4 Things to Remember When You are PMSing (or otherwise sad, anxious or in a general funk of mild despair)

Sometimes life is all moody selfies and bad metaphors. You know what I'm talking about.

I hate it.

I despise that general understanding that women “have a grumpy time of the month”, “are subject to the dictates of hormones”, can on occasion be “psychotic dictators who make no sense whatsoever and eat mass amounts of chocolate”. (Okay, that last one was mine.) What a bunch of condescending pig slop. Why not just return to 1808 and diagnose us all with Hysteria while you’re at it, people who say things like that. I mean, honestly, how demeaning. I am in complete control. No flood of hormones controls me! That is for darn sure.

And then….

It comes over me like a wave that has forgotten how to ebb. A little sad, anxious, incomplete and so unlike myself. Not hopeless exactly but certainly removed from a close proximity to hopeful. Suddenly, everything I’ve committed to is overwhelming. The kids can’t be quiet enough. And I am pretty sure that Riley was a little sassy on that last phone call we had. Yeah, he for sure was smirking about that one thing that I said. I can’t remember what the one thing was, but I can remember feeling like he smirked. I am going to call him back and tell him exactly what I thought about that smirk …. right after I eat some chocolate.

And then, I realize my back has been hurting for the past three days. And that it is the 12th. And … oh ……

So in a fit of optimism and realism (those two can co-exist, you know), I am embracing what I have found to be true about my womanhood. I do PMS and it can be difficult. I also occasionally struggle with surges of unhappy hormones and chemicals at other points of my life. And you know, what? Welcome to being a woman. Who said that whole personhood could only come with being in complete control all the time? I think what you and I do on a daily basis is a damn fine and extraordinarily brave thing. Sometimes our bodies tell us our hearts and hopes are wrong AND WE STILL WAKE UP EVERY DAY AND KEEP GOING. What a bunch of Bravehearts we all are. Seriously. A standing applause to every single one of you. Seriously, I am so glad to call you Sister.

There are a few things I’ve decided to remember the next time that dark wave comes crashing over me. They are simple and reasonable, but I’ve found it is exactly the simple and reasonable that flee the most rapidly when I am engulfed murk and muck.

4 Things to Remember when you are PMSing (or otherwise sad, anxious or in a general funk of mild despair)

1.Get up and Get out

I know, I know. When I feel bogged down, all I want to do is eat potato chips dipped in mustard alongside a bowl of vanilla ice cream topped with hot fudge. (You know, that classic combination. But seriously, try it.)  But one of the surest ways to shake off a sulk is to smear some lipstick on and get out into the daylight. Go get a diet coke, take a book to a friend, see a movie by yourself while the kids are at school. Go anywhere, just GO.

2. If it seemed like a good idea last week it is probably still a good idea today.

The classic Meg sad/anxiety attack goes something like this,

“Who do I think I am? I want to write and raise kids? What an idiot. I can barely brush my hair in the morning, let alone maintain the balance something like that would require. Balance! What do I know about balance? The last time my kids ate anything even resembling a vegetable was during the last moon cycle. Oh the kids. I want to homeschool them, but honestly, how is that possible. Today I asked Viola to go in the other room because she was laughing too loud. LAUGHING! I QUIET CHILDREN’S LAUGHTER. That is something that a Roald Dahl villain would do. Do you I want my children to be home taught by Ms. Trunchbull? Because that is basically what I am suggesting when I talk about homeschooling. Plus...the house is a mess. And I think maybe no one wants to be my friend. And maybe I should start doing paleo? Because maybe I need a change? Oh, who am I kidding. I can never change and I am not good enough now and maybe I should just watch re-runs of Say Yes to the Dress while I cry about all the mean moms that won’t tell their daughters they are pretty on their big day.”

End scene.

Yikes. The next time I start panic breathing absolute nonsense, I am going to take a step back and remember myself. I am going to remember that I am capable. I am going to remember that I only have to do each big thing one little step at a time. And I am going to remember that before the momentary descent into darkness, I believed I could do every single thing that feels too big to hold at that instant. I commit myself to believing in my belief. It may not sound like much, but when I am drowning it is enough.

 And then I will give myself permission to cry over re-runs of Say Yes to the Dress, because that is just cathartic no matter what your current mental state happens to be.

3. Music helps

Turn it on often and turn it on loud. Sassy Dixie Chicks songs, Florence + the Machine at their yelling-ist and, I'm not ashamed to admit it, Kelly Clarkson all serve me well when I am in a funk. It is hard to take the mean voices in your head seriously when you are dancing to rocking blue grass in the kitchen.

4.  This too shall pass

Here’s the thing. That wave so full of anxiety,inadequacy and sadness will eventually recede. Sometimes it will go away on its own and sometimes it will be pushed back with the help of professional intervention. It will not last. When it does wash over me, I will be kind to myself. And on the bright days, I will be kind to others who might be swimming through a darkness of their own.

And I will eat chocolate.  Lots and lots of chocolate.

Like A Broken Vessel

Over the weekend, the LDS faith gathered in church buildings, conference centers and around TVs throughout the world. They heard messages of doctrine, hope and faith. Each one from a slightly different perspective in a religion that allows more freedom of thought than even most of its adherents know. The kids pretended to watch the proceedings and Riley and I only slept through one out of ten talks. Not too shabby. There were two addresses in particular that struck me. The first was by Dieter F Uchtdorf. It was a talk about the challenges of being LDS and the inclusive love we should have for those inside and outside the faith. I encourage you to watch it here. The second talk, by Jeffrey R Holland, was a revelation. It was so much of what I know to be true put into words of an elevated nature. It is a talk that exists outside of the confines of my faith. Applying to and lifting up anyone, anywhere, that has struggled to through mists they did not seek. Mental illness is something that each woman will deal with directly or indirectly in the course of her life. If she has not suffered from PPD or depression, then she knows and loves someone that has. It is present in my family and occasionally visits us with breathtaking force. Women, girls, sisters! Please know that in the darkness you are not alone. That you can and, even should, seek help. That depression is a medical condition, not a character flaw.

And if it helps, even a little, know that I have been there. And emerged into the light. And will be there again. And will find the light even then. And so will you.

Some of you may be thinking...Feminism on Monday? Depression today? Where are my funny meg in progress posts about embarrassing moments and all the reasons kids are both awesome and lame? (And there are so many reasons.) I promise this blog will return to its regularly scheduled program of lightheartedness on Friday. Until then, I hope this helps. It certainly helped me.

I formatted this vid myself and the quality isn't super excellent. For a better version, go here.

Looking for a resource, a caring third party to help you through your time of need? I am a fan of The Healing Group. It could be a good place to start.