Obituary for My Period
I am now post-menopausal and proud, but I cringe when I remember the monthly angst I endured surrounding PMS and my period. Now that my daughter is reliving my past with her own PMS stories, this is an opportune time to discuss the trauma those of us that experience menstruation suffer. From uncontrollable crying spells fueled by the absolute certainty that the world was coming to an end and that nobody loved me so why bother, to chocolate cravings and trips to 7-Eleven for midnight goodies to cover my pain, I have endless stories and symptoms to lament.
Hormonal swings often resulted in a rollercoaster of emotions, resulting in pathetic crying spells where I was convinced the entire world was against me and why don’t I just lie down and die. These crying spells would crop up no matter where I happened to be. The silent self-pity parties would build to a crashing crescendo, to the point that I often had to excuse myself while at work to go to the bathroom/loo and just let loose. When I had temporarily spent my woe in the bathroom stall with quiet sobs, then I’d splash cold water on my face and carry on with my workday. This happened every month and I came to get used to this emotional torture.
My temper was on trigger alert and the least little thing anyone said to me during this PMS stage could result in my starting an argument or I would subject my family to sudden emotional outbursts. Accusations were hurled through the air like cannon rounds. These mood swings would come and go with my PMS, and I am sorry to say that I have even ruined some romantic relationships and friendships throughout the years.
Midnight trips to 7-Eleven
At the height of my PMS journey, insomnia plagued me. While awake at night, counting sheep, it almost seemed as though I suffered from a void in my gut that could only be relieved by chocolate. Milk chocolate, dark chocolate, it didn’t matter. But the variety that contained nuts seemed to fully satisfy for some reason. Snickers bars and Hershey with Almonds were my favorite. I could never seem to keep any chocolate on hand for my cravings, however. I tried, but it always seemed to melt in any hiding place I’d find, like in a dark corner of a kitchen cabinet or under the mattress (weird, I know). Because of this, I would often find myself at 1:00 a.m. lying in bed, unable to either sleep or to satisfy those chocolate cravings. This situation resulted in my invariably trudging out of bed and heading to the neighborhood 7-Eleven, determined to solve my plight. Of course, I not only stocked up on chocolate bars but on other munchies as well, all just to get to sleep. You would think that the caffeine in that chocolate would have kept me awake, but surprisingly, it had just the opposite effect. Those late-night treks always seemed to cost me $30 a pop.
Once my PMS experience ended and my period finally arrived, it always began with those God-awful cramps. The first two days had a light flow accompanied by a thunder and lightning sensation in my abdomen. I would gulp extra strength NSAIDS every four hours on the dot and also straddle the toilet. Something about straddling the toilet for hours on end helped to relieve the anguish at least a little. Sometimes I would give birth to big blood clots while straddling that toilet.
There was no way to be productive during this phase, so I would often call in from school or work. I even got myself excused from swimming lessons during middle school, convincing my mother to take me to the doctor in order to get a year-long excuse. This way, I got out of any physical activity I didn’t like. But the most valuable use for that doctor’s note was to get me out of having to undress and shower in front of the other girls. In retrospect, that doctor’s note was a goldmine.
Heavy bleeding and fibroids
The return to normal productivity after the first couple of days showed a relief from the pain but an increase in flow. Because I had fibroids, my flow was incredibly heavy, and I had to change tampons and pads on average every two hours. Because of the heavy flow, I had to carefully select my wardrobe colors, to prevent detection of obvious bleed-through caused by my period flow. Always afraid of accidents, I never lost a chance to check my backside in a bathroom mirror whenever I was in public. This was the constant paranoia associated with my period. Thank God I no longer have to worry about this. It kept me on edge incessantly.
Why I’m proud to leave it behind
I have been postmenopausal for four years now and am so relieved to be free from all the angst and pain caused by my period. Nowadays, I am even-tempered both day and night. I no longer have emotional outbursts. While I can no longer procreate physically, I can still give birth to other things like new ideas and projects. And in time, I will be able to nurture grandbabies. Gone are the days I was a slave to hormonal mood swings. My muscle tone might not be as taut as when I was a young woman, and I might not be as physically alluring, but the trade-off of personal freedom from the period that plagued me for so many years is a wonderful phenomenon. May my period rest in peace.