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Ever wonder what are the personality changes you go through during your period? Here’s ten of these things that all of us have endured at some point!
“Oh! It must be that time of the month!”
No, that is not my husband saying that to me. Especially after determining that my outburst is not remotely related to anything that he said or did, but is merely an outcome of my body doing away with the unfertilised eggs produced that month.
Rather, it is me saying that to myself in the midst of an episode. An episode where I felt pretty irritable and annoyed with anything and everyone around me.
I failed to understand why I was upset considering the fact that everything and everyone was exactly the same as they had been the day before, the month before, and the year before.
Why did the same things upset me so much now, given how they hadn’t the slightest impact on me a few hours ago? Surely, it had to be that time of the month!
So, I decided to sit and decipher this ‘that time of the month’ (henceforth referred to as TTOM) issue. I wanted to see what it was about TTOM that seemed to throw my life off track.
What was it that made me morph into this person – a person who was drastically different from who I normally was? A person who seemed to tire much faster than I did? A person who was moody and irritable? Someone ready to bite the other person’s head off at the slightest of things that seemed to be normal at other times? A person who was not afraid to snap back?
A person who did not take shit from anyone or a person who seemed to want to look out for herself too? A person that wanted to be left alone to recharge? A person who did not look forward to serving her home and family the entire day and night? – wait a minute, this was the exact person I wanted to be.
Wasn’t it? Then what was I complaining about? Why would I feel uneasy whenever TTOM approached thinking that I was going to screw up my life with my own moods and outbursts? How had I come to this?
I researched the top 10 things that I felt differently during TTOM and this is the result of my analysis:
The first hallmark of TTOM is that I seemed to tire much more easily. Why was that so? Why was it that things that I could do without breaking into a sweat during normal days seemed to take the breath out of me during TTOM?
I tried to analyse my day and see whether getting tired easily was due to the fact that I was doing more stuff during TTOM or if it was something deep inside my mind that was doing it.
My day would generally begin around 6am. I would get up, shower, get ready to go to work, make breakfast and lunch for my husband and kids, pull the kids out of the bed, warning them not too linger too long in the bathrooms so they don’t miss their school bus. In case, they do, then drive them to their school on my way to the train station.
I read a few pages of the book I desperately wanted to finish before catching a short nap in the train. I ride the train for 40 minutes and then walk about 10 minutes to get to my office. I spend the next 8 hours at work before hurrying back home to follow the same schedule as my morning routine.
I reach home around 6 having answered more than one call each from three of my kids wanting to know where I was. I reach home, make something for them to eat from the leftovers and hurry to change.
After this, I come down and generally go for a walk or play with the kids before rushing home to cook dinner. Then it’s time to tutor the kids amidst shouting matches warning them to not watch a lot of TV or play too many video games.
Around 10, I clean the kitchen, get things ready for the kids and myself for the next day and by the time I go to bed, it easily is 11 pm.
Enough to tire anybody out, don’t you agree?
The only difference was in my normal (read pre and post TTOM) days, I would not mull over these things. I would function like a robot, doing everything that was expected of me without a thought as to how exhausting the whole process was.
But during my TTOM days, I do not have that much patience. I see and feel things for what they are, I do not see or feel things based on how I am supposed to feel.
A spade seemed like a spade during TTOM, I do not sugar coat it with stuff that hides its real characteristics. I do not ignore how I feel; I recognise the fact that I am physically tired, and I do not feel any shame in doing that by vocalising my fatigue.
There are looks exchanged between my family members whenever I blow a fuse around them. Generally, I am amiable to be around (except when I get up from a nap!) and I am very patient and understanding.
But during my TTOM, I seem to lose my cool pretty easily. My kids’ impersonation of me is as follows:
While it is funny to read, it is not as fun when you are part of the conversation, especially on the receiving end. Again, I tried to analyse why I reacted like a vengeful soldier in a war, suspicious and frustrated instead of a loving mother – patient and affable.
I started to do that by counting how many times I heard the “Mom!” call before I stopped being motherly. Well on normal days, the count was around 100 before I started to get antsy.
On TTOM days it was more like 25. I realised that 25 was my actual threshold and during normal days I would be able to push the limit to about four times as much. On TTOM days I was in no mood to compromise on that number because I was being true to my feelings – to how I felt.
I put that first instead of taking other people’s sensitivities, how they would feel, how they would react, how it would hurt them, how it was improper etc. effectively pushing how I felt to the end of the list and many times not having it on the list at all.
I realised that once I pushed back at #25 people would learn to not push to 26.
How great would it have been had I felt the same during non-TTOM days!
I realised that during TTOM days, I favoured being on my own, unlike regular days, when I look towards friends and family to provide companionship.
Being with anyone seemed like a lot of work. Normally, I would be raring to get out of bed, ready to be of service to everyone around me, feeling very content that I could do so much for people around me while expecting nothing from them even though much of my work went unappreciated and even unnoticed.
It was only when I ceased to do something, that attention would be drawn to the fact that I had not done it that day. The fact that I had done the same thing for days leading to that point in time was not significant at all. It was like it was expected of me and not a big deal at all.
Well, guess what, TTOM made me wary of doing anything like that. It made me cringe at the thought that I was throwing myself at other people’s feet without them even asking for it.
TTOM scoffed at this attitude of mine and made sure that I realised that it was good to keep away from these kinds of situations where I was giving more of myself than I should have been doing.
The time I spent alone, I spent reflecting and learning and discovering things based on my reflections. I spent time in taking care of myself, doing the things I liked to do instead of cleaning the bathrooms second time in the week!
One of the constant complaints I hear during TTOM is that I am being very unreasonable. That I am jumping to conclusions and blowing short fuses – that I am not willing to see other’s point of view and more intent on reading the situation through my tinted glasses.
Everybody around me, including my team members at work crib that I seem to expect more things of them. And that I am not as understanding of errors as I am on my non-TTOM days.
I am very easy going by nature. I feel embarrassed to call anyone out on their mistakes. I’d rather put it on myself to get this person out of trouble by working on correcting their mistake rather than putting them on the spot.
During my TTOM days, I am in no mood to do so. I don’t have time or the patience to put in the effort to overlook these errors in other people’s personalities. I call them out, I don’t take shit from anybody. I push back harder, and this behaviour seems abnormal to these people because they are not used to this – they are used to me taking a step back and collecting myself and giving them a politically correct response.
The issue is that since I have been too accommodating, anything other than that is seen as me being unreasonable and what better than TTOM to be made the scapegoat!
I feel that TTOM days are the best in getting my creative juices flowing. I feel like I am not only able to do the things I like but also do them well. I concentrate more, I feel like my work is in flow, and I find myself ‘in the zone’ more times than I could count.
I focus on things I like. I blot out the noise that acts as an inhibitor to what I am trying to accomplish, and focus on my goals.
Yes, I realise that as a mother and as a woman I do have certain responsibilities. However, I am aware of the fact that doing my own things are as essential if not more important than carrying out my responsibilities. I realise during TTOM that I could beat myself up less, take care of myself more and still be responsible enough.
Ironically, one thing I have realised is that during TTOM, I am more at peace with myself, with who I am though I am in conflict with things and people outside of me.
Since I give time to do the things I like to do, I feel a sense of satisfaction enveloping me. I don’t feel guilty about myself. I can look at myself in the mirror and for those few days feel like – yes, I am doing the things that I want to do for myself. I write more, I read more and I even exercise more. These things give me peace of mind that I cannot find anywhere else.
I realise that I am the best person to take care of myself and I feel a sense of discomfort when I can’t do it. I keep thinking that I am not doing justice to the talents that God has blessed me with. That I am letting mundane things take over and that I have not achieved anything of significance when I believe I have the capacity to do so.
Some call it middle age crisis and it could well be – but I can’t ignore it unless I know I am working towards my goals and when I can see myself doing that, I feel an incredible sense of amity.
I have realised that all the things I have been postponing doing for myself – getting a hair-cut, a facial, a back massage, a manicure or pedicure, I find time during TTOM to get to them. I seem to be much more inclined in taking care of myself during this period.
Once again, I am not thinking of what anyone would say, how they feel or if I am splurging – I am just intent on one thing and that thing is that I feel right doing what I am doing, and I continue doing it. I exercise more, I cook the things I like eating, I read an extra chapter of the novel I am trying to finish instead of loading the dishwasher in the night – I ask my husband to do it instead.
It catches him unawares but then he gets it that on it’s her TTOM and does it without a murmur knowing fully well that this is going to last only for a few days.
Once TTOM is done with, he knows that his wife will be back to square one doing all the things before going to bed postponing one thing that she likes to do the most – read another chapter of her favourite novel.
Once again ironically, I find myself being in tune with the universe as a whole in my TTOM days. I say ironically because almost all major religions consider TTOM as a period where the woman is labeled to be unclean and/or impure.
She is basically ordered not to appear anywhere near the presence of God and were she to do so, then she is considered to be committing a major sin. I do not mind that injunction that much because it means that I am left to do what I want to do without having to worry about prayers and other such organised stuff. But I found that I seem to be reflecting more on my spiritual side on those days.
Having been cut off from doing what I had been trained to do and was mechanically doing during my normal days, it felt exhilarating to be making that connection with God sans the traditional methods. I would find myself making a more spiritual connection with the world around me.
Being with and in Nature would have a soothing effect and I found myself thinking more about my reason for being here and what my purpose in life was and vowing to work towards that purpose.
Somehow, I feel whole and complete by myself and feel like I have an intimate connection to everything around me. This kind of feeling would completely disappear during other times and I would rarely think along these lines.
I can almost hear the steps of my self-confidence approaching my psyche as my TTOM days draw near. It is almost like my self-worth and TTOM worked in tandem with each other. I am surer of myself during these days. I am much more confident of who I am and what I am doing.
I don’t think twenty times before doing something trying to make sure that my actions do not hurt the sentiments of twenty different people. I take quick decisions and carry them out fast too. I don’t hem and haw on deciding if I want to buy that particular outfit – I don’t wonder if it is too expensive, if the colour is too bright, or if it makes me look fat – if I like it, I go ahead and buy it. I even go ahead and wear it the next day to prevent myself from sabotaging it through the doubts that assail me after TTOM.
If I don’t like something, I say I don’t like it.
As you can imagine my family shies away in asking for my opinions during those days. The ones who are brave (or stupid) enough to do that will get my honest opinion. No sugar coating the bad stuff.
It goes much the same way in the reverse direction as well. If I find something that touches me or makes me happy, I am more vocal about it.
I remember one particular incident where my mother-in-law did something very nice for me. If it were not TTOM, then I would’ve politely thanked her and that would have been it. However, in my TTOM days I felt that the deep appreciation I felt for her action needed to be verbalised and I did. I went up to her and hugged and thanked her for her sweet gesture.
This goes against my personality. Though I am very vocal with my immediate family if they were to be nice to me, I am not so much with others. I did catch a hint of surprise in my MIL, but she hugged me back and was very happy that I had let her know how I felt.
I feel that my relationships grow during these days because I am more honest about them, not the other way around.
Last but not the least, or should I say the thing that causes me the most heart-ache is when I am accused of being ready to pick up a fight during TTOM.
It is almost like if I were to say something not very nice, then instantly the question comes up if I am going through TTOM. I find that very rude and disrespectful. But I used to think the same.
Whenever I’d feel uncharacteristically out of sorts and felt like I was lashing out more than I normally did, then I would also wonder if my TTOM was due in the next few days. This is how we women are brainwashed to believe, that there is something inherently wrong with us when we call a spade – a spade.
After analysing all this I have come to realise (and the Native American Indians did that centuries ago) is that I am the real me during TTOM. That is who I am, what I am during my non-TTOM days is a shadow of who I am.
A shadow that changes form and size depending on how bright the light shines and in which direction. That light happens to be the conditioning that a woman is subjected to. The conditioning which tells a woman what she is supposed to feel, how she is supposed to act. Conditioning that basically murders our real selves by letting us believe that we are the issue – that our bodies are the issue and not the big bad world out there.
I have believed all my life, since the time I have reached puberty, that I better be on high alert during TTOM because something inside my body was making me feel that way. That it was nothing to do with the outside world and everything to do with me. That I was wrong in feeling the way I was feeling – that I should be ashamed of feeling that way and causing the people around me pain by hurting their precarious sentiments.
It took me decades to figure out that this was not the case. That it was the opposite. I was finally being rid of these layers that had built up inside me based on the conditioning I was subjected to for these precious few days.
I wish I could feel the same way during my normal days – where I care and do less for other people and more for myself; where I am not scared of being called a bitch. Where I am less worried about what other people think and more worried about my thoughts. Where I am not scared to pick a fight. Where I would have no issues pushing back harder than I was pushed. Where I can connect physically and spiritually to my real self. Where I have no issues reaching out and expecting help rather than trying to be in control of everything myself. Where I hand out the stick or carrot with the same enthusiasm. But most of all where I am not afraid to be who I am – a woman with her own life to lead on her own terms!
Picture credits: Marco Verch via Flickr Used under a Creative Commons license
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