Bloody Hell, Not Again! About Depression, Menstrual Cycle & Self-Care

Mental Health
Premenstrual Depression PMS
December 2, 2017

Feeling depressed before period? You are not alone. So do I and many, many others. Premenstrual Syndrome, a condition originally regarded as a figment of female imagination that most men make fun, concerns about 20-30% of female population. So this post is going to be about period depression.After several attempts, I finally managed to gather my messy thoughts and write something.

I don’t understand why talking about menstruation – a phenomenon that affects more that a half of the humanity – is a taboo in most cultures and religions (if not all). Just as there is no shame in being a woman, there is no shame in having period and talking about it. Let’s face it: every month, every reasonalbly healthy female human who’s post-puberty and pre-menopause bleeds from her vagina.

As I openly talk about my period, I’ve had a chance to actually compare my experience with other women. Ladies usually open up when I start the conversation, so I’ve learned that each of us experiences her period differently. Some of my friends, if they weren’t bleeding they wouldn’t even notice, and they need an app to remind them about the time their period is supposed to begin. For them, suggesting that during period women are not in complete command of their faculties is pretty offensive and find the idea of menstrual leave utterly sexist.

Lucky the feminists who have never had a menstrual cramp or experience period depression!

Unfortunately, I’m on the other side if the spectrum. For most of the time, I am peaceful like a lotus flower on the surface of a pond (yep, I recently spend my whole free time meditating and it’s amazing). Nothing really disrupts my inner peace. But when my time of the month is approaching, oh boy, I must admit that I am not in complete command of my faculties. If men had menstruation, they wouldn’t find it so funny. Every month, I go through hormonal hell and become an (overly) emotional mess for a week or so. My mom pokes fun at me saying that I’m always during or before period, and there is definitely some truth to it.

 

Period Depression Menstrual Cycle

 

About a week before the zero hour, my body starts to bloat, but water retention is only the beginning and nothing to be concerned about. What I really hate about period is that the full PMS “package”, apart from physical symptoms such as breast tenderness, constipation or diarrhea, acne, cravings, and weight gain, includes a monthly return of depression.

Especially three days before period, my mind gets crazy and my grumpiness reaches its peak. Suddenly, things that I was okay with, accepted or even learned to enjoy in a way begin to get on my nerves. I feel tired, hopeless, and unlovable, and no amount of chocolate can lift my mood. I’m like a live bomb waiting for one false move to trigger an emotional explosion. Conflicts arise out of nowhere. I hate my life and want to quit my job right away. Anything makes me cry. And when I finally get my period, my only wish is that euthanasia was legal, so I could put an end to my suffering.

It’s perfectly normal to feel some pain and discomfort during your period, but honestly, the first two days of bleeding are the climax of my agony. It’s like being stabbed in your uterus with a screwdriver over and over again, so deeply that you can feel it in your lower back and legs. All I want is to get drugged and sleep in a fetal position for the whole day, but I the pain keeps me awake for most of the night. I don’t think giving birth to triplets can be any worse than constant, overwhelming pain in my whole body that lasts 48 to 72 hours.

Painful menstrual cramps may be a symptom of a severe condition such as endometriosis, but that’s not always the case. I got tested and it seems to be just a high level of proglandines together with tilted uterus and lots of stress in life. That is little solace, though. It’s hard not to get depressed when you feel like you could get the leading role in the Walking Dead series, so during the difficult days I try to take even better care of myself than usually.

 

Can PMS cause depression?

I am very much aware of my body and my emotions, yet it wasn’t until recently that I started tracking my emotional rollercoaster and realized that my bouts of depression were actually linked to PMS. Knowing that I am not crazy,  it’s just the hormones, gives me a great relief. Neither depression causes PMS, nor can PMS cause depression, but these two are definitely linked, exacerbating the symptoms of one another. A change in oestrogen and progesterone levels leads up to a fall of the levels of serotonin, the happy hormone.

Interestingly, PMS is reported to occur more often in women who have a medical history of depression.

 

 

A Bunch Of Premenstrual Depression & Painful Period Survival Tips

#1. Self-Compassion

Don’t be harsh on yourself. You are not a machine and you don’t have to perform at 120% every single day. Give yourself permission to feel ill and turn into survival mode. Limit your domestic chores to what’s absolutely essential and give your body some rest. Watch Netflix, drink tea, and relax. You deserve it.

Read more about self-compassion here: 7 Reasons To Screw Self-Esteem & Choose Self-Compassion

#2. Supplements

I’ve done some research about any supplements that could make my existence a bit less painful, and there seems to be a solution. According to research published in September 2014 in the Global Journal of Health Science, taking fish oil and vitamin B1 supplements eases menstrual cramps. Scientists assigned 240 teens with menstrual cramps and other pain to take B1 and fish oil, B1 alone, fish oil alone, or a placebo. The teens took 100 milligrams (mg) per day of B1 and 500 mg daily of fish oil supplements. Sounds legit. I am going to try this one for sure.

#3. Hot water bottle

Heat alleviates the pain and releases tensions, so just before and during my period, my hot water bottle and I become inseparable, especially on dreary winter nights.

#4. Give yourself an orgasm

Funny, but I can tell you from my experience it really works, especially if you have trouble falling asleep because it hurts too much. With every orgasm, oxytocin is released, so apart from a little pleasure, you get an instant boost of your mood and the agony ceases! Being single is no excuse.

#5. Reiki

Reiki is a healing technique that uses the Universal Life Energy. I’ve been recently exploring this topic and it turns out that it may greatly improve one’s life, well-being, and emotional state by healing traumas and easing pain. Many ladies report it helped them. New-Age babble apart, experiments on plants and animals, beings immune to brainwashing, prove that it works. So if it can ease menstrual cramps, help with premenstrual depression, and make this life a bit more pleasant, why not try it?

I’ve enrolled in an online Reiki course with distant attunement, and let’s see what happens! I will tell you as soon as I get my attunement and start practicing. I delayed it on purpose precisely because of this monthly depression of mine… I don’t feel it’s the best moment to begin working with energy.

 

Do you experience PMS depression? How do you deal with your mood swings and pain? Have you ever tried Reiki and if so, did it work for you? Feel free to share your tips so every one of us can benefit 🙂 Sharing is caring.

 

With love,

Marta

 

PS. Read more about self-compassion here: 7 Reasons To Screw Self-Esteem & Choose Self-Compassion

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3 Comments

  1. Elizabeth says:

    I, too, have experienced physical and emotional hormonal hell (for going on 30 years now!), and people wonder why I’m not 100% enthused about life. Huh.

    I have found remarkable—bordering on miraculous—relief through acupuncture and Chinese herbs, if I remember to get regular treatments and take the pills. For the cramps and whole-body muscle pain, I have found nothing better than massage, and, because I’m not rich, this is usually self-massage—leaning against a wall rolling two tennis balls up and down on either side of the spine; using a door frame and a tennis ball to massage the shoulder ridge and upper shoulder area; rolling one tennis ball around each butt cheek (also against a wall); and using the heel and ankle bones to massage the meridians on the exterior of the shine bone and femur (you can look up precise acupressure points for menstrual cramps). Because I also suffer from menstrual migraines, I use the tennis balls to massage the base of skull and pressure points around the entire scalp. It makes a world of difference. Unfortunately, this doesn’t necessarily help the emotional precipice, which is more responsive to preemptive herb and acupuncture treatment. Perhaps some of these techniques will help you too?

  2. Sarah says:

    Thank you for this post! My depression has been rearing its ugly head for the past few months, and it’s been especially bad around my period. I hate that other people go through this too, but it is kind of comforting to know it’s not just me.

  3. Julie Clarity says:

    I have found I was low in iodine, iron, folic acid and also magnesium. I never had any real problems with the PMS before I had a baby, but after she weaned, I entered perimenopause. Bam. The only thing the doctor did was put me on an anti-depressant. Things got much much worse. So I gave up on the Westernized version of how to fix woman problems, and set forth on my own journey to ‘cure’ myself. What helped me may not help everyone, but I have a burden on my heart to share it, in the event any other women with a physiology similar to mine may be helped, too.

    I have battled depression my entire life, only recently have I come to terms with what caused it and it is finally gone, but before that, keeping my iron and iodine up to good levels really helped me deal with it. It made the burden lighter, somehow, and all of my other techniques with color, sparkly things, and exercise helped me continue my daily life with little interruption.

    I have a very long history of eating disorders and body dysmorphia. My periods have always been light and irregular. After I had the baby, my periods became very regular, and, I began to keep track of the days of my cycle in order to ‘be ready.’ For me, Day One of the menses cycle is the day before my endometrium actually releases, and I am lucky to have fairly regular 28-29 day cycles.

    First, I dealt with my low Iron: I remembered how my baby looked when she was low on iron, so when I saw that look on my own face, I remedied the situation. At first I needed daily doses of a low dose iron, but after a time, the side effects of not being able to poop well took over, and I discovered I only need one dose a month on Day Twenty-One of my menses cycle. If I take it earlier or later, I become terribly constipated. If I skip the iron on Day Twenty-one, I get nasty cramps.

    My blood sugar was fluctuating all over the place, randomly, and I recalled diabetics are usually low in magnesium. So, I did take a low does supplement of magnesium for a time, only to discover it made my period very very heavy. I have since switched to mindfully eating nuts and seeds that are high in magnesium from about Day Seventeen to Day Twenty-one of my menses cycle. Things are a lot better, and I no longer have such an urge to scream.

    The tricky supplement was iodine. After I got my iron and magnesium under control. I noticed I was still feeling strange. I began having these vivid visions of floating in a warm sea, my baby beside me, grazing on kelp. So, I went out and bought the only easily available kelp I knew about, the kind that wraps sushi (hereafter referred to as ‘fishy green paper’), and I ended up eating an entire bag (I bought the biggest bag of it I could find) in one night. My child helped me eat that bag, so I went back and bought more and binged on it, too. Well, that wouldn’t do, because buying kelp that way is expensive, so I found out about kelp pills, and started taking those regularly, too. To my amazement, the addition of kelp (plus now I allow myself small doses of iodized salt, again), helped not only with my depression, but it also put my eating disorder into remission. These days, I don’t need a supplement every day, it works best every other day, now, but as soon as I start hating on my face and body, again, I know to pop a kelp and I follow up with some ‘fishy green paper,” too JIC. I no longer wish to be the body dysmorphic person I was because I actually do hurt myself when I am that way, and that is no way to be around one’s female child. My child, my cat and I all enjoy our treat of fishy green paper.

    Only recently have I begun to experiment with folic acid because despite all of the work I’ve done, I still have somewhat uncomfortable cramps and I still tend to binge on certain folate rich foods the week before my period. When I binge on my comfort food (bread…especially sprouted grain bread), I come very close to reawakening my need to purge, and I am finding I may actually need two doses of folic acid, so far, one on Day Nineteen and one on Day Twenty-One of my menses cycle.

    My depression was actually caused by the fact I had totally repressed, for forty-two years, all memories, but for recurring nightmares, of my very early childhood when I was molested by a grandfather, my father and my godfather. The feeling from that time period are feelings no human is equipped to face, and I feel lucky I made it through my valley of the shadow of death, at last. However, before I turned and faced those feelings, and believe me, I would have been perfectly happy not remembering so well did I have dealing with the depression I finally came to peace with having down, maintaining adequate levels of iron, iodine, and magnesium really helped.

    The fertile female human bodies uses all three of these nutrients, and the normal USA diet no longer adequately supplies iron, iodine or magnesium. And my particular diet (which to me is what I eat) does not adequately supply folic acid, either. I have three more years to go before I reach the average age of menopause for women in the USA, and I do not have hot flashes or other problems many women have now that I maintain the iron, iodine and magnesium. I did have them for a time, but no longer.

    I have accepted I will always have body dysmorphia and the urge to binge when I get stressed, but as long as I keep taking kelp and eating fishy green paper, those terrible disorders seem to stay in remission.

    On a side note, I also take a calcium supplement on Day Twenty-One of the menses cycle, I don’t seem to need more than that. And, this winter I did try to add a low dose Vitamin D to the regimen, but it tends to make me nauseous, so I cannot offer any advice on that until I discover when to dose. What I have just written about has taken me many years of trial and error, and no doctor wants to listen to me when I talk about it, so that is why I am taking the time to share about it all, whenever I can, on the internet. I was told “It works for you,” by a doctor who discounted my experiences entirely…but what if it works for some other women, too?

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ABOUT ME

INFP. A sensitive, yet adventurous soul on a never-ending quest for the meaning of life and the reasons behind human behavior. Sometimes, a I'm frolicking unicorn pooping rainbows. On other occasions, I can be as deep as the Mariana Trench. After some psychotherapy and medication, I am seeing my depression as a source of positive changes and self growth. If I could choose any superpower I wanted, it would be healing.

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