How my PMS helped me realise I’m not actually an angry, sad person

For a while now I’ve been taking antidepressants. This is something that’s been shameful to me, something I said I would never do because “I’m a strong person”. I looked down on people who couldn’t manage without them, and that is something I’m not very proud to admit. Thankfully I now no longer look at it that way.

These last couple of months have been a learning experience. Since I became a teenager up until now, I’ve had a lot of anger issues, especially around my period. I know that a lot of us with periods have this kind of problem, but for me it was so bad that I actually had a huge punching bag in my room during high school. I frequently smashed things, threw furniture, and don’t even get me started on how this affected all of my relationships. Passive agressive was my middle name. When I wasn’t angry, I was sad. And I started to identify myself as this negative, angry, sad person. My hormones were affecting my whole life, or rather INFECTING.

There’s this quote I read on Humans of New York that really spoke to me and put words on how I viewed myself.

“I’m always sad. Are there certain thoughts associated with the sadness? No, the sadness is under the thoughts. It’s like when you’re on a camping trip, and it’s really cold, and you put on extra socks, and an extra sweater, but you still can’t get warm, because the coldness is in your bones. Do you hope to get away from it? Not anymore. I just hope to come to peace with it.”

I truly believed that I would always feel this way. But something amazing happened when I started taking medication. I am suddenly a generally happy person. Not like jumping-around-with-a-huge-smile-on-my-face-singing-tunes-and-being-ridiculous-kind of happy (although that does happen), but more being thankful for what I have, trying to see everything in a positive way, and handling my relationships more carefully. It’s groundbreaking, really.

So then one day I woke up and felt… not great. I was annoyed, melancholic and somewhat anxious again. For no reason. Did the medication not work? Was the happy me just a phase? I struggled through the day when I suddenly got a notification on my phone. I have this app that tracks my period, and it reminded me that my PMS is coming up, which explained all of those negative emotions I was feeling. At first I was upset that my medication didn’t help me with my PMS issues, but I realised that there’s a distinct change in me now. There is a solid line between myself and my PMS for the first time since I got my period at 12 or 13. I am no longer my PMS. I no longer identify with my negative emotions.

For about a year I went to therapy talking about my anger issues, my negativity and sadness, and it didn’t help. Now I realised that the reason it didn’t help is because those emotions aren’t who I am. I went in there thinking that I would become a better person, learn to control the feelings and not let it get to me. But how can you change and control something that is a chemical reaction in your body?

It’s obvious to me now that there is a correlation between mental and physical health. I am not crazy, nor am I less intelligent or strong. I had a chemical imbalance in my body that made me do and feel things that I somehow started to identify with. Notice that I’m speaking in past tense. I still have that imbalance, but it is now concentrated to the week before my period. And honestly I’m so happy to experience the clear difference between everyday-me and PMS-me. My PMS helped me realise that everyday-me is not an angry, sad person.

Now don’t get me wrong, antidepressants are not the solution to every problem. I still struggle and I still have a long way to go in terms of my ongoing exhaustion that’s affecting my stress tolerance. But I know the signs now and the fact that I’m not feeling this way all the time is a huge win for me.

Turns out, the coldness is not in my bones. It’s a chemical imbalance that’s totally seperated from the person I actually am.

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