and the book:
Harvest House Publishers (September 1, 2008)
Gather any group of moms together and the topic of frustrating PMS symptoms rises up in conversation along with the guilt and concern about its effects on family members. Now Mary Byers, author of The Mother Load, offers mothers encouragement, help, and camaraderie as she shares:
- women’s stories—the good, bad, and the hopeful
- overlooked symptoms and how to manage them
- foods and activities to avoid or indulge in
- God’s first aid for stress, depression, and anxiety
- a call for help—how husbands can come to the aid of their wives
This gathering of useful advice and shared experiences will comfort readers who have ever felt alone in their PMS plight and will inspire healthier lifestyles, relationships, and daily choices for all women.
Mary Byers is a professional speaker and writer whose passion for transforming lives is evident in every project she takes on. In her first book with Harvest House Publishers, The Mother Load: How to Meet Your Own Needs While Caring for Your Family, Byers teaches women how to take care of themselves so that they can nurture a happy, healthy family. The mother of two lively children, she offers down-to-earth suggestions, spiritual truths, and real-life advice on how to juggle family responsibilities while creating a balanced life through supportive friendships, stress-relieving laughter, regular exercise, rejuvenating solitude, and an intimate relationship with the Lord. The founder of Word Works, Byers graduated from Indiana University with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Telecommunications. She is also a Certified Association Executive. Byers and her husband, Stuart, reside in Illinois with their two children.
Other books by Mary:
How to Say No...and Live to Tell About It
Extraordinary Women: Secrets to Discovering the Dream God Created for You
Visit the author's website.
List Price: $11.99
Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (September 1, 2008)
AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:
Callie O'Keefe stood in the bathroom crying. Her two children, ages four and two, were outside the closed door, listening to their mother sob. Abby still felt the sting of her mother's hand on the back of her head. She'd made her younger sister cry, setting her mother off and resulting in the physical smack that seemed to come from nowhere with the speed of a rattlesnake strike. Abby stood in the hallway confused. Though she was the one who had been struck, her mother was the one crying.
As her children stood bewildered outside the bathroom door, Callie cried into a bathroom towel. "Lord, please help me stop this," she begged. "This is not the kind of mom I want to be!" This prayer had been uttered at least once a month for many years as she struggled with depression, anger, and fits of unpredictable behavior that descended on her prior to the onset of menstruation.
It was the same every month. The familiar twinge of oncoming cramps alerted her that her period would begin within the week, which meant she had to watch her words and actions very carefully. Each PMS battle started the same. Callie resolved to "do better and be kinder." And each resolution was quickly broken when her children set her off by arguing, complaining that the other got the bigger piece, or spilling a glass of milk at the very moment Callie's ability to cope was at its lowest. And it wasn't only the children who were bruised by her irrational behavior. Her husband, Steve, was just as likely to be the target of a tirade that she would later regret. Some nights it was so bad she'd wait until he was asleep and then slink into the guest room to bed down for the night. That way she wouldn't have to face him in the morning and see the hurt in his eyes.
As sobs racked her body, Callie grieved the fact that each month she seemed
to get worse. What had started as mild PMS in her 20s was now cause for serious concern. Two children in the house and an inability to control her words and emotions was a combustible combination. Callie knew she was doing damage to the family and feared the long-term consequences.
She raised her head from the towel, looked into the mirror, and saw the face of a mother in agony. Surely I'm not the only one who's out of control like this every month, she decided. Callie remembered a neighbor down the street who had once mentioned at a party that her husband had nicknamed her "The Human Hurricane" because of the damage she did regularly while in the clutches of PMS. At the time Callie laughed because she couldn't imagine quiet, gentle Amber turning into anything close to a hurricane. But after the morning Callie just experienced, she now believed it was possible.
After rinsing her face with cool water, Callie opened the bathroom door and sat on the floor next to Abby. She gathered her sweet daughter into her lap, rested her chin on the top of Abby's head, and murmured the words she'd had to say so many times before: "Abby, mommy lost her temper, and she's very sorry. I was angry that you made Jessica cry, but how I handled it was inappropriate. I'm so sorry."
Abby's response was the same as always. "It's okay, Mommy. I love you." The ease with which she offered forgiveness amplified Callie's pain.
After hugging Jessica, Callie headed to the phone to make two calls. First, she'd call her physician to make an appointment to discuss her symptoms. Then she'd call Amber, the Human Hurricane, and ask if she'd come over some afternoon for a cup of coffee while the children napped. She finally realized she needed help and couldn't fight the PMS battle alone.
Though the phone calls were small steps, they would pay big dividends. By acknowledging the problem, Callie placed herself on the road to healing.
allie is like me--and many women I know who suffer from severe PMS. We don't want to act the way we do. We're normally fairly balanced, kind people. We love our husbands and children. And yet, when triggered, we speak words we regret in an ugly tone
of voice. We overreact. Sometimes we punish our children physically. Sometimes we rebuke them by ignoring them or withholding our love. One mother I interviewed confessed that, while under the influence of PMS, she ran away for a day when she felt she could no longer take the pressure of mothering.
Do you know you suffer from PMS? Or are you wondering if you do? Let's start by taking a closer look at the symptoms.
bloating, water retention, weight gain
breast swelling and tenderness
changes in bowel habits (constipation/ diarrhea)
decreased sexual desire
fatigue, lack of energy
food cravings, especially for sweet or salty foods
pain (headaches, aching muscles and joints, cramps, low back pain)
sensitivity to light
sleep pattern changes and/or insomnia
swelling of hands and/or feet
Behavioral and Emotional Symptoms
depression, sadness, hopelessness
inability to concentrate
loneliness * paranoia
loss of control * suicidal thoughts
mood swings * unexplained crying
nightmares * withdrawal from family and friends
These are just a few of the 150 or so PMS symptoms that have been identified. Individually they are often manageable. When combined, they can be debilitating. According to WebMd:
Although 85 percent of women experience PMS at times in their lives, about 40 percent are significantly affected.
While most women first experience PMS in their mid20s, PMS becomes even more common among women in their 30s.
PMS can come and go during the reproductive years, and symptoms may worsen as a woman approaches perimenopause in the late 30s or 40s.
Severe PMS symptoms may be premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), which affects up to 8 percent of women.1
For the purpose of our discussions, I'll be dealing with PMS. However, if you suffer from PMDD, please note: The symptoms you are wrestling with are more severe than regular PMS indications. Because of that, it's even more essential that you be proactive in developing a personal coping plan. The unexpected, unpredictable nature of PMDD mood swings, depression, and feelings of being overwhelmed make it extremely detrimental to mothering. The sooner you respond to the monthly tsunami that sweeps you away each month, the better off you and your family will be.
Mothers, be encouraged! You are not alone in the PMS battle, and you are not imagining your symptoms. Here's what a physician wrote about her own challenge each month:
When I asked my mother for help she could only offer sympathy. She told me that I'd probably grow out of it as I got older. Instead, it got worse. My PMS continued all through my medical training at Northwestern University in Chicago. One week out of the month I was in too much pain to do my work properly. I still remember the many afternoons when I had to leave the medical or pediatric ward. I went to the medical student on-call room and lay there in agony with severe nausea and cramps. My body swelled up so badly that I couldn't bear to bump against anything. The cysts in my breasts became large and tender. I was the only woman student on many of my rotations, and my symptoms made me feel inferior to and different from the male students. My moods fluctuated terribly. Part of the month I would feel calm and relaxed--like everyone else. But before my period I became quarrelsome and hard to deal with. I became much more sensitive to imagined or real slights and put-downs. I craved sugar and went on junk-food binges. Often I'd steal away and cry, not knowing how I was ever going to get through my training.2
Another physician wrote:
It is clear that PMS exists because among the thousands of women I have listened to, I have never had one say that each month, after her period, she loses self-esteem or fights with her husband or wants to kill herself. I have never heard a woman say that she wanted to feel postmenstrually as well as she does each month premenstrually. I've never heard a woman say, "You know, I get irritated easily, but premenstrually nothing could bother me."3
I'm sure you can identify with some of the symptoms and emotions
just expressed. Though reviewing the list of symptoms in this chapter
and realizing you have many (or all!) of them can be alarming, I hope
you also experience relief and comfort. I remember hearing about PMS for the first time and thinking, I have that! I was so relieved to understand the cause for my wild mood swings and unpredictable behavior.
It's one thing to understand why questionable behavior is occurring. It's another to do something about it. In retrospect, that's where I dropped the ball. There were many reasons that my new awareness did not lead to behavioral changes. Mostly, I was not willing to admit to myself or anyone else that I was unable to control my emotions and the resulting actions. To do so would have required admitting a weakness, something I wasn't willing to do. (Then I became a mother. Suddenly all my weaknesses showed up, en masse, the minute I arrived home from the hospital with that bundle of pink blanket and joy in my arms!)
In addition to not wanting to admit my struggle, since I was married when my PMS worsened, it was much easier to blame my husband for my problems and expect him to be the one to change. Needless to say, that plan failed dismally.
It wasn't until I noticed that once a month my normally upbeat, positive nature melted into hopelessness, helplessness, and apathy that I begin to consider getting help. Honestly, the help wasn't so much for me as it was for my family. Month after month of irrational, uncontrollable, and unlike-me behavior finally took its toll. After struggling mightily to manage the unmanageable each month, I finally got down on my knees and admitted to God that I needed help. Then, like Callie, I called my doctor, acknowledged the problem to a friend (who, it turned out, had also been struggling alone with the problem), and admitted to my husband that "Black Tuesday" at our house was a result of my hormones--and not his shortcomings as a husband. (More on this later.)
My willingness to surrender was the turning point in my battle with PMS. By acknowledging it and being proactive, I've been able to lessen the effects on my family and me. Though I certainly haven't perfected my response, my family and I are more hopeful about it than we've ever been.
Skulking around, hoping PMS will go away on its own doesn't work. Admitting that there is a problem, enlisting help, searching for solutions that work, and making the changes necessary to minimize the effects of PMS are the only ways to slay the hormone dragon.
That's what this book is about: finding hope and taking back your life. Are you ready?
It is time to play a Wild Card! Every now and then, a book that I have chosen to read is going to pop up as a FIRST Wild Card Tour. Get dealt into the game! (Just click the button!) Wild Card Tours feature an author and his/her book's FIRST chapter!
You never know when I might play a wild card on you!