"There should be a rollercoaster named Hormones."
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Credit: Santina Muha

This diary is part of Health's new Periods IRL series, where we plan to celebrate all kinds of period experiences.

Santina Muha is an actress, improviser, comic, and writer in Los Angeles. Her essay "I Can't Walk But I Can Bleed" was published in the buzzy new anthology Period: Twelves Voices Tell the Bloody Truth. Here's what the second half of her cycle is really like.

DAY 16

8:45 p.m.: So I guess it’s officially starting. After feeling the way I’m feeling today, I checked my birth control and I’m two days before a week away, so almost right on target. I’m tired and even though I’m having a good makeup and hair day, I had to skip a social event tonight because I just can’t. I feel tired in my head, and all I want to do is watch thrillers—I’ve already watched Face/Off, then some other movie with Nicolas Cage and Gina Gershon where the nanny tries to steal the baby, and now I’m watching The Gift. Because at this phase of my PMS I only want to watch things about murder. And for dinner I had steak, because my body is already proactively craving iron.

9:30 p.m.: Someone in this movie I’m watching was acting irrationally angry and the other character (another woman, at least) asked her if she was on her period and I got so mad. And then I realized that’s exactly what I’m doing at this exact moment.

DAY 17

6:50 p.m.: Wow, you caught me on quite a month. I’m having a MISERABLE PMS month. I’m also coming right off of my birthday weekend where I uncharacteristically ate a bunch of junk food—not like fancy adult junk food like truffle fries, but like f***-it-it’s-my-birthday cheese doodles. So I started my PMS at a low place and my body decided to roll with it. I fell asleep last night at 11 p.m. and only got out of bed at 2:30 p m. for a meeting I had at 3, which thankfully was at my apartment and with a friend, because I wasn’t about to put a bra on. And now I’m back in bed about to watch another movie about murder (Shimmer Lake). But if my Netflix doesn’t cast to my Chromecast on my TV I’m just gonna go back to sleep because my body is too exhausted to even be mad right now. That’s when you know it’s bad. Like when you’re in a relationship and you get into a fight about something and one of you "doesn’t want to talk about it" and you’re not just saying that to trick your partner this time, you really doesn’t want to talk about it.

Turning my iPad off and then on again. I hope this works.

Still waiting. But in the meantime, let me just say, usually I love when it’s light outside later and later, but right now it’s 7 p.m. and the sun is still shining and it’s making me feel lazy and unproductive and I’d really appreciate it if it would just get dark already and that dog across the street would stop barking.

Also I got a zen fountain for my room because I love the sound of water, but the motor on the thing is so loud I can’t hear the water trickling at all. So I guess I’m going to have to send it back to Amazon. Like I really feel like doing that.

Finally, I got the movie to work.

But also, I’ve had to rewind the movie twice because even though I’m watching it I’m somehow not paying attention.

7:30 p.m.
Nevermind, that thriller was too hard to follow right now, so I put on a romcom. Something I’ve never seen—I’ll let you know how it goes. The first line of the movie was, “Watch where you’re going, bitch,” so I’ll probably like it.

9:30 p.m.
Don’t worry, I just ate a mini fruit tart pastry in bed. And the movie was fine. Just what I needed. Watching another romcom now. Also on my coloring app the whole time, because I need to be doing something with my hands to keep my mind busy so I don’t think about how miserable I feel.

11:00 p.m.: Ugh, that movie was too corny and cliché for me. Sometimes Robert DeNiro is in great movies, and sometimes I wonder what made him agree to do a movie. But I think he likes movies with a lot of hijinks and crazy misunderstandings. Anyway, that has nothing to do with my period. I’m going to bed now. I mean, I’m already in bed, so I should say I’m going to put on The Office and fall asleep now. xo

11:15 p.m.: The motor on my "zen" fountain is driving me crazy but I’m too tired to get up and turn it off. It doesn’t sound like a fountain, it sounds like an idling truck. But I have to say, no matter how agitated I am, Michael Scott can make me laugh.

DAY 18

6:30 a.m.: I can’t sleep.

10:00 a.m.: I still can’t sleep and I want a cookie for breakfast. I’m going to get up and eat two cookies with a hard-boiled egg to balance it out.

10:25 a.m.: OK, I feel a little better now that I ate. But still not great. Took an oil of oregano pill and a B-Complex pill, and gonna lie back down to let them work. I know I don’t have to lie down to let vitamins work, but again, what a bad PMS month.

Fine, I’ll answer some emails first.

2:15 p.m.: In bed, feeling like s***, too tired to get up, too I-don’t-know-what to fall asleep!

8:00 p.m.: Never fell asleep, just watched a few movies and played some games on my iPad. And now, in true Santina PMS fashion, I just satisfied a craving for sushi and am in the organizing phase of my cycle. I wish I had been in the organizing phase all day instead of at night because I truly feel like I’ve wasted two days of my life, but not true because sometimes our bodies and minds just need a day or two to relax, and that’s OK. Self-care and all that.

8:30 p.m.: Printing out a return label for my "zen" fountain. Not the right week to f*** with my zen, Amazon.

9:40 p.m.: I tried a lot to make me feel better today, even some prescription anti-anxiety medication, but I finally decided to go outside and smoke a little bit of an Indica joint and only now do I feel calmed. Just letting you know.

DAY 19

12:30 p.m.: Well, as I said yesterday, a little bit of marijuana helped. It eased my symptoms and finally helped me fall asleep. I’m still feeling not wonderful this morning, and I stayed in bed for an hour shopping on Amazon after I woke up, but now I’m up and back in productive catch-up mode. It’s a gloomy day here in Los Angeles, a rare but welcomed event, especially when I’m feeling like this! Perfect for a Lifetime movie.

By the way, I’m usually a very busy and hardworking person, but I’m coming off of my birthday weekend and not feeling well on top of my PMS, so I’m allowing myself some guilt-free down time. I’m sure if you’re reading this you’re judging me a little, because I’m judging myself a little as I’m writing it, but I promise I’m not a lazy person all the time. I do think it’s important to listen to our bodies though, and when we need rest we should rest. I also have a very busy weekend ahead of me, so the past few days have been like my weekend.

DAY 20

5:55 p.m.: I’m feeling OK today. I’m on the day of my cycle where I’m not really that hungry, and only certain foods sound good to me right now, like an Italian sub.

Also my boobs hurt and I feel like I look bloated. You know when you’re on that part of your cycle when you look in the mirror and are somehow different than you usually look, but in reality to everyone else you look exactly the same?

DAY 21

10:00 a.m.: I have a very busy day ahead of me after a few of days of nothing and my face was craving some makeup. I don’t feel like I look bloated anymore, magically. It’s like that saying, “Dress for the job you want.” Next time when I’m PMSing and I just want to stay in my sweatpants all day and feel and look like s***, I’m going to get dressed in a cute outfit that I’ve been saving for some special event and do my makeup and feel good! ... Just kidding, I’m going to do the sweatpants thing unless I have to do something very important that day. And even then, there’s a great chance I’ll be wearing some cute-ish version of sweatpants I own.

Also my boobs still hurt, and I hate how many times I’ve written the word "boobs" in this journal.

3:00 p.m.: Weirdly I haven’t been hungry all day.

6:00 p.m.: I forced myself to eat the other half of the Italian sub from yesterday, but I’m still not really hungry today.

12:00 a.m.: I just got home from hosting a comedy show at the Upright Citizens Brigade theater and either I’m riding on a performance high or I shouldn’t have had that espresso at 6 p.m. with my Italian sub.


DAY 22

12:00 p.m.: Good morning. Wow, if you don’t know me and are just reading this period journal you must think I’m a super bum. I swear I’m not. I usually never wake up at noon like some kind of a college student (no offense to college students—do it while you still can without feeling guilty like I do because I’m all the way an “adult” now.)

9:00 p.m.: I had a very late start today but accomplished a lot from about 4pm until now. I think I’m noticing a pattern where I function best in the later part of the day when I’m PMSing. Or in this phase of my PMS at least.

Also I still barely ate today. And I was actually craving a salad for dinner. Not pasta or meat or perogies, or any of my usual PMS suspects. And my rule is when I’m in the mood for salad I better eat a salad, because when I’m not in the mood for one I’m not eating one.

DAY 23

11:00 a.m.: I woke up at 6 a.m. having some kind of hot flash and had to switch from long to short sleeves. After about 20 minutes I was cold again and needed an extra blanket. I finally fell back to sleep around 7 a.m.

10:30 a.m.: I am so tired. According to my birth control pack my period should be starting soon. I’m ready for it to start and end so I get a week, or if I’m lucky two weeks, of freedom before this whole cycle starts again.

DAY 24

4:00 p.m.: Wasn’t hungry this morning so I only ate a little breakfast, felt fine all morning, went to an appointment and had to fight falling asleep half the time. And then my appetite kicked into full gear. So now I’m not angry or agitated or anxious, but I’m starving and exhausted. So fun.

12:00 a.m.: I ate and I tried to get some work done, I really did. But I needed a nap. So I took a nap. I was going to go to a friend’s show tonight if I felt up to it, but then I didn’t feel up to it, so I finished watching a show about murder and now I’m watching a movie about teenagers, which honestly is really bad. But I can’t stop watching it.

DAY 25

12:00 p.m.: Owwww, my neck hurts this morning! I know that’s not a typical PMS symptom but I guess I’m just achy all over. The good news is it’s another gloomy day in LA, so I can’t wait to watch a Lifetime movie later. Also my appetite is still weird.

DAY 26

12:00 p.m.: I have a show today, which I’m excited to perform in, but I’m also very happy that’s all I have to do today, because I need to veg right now.

8:00 p.m.: Show went well, and happy to be home now with some friends coming over for Top Model Club, where we watch old seasons of America’s Next Top Model, because I’m in the perfect mood right now to talk s*** with my friends about these poor girls who we don’t even know. But they’re not really poor girls because they signed up for this. Also this season is like 10 years old, so it’s barely like we’re even talking about them because I’m sure they’re totally different people now. OK, fine, maybe I’m not in the perfect mood to talk s*** because now I’m feeling guilty. There should be a rollercoaster called Hormones because it’d be a very wild ride.

DAY 28

11:00 a.m.: My neck is still hurting—and I can feel it. Today is not going to be an eat healthy day.

3:00 p.m.: I need to try something else for my neck. I think I’m going to have to try a muscle relaxer today, but I’m nervous because I’ve never taken one.

10:00 p.m.: Muscle relaxer didn’t work as much as I wanted it to. Also my stomach is not happy with me right now. I’m having that feeling where I know it wants something from me, but I don’t know what. If only I had a full-body heating pad right now, that could wrap around my neck and then lay across my stomach. I guess I could just use two.


11:00 a.m.: My period is in full effect, so finally there’s a light at the end of this tunnel. Until then, OW! My neck muscles are so tense and stomach is in a knot. But somehow, knock on wood, I managed to avoid a migraine this PMS cycle, which I usually get. How cute of my menstrual cycle to keep me on my toes like it does.


11:45 a.m. OK, my neck is still hurting me. This feels like it may be more than a period thing. I’m gonna tell my doctor.

Also my stomach finally feels a little better this morning.

Wow, what a crazy month to be recording all my PMS and period symptoms. It’s never a picnic, but this month was particularly painful and hormonal. I hope that means next month will be a chill PMS because I’m going to be in Italy when it starts. The good news is all the food I crave is in Italy.

Thanks for following me on this wild ride. Are we being punished because Eve ate that apple, or are we simply the most miraculous beings on this earth who hold all the power in our ovaries, and with great power comes great PMS? I don’t know the answer, but I have few weeks not to think about it before it starts all over again.

You can read more from Santina Muha in the new collection of essays Period: Twelve Voices Tell the Bloody Truth ($16, amazon.com).