PMS Is Not A Window Into Your Soul


Universal truth: PMS sucks. But have you ever thought that your monthly pair of crazy pants is, actually, “a compass that navigates one’s emotions, needs and desires?” Yeah, me neither.

A well-meaning article by Nicole Ohebshalom suggests otherwise. She “dreams” that women would stop dreading PMS; the pre-menstrual influx of progesterone is nature’s signal for all of us to “turn inward.” During those special days, your body is trying to engage in some sort of hormone-driven psychoanalysis — and that’s why you may feel “sad, anxious, and angry.”

Actually, what makes me “sad, anxious, and angry” is not my PMS. It’s this article, which suggests that normal women even have the option to “resist their natural hormonal cycle.” As if that’s possible without some sort of outside assistance? The only ammo I have against my natural hormonal cycle is a pack of birth-control pills and a crazy-pill cocktail. And even then, I can’t guarantee I’m not going to be a sobby bitch for at least half a day. (Alternately, I can’t guarantee I’m not not going to be a sobby bitch at any other point during the month.)

I know that the listen-to-your-bod approach comes from a healthy, holistic perspective, and I’m not against any of that (in fact, I wish my lifestyle allowed for more of it). And the underlying premise of the article isn’t total bullshit: If we’d just stop fighting and suppressing our emotional instincts and urges, we’d be skipping along the path to better self-understanding. Which, if you’ve enrolled in various schools of talk therapy, can be true. But where this Journal Your Way Through PMS prescription goes laughably wrong is in its claim that there’s “wisdom [in] a woman’s menstrual cycle.” That’s where we need to draw the New Age-y line.

According to Ohebshalom, our monthly hormonal changes offer an opportunity to connect with our true desires and feelings. Her belief is that if you randomly start sobbing in the middle of CSI or something, there’s a reason for that, because your body is sending you an important emotional signal. But, see, it’s not. You cried because you’re an emotional bundle of energy. Perhaps that CSI episode involved a kid — suddenly you’re sobbing for your lost childhood, and it’s only because, temporarily, you’re a fucking lunatic. Your hormones did not reveal some deeper truth; they just pointed out that even you, normally smart lady, are putty in David Caruso’s hands.

Obviously we all have issues, and many of them are indeed worth crying about. But PMS should not be considered an accurate indicator of what these issues are, or how significant they may be. PMS is too fleeting — too embarrassingly out of our control — to be considered some sort of tool for reaching the deep-rooted stuff. If there’s anything you can learn about yourself during a bout of PMS, it’s that you are capable of eating and crying a considerable amount. And that you’re really a likable person when you’re not being so damn crazy.

PMS: A Blessing, Not a Curse [ via Yahoo!]

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