Saying that hormones are a pain in the arse on a website that deals with mental health might seem like stating the obvious. Still, as a woman I get to endure my hormones acting up on the regular – and while it’s different for everyone, I really struggle with it.
What makes it worse is that it’s generally not something that’s talked about with a great deal of seriousness. As if dealing with my mates serotonin and cortisol’s up and downs, I get a bonus influx of other nonsense going on every month – and no, it’s not just crying at sad films. That’s normal.
For those who do not subscribe to the PMS stereotype (or are male), I am envious. The anxiety, hypersensitivity and gloom is amplified to a point where an average day can become difficult to cope with – and there are lots of different ways it can manifest itself.
Positive body image
This really is shit. It’s hard enough being constantly bombarded by messaging that implies anything less than a 5ft10 size 8 isn’t meeting a standard. But being hormonal takes this to a whole new special place.
My image of myself becomes totally warped. Suddenly, I am a worthless blob. All I can fixate on is all the things I would change about myself – especially those things I can definitely not change (e.g. my face). My body shape and weight becomes repulsive. I’m not even overweight, but hey, thanks hormones for the total confidence crash.
Conversing with people in an acceptable fashion
If I’m not completely zoning out because I’m shattered and thinking about how much I hate the way I look, I’m taking everything they say to heart. Of course! I’ve got to save up all those non-criticisms that weren’t even really directed at me ready for ruminating on later.
Ability to react appropriately to 90% of everyday occurrences
This goes beyond the ‘oh that film was a bit sad but I’m going to sob’. I mean anything.
Phone acting up? All it needs is a good throw across the room (I’m not joking). Dropped a glass on the floor? Better have a meltdown about it. Someone didn’t text back? Time to cry because it means no-one likes me.
Sometimes, I know I’m being irrational or totally over exaggerating a problem. Other times, it legit feels like a minor recurring depression. It’s exhausting.
A healthy relationship with food
Oh boy. The trouble with this one is that it goes both ways. For the most part, it swings towards the ‘better eat everything because food is great and it will be a small joy in this otherwise shitty day’ mentality.
Spoiler: it hardly ever does. It is but a temporary spike of enjoyment before the guilt sets in. Other times, I’ve simply gone to bed without eating anything, such is my desire for the day to be over. No appetite for anything.
Having a real interest in anything at all
This is kind of rubbish because I do really like to be busy and creative – whether it’s writing, crotcheting, playing piano, whatever. Bizarrely, when the hormones are raging, I lose all interest in doing any of these things. It really does sap the fun out of a day (or week). No energy, no zest for life, no passion.
Oh, and God help me if I had any pre-made plans that involve leaving the house. ‘I won’t be much fun, anyway,’ I think. If I actually follow through with what I’d planned to do, I am genuinely quite impressed at myself – because no-one else realises the ginormous effort it took behind the scenes to not cancel.
So there we have it. PMS and severe imbalances aren’t all that amusing when you’re in the midst of hormone hell – Sarah Andersen’s comics sum up the entire experience perfectly: