PMS sucks. If you are or have ever been a woman, you know this. You feel me.
If you're not, you've probably heard tell of this dreaded time, or maybe you've been on the other side of a loved one's PMS-induced distress.
As a woman in my mid-20s, PMS is a thing that happens for me, sometimes unpredictably, and always, it seems, with a determination to bring me down and reduce me to loud, wailing tears.
In the past, PMS hasn't just contained emotional ups and down - it has straight up rocked my stability. I felt like I was in a constant battle: For 3-4 weeks, I would improve my life, would feel consistent, stable, solid - and would then spend 2 weeks PMS-ing and falling apart. I had to rebuild each month, and I felt a depressed acceptance that my life would look this way until menopause.
But this month, having moved further into my recovery than I ever previously had, I found myself facing a new experience. In the past several weeks, I kept waiting for the “MY LIFE IS FALLING APART” voice I’d become so accustomed to - and it didn’t come. I thought, "There's no way this is PMS. I freakin' love life right now!”
I felt so much gratitude for the progress I've made, and a hope that if I continue taking care of myself, PMS may simply be PMS, and not the monthly event that brings me 5 steps back.
There was only one problem I ran into this month: The last day of the cycle, the day I became sure I was PMS-ing - the day the voice returned.
I knew something was wrong when I woke up. Each movement was painful, each activity felt pointless, each thought directed me toward depression.
And I realized: I'd forgotten how loud the voice of depression could be.
The day was a battle. Stay okay, I pleaded with myself. Please, just stay okay. I didn't care if this meant I presented with 10% of my usual energy, as long as I could continually remind myself of how temporary this situation was.
I’m glad to say I was able to do that. It was hard, and, I got through the day with minimal bumps and bruises. I was only able to do that because I had several weeks of happiness to act as a beacon of hope: I had something to work toward getting back to.
This experience was a reminder for me. A reminder of how hard, how painful it is to even begin to function with that voice of depression, of mental illness.
It's almost easy, in recovery, to forget how much it hurt. I remember that I used to feel badly, sure - but it's almost like I was a different person. Mental Illness me and Healthy me.
I think the reality is that I don't want to remember. I don't want to acknowledge that that pain came from me, from my own brain - because that means acknowledging my fear that that pain could come back.
I think I needed this reminder of what it was like to live with that voice as a constant presence. When I was in a constant battle with depression, I would look at people in recovery and say, "Yeah, but that's them. That'll never be me.”
This reminded me that it is me, that I am in recovery now.
I want to remind you that it can be you, too. It will be you. It is you. Brains are so, so powerful, and we all have the capacity to recover. I truly believe that. I also know how hard that recovery is to sustain. I don't want to create the perception that 'I'm in recovery now and that means I'm always better!' I have days where I hear those voices, days when I struggle, days when it feels like I've barely recovered at all.
But those days become fewer and further between. I hope, if you're having one - or maybe many - of those days, that you read this and know the world isn't black and white; there isn't Recovered and Not Recovered.
There's Balance, and it is possible to find.
I’ve begun to find it, and I continue to find it more and more each day. I believe you can and will find it too.