I had a “relapse” of sorts this week. I’ve been off medication for depression since January and thought I was motoring along really well – that is, until the wheels fell completely off my wagon a few days ago. There was a boatload of tears, waves of frustration, anger and sadness all jumbled into one, and a couple of days spent laying in bed with a killer headache.

There were a couple of factors that contributed to my meltdown. There was some stress at work, but the underlying trigger was my monthly cycle. Yes, that cycle. Otherwise known as PMS. So why on earth am I sharing this on my blog? Because I’m sure there are other women out there that struggle with this too, and there’s always great comfort in knowing that you’re not alone.

My fall off the “I don’t have depression anymore” wagon was Wednesday, and I landed hard. My husband was the one to point out that it might be PMS related. Thursday I saw my naturopathic doctor and she explained that even though I manage fine the rest of the time, serotonin levels (the “feel good” chemical in the brain) fluctuate with hormonal changes and the drop allows the depression to sneak back in. Apparently it’s common in women that have a history of depression.

I was frustrated with the lack of control I had over the situation, but optimistic that the doctor had options for me that would make it manageable. She suggested a naturopathic supplement called “Brain Mood” to regulate the serotonin levels during this particular time in my cycle, and a vitamin B complex and evening primrose oil to regulate the hormones and keep my brain happy.

I still have a lingering headache that I’ve had since Thursday, but I don’t need the ice pack so far today. Whether it’s stress or hormonal, there’s a clear message in all of this. It’s important to pay attention to your health and the signs of stress in your body.

It’s also equally important to realize that we all have struggles and to take it easy. Sometimes we’re on top of things and everything’s fine and other times we feel like we’re swimming upstream. When we feel like we’re in “hamster on a wheel” mode, it’s time to take a break. Whether that means taking a day off or just taking a walk to clear your head and give yourself some room to breathe, it’s time to get some distance.

Progress takes time and we need to remember to be gentle and patient with ourselves. Don’t beat yourself up when you’re feeling stressed and don’t try to just muscle on through. That’ll only land you where it landed me – even if you happen to be a male or a woman that doesn’t suffer from pms – stress alone will catch up with you sooner or later.

Remember to do the things that make you happy. For me that’s usually reading or writing, but for my husband it might be watching movies. Whatever it is for you, make time for it and DON’T feel guilty about it. The happier and more relaxed you are, the nicer you are to be around.


Jennifer Grigg