I’ve been joking with friends for the last few days, saying I’m PMSing. I’ve been feeling lousy since Friday, and was particularly cranky and cry-ey yesterday. (I’m feeling mostly better today, on all counts.)
My roommate and I were talking about this, and I said I spent last night eating chocolate cookies and crying: I’ve decided to become a cliche of womanhood. She laughed, saying that perhaps our cycles were syncing, because she’s just starting her period. “My cycle will be victorious,” she cried.
I’m holding out that, because I don’t have a uterus or periodic hormonal changes – I take the same amount every day – I can’t be PMSing. Of course, I know my body can regulate the hormones differently depending on stress and other factors, and that I very well may have been PMSing, but I’ve decided to be contrary on the subject.
To be totally honest, I’m conflicted about the possibility of identifying my emotional state as PMS. One of the things transitioning has taught me is to honestly acknowledge my emotions, whatever their source, and work from there. (As opposed to pretending my emotions aren’t some particular thing – angry, sad, whatever – when I don’t want them to be.) So I’ve been trying to be nicer to myself when I do have difficulty tracing the origin of a specific emotional state. Say, crying after completing the book Ella Enchanted, or an insatiable desire to eat a box of fudge-striped cookies.
At the same time, I feel a little weird about embracing the idea of PMSing. First, because I’d like to do a better job of tracking how I feel before crying out, “It’s PMS!” So we’ll see where I am in about four weeks. Likewise, it somehow feels like cheating. Like saying I’m entitled to an emotional state which only “real” women get to (or have to) experience.
That conflict makes me think about how my experiences of being sexual have shifted. It took me a while to feel comfortable saying my experiences were “female” as opposed to “male” (something I’ve written about before). But boobs and orgasms are easier to pinpoint than emotions. I can look down at my shirt and see a physical result of hormones; it’s more difficult to identify emotional states and their often unknown sources.
I also don’t want to use the idea of PMSing as an excuse for how I’m feeling at a particular time. My therapist and my doctor have both told me I – like every other person on the face of the planet – do undergo hormonal shifts based on mood, sleep patterns, diet, stress, physical activity, and so on. So the idea of me PMSing – that is, experiencing a heightened state of irritability and emotional vulnerability as a result of an altered hormonal balance – isn’t an impossible situation. But I very much don’t want to get into a situation where every time I feel shitty I say, “Oh, I must be PMSing.”
I think the real reminder I’m going to try and take from this is that a good cry, a bowl of cookies, and a good night’s sleep can help make things seem better. They may not solve the actual stress-inducing situations – financial worries, scheduling difficulties, and so on – but I promise you they won’t make things worse.