One of the most difficult times to control GAD symptoms is when your hormones are surging during PMS week. PMS is hard enough as it is, with all the physical symptoms that can make women uncomfortable – PMS is notorious for causing bad mood swings and crankiness. This combined with the symptoms of anxiety can create a terrible cauldron of pain for myself and others during PMS week.
On the one hand, there are tonnes of ways to prevent these symptoms from getting the best of you. Recognizing an anxiety attack, taking Vitamins to account for any deficiencies aggravating symptoms, eating healthy and exercising all work to help regulate GAD symptoms and build up a stronger defense against attacks. These work for PMS too!
On the other, there are times that I am susceptible to attacks and symptoms big time and it is harder to control. Examples of these are if I am tired, have too much caffeine and especially if it is PMS week. ESPECIALLY PMS WEEK.
My anxiety symptoms were very aggressive during PMS week and a lot more difficult to control. My worst attacks had begun to happen during this time of the month. My counsellor said to stay positive when I first noticed the problem. She placed the emphasis on not expecting it to be a bad week – that this month could be different – that I was learning to handle it. She was right, it definitely came down from the level it was and started to calm down.
A few days ago a simple argument about a change jar spiraled out of control. A few days later my period started and I figured out why this fight had escalated on my part. But I also realized a few other things:
When I’m happy - super happy – I can let my guard down. If it is a time when GAD is more aggressive a fight can come on in a snap. I went from joking around and being very excited to starting an argument – it took a second for the change to happen. I was in full on argument mode and it took the other person saying something for me to realize how nasty I was being. This is a new development – I didn’t realize how QUICKLY an attack or mood change can happen. NO time to check for symptoms, no time to stop it.
This was my first slip up in a few weeks and it hit me hard, but I remembered what I told myself – I will make mistakes and mess up once in a while. The remedy is to take the steps to own it, apologize then move forward. I am trying to break the habit of guilting myself because there is no point of beating myself up every time there is an argument that is happening for the wrong reasons.
As fast as this mood change/GAD Freakout came on, I was able to calm down pretty quickly. The aftermath is happening at a much quicker pace. I rehashed what happened in my head and asked myself – DID I overreact? I tell myself it’s okay if I did because I’ll make mistakes. If I feel confused or any upsetness is still lingering I check for GAD symptoms, if they are there I know what happened and I try to free myself from feeling bad about it.
There is improvement. The more I am reading and observing, the more I can tell that there is a HUGE change from how I dealt with these same negative emotions this time last year. I can recognize anxiety when it happens and I am also learning about the nature of it. It can happen very quickly and aggressively. Sometimes the attacks catch me off guard. This, however, is a big difference from before. The majority of the GAD symptoms that slip through and affect how I interact with others are the ones that come on out of nowhere. Only the really quick ones are slipping through the cracks, as long as I keep working on this I will be able to seal those cracks up.
Taking ownership is a big part of it, but not punishing myself for it is just as important. The more gently I treat myself the better I can do damage control after an attack and the better I can allow myself to feel for the improvements that are happening.
Sometimes after an attack there is some lingering weirdness. When this happens, I realize I need to write it out.
My old way of dealing with lingering weirdness was to talk to someone. Not a professional, but a friend or family member or boyfriend. Usually it would be with the person I had the conflict with in the first place. Something I’ve realized is that this doesn’t do anything. It only brings up the argument again, the other person can’t reassure me because they aren’t feeling the GAD symptoms – they can’t fix the feeling for me no matter how sweet they are. On top of this, it can easily spiral out of control a second time because the way I am portraying myself is as if I am still upset. When I take ownership of my over reaction it has to be on two levels to work - taking ownership by apologizing for my treatment of the other person involved – and taking ownership of making myself feel better. I have found it does not work to rely on others for this reassurance, I have to be strong enough to make myself feel better.
Writing is the therapy that best helps me. The nature of writing is also good because it’s a solo activity, it’s a time out from what happened, and it gives you the time to decompress the situation. In this case, I grabbed my book and wrote what happened, wrote the ugly thoughts I was having – I’ll never get better/I’ll always be this way/Why can’t I assert more self control? These are the thoughts that happen automatically – these ones are the thoughts that surface because I have conditioned my brain to think this way over a lifetime of having GAD.
To balance this scale – I write an equal amount of improvement I am making to counter the bad thoughts. This is the new process. I am going to have ugly/negative thoughts because that’s the habit that has formed - the point is to purge them and reset that bad thinking process. I am truly trying to emphasize to myself that I am getting better/I am gaining more control/I am feeling better. I try to tell myself – look at how this has changed – look at how that has changed. It is a hard and long process. Each time I tell myself these things they become easier to accept.
It has just been a constant process of countering bad stuff with good stuff and dealing with the symptoms on my own. It feels like an ordeal now, and when I read this post I see that it really is a long and exasperating process. I am trying to stay strong - mainly because I don’t like the alternative. I don’t want to ruin relationships and I don’t want to be a shitty person to be with. I’ve had a taste of how amazing things can be if I work on my problem – I’ve been to the point where I feel no GAD symptoms without actively trying to prevent them and it is pure bliss. If I can get to that point with my efforts now – I know it will only get better if I continue them.
Day 4 of 21