Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), an advanced form of premenstrual syndrome (PMS), can have ‘severe’ and ‘chronic’ effects on women of childbearing age, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. And while it is a critical medical condition requiring treatment, many in Pakistan aren’t even aware of its existence.
Zara Peerzada, who refrains from sharing uninformed opinions and has previously called out “opinions that come from an incredibly privileged place of power,” opened up about her personal struggle with PMDD to initiate a conversation around the mental impact of menstruation.
Taking to her Instagram Stories, she reminded her fans how important it was to have fruitful discussions about female menstrual ‘mania’ so more women could open up about their agitation without having their struggles reduced to a PMS joke.
“We talk about going to work with cramps and headaches but where are my sisters with severe hormonal imbalances, PMDD, poor mental health + PMS? How do you cope if you have a socially interactive job or work environment?” Zara asked her fellow female followers.
She revealed how with age, her menstrual cycle had become “extremely, mentally taxing,” provided the heightened anxiety, anger, irritability and despondency menstruation brought. “I feel like when it started happening I was caught off guard. Because so much of conversation is based around the physical struggles of menstruation and not the mental or hormonal changes [you go through],” she pointed out.
Zara, who feels her monthly cycle has mutated into something ‘sinister’, warned her younger female audience against the menstrual angst that’ll follow their teenage angst. “No one told me so I’m telling you. You’re going to feel awful and out of control and cis-gendered men [will] not understand. Initially it will be hard to distinguish PMS and PMDD from your usual mental struggles. But soon, you will be able to tell the difference,” she assured.
After watching her materialize her thoughts, fans started sending her a trove of love in DMs, which she responded to within her ongoing series of posts. “Sending love to all messaging either venting or finally realising what’s been going on with their bodies, I understand how confusing it can be when you already feel crazy most of the time,” she acknowledged while narrating her firsthand experience.
“You snap and say things you normally wouldn’t. And it’s hard to explain to partners and family why or what’s happening. And that’s just the external part of it. The internal chaos is lit. Bleeding, sweating and selling dupattas: My autobiography or quarter life crisis?” she asked.
The often adored celebrity then revealed how her partner and family have “suffered the worst of it” because of her “terrible temper that I have learned now to control at least a little when I’m ovulating or menstruating.” But most days, it cannot be helped, she admitted. “When I can, I try articulating if I am feeling angry or frustrated, instead of just exhibiting it. And I give a fair warning to the partner when doomsday is near,” she shared, lending her female followers the confidence to do the same.
Zara reinstated how it can only help women if their surroundings are made aware of the reasons behind their otherwise “unreasonable” behaviour and or verbal spasms. “The helplessness, despondency cannot be helped, it can only be endured. Emotional support is my only respite in the days it’s especially bad,” she continued.
Thereby, “if you’re feeling confused about the difference between ovulation, menstruation, PMS and PMDD, do look it up. Learn about your body and its processes,” she urged everyone. “It brings a lot of peace in knowing how you may be functioning.”
She concluded her note with a request for ‘cis-gendered men with menstruating partners’. “[They] might also want to acquaint themselves so it can make our lives just a little easier,” Zara asserted.
Everything went well until a few DMs also irked the model into penning down another clarification-cum-call out. “Received a lot of super supportive DMs from fellow miserable but also quite a few, ‘oh, just stay home on those days. First of all, what days?’” she asked.
On another enlightening bender, she continued, “PMS can start as early as day-14 of your cycle around the time you’re ovulating and can last for several days. That’s two weeks out of a month. This is feeding into the narrative that periods only bring physical discomfort for a couple of days, which can be reduced with pain killers, sugar and heating pads. That’s all very nice but that’s really not all there is to it!”
She reiterated that it gets worse for women as they grow older or women with pre-existing mental health issues. “Ya, hormones really love exacerbating your mental illnesses. Congratulations! It’s a uterus and it hates you!” Zara remarked
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