Sometimes my "woman" hat is literally a PAIN to wear. If not painful, my once-a-month episodes wreak havoc on my emotions. If this month was identical to the other eleven instead of maybe five, I'd be fully diagnosed with PMDD. I know a friend who truly has PMDD. It's no joking matter. According to WedMD, these are the symptoms:
- Mood swings
- Depressed mood or feelings of hopelessness
- Marked anger, increased interpersonal conflicts
- Tension and anxiety
- Decreased interest in usual activities
- Difficulty concentrating
- Change in appetite
- Feeling out of control or overwhelmed
- Sleep problems
- Physical problems, such as bloating
I bolded the symptoms I experienced. As you can see, my last week and a half were horrid. It started two Tuesdays ago. My mother finally did what I knew she would eventually do--run out of money with empty cupboards. I had to bail her out, which meant I had to take her grocery shopping to guarantee she would spend the money on food and not fill in the blank. Where had her grocery money go, you may ask? FOUR PAIRS OF SHOES! Shoes that she later decided weren't comfortable.
So I'm getting ready to take her to Aldi's and my mother-in-law calls to ask what the plan is for the fourth. I tell her we are going to drive an hour and a half away and spend the day by a pond. She naturally hesitates. Remember, I didn't ask her, I told her. She lives six hours away. Who wants to drive another three hours the next day? Miscommunication leads to waterworks that I can't seem to control. Later, after we sort it out, I blame PMS. True enough, but I had no idea what was coming!
My mood becomes more and more lethargic and irritable as the week progresses. Here is a perfect illustration of the cliche, "The calm before the storm," because a nasty demonic bomb goes off inside my brain the day before my period starts.
At every turn, I hear a little voice say, "You are a failure." For instance, Kayla is pretty much ignored during the morning because Jon and I are working on a blueprint of our dream home. "You failed as a mom." The computer program we are using keeps crashing. "You failed as a home planner." I disappoint Jon by not wanting to deal with camping. "You failed as a wife." My new shorts that fit perfectly two weekends ago are super tight. "You failed as a woman." I can't remember the last time I cleaned my floors or bathrooms. "You failed as a housekeeper." Between each failure, I'd explode into bouts of weeping, not wishing to be consoled. My inner demons were speaking and I was listening.
The breaking point was returning from the blueberry field. Being after five, I thought sunscreen was unnecessary. However, we left before even a full pound had been picked because Kayla was turning red. By the time we returned home, she resembled a lobster. My last string of sanity snapped. Jon told me to go see my best friend as I had planned and took Kayla inside while I wailed. Yes, wailed. The ugly crying that's loud and filled with despair.
Before driving to my friend's house, I heavily considered driving into the garage, closing the door and keeping the car running. But suicide is, in my mind, the ultimate selfish thing a person can do the people who love him/her.
My best friend helped me with a single word. From an earlier conversation, she knew I was depressed. She knew I wouldn't want to talk about it. When I said nothing, she sat next to me and forced me to lean against her (how she can do the impossible with me, I couldn't say. Jon can't even force me to be comforted). While I stubbornly bit my tongue, she waited. I can't remember my exact words when I finally gave in, but they were close to "I'm a failure." Her response was, "No." She didn't continue with a list of my accomplishments. She didn't scold me for my feelings. That one word stopped me short. What should I say next? She'd left no room for negotiation.
In the end, I told her about my day and she understood as only a fellow female can. I thank God for a friend like her. Closer than a sister, she is often the difference between my sanity and insanity.
Yesterday was my first day of peace and tranquility. I was never so happy to see the beginning of my menstrual cycle. As far as my "woman" hat is concerned, sometimes I'd like to throw it in the fire. I'm a believer in IMS (irritable male syndrome), but there is no way male PMS is equal to what my gender suffers--MONTHLY!
Hats off to you, my friend. I will write again, but until then...hang on to your hat! ;-)