OctoMom has 14 kids. I have three. Yet those three—plus the demands of life, work and marriage—may be making me just as crazy. Not insane enough to have another brood of babies, mind you. (Although once you have three, what’s another 11 more?) But crazy enough to:
1. Seriously consider jumping out of a moving car when my husband engages me in yet another financial discussion.
2. Completely forget the dates and times of crucial engagements—like my son’s soccer game.
3. Let a faulty cordless phone lead me to yelled profanities and an innocent appliance smashed on the floor—in front of my kids.
Now, obviously the demands of the aforementioned kids, life, work and marriage do take their toll. But it seems to me that as I get older, my patience for said demands becomes especially thin during one particular time of the month.
Oh yes, you know where this is going: PMS.
Let me preface this post by saying that I’ve always thought PMS was a load of hogwash. Cramps suck, I know, but I’m of the buck-up, bootstrap mentality. Publically I sympathized, but privately I scoffed at those who drowned their sorrows in a bag of cheese puffs.
A monthly antidepressant to treat a few days of PMS? That’s like putting a cast on your leg when you need a bandaid on your toe. Now that I’m fortysomething? Ladies, I feel your pain.
Not that I feel any more literal pain than I always have. Save one morning at age 11 when I just about passed out in the nurse’s office, my menstrual cramps have always been pretty consistent. Painful, but not debilitating—as long as I have an ample supply of ibuprofen on hand.
No, my pain is more of the psychological variety. As I said to my husband just the other day, “I actually think I’m kind of insane for about two days before my period and three days in.”
“Really,” was his deadpan response. Apparently this is a well-known fact in the Sarnoff household.
But it scares me, the depth of the rage that I feel when I’m on the rag. I’m quick to yell at my kids and slow to apologize to my husband. I can’t sleep at night and won’t wake up in the morning. I walk into the house in a perfectly fine mood until the sight of unwashed dishes in the sink makes me fire-spitting furious. I spend hours organizing drawers and closets, only to lose my shit when they get messed up again.
So, like any (thankfully insured) red-blooded American, I went to see my doctor. Who thought I might want to consider Prozac.
Yes, I realize that for some women, PMS is a much bigger psychological deal than what I’m describing, and I’m absolutely not against better living through chemistry when you’re in need. But for me, taking a monthly antidepressant to treat a few days of PMS seemed like putting a cast on your leg when you need a bandaid on your toe. I’ll take my treatment naturally, thanks very much.
Instead, I took a good, hard look at the patterns of my month. And realized that before and during my period, I slack off on exercise. I take in more carbohydrates. I check my email obsessively and make Important Lists of Things that are decidedly unimportant. In short, I stop doing the things that make me feel calm, and start doing the things that make me feel frenetic.
Here are the things that make me feel calm:
1. Tracking my cycle on my calendar. (Hyperactive? Oh, right: I’m ovulating.)
2. Doing yoga, whether I want to or not.
3. Waiting until after breakfast to check email.
4. Deep breathing when I walk into a messy room.
5. Letting my husband deal with the soccer games.
And I also could grab a few bags of cheese puffs, the next time I’m at the market. Hey, whatever works, right?