Step 1: The first rule of hormones is you do not talk about hormones.

If you suspect I’m acting hormonal, don’t actually use the word ‘hormonal.’ Don’t mention I might have PMS, don’t casually wonder what day of the month it is, and whatever you do, don’t be crass and ask if I’m “on the rag.” Who even uses rags, anyway? That’s disgusting. I can’t believe you think I would do that. Don’t you even know me at all anymore? Is this a joke to you? Do you think my body is funny?

It’s easy. Don’t ask, don’t tell.

Because, look, if I’m not hormonal and you ask if I’m hormonal, I will be insulted. There’s a very good chance that I’m just having a bad day. And if I happen to actually be PMSing when you ask me, I mean, is it that obvious? Can’t I still be angry for the sake of being angry? Do I NEED your permission to be mad at you? Or do I NEED TO CONSULT MY STUPID OVARIES before I STORM OUT of this ROOM? MAYBE I’M PISSED AT YOU BECAUSE YOU NEVER BRING ME FLOWERS ANYMORE. EVER THINK OF THAT, YOU LAZY, WORTHLESS, PATHETIC EXCUSE FOR A BOYFRIEND? MAYBE THAT’S WHY.

NO YOU’RE BEING IRRATIONAL.

YOU LOWER YOUR VOICE.

Step 2: Look for warning signs.

When I’m PMSing, I crave carbs. What kind of carbs? All of them—and the less complex, the better. I hoard cartons of fried rice, boxes of cereal, plates of pasta, bowls of instant mashed potatoes and enough ramen noodles to feed a small country.

I will eat all of this food in bed, because I’m exhausted and even though I slept eleven hours last night and took a long bubble bath, I still feel like I was hit by a bus.

If I look fat, it’s not because I haven’t been exercising or because I’ve eaten my recommended daily calorie intake by breakfast. It’s not my fault! I don’t fit into my jeans because I’m bloated and retaining water.

Yes, I said retaining water. And even though I’ve been crying all day, it has nothing to do with the fact that I’m eating my feelings or I can’t even wedge my calves through the legs of my skinny jeans, okay? I’m crying because I’m sad, because there is a bus stop next to my apartment and sometimes I can hear a bus go by, and because the last time I talked to my dad on the phone he didn’t even ask about my job and I feel so ugly and tired and alone and you don’t understand me, you’ll never, ever understand me so just go away and leave me alone just like everyone else goes away.

Step 3. Give me what I want (and nobody gets hurt).

Don’t question my mood swings. If I want ice cream, give me ice cream. Don’t even think about substituting it for frozen yogurt unless you want me to burst into another round of tears. If I want to talk about my deep-rooted insecurities that trace back to my horrific junior high school experiences, let me talk about that time I had braces.

I’m going to need you to tell me I’m beautiful. I’m going to need a back rub. I’m going to need a bubble bath, but first I’m going to need for you to wash my bathtub. When I’m in the bubble bath, can you hold my magazine for me so the pages don’t get wet? Can you dim the lights, set up a few scented candles and make baby whale sounds? Can you run to the corner and pick me up a box of super tampons, another pint of ice cream, a bag of ice and a bottle of scotch? Can you make me a scotch milkshake and feed it to me in the bathtub?

I don’t think I’m being ridiculous. I think you’re being ridiculous. JUST GIVE ME THE ICE CREAM ALREADY. I DO NICE THINGS FOR YOU ALL THE TIME. I HATE YOU. LEAVE ME ALONE. BRING ME MASHED POTATOES FIRST. GOOD. NOW LEAVE ME ALONE.

Step 4: Forgiveness.

I don’t think we need to talk about my actions last night. I was hormonal, I was cranky, yadda yadda yadda, long story short, I lashed out at you. Can we just pretend this never happened? Can we just snuggle a little bit? I’ll share my ice cream with you. I promise. Love you, snookums. You’re the best.