Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Meet Jacqueline Hyde

pms Pictures, Images and PhotosI've never counted properly before, but I've probably lost about half a dozen jobs/boyfriends during the grip of PMS.  I very nearly said "particularly bad PMS" but then I don't think I've ever had "particularly good PMS" to warrant the existence of an opposite.

I do remember once, a guy at work scowling up at me from his desk saying "Are you on drugs or something, because your mood swings are unbelievable?" and I was so gobsmacked that I couldn't even answer.  I wasn't.  On drugs I mean.

I'm guessing he was referring to my Premenstrual episodes - with which always came the biggest downers of my entire life.  Every month.  And back in the 80's it wasn't as trendy to go around sharing chronic PMT stories - we were only just getting to grips with having a female prime Minister and tottering about in stilettoes and tight pencil skirts and being all affronted at being leered over by our colleagues - men, mostly.

But I don't think I ever equated the little red ring on the calendar with how appallingly bad everything I thought, said and did became.  Ever.  It must've been a kind of denial or I was just shocked that... once again I was grouchy, bad-tempered, irritable, touchy, weepy, at time suicidal, and always, always misunderstood.  As far as I was concerned, Mum and Dad were right and they really HAD raised a spiteful, selfish bitch of a daughter who wanted everything her own way and was ungrateful and bad tempered about everything. "We just DON'T understand you!" they'd rage.   Of course, by the time my period had come and gone (surprise!), they were still bearing the PMS-grudge of how abysmal my behaviour leading up to it had been and I was still in The Cooler.  And, a fortnight later, after they'd (almost) forgiven me, the whole PMS-cycle returned and, sadly,  this pattern was never broken. It's just a shame it was never discussed.  I'm sure everyone would've been a whole lot happier if they'd known the only reason I was acting like shit was because that's how I felt.

Sometimes I'd just shut myself away.  I couldn't explain how I felt, so I didn't even try.  This was easier when I'd moved away from my parents.  Attempting to explain to my mother why I wasn't going into work, whilst  all my motor functions were operating normally would've been like trying to explain to Jedward that they have no talent, X or otherwise.  As far as she was concerned, if I breathed, I worked.  Like it or not.  Hormones were some new-fangled fashion that would never catch on; seeking professional help or even support for the raging torments I endured just wasn't an option. And therapy was for the idle, rich and famous.

I have stormed out of two jobs that I recall.  "Flounced" is probably a more apt description.  (I watched too much 'Dallas' and 'Knots Landing' and clearly thought that Joan Collins was the way to go). And never went back. I certainly changed jobs with alarming regularity (I wish I'd kept a 'red ring' for those times too - for scientific purposes) when I had convinced myself that I just couldn't cope with it anymore.  And the more my colleagues saw of my 'moods' the greater the desire to flee and find somewhere new - where nobody knew me and would judge me by my seemingly unstable personality.

Because that's what I assumed it was.  I was just a Bad Person.  I was hell to live with, hell to work with and so erratic that  nobody in their right mind would ever want to be with me for too long.  So I kind of decided to save them the bother and the embarrassment of working how to to tell me I was crap;  I got out before they got rid. I'm sure I lost a couple of decent jobs/blokes with this perverted course of action.  But I didn't know what else to do.

Secretly, even though the pains were severe and I sometimes couldn't even focus straight for the first day, I actually welcomed my period.  Because I felt 'normal' then.  I was doing what every other woman on the globe did -  I was going through a cycle which meant I was behaving like a regular human being and I didn't have to try and disguise or explain why I was looking , acting and feeling the way I was because I didn't understand it myself.  This, I understood.

Someone gave me a picture once of some pigs in their sty, and it said  "Don't try to understand me - just love me" and although half of me resented the heck out of this because to (paranoid, cynical, probably premenstrual) me it screamed I was "difficult" - the other half made me feel like perhaps I deserved to be taken just the way I am - any day of the month. 
So,  for the days when I'm displaying the following, I have a nice, harmless alternative:

Weepy = emotional
Angry = determined
Paranoid = sensitive
Tactless  = refreshingly honest
Depressed = introspective
And now I believe  it's all just part of my 'natural charm'! 


Anonymous said...

Oh boy, did this strike a chord. I was a hormonal MESS in the 1980s (God bless the Pill for getting me through the 1990s) and my parents thought I was a hateful cow. Hormones are bloody awful things - it's amazing how black and hopeless things look on day 26 of your cycle, and how one's husband saying something lovely like, 'Shall I make roast chicken today?' can still make one want to smash him in the face with a shovel. Roll on the menopause...

Debs Riccio said...

"Day 26" - sounds like a great title for a horror movie - let's collaborate! It's incredible isn't it, that hormones have such a major hold over some of us, and yet some still sail through all their womanly phases with such finesse - it's these 'other women' who've always made me feel so thoroughly abnormal. And yet now I'm at the stage where I couldn't give a flying flip and can accept everyone's different. Age has its benefits!

Deb said...

A chord this douth strike with me too, Debs! The amount of jobs I've walked out of due to PMT is astounding. No wonder I'm self-employed. It's almost as if you're taken over by something - you know you should be rational and well balanced, but something inside just makes you want to punch someone in the face.I've always wondered if women murderers committed their crimes pre-period?
Nowadays I take the advice of a friend who does nothing during her PMT week - she takes on no new work, sees no friends and warns her husband to stay the hell away from her for a week:)

Jacqueline Christodoulou said...

Me too, Debs. I've had horrendous PMS and felt like I was going mad - the two week guilt and blame cycle was also part of mine. I tried every remedy from dietry to pills to Chinese medicine and none of them worked.
It was only when I decided that life had to fit in with me that it got better - and realised that the world is built around a male model of life where PMT eostrogen cycles don't fit in but testosterone driven pusuits do and are excused. So now, like Deborah's friend, I do hardly anything 'that' week and sod what anyone else thinks (if my work colleagues object I just do the bare minimum and catch up next week!) I've stopped thinking of it as bad now because I'm actually more creative that week - and it's only other people's expectations of me that make it bad! I'm nearly 50 now so hopefully fairly soon I'll be onto the next phase of womanhood lol xx

Lane said...

I know. I know. Oh so well.

There's a reason the oldies called it the curse.

Debs Riccio said...

I heard years ago (so it must still 'stand') than a woman was given a lesser sentence for killing her *mother/husband - delete where applicable* during PMS which counted as either "debilitating" or gave her "diminished responsibility". I do remember punching the air victoriously when I heard this. Wonder why?

Keris said...

Sorry I'm so, er, late to this. When I wrote my article about PMS for the *cough* Mail, I spoke to a doctor who said this is a TERRIBLE problem and highly unrecognised, mainly and unsurprisingly, he said, because it affects women.

He said that PMS/hormones can cause almost anything. He's had patients who've had premenstrual asthma (why would asthma be related?!) and another with premenstrual suicidal thoughts.

He said it's a huge issue that should be taken more seriously. I liked him.

Debs Riccio said...

Oh god, Keris, I totally relate to that - what a lovely man. A man - who'd think? I definitely get premenstrual toothache and my childhood excema sometimes flares up, so I'm guessing asthma is somewhere related... it's incredible the amount of shite we women have to endure just to get through another bloody month (pun intended) x

Nicole said...

You are sooooo right. I am just surprised a lot more of us did not get head butted or face slapped. That ghastly feeling of wanting to make the next hour so much better than the previous, and wanting to apologise for the snarky comment or absence of comments, but feeling helpless to get underneath the hormones. I am so glad that is all gone for me, I am one of the lucky ones that is experiencing menopause before Im 50. Its only been 2 years and while the power surges are awful, and at times I panic it may also be dementia!! I would not go back to the pre menopause days. We just have to laugh Debs, and it will pass - like everything. Ive just read your lovely comment on my blog, Im so pleased I lightened the gloom for you.

Debs Riccio said...

Thanks for popping over, Nicole, and leaving a comment. I'm glad this resonates with so many girls out there. Like you, I've recently found out that I'm having a 40's menopause, and to be honest (even though I'm taking soy/starflower supplement) I don't think I'm having too rough a ride with it. The flashes aren't horrendous (now it's winter anyway) and I DO NOT miss the mad mood swings - now I'm just permanently cranky!