I must admit, this week has been something of a car crash for me. My first piece of advice to you in this ‘How-not-to’ of lockdown parenting would be ‘Don’t have PMDD;’ the second ‘don’t invite your mother-in-law if you do.’
Trials, tribulations and triggers
We talk a lot about triggers these days when it comes to mental health issues, in particular, avoiding them. Well, when in the throes of PMDD ‘hell week,’ one is easily triggered.
For those not in the know, PMDD is a premenstrual condition suffered by around 20% of women in which the body’s adverse reaction to reproductive hormones in the week-or-so leading up to menstruation cause an adverse range of symptoms which can vary from depression through anxiety and irritability to full-on suicidal ideation. It is serious.
Earlier in the week I was so, so angry with myself. I’m already prone to anger at this time due to PMDD, but as I mentioned in a previous post, I have dealt with it remarkably well over the past two cycles. Enter my mother-in-law: the personification of a PMDD trigger.
I am not being ungrateful (honest…)
I hate to sound ungrateful to my mother-in-law. She came to help my eldest son with his Slovenian schoolwork, she loves her grandkids, and she has been trying to help as best she can. But…
My mother-in-law imagines herself to be the perfect domestic goddess, and puts domestic duties above other priorities such as self-care and personal growth. She’s devoted her whole life to caring for others without taking the time to take care of herself. As a result of this, she now she takes a kind of grim pleasure in thinking she is ‘better’ than others who don’t share her worldview. This includes me.
Pummelled by PMDD
I started out the week well; I do feel sorry for her, as she’s not a happy person, and I started advising her about self-care, meditation and yoga, etc. I think she needs some help with this and she did seem interested. I assured her she did not need to do any housework, she was here to help with the kids. But then my PMDD symptoms took over and whacked me right over the head.
A new symptom I’ve developed this month is migraine which has sent me running off to quiet and darkened rooms on a regular basis. This was my mother-in-law’s cue to take over and start ‘managing’ the house as she sees fit. Namely by looking down on me for spending half the day in bed, or so I imagined.
I knew I should have detached myself and risen above this, but I am not advanced enough in my spiritual practice to remain unaffected by her seemingly perpetual aura of negativity.
Whenever I’m alone with the kids and suffering badly, I just explain to them I need to take a nap, and let them watch TV. They understand. Also the housework. I do this on a need-to-do basis: sometimes I’m more ‘on top of it’ than others, but it’s all about managing the flow and accepting it. I was doing great with that.
And then there was school…
Homeschooling my son added in another level of pressure. My mother-in-law helped a little but if I didn’t sit on top of them then he wouldn’t do the work. It was just a perfect storm of stress which left me shaking, bed-ridden for much of the week and prone to angry outbursts.
An important lesson for me
It is now Sunday. I am still in hell week, but my mother-in-law has now departed. It is a lot easier to manage my symptoms like this. I take myself out of situations which may aggravate my condition. Lots of meditation and yoga.
This week has been a real challenge, but every challenge has something to teach us. I’ve found new methods to help my son with his writing and language, which are also teaching me more Slovenian. I am looking forward to helping him with his schoolwork next week, by which time I should be feeling better.
Another lesson I’ve learned is not to be angered by people who have negative feelings towards you. These feelings are their responsibility, and it’s important not to increase the negativity by responding with anger and defensiveness. Sometimes it’s best just to smile kindly and walk away. I will leave you with some TV clips that resonate with me, for some reason: