PMS and How It Can Affect Your Sobriety
OK, let us talk about the premenstrual symptoms (PMS) ladies! Oh, not your favorite topic either? I feel ya! Interestingly enough, it was not until I got sober that I have really noticed what a significant effect PMS has on my well-being, and my sobriety, and the people around me.
When I was drinking, I remember bragging about how I did not have PMS! However, the truth was that I did not FEEL PMS, (or hangovers, or headaches, or any physical pain)! Yep, alcohol masked all of that perfectly – but I had to get drunk to reap the benefits, and well, I am no longer willing to have the consequences so it is not worth it! However, a huge part of staying sober for me is acknowledging my feelings and learning how to cope with them.
This was tough in the beginning because I could not even identify them all. Nevertheless, in early sobriety, I really noticed that once a month my mind was completely out of control! I felt angry, agitated, and just exhausted – I could rip your head off at any moment, or start sobbing on your shoulder! It was really a fifty-fifty chance! However, the feelings felt so real and strong that it became quite difficult to manage.
In addition, they were quite freighting because I did not know where all the crazy feelings were coming from and I often just wanted to drink to relieve the pain! Nevertheless, I think understanding what is happening to our bodies is helpful in understanding that are are not going crazy at all, we are just in the midst of PMS.
This is some interesting information that I have found on the Women’s Health site.
What is premenstrual syndrome (PMS)? Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a group of symptoms linked to the menstrual cycle. PMS symptoms occur 1 to 2 weeks before your period (menstruation or monthly bleeding) starts. The symptoms usually go away after you start bleeding. PMS can affect menstruating women of any age and the effect is different for each woman. For some people, PMS is just a monthly bother. For others, it may be so severe that it makes it hard to even get through the day. PMS goes away when your monthly periods stop, such as when you get pregnant or go through menopause.
What causes PMS? The causes of PMS are not clear, but several factors may be involved. Changes in hormones during the menstrual cycle seem to be an important cause. These changing hormone levels may affect some women more than others. Chemical changes in the brain may also be involved. Stress and emotional problems, such as depression, do not seem to cause PMS, but they may make it worse. Some other possible causes include:
- Low levels of vitamins and minerals
- Eating a lot of salty foods, which may cause you to retain (keep) fluid
- Drinking alcohol and caffeine, which may alter your mood and energy level
What are the symptoms of PMS? PMS often includes both physical and emotional symptoms, such as:
- Swollen or tender breasts
- Feeling tired
- Trouble sleeping
- Upset stomach, bloating, constipation, or diarrhea
- Headache or backache
- Appetite changes or food cravings
- Joint or muscle pain
- Trouble with concentration or memory
- Tension, irritability, mood swings, or crying spells
- Anxiety or depression
***Certain vitamins and minerals have been found to help relieve some PMS symptoms.
- Folic acid (400 micrograms)
- Calcium with vitamin D (see chart below for amounts)
- Magnesium (400 milligrams)
- Vitamin B-6 (50 to 100 mg)
- Vitamin E (400 international units)
**Symptoms vary from woman to woman. – from WomensHealth.gov
Well, I am feeling it again today and I have to acknowledge it again, because if I do not I will most likely get the fuck-its, or offend someone or… some other crappy behavior will emerge, and I do not want any of those! In addition, yes even after some years sober, the fuck-its come and I feel like I want to just throw it all away and get drunk.
To deal with PMS, I have to tell myself that this is a temporary feeling and that it will go away and it has nothing to do with anything else but the fluctuation in my hormone levels, which is something that I have no control over. HOWEVER, just acknowledging this can help me stay calm and level headed. Sobriety is so dear to me these days! I always want to protect it no matter what. I know most of us have some symptoms and not always are we as aware as we should be, but this can be crucial to maintaining and keeping sobriety.
Got any helpful tips? I would love to hear!
If you, or anyone you know, is struggling with Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)*, please check out the Sober Courage menu at the top of this page for an extensive list of support groups and recovery related articles.
*Problem drinking that becomes severe is given the medical diagnosis of “alcohol use disorder” or AUD. AUD is a chronic relapsing brain disease characterized by compulsive alcohol use, loss of control over alcohol intake, and a negative emotional state when not using (Ref: NIAAA).