PMS is a topic that my clients bring up on a regular basis. It usually goes something like this: they arrive for their appointment, sit down in the chair, immediately start crying, grab some tissue and say, “I’m sorry. I knew this would happen. I’m PMS’g…I’m overly emotional…sorry.”
The part that always confuses me is the apology part. I, too, am guilty of apologising to others for being ‘overly emotional’ when I’m kidnapped by my hormones every month and I honestly don’t know why I feel the need, like so many other women, to apologise for feeling my feelings publicly. Maybe it’s the fact that being so raw with our emotions while our hormones are holding us hostage embarrasses us? Maybe we like to think we’re more in control than we are of our emotions and that when PMS hits, we can’t hold it together like we normally do and a wall of shame comes up when we burst into tears in public or scream something we’ve been wanting to say to someone for a long time but were too polite to do so until our hormones got the best of us?
I have a button displayed on my desk at home that reads, “PMS- harness the energy”. I bought it for two reasons: 1) It made me laugh and I really need to laugh when I have PMS and 2) It reminds me that there is also a positive side to being held hostage by our hormones, and that if we can tap into that, we can turn the powerful “energy” we experience during PMS into something transformational.
My lovely clients spend a lot of time talking about what happens when they are in the throes of PMS and are often deeply conflicted about the things they think, think, feel, and do at that time of the month. They often say things like, “I can’t believe I said/thought/felt/did that.” Then they blame their ‘’extreme’ reaction on PMS and try to comfort themselves by explaining that they wouldn’t have said/thought/felt/done such-and-such if they weren’t being co-opted by their hormones.
But I think that there is more to this than meets the eye. I believe that while the things we may say/think/feel/do while we’re PMS’g may appear extreme, there is always some solid truth underlying the way we may receive or deliver the message. For example, once woman told me that she “totally lost it” on her teenage daughter when she was PMS’g and screamed at her for lying to her about where she was going one night. She called her a liar and swore like a trucker to boot. This did not go over well with her daughter who collapsed into a puddle of tears at her mother’s reaction.
Of course, mum felt terrible that she had made her daughter cry and was reprimanding herself for being “childlike” and not acting as the kind of role model she wanted to be for her daughter. She looked at me with big eyes full of tears and said (between sobs), “I saw the look in her eyes and it seemed like she was scared of me. My baby girl- scared of me…her own mother…”(more sobs)…
To which I replied:
“Wow. That must have been a rough moment for both of you, huh? I really get that you didn’t mean to hurt your daughter and that if you could go back and do that one over, you would do it very differently given the chance. Also, you say you were in the throes of PMS and were feeling overly emotional. Even so, and even though you feel that you overreacted at the time, do you think there was some validity to how you were feeling about her lying to you?”
Once she was able to forgive herself for reacting the way she did to her daughter, she was able to get in touch with the fact that her reaction, while more extreme than she would have liked, was also valid- it’s normal and healthy to be angry and upset when someone you love lies to you and deceives you, even if they didn’t mean to hurt you. Let’s face it- how many of us DID NOT lie at least once to our own mothers about where we were going as teenagers? I once was met with a birthday cake being thrown in my face by my own mother on my seventeenth birthday because I had lied about where I had been the night before. I remember being shocked at the time, but now I totally get it- sorry mum. That was really shitty of me. My excuse? I was being co-opted by my hormones- not the PMS ones though- the ones that made me think I had to lie to my own mother to be with the boyfriend I just could not live without at the time…what was his name again? I forget.
What I often say to clients is this: When in the throws of PMS, whatever you’re feeling is real; it’s just amplified by about 100%. While you might want to meditate on taking a particular action while in that state, it may also be a good idea to believe that there is some validity to what you’re feeling and to make a note of it and promise yourself to examine it when you’re feeling more balanced and centred. For instance, I would not recommend doing any of the following when your hormones are raging:
- Breaking up with someone
- Getting that wild new haircut you’ve been fantasizing about
- Telling your parents how you really feel about them when you’re mad
- Calling up your ex and rehashing why you broke up (sometimes referred to as “drink and dial”)
- Wearing your tightest dress because you feel it will make you feel less bloated- trust me, it won’t
- Eating an entire bag of cookies thinking it will make you feel less miserable
Here’s what I do recommend you try when you are PMS’g:
Watch a real tearjerker and cry your eyes out
Cuddle pets and let them lick your tears away
Lock yourself in a bathroom stall and breathe deeply for a few minutes if you have the instinct to throttle a co-worker- even though it may seem like a good idea at the time- it will not be good for your career- again, you need to trust me on this one
Ask for a hug
Journal- put all of your thoughts and feelings down on paper- let it all out and don’t judge what you write
Tell yourself over and over: THIS IS TEMPORARY. THIS TOO, SHALL PASS.
And if all else fails, call it a night at 8:00 pm and crawl into bed and hide under the covers until it passes.