PMS

My magic-bubble treatment for PMS and anxiety

I hate what PMS does to me.

In recent years, probably over the past decade, I’ve become a more anxious person. I’ve learned coping mechanisms to deal with anxiety, but it’s an exhausting state to be in. PMS takes my base anxiety levels and shoots them through the roof.

The good thing is that I’m aware of this and that helps me mentally manage it. The bad thing is that I have to live through a state of inner turmoil caused by high-wired chemicals and hormones.

How does one explain what it’s like?

When I’m PMSing, it feels like there’s a small electric undercurrent moving through my body. I feel the slightest bit nauseous. It feels like something bad is about to happen. Since I don’t know what that bad thing might be, my brain wants to identify something bad for me so that I can put logic to the way I feel. That means my brain starts acting all stupid. It’s like a computer is turned on in my head that starts sifting through all the data of the things happening in my life and it then lights up certain data in particular, deciding these three things must be the cause of how I feel.

When I’m not feeling anxious, when I’m not PMSing, those three things won’t even catch my attention. But when I’m anxious and PMSing, they turn into huge issues that need to be dealt with and need to be resolved.

The good thing is that I’m usually conscious of all this so I do my very best to process the data and put it into its proper context. (more…)

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A day in the life of a PMSing triathlete

Today, Nadia woke up with full-blown PMS. Her energy levels were below zero and her brain failed to function. Even so, she managed to make herself breakfast, drink her morning cup of tea, and write an overdue article – barely.

Nadia had much more work that needed to be done, but the overdue article turned out to be the

I'm not the most attractive when I'm triathleting.

I’m not the most attractive when I’m triathleting.

limit of her work-related ability for the day. So she slumped onto her favorite (only) couch and turned the television on to Come Dine With Me.

Nadia was certain she’d have to send her personal trainer a note, apologizing for not being able to make her 1:45pm appointment at the gym. “There’s no way that’s going to work,” she told herself.

But like a robot, at 1:15 she forced herself off the couch, up the stairs and lazily got into her gym clothes.

At exactly 1:30, she opened the house door, gym bag in hand, and was shocked to find the car wasn’t in the drive.

FUUUUUUUUUUUCK! she yelled to herself. You see, Nadia had forgotten that she herself had taken the car to the mechanic just the day before.

“I DO NOT want to have to walk to the gym on a day like today!” she proclaimed. She had no energy! She was PMSing! The whole world was conspiring against her!

She threw her duffle bag on the floor and decided, “If I’m fucking going to have to walk to the gym, I’m turning this into this week’s short run. I am not wasting all that energy for nothing!” And so it was. Nadia ended up running to the gym (it’s a short run). (more…)

Guru Nadia loses “the way”

I thought I had me figured out.

I thought I had me under control.

I thought I had been on this long, tortuous (anything-but-spectacular-now-that-I’m-where-I-am-now) journey and that I’d learned the greatest lessons of life, reached the age of wisdom, and I could deal calmly with anything that was thrown my way.

I don’t know what happened or when exactly, but I was really really wrong.

Now I find myself asking me: “So what’s the deal? I knew life was always going to have its ups and downs. I figured that part out. I lowered my expectations completely and started enjoying whatever it was I did have. But I thought I had learned self-control. I thought I had gained inner peace. WHERE THE FUCK HAS THAT GONE???”

Does this mean that just as life has its ups and downs, self also goes through uncontrollable rollercoaster-rides of emotions? But why?

Or is this just me bolting right into pre-menopause? I have to warn you now, if this is what my menopause is going to be like, if I have to go through this for several years, you will all want to run out of my way starting now. Because this ugly. This is really ugly.

And then I think, “Why has God made women’s hormones so difficult to deal with? I mean: this is God we’re talking about. G O D. God can do anything. God gave us tornadoes and tsunamis and poverty and asshole dictators. (more…)

The Need to Write

Sometimes I feel like I just need to write. 

When I’m sad, when I’m happy, when I’m confused, when I’m excited… sometimes I feel like I just need to write.

Many times when I feel like I just need to write, I don’t have anything of importance to write about. I’ll dig deep inside, try to disentangle all the thoughts and stories inside of me, and find something worthy of letters. I think that’s why I blog so much about my feelings. They are the most accessible things for me to write about. They are always there, ready to be dissected and exposed to the world.

Writing connects me to people. I need that connection. Now more than ever because I have so few people who appear regularly in my day-to-day life. Can I blame everything on the Egyptian revolution? I want to. The sense of loss…loss of family…loss of friends…loss of purpose…loss of hope…loss of home…loss of work…loss of passion.

I make it sound horrible. I know it is not. Not always. Most of the time I manage to keep myself in a positive frame of mind. So much has happened in four years; in my personal and professional life, in Egypt, in the world. I cope by approaching life with tunnel vision. I focus on the one thing I feel I have some minor control over: me. I focus on the day-to-day. I give myself goals. I entertain myself. (more…)

Turning Forty, The Farting, Body Odors, and Odd Hair Appearances

I abhor the whole concept of celebrity writers. What do I care about the life of Hollywood movie star X or talk show host Y? Heck, they don’t even write their own books. They get people to do it for them.

To my shock, horror, and utter disdain, I resorted to reading a celebrity book this summer. I needed something light and funny to read after an exhausting two months of work.

Tina Fey’s Bossypants was my first ever celebrity book. I’m not here to review it. But I do want to refer to one chapter she wrote composed of three simple sentences:

What Turning Forty Means to Me

I need to take my pants off as soon as I get home. I didn’t use to have to do that. But now I do.

I have been laughing for the past month over that chapter. I can absolutely relate.

I’ve decided to put together my own What Turning Forty Means to Me list. Men and women out there: feel free to add to my list in the comments section!

What Turning Forty Means to Me:

  • Body odors. New and disturbing body odors in places there were no odors before. (more…)

PMS: Beware the Brain Ooze Stains

It’s not easy to explain what pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS) is like for a woman to a man who has never experienced it.

I have a feeling that this picture was taken at "that time of the month".

But imagine this: you were hit in the head by a wrecking ball two weeks ago and you are now barely coming out of the coma. That’s how I feel right now with about four days left before I get my menses.

I live in a conservative Arab society. I’m lucky to have received a good education here and abroad and to have gone to medical school at that. I’ve long understood the physiological effects of PMS. I know when it hits me and I know ways to deal with it. But I’ve discovered that so many people – men and women – in Arab societies have no idea about PMS and its effects.

(more…)

Nadia’s Travelblog: PMSing During International Travel

Air travel is hard enough without PMS.

PMS, for the remaining few of you who do not know or have been fortunate enough not to experience it first or second hand, is a monthly condition that afflicts women all over the world and that causes their brains to swell. This swelling of the brain can put the best of us in the worst of moods, to say the least. Of course, PMS – premenstrual syndrome – causes other things to happen to a woman as well, but in this particular woman, it is the swelling of the brain that is the main cause for distress; for her and for anyone within a 5 km radius.

I write to you from an airplane headed from Salt Lake City, Utah to Paris, France and with my knees crammed against a deceased leather chair. I will remain in this position for 11 hours. My swollen brain is throbbing and I’m displeased to announce that I am well on my way to a full-blown case of PMS.

As I entered the plane on my previous flight five hours ago (I have three flights on this trip from San Diego, CA to Cairo, Egypt), I watched the male flight attendant place the carry-on bags of the two passengers that preceded me into a compartment right next to the airplane door. When my turn came he told me I’d have to check-in my carry-on all the way to Cairo. There’s no room for my carry-on anywhere on the plane, he told me. But I have three flights and I need my carry-on, I protested. Do not ask me exactly WHY I needed it. I just did. What if I decide to buy something at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris during my six hour transit, for example (this is usually inevitable)? Where would I put it? My carry-on also contained my computer – larger than my purse. I can’t allow my computer to be placed in a piece of luggage that will be mishandled while being thrown into and out of the belly of three airplanes and finally onto the creaky conveyor belt of Cairo Airport. And it is beyond logic to expect me to carry my computer in my arms during three flights and two transits. So I NEEDED my carry-on!

I explained to the flight attendant that I’m traveling to Cairo, and surely either one of the nice gentlemen who entered the plane ahead of me would be willing to check-in their carry-on in order to allow me to keep mine on the plane. Surely they had closer destinations than I did! The mean man, the very mean, mean man, refused that I even ask their permission. When I protested yet again, he asked me to step out of the plane. TO STEP OUT OF THE PLANE!
I went back along the armway (that tunnel thing must have a name, but I don’t know it) to the counter that allows us to board the plane. On my way there, I bumped into the pilot who asked me if I had a problem. My eyes swelling with tears (possibly ooze seeping out of my swollen brain) and my voice choked, I tried my best to contain myself as I explained that I had a very long trip ahead of me: “I’m flying to Cairo and the attendant wouldn’t allow me to take my carry-on with me!” The pilot tried to calmly explain that the flight is full and that if all the over-head compartments are full with luggage it’s only normal that I be asked to check-in my carry-on. “But I’m flying to Cairo!” I repeated, clearly struggling to keep the brain ooze in my eyes rather than rolling down my face.

So the pilot, the very nice and compassionate pilot, took me back to the plane and stepped inside while I waited outside. Clearly he did not want a case of a woman’s brain ooze staining his plane’s floors. After a few short minutes he came back and took my carry-on from me. He had made space for me in one of the over-head compartments. I could have hugged him. I literally felt that he had saved my life and if my swollen brain hadn’t had a shred of sanity left in it I probably would have thanked him for saving it.

I’m now on my second flight on my way to Cairo. I think I would have preferred riding a camel (the animal that comes to mind at the moment) all the way there rather than take Delta Airlines again.

I do not understand why they do not have enough room in their overhead compartments for all passengers. I have never seen this happen on other airlines. This is the second time I’ve been on a Delta flight where I’ve had to struggle to get space for my carry-on.

I also REALLY do not like their leather seats. They can get quite cold. As I first sat down, my seat was so cold I thought it was wet at first.

On internal flights inside the US, you actually have to buy the headsets if you want “in-flight entertainment”. BUY THE HEADSETS! Who buys crappy headsets for US $3? And where is the in-flight entertainment? Not on a screen on the back of the seat in front of you, where it very well should be. It’s on screens on the airplane walls and ceilings as was the case in the olden ages. The result is that I have a choice between stretching my neck upwards and to the right to watch the movie on the screen one meter almost exactly above my head or watching the upper half of the screen on the wall a few seats in front of me while the lower half of the screen is occupied by the over-puffed-up blonde hair of the woman in seat 17B. I also don’t get to choose between a wide array of movies, television series, games, and the likes. Who flies nowadays without having that sort of choice? What has gone wrong with the Americans??

Another thing that annoys me tremendously is the fact that I can’t check-in online because my reservations were made with Air France. Delta is the US partner of Air France and takes over its internal flights within the US. Air France, you gotta reconsider your partners, dudes!

As I prepare to leave you, I spread the airplane blanket over my legs to get me some much needed shut-eye. I’m pretty sure it’s made out of recycled (and previously used) medical gauze.

As you can see, I’m very annoyed, distressed, and outraged. No one should have to travel this way.

And when ON EARTH is someone going to find a REAL solution for PMS??

Disclaimer: the above post does not necessarily represent the views of this blog, Inner Workings of My Mind, and its owner, Nadia El-Awady.