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A conversation about menstruation is a taboo in Pakistani society; there is no awareness around this subject and hence women go through it monthly, facing all the physical and emotional hardships without much complain. Most of them are not even aware of the various forms of hormonal changes that require treatment as they age. This is what model Zara Peerzada is concerned about as she recently addressed the mental struggles she has faced during periods.

Zara talked about premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) and an advanced form of premenstrual syndrome (PMS); both of them can have ‘severe’ and ‘chronic’ effects on women of childbearing age. She posted several Instagram Stories to share her personal struggles with PMDD and how she battles with “mentally taxing” side of her menstrual cycle.

“We talk about going to work with [menstrual] cramps and headaches but where are my sisters with severe hormonal imbalances, PMDD, poor mental health and PMS? How do you cope if you have socially interactive job or work environment?” Zara asked her followers.




Zara pointed out that the conversation, if any, about periods is only limited to the physical struggles women face while working or interacting during periods. However, there is much more dilemma in the form of mental issues and hormonal changes.

“As I’ve gotten older, my menstrual cycle has become extremely mentally taxing. Extreme anxiety, extreme anger, irritability and despondency. I feel like when it started happening I was caught off guard because so much of the conversation is based around the physical struggles of menstruation, and not the mental or hormonal changes as your body grows older and your menstrual cycle evolves (mutates into something more sinister tbh),” she wrote.




“Younger audience, you will have mania to look forward to as you continue to menstruate. No one told me so I’m telling you. You’re going to feel awful and out of control and cis men do not understand. Initially it will be hard to distinguish PMS or PMDD from your usual mental health struggles but soon you will be able to tell the difference, even though no one else will,” she added.



She went on to highlight the problems she has struggled with and how it has affected her life. “My partner and family have suffered the worst of it because I have a terrible temper that I have learned now to control, at least a little, when I’m ovulating or menstruating. But most days it cannot be helped. I try articulating that I am feeling angry or frustrated when I can instead of just exhibiting it. I give a fair warning to my partner when doomsday is near so they can be understanding when I am being unreasonable.”

“The helplessness cannot be helped at all, neither the despondency. It can only be endured. An emotional support animal is my only respite in the days [when the symptoms] are especially bad,” she shared.



Zara also emphasized that her female followers should learn more about PMS and PMDD so that they can understand better and “learn about your body and its processes”. “It brings a lot of peace in knowing the facts of how you may possible be functioning,” she said. “Cis men with menstruating partners might also want to acquaint themselves to make our lives just a little easier.”

Read: Ushna Shah urges society to end period shaming

Following her Stories, Zara received a number of messages. And though a lot of women supported her, there were a few who advised her to “stay at home during those days”. Zara respectfully responded to their suggestions and clarified how they are not getting the point here.

“I know it’s [the messages] supposed to be well meaning but what? First of all, what days?” she asked, adding, “PMS can start as early as day 14 of your cycle, around the time you ovulate, and last for several days after it’s done. That’s two weeks out of a month. This is again feeding into the narrative of periods bringing only physical discomfort for a couple of days, that can be reduced with painkillers, sugar and heating pads. That is all really nice but that is really not all there is to it. At least not as you get older, and especially not if you are dealing with pre-existing mental health issues,” she explained.




She also asked what kind of job allows women to take leave whenever they want. “Not everyone can do that, or afford that. Please don’t tell women that’s all they can do. Again, it is not a matter of a couple of days for everyone. It does eventually become part of a lifestyle we have to continuously and secretly manage while being outwardly erratic,” she concluded.



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