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.


  1. Oh Meg, thank you so much for making me feel like I am not insane!!! I especially love one and two. I love one because it involves service which always makes me feel better even if I just want to lay in my bed and rot. Love it, love your blog and love your words. Thank you, genuinely.

    • Riley,

      Thank you so much for reading! And no, you are not insane! At least not any more insane than most of us. ;) Thank you so much for reading. It means THIS MUCH to me. Love, meg

  2. Thank you SO much for this post today. Before getting pregnant with this surprise baby, I didn’t know what prenatal depression was (or that it was even possible, since we hear more about postpartum depression), and I can totally relate to all of this, even though I’m not PMSing. Today especially I’ve felt so down and out of control and just wanting to run and hide and, well, everything you described in your post. And it’s not like I feel this way all of the time, but every once in awhile there comes my wave of despair and discouragement. And so thank you. Thank you for giving me some hope at the end of the day and helping me to see that tomorrow can be and probably will be so much better than today was.

  3. My favorite dixie chicks song (well, one of them): Goodbye, Earl. This is especially good for the far-from-hopeful times, because it always makes me laugh. “…is it dark? ROLLED UP IN THAT TARP!” ok maybe i sound like an insane sadist? i promise i’m not.

  4. Thank you, thank you, thank you for doing what you love to do because I love reading your posts!!!! Dixie Chicks, here I come! :)

  5. I swear, it takes my period coming every time before I realize, “Oh! So you weren’t all just being especially irritating all last week! Sorry for flying off the handle. Over and over again.” My husband can anticipate my schedule better than I can. I used to get all offended when people who talk about hormones and PMS but as I’ve grown older I’ve realizes, too, it’s totally a thing.

    I loved your list of things to remember. I especially relate to the overwhelmed bit. I go from conquer-the-world energy to who-do-I-think-I-am the same way. It’s exhausting. These stupid hormones. It’s amazing any women in the world are even somewhat sane considering all the wild hormone fluctuations we experience on a regular basis.

  6. Whenever I need a pick me up I binge read your blog. I totally needed this to start my day! Keep writing everything little thing I need to hear.

  7. Even though I’m kind of past that stuff, I totally remember those days. And I do still get a wild hormone swing once in a while. It does seem so weird because while you are raging about something – it seems so reasonable and rational to you. It’s only later that you realize you are reacting like a crazy person over a missing sock or a plate left on the table. I think the Indians had the right idea with sending women off to the moon tents. I think that would be awesome to just sit and do beadwork or something and gossip with your women friends for a few days, don’t you?

  8. Love it, Meg! Especially the classic anxiety attack under #2. Haha. I think we can ALL relate.

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