PMS solution: CBD, wine, mushrooms, chocolate pudding.

For about five days every month, I cry and I fret, I hate everyone and everything. I’m offended by sunshine, innocent remarks about my dog’s lipoma, and La La Land’s success. I’m just so, so depressed…. and then I get my period.

I drive myself, and those closest to me, crazy.

Last month I read Ayelet Waldman’s new book, A Really Good Day: How Microdosing Made a Mega Difference in My Mood, My Marriage, and My Life. She begins by discussing her diagnoses over the years, at first Bipolar II and then PMDD or pre menstrual dysphoric disorder, an extreme form of PMS. The standard treatment for PMDD is an S.S.R.I. (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors a/k/a your classic anti-depressants) taken the week before your period arrives. This is said to help combat the hormonal shifts that in some women prompt a descent into depression or exacerbate the mental illness already there. Waldman, unhappy with the various treatments she’d tried as she was sensitive to the hormonal shifts over the entire month, decided to microdose LSD—taking 1/10 of a dose every three days, for 30 days.

It worked, at least for the month, and she’s careful to acknowledge that who knows if it would have continued to work. It could have been the enhanced neuroplasticity of her brain, or what she gently infers as an LSD-induced mindfulness. Either way, it nudged her out of a significant depression and this inspired me.

Having no access to LSD, I decided to alter my personal experiment and simply take CBD pills the week before my period. CBD or cannabidiol, is a non-psychoactive component of marijuana with many health benefits, including anti-anxiety and antipsychotic properties. I bought mine at a local dispensary for about $6 a pill. They ain’t cheap, but\ if they successfully warded off the troll inside of me, I’d consider them worth it.

Day 1: I did, I felt pretty good. I was energized and unafraid to send uncomfortable emails about jobs. Then at my evening Pilates class, we spent 20 minutes on the jump board. The teacher said “beautiful” 30x too many. I got sick of jumping up and down; so I stopped. When she tried to change the spring load to make it easier, I snapped and told her it was easy, I just wasn’t in the mood to jump up and down all night. Then she walked away and avoided me for the rest of class.

Day 2: I worked at a cafe because it felt like a good idea to get out into the world. An employee brought me my breakfast sandwich and because it had taken her so long, gave me a coupon for a free drink. I hadn’t even noticed that it had taken a long time! The effects of the CBD definitely wore off over the course of the day. At night I felt anxious and fried and extra-prickly, like I wasn’t comfortable in my own skin. I got really upset at all of the people I know who weren’t buying these damn pins I made to raise money for the ACLU. I poured myself a glass of wine and went to bed early.

Day 3: I drove 45 minutes in rain to pick up Persian food I was craving. Normally I would’ve looked at Yelp reviews while lying in bed until my blood sugar plummeted so low that I’d have to crawl into the kitchen to scrounge up old pickles and feta. The CBD was working. But again, at night, I felt uncomfortable and irritable. It was a combination of coming down from CBD and PMS. I had a little wine to ease my nerves and felt self-conscious about becoming a person who drinks wine every night because once a Vedic astrologer told me I’m prone to alcoholism.

Day 4: I felt euphoric much of the day. Possibly in part because I spent it at the Conscious Life Expo and the entire venue was filled with healing crystals and positive vibes. The people were all so happy to be there, it was contagious. I didn’t even mind the congested hallways as everyone was sort of oblivious and lost, but ecstatic. I stuffed my face with a double serving of raw chocolate pudding and watched an old lady dressed in white silks dance while a small hairy man bounced around with a drum. It was a too-bright Hilton conference room and it was fabulous. By the end of the day, I began feeling fried again. I didn’t want to take anymore CBD.

Day 5: I woke up with cramps and was grateful that my period had come a day early. I took some Aleve, skipped the CBD, and spent a few hours walking through botanical gardens on a micro-dose of psilocybin in the form of one mushroom cap. I spent a while lying in the grass thinking about my period.

CBD made me feel less overwhelmed by things that would ordinarily, in the days leading up to my period, cause me great stress. When I’m office-employed again, I’ll consider taking it during the days when I’d find myself crying the entire commute to work.

That said, I won’t make it a regular practice. I like to think that I have intense periods for a reason, that I descend from a lineage of great witches and one of my tools is a hormonal-induced hyper-sensitivity. It’s during this time I’m privy to the truths I hide away from the rest of the month. I worry that to numb this experience is a disservice to me (as much as it’s a convenience for others in my life).

Alas, as my psilocybin micro-dose reminded me:

I guess I’ll try Maca.

Thanks to Kindland.

Danielle Leibowitz is a writer and artist who cracks herself up in Los Angeles.
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