Wednesday, April 05, 2006

The Incredible PMS Hulk

PMS. Premenstrual syndrome. Perpetually moody syndrome. Put-me-out-of-my-misery syndrome. Planned monthly-bi-polar syndrome. Please-let-me-cry-because-I-broke-my-pencil syndrome. Everyone on this planet either suffers from it or has been affected by it. It is the most aggravating of uncontrollable and non-threatening conditions because it makes us women seem and feel like irrational monsters for a brief period (no pun intended) every month. It affects us all differently, and some lucky souls never experience it. I am convinced that it gets worse as I get older… or maybe I am just more aware of it. If there was some way to avoid it, prevent it, extinguish it, obliterate it, suffocate it to mere oblivion, I am sure many a woman wouldn’t hesitate to do so. The first step of any recovery program is acceptance and understanding. I have accepted the fact that as a woman I have to deal with this. And I understand how most women behave because of it. Will men ever understand it completely? Not unless they can somehow magically swap bodies with a woman for a month, but I can certainly try to paint the picture.

Disclaimer: All women are different. All women have different bodies and different reactions to the natural processes of being female and human, so not everyone will have these same symptoms.

You might have PMS… if you feel like none of your pants fit. Some call it “bloating.” Others like to call it “retaining water.” I call it the bain of my existence. Yesterday all my clothes fit just fine. Today my pants are tight, and I don’t like how they look on me. This is when I pull out what I like to call my “fat pants.” They are the pants I keep in my closet for just such an occasion. I put them on and feel better because I don’t feel constricted but also because they are too big and make me feel small, which as a woman is an important thing. I would make a guess that almost every woman has a pair of these fat pants. Sometimes it means putting on sweats. Sometimes it means putting on the pajama pants the second you get home from work. Sometimes it means that pair of pants you used to wear before you lost weight. Sometimes it’s the pair of jeans you have been stretching out for 2 weeks, so they appear bigger. It doesn’t matter. As long as they are comfortable. At this point, I am certain I will complain about the fact that nothing fits and that I must be getting fatter, which means I will make an empty vow to cut out sweets while I put another cookie in my mouth. In a couple of days, I will deflate and be just as I always was. And the girl in the fat suit will be gone for another month before she comes back uninvited.

You might have PMS… if you cry about nothing. Everything is great. The day is beautiful. And then all of a sudden, you break your pencil while writing a letter and suddenly you can’t stop the tears from coming. Or maybe you get upset about something that is so incredibly insignificant, but at the time it seems like a colossal crisis that is sure to be the cause of your imminent demise. You become uber sensitive to everything. Everything gets blown way out of proportion. Your tolerance for stupidity decreases dramatically. Your patience level is so low you might as well not have any. So this time instead of your waistline blowing out of proportion… it is your emotions and perception of reality. This is why it is often difficult for men to understand women. We get upset about stupid things for no apparent reason. We cry. And then three days later we can act like it never happened. We know that it was all part of our monthly bi-polar syndrome, but unfortunately we do not always share that vital piece of information with everyone else.

You might have PMS… if you are always hungry and munchy, have a sudden skin breakout, have cramps that make you feel like your insides are being tied into knots and then ripped out with a pair or tweezers, feel overly tired and irritable, and have weird cravings for copious amounts of chocolate or pickles or bananas or whatever. This list of maladies could go one for pages.

There is a double standard when it comes to dealing with PMS. Women have the right to blame their moods, frustrations and irrational reactions on PMS whenever they choose. Men should never do this. Blaming a woman’s mood on PMS is a sure way to get yourself on the blacklist with no promise of ever being removed. For one, you might be wrong and then you have just insulted her. For another, you might be right, in which case the fact that you noticed and pointed it out will only make her more angry. The only real solution for men is to follow the first rule to recovery – accept this as a fact of life. Once men have accepted it they can move to the next stage of understanding, at least understanding what to expect. Smart men realize that women suffering from PMS are not themselves and most things they say or do during that time can be disregarded. Smarter men notice the change from normal girl to unrecognizable monster and alter their actions accordingly.

These days I can at least recognize what’s happening to me. Just like when the incredible hulk starts turning green and busting out of his shirt, I realize that when I am busting out of my pants and turning green with frustration I am becoming the incredible PMS monster. And really, the best thing for all parties involved would be for me to lock myself in my room until I can fit in my pants again and return to rationality.

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