Tuesday, September 22, 2015

How to Survive PMS: Part Four

I am continuing in my series about PMS. In my last post in the series I shared an interview with my mother, who experiences an extreme form of PMS called Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder. Today I want to focus on a more normative experience of PMS by interviewing my close friend Joanna. I sent her the interview questions by email because she is currently studying at a Christian university near Tokyo. 

I wanted to ask her a few questions, because the two of us have shared many an excruciating bout of aches and emotional ups and downs due to our monthly cycles. There have been several times when she has helped me through that hard week by making me endless cups of sweet tea, rubbing my back as I've lain on the floor of her dorm and making heating pads out of towels. I, in turn, have helped her by carefully brushing out her incredibly long, blonde hair. 

Thank you for contributing, Joanna! I miss you!

1. What is your typical experience of PMS? What are your usual symptoms?
I become severely irritable and I have serious back pain, bloating, and tiredness. I tend to withdraw into my mind and away from people, keeping to my room, not always in bed, but definitely by myself. I like to keep my earbuds in and the music loud when I’m out in public during PMS. I tend to be especially introspective.

2. What helps you during that week?
For the back pain, I use a hot pad made from a wet towel heated in the microwave for 3 minutes (it gets way hotter than a hot pad) and I take 3 Advil. Also, spending time alone and sleeping at least an extra hour, if not two, a night helps immensely.

3. Any last thoughts about this issue of women and their periods?
The extreme back pain and tiredness gets to me more than anything else. I work so hard in school and it takes every bits of my energy to keep up with everything, so when PMS hits, everything gets just that much more difficult. Also, I hate how crabby I get. It makes me sad that I get frustrated and snappy so easily.

4. Do you talk to people about it while its happening or do you keep it pretty private?
Oh, I tell people I am PMS-ing. Usually just women, but I know they understand, so I am just like “Sorry, Honey, it’s that time of the month.”

5. Any last thoughts about this issue of women and their periods?
Sometimes I feel women play up their periods and PMS too much, like how they use it as a crutch for being irritable (Editor's Note: the word Jo used was punchier, but I decided to redact it for the sake of the children). Still, sometimes people just don’t get how bad they can be too. So, overall I would say awareness just needs to be raised and people need to be more kind and understanding. They also take responsibility for being rude or unkind about this natural, biological, healthy part of being a woman. Both men and women here.

Glad to help, babe! :)

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