For five days out of each month, I transform into the Incredible Hulk. My skin swells underneath the waistband of my pants, my IQ drops down to the level of a dull-witted reality star and my emotions run the broad gamut of annoyed to infuriated. My children become miniature obstacles to my happiness and my husband – well, I rarely seem him during those few days because he has learned to leave whatever room in the house I happen to be occupying. And while my skin doesn’t turn green necessarily, the flush of barely controlled rage that I seem to have simmering underneath my focused and determined facade certainly makes me feel like I am standing out in a crowd.
I am like a hopeless cliche, a humorous stereotype, a punchline to a bad joke found in the ‘PMS’ chapter of a mean joke book. (“Why do women have periods? Because they deserve them.”) I don’t like having a hair trigger around my sons, or wishing my husband would stop trying to hug me or keeping my fists tightly closed when on line behind a little old woman who is writing….out….a… check…………very…………………slowly……..
Intellectually, I understand what is happening to me. Like Bruce Banner I know the warning signs – the date on the calendar, the slight twinges of annoyance that come haphazardly in the days preceding what I can only describe as a blinding cloud of uncontrollable and exasperated eye-rolling over-reactions to every day stressors. But, I am powerless to stop the transformation. I hear myself snapping at questions and requests that only days before would have been no big deal. I lose the ability to focus on every day tasks and develop a constant pulsing vein in my forehead. I feel slighted by innocuous comments and obsess about my sudden inability to carry on a casual conversation. It truly feels like I have turned into someone else. Someone with unkempt eyebrows and knotty hair because I have lost the ability to properly groom myself.
And like Dr. Banner, when I finally emerge on the other side of an episode, slightly dazed and weak, but so thankful to be alive (and still married), I feel the need to reflect on how much WORSE it could have been. I mean, I haven’t turned over any cars…..yet.