Self-Appreciation Saturdays

SAS: Handling PMS with an Anxiety Disorder. (10/6/18)

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Hey, guys – welcome back to TNTH!

If there’s one time of the month that I absolutely hate, it has to be that time of the month. You know: the one week where you feel 20 different emotions at once, you’re in pain without any relief in between, and when you just want to lock yourself up in your room and hide from the world until it’s over.

Yes, I am talking about good ole’ mother nature. Aunt Flo. Your period.

About a year ago, I wrote a post talking about period depression, which yes; it’s an actual real thing. Period depression feels like 5 steps down from PMS; it’s like being kicked down to the floor countless times and you just give up trying to get up for the sake of your aching body. Many women experience this during that time of the month, and it’s completely normal if that happens to you! It is not weird for some women to experience minor symptoms of PMS, and it’s not weird for others to experience PMS in hell.

I’ve been a woman that has got it bad during that time of the month. The cramps are unbearable, the mood swings swing further than that amusement park boat ride that swings back and forth for fun, and the depression: it was real. While I always believed I became a different person once my time of the month was here, I’d always wonder why it just got worse all of a sudden. During my years in grad school, my period was my absolute nightmare. It wasn’t until I started therapy when I realized that all this time, my PMS/period depression was at its worst because I was dealing with an anxiety disorder.

In a nutshell, anxiety’s twin sister is PMS. They both mimic the same type of result when you experience them. During PMS, your estrogen levels are at an all-time high, which leaves you emotional, irritable, and worrisome: some of the things that cause anxiety. When all our levels are below average and our estrogen is above, the anxiety that isn’t as intense on a normal day is now abnormal, or above than usual. It’s a bummer, really. 

It’s a bummer when you have to experience week-long anxiety and aren’t able to control it due to it really being an imbalance of chemicals going through that PMS phase in your cycle. It’s definitely a very challenging week to get through, one that is hard to ignore and be okay in. In many cases, a person’s mental health isn’t at its strongest during this week, which leads to this spiraling depression and anxiety that honestly just comes out of nowhere.

There are a couple of things I’ve learned to do and tell myself during my own PMS week that I try to follow in order to balance out both my PMS and my anxiety disorder:

  • Don’t take life too seriously. There’s a reason why you shouldn’t make impulsive decisions during your PMS week: it’s like making a decision when you’re extremely angry; it’s just not practical and healthy to do. Nothing can stop the thoughts and negativity that circulates around your mind, but you can remind yourself that what you think and feel simply isn’t an accurate representation because you are extremely hormonal. Don’t take anything personally, don’t overanalyze everything that pops in your head, and don’t read into everything. Just take it easy!
  • Keep yourself busy. In the time I’m writing this, I am currently working on a presentation for my grad students in the upcoming week. In the time spent on this “project”, there was no room left for me to sit around and overthink everything. As someone with an anxiety disorder, I find it really beneficial to keep your mind and yourself busy (of course with things that you can handle/are comfortable with). It leaves little to no room to worry about the things that limit your progress and your process of recovery. I guess what I’m trying to say is keep your mind busy!
  • Take time to yourself, if needed. I know personally for me, there are days where I am defeated by the combination of my PMS and anxiety disorder. I want to be left alone. I want to lay in bed and block out the rest of the world. It’s completely normal to have days where you feel that way. Of course, make sure to limit those type of days; make them only one day out of the week at most. Of course, you can’t just schedule when these type of days come and how long they will last, but always remember that you have anxiety, anxiety does not have you and you are in control!
  • If you’re taking medication, STILL TAKE IT, even if you feel as if it’s not working. I can’t stress this fact enough. You’re on medication for a reason. Don’t just stop taking it because it isn’t calming you down in the way it usually does. Remember that you’re also battling your PMS; medication may not work! Particularly the type of medication I take can also be prescribed to patients with PMDD (which is pretty much that extreme stage of PMS people goes through), and with personal experience, I assure you that the dosage I am not cannot handle both PMS and my anxiety. Again, it’s not guaranteed: some days during PMS week I feel calm, and others I do not. Still, it is important to take your medication!
  • Lastly, take care of yourself. By that, I mean mind, body, and soul. It’s so easy to let PMS and anxiety tag-team to knock your spirit down. Do whatever makes you happy during this week, in all honesty. Eat the foods that make you happy. Watch the TV shows, movies, and YouTubers that make you happy. Do the activities you enjoy doing. Make this dreadful week as easygoing and comfortable as possible; and whatever that may be for you, do it!

 

Let’s get through this dreadful PMS week together, girl!

 

-Liz. (:

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