathon while ‘free-bleeding’.
OK – initial thoughts are, that’s a bit gross – right? And I’m not about to start saying we should all be running around bleeding everywhere. After all, think of my cream sofa. But her point was remarkably clear (and colourfully made). If you read her article – it’s great – she wasn’t trying to shock or offend, simply to run in comfort. She didn’t think it was all that big a deal and yet look at the outcry that ensued.
She points out that some young girls in developing countries aren’t allowed to attend school while menstrating. Even in our modern, equality driven Ireland, I still have to sneak a tampon up my sleeve when I slink off to the bathroom in case somebody knows I have my period. Although, in all fairness the irrational sobbing and the trail of chocolate crumbs might also have given the game away.
The truth is for many of us, by treating periods and PMS as something we don’t acknowledge as a physical and emotional state we are going through, we encourage a stigma that makes coping with all the ebbs and flows of our hormonal symptoms far worse.
I don’t have any immediate solutions. The older I get the less I know. I do know that I have some incredible friends who know exactly what to say and do (and what biscuits to buy) – because they’ve been that soldier. I have that one buddy at work who is always prepared (and whose handbag I inevitably end up raiding when I’m caught on the hop). And I have found one really good way of chasing away the crazy, irrational surges of confusion, misery, doubt and self-loathing that can hurl themselves upon you without warning. Brutal, sustained, heart racing exercise.
This week, after a full 12 hours of hormone triggered migraine, including nausea, vision loss and blinding pain, followed by 12 hours playing catch up on work missed, I took my wobbly, miserable, bloated self out on the water for a session of rowing. My brain was woolly, my body aching. Nothing felt right. And the blades moved back and forth in the water. And then even though we were having a gentle paddle, we decided to do a couple of sprints.
Sprint rowing means pushing your whole body to the red line. (No pun intended) Foot to the floor, lungs bursting, your entire body working to stay synchronised, to move the boat as far and as fast as possible. Trying to do this pushes everything else out of your mind. Slide, catch, PUSH, slide, catch PUSH – over and over. When we finished, there were no more cobwebs. My lungs were on fire and my heart was thumping and there were no tears anywhere. And when the heavens opened and biblical rain drowned us, all I could do was laugh with joy at the rainbows that came with them. It was such a relief!
So do I have a point?
Well, PMS sucks. Hiding your homicidal, emotional self is hard to do and it’s a shame that we have to pretend like no-one ever gets periods, even if they are quite icky and personal. But our bodies are indeed awesome, and while they give us the symptoms, they also provide us with the solutions. Muscles to fire, hearts to pound, lungs to fill. A great way to manage the monster of PMS is to kick it’s poxy ass with some exercise. Exercise relieves cramps far faster than lying down in a heap.
90 minutes of mid-level exercise (say that gets your heart rate up to 65% of it’s max) will also be enough to flood your body with endorphins – the feel good neuropeptides that provide a natural high, like the rainbow that follows the storm.
- Go for a run – pretend you hate the pavement and beat it with your feet. Whack on some music and sing at the top of your lungs. Run with your fists in the air and tears streaming down your face. Don’t try kill yourself, but get your heart rate up and wait for it. Slow down, lengthen out, breathe and eventually the world will be bearable.
- Sweat it out with yoga – you might want to curl up in a ball, but a tough yoga class will stretch out aching insides, sooth cramps, restore your natural rythms, release much needed stress and help you find they joy and balance you so desperately need. (Just avoid inversions when you’re actually menstrating, apparently this isn’t good for you) Plus the stretchy pants feel so good.
- Cycle through your cycle – abs and legs are the worst areas for cramping and pain during menstration and cycling can target these areas really quickly. Cycling outside gets you away from the TV, the fridge, the icecream and the sofa. You’ll get some fresh air and some fresh perspective on the things that seemed overwhelming that day.
So there you have it. The first BitchMittens post about – eugh – PERIODS. Am now a ranty female. Yay!! No going back now I guess 🙂
*Dramatic gestures will result in you having to scrabble through the kitchen bin for 40 minutes. Next time, throw it towards a safe corner.