Model Zara Peerzada starts a very important conversation about the mentally taxing side of periods

Model Zara Peerzada starts a very important conversation about the mentally taxing side of periods

We mostly talk about the physical struggles, not the mental or hormonal changes that occur, she said.
30 Sep, 2021

Model Zara Peerzada recently touched upon a topic not many people talk about in Pakistan, especially in public. She spoke about her difficulties going to work and being socially interactive while battling the "mentally taxing" symptoms of her menstrual cycle.

The model took to Instagram Stories to start a conversation on menstruation and the toll it takes on women mentally and physically, especially when they step out to work, study or engage in social activities. "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?" Peerzada asked her followers.

Many women routinely face physical, mental or emotional challenges during their periods. Hormonal imbalances, as mentioned by Peerzada, can manifest via medical problems such as Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a mix of symptoms that many women get before their period. These include bloating, headaches, cramps and moodiness. Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) is more severe than PMS. It causes severe irritability, depression, or anxiety in the week or two before a period starts. While symptoms usually fade away once the period starts, women may need medicine or other treatment to help with their symptoms.

The symptoms of hormonal imbalances, PMS and PMDD can be severe enough to make it difficult to do everyday activities like go to work or school, or engage in various socially interactive activities that require a better frame of mind and health from the individual.

"As I've gotten older, my menstrual cycle has become extremely mentally taxing," Peerzada wrote. "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 [that occur] as your body grows older and your menstrual cycle evolves."

According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, PMS symptoms may get worse as women reach their late 30s or 40s and approach menopause.

"Younger audience, you will have mania to look forward to as you continue to menstruate," Peerzada said. "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."

The model highlighted her personal struggles as well. "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 [my symptoms] are especially bad," she shared.

Peerzada stressed with her female followers the importance of learning more about PMS and PMDD in order to "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 (with PMS or PMDD) to make our lives just a little easier."

Peerzada apparently triggered an avalanche of supportive messages about her posts on menstruation. However, there were also messages from followers who couldn't understand why she didn't just stay home on days when her symptoms were especially difficult, as opposed to continuing going to work. "I know [these messages are] supposed to be well meaning but what? First of all, what days [should we choose to stay at home]?" she asked.

"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," she explained. "That is two weeks out of a month. This is again feeding feeding into the narrative of periods bringing only physical discomfort for a couple of days. [Discomfort 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."

Peerzada also wondered whether there truly is a job out there that allows women to take leave whenever they want. "Not everyone can do that, or afford that," she stressed. "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."

We appreciate the model for starting a conversation that really needs to be had. Not only do people need to be educated about periods and the ill effects women suffer from during their menstrual cycle, other women also need to learn that they're not alone.


Fraz Sep 30, 2021 04:08pm
Very important discussion. This is the main issue facing women these days.
Tamilselvan Sep 30, 2021 04:21pm
We sympathize with our sisters, spouses and mothers on what they go through during the most productive part of their lives and still with it they take care of their husbands, children, work at home and elsewhere . Hats off to better half of humanity. Hope mullahs treat women with respect unlike Taliban and their supporters across the border
NYS Sep 30, 2021 05:15pm
Model raised extremely crutial point where majority consider it taboo similarly routine activity PCOS relief by home remedies other medicinal are for the time being Those female are blessed enough to go smooth this trans
MG Sep 30, 2021 05:27pm
In many parts of South India, it was a tradition to give complete rest to women during their periods
H Sep 30, 2021 06:34pm
I am only wondering whats next?
zarmina Sep 30, 2021 06:40pm
What is the connection about women's freedom and rights and the talk about periods? Does this mean that if women are given rights they can talk about these matters on national media? This "model" should go and speak to female elders or her doctor. This is NOT a national issue and neither is she the first woman to get her period.
CV Sep 30, 2021 09:12pm
She’s hot. Period.
THE EASTERN NEIGHBOR Sep 30, 2021 09:18pm
Totally valid point...It gets bad as we get older...Dunno what will help.Magnesium supplements help..I am unable to sleep for 2 weeks of the month and feel tired
ST Sep 30, 2021 10:08pm
Am wonderimg. What would be her next topic.?
Malik Sep 30, 2021 10:20pm
She is literally talking about my wife. Important issue
karr Sep 30, 2021 10:39pm
Very bold. Hats off to the lady
RSh Sep 30, 2021 10:54pm
Credit to all women who start this discussion. Maybe men can understand it and care for their relations, family & friends onwards.
Saleem Sep 30, 2021 11:20pm
Please retain your haya and imaan and refrain from sharing too much outside. You should have such talks with mothers, sisters and grand mothers.
Changez Khan Oct 01, 2021 12:07am
The majority of men around the world will never understand the problems women go through in their lifetime because they are illiterate in this topic. Kudos to this lady for coming out and making men aware of women problems. 
Alla Bux Oct 01, 2021 12:25am
Brave woman. But our government has a mental block when it comes to periods. I remember an Indian movie about this (PADMAN) which was banned in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.
Alla Bux Oct 01, 2021 12:28am
@MG That is NOT giving rest but treating them as untouchables. During 'that' time they are treated as pariahs and are not even allowed into the house or touch any utensils or even take baths. Disgusting.
Ahmed Oct 01, 2021 12:43am
No. No one should treat you differently during those days of the month. Either for your or against. Isn't this what you women always wanted? When someone said otherwise he was publicly humiliated. Equal rights lead to equal treatment. Otherwise accept men and women are different and hence should be treated differently in the aspects they differ in. Choose wisely.
shoukat m sheikh Oct 01, 2021 01:21am
Humm poor modern women. Women been going through this natural process from beginning of time. No one had issue before. Islam does not allow everything to become public debate. I forgot your name miss it it Kathy or Elizabeth?
Analyst Oct 01, 2021 04:05am
Good topic to gain attention.
Lucky Arora Oct 01, 2021 05:35am
I never really new about this girl before, even though I am a big fan of the whole Pak Drama Industry. I really admire the courage of her to bring this up for discussion. Movie "Padman" by Akshay Kumar came to mind immediately. If you have not watched it, please watch it. Is a masterpiece and made me cry. Among other many good things this movie portrayed beautifully love between Dad and his daughter. I am in my 40s settled in the US for 2 decades+ (born, brought up and educated in India). I have been married for 20+ years. I have seen my wife always struggle with her periods. Never really understood or appreciated as much as perhaps this article made me think. Now I have two daughters and can certainly empathize with the struggles they go through as well. Of course their Mom understands it much better than me and supports them whole heartedly. Good job Zara! We need to discuss these topics in the open as well. Kudos. Love. Love Lahore as well. "Lagdi lahore di ya". :)
Akil Akhtar Oct 01, 2021 07:04am
Shaan Oct 01, 2021 07:36am
Women have been menstruating since Eve. Why do women nowadays make so much out of it? If being a woman is painful then there are alternatives.
sadia zafar Oct 01, 2021 07:39am
For heavens' sake do not pathologize normal, natural female body based on equivocal science at best. It is frustrating to see what Leta Stetter Hollingworth discounted in her dissertation in 1915 is now being legitimized as PMDD. Absolutely senseless to put 50% of world's population on the risk of a mental disorder diagnosis. Of course this decision was made by a handful of white male psychiatrist and recieved with joy by pseudointellectuals and pseudoscienctists. Do you realize the PMDD diagnosis has already been used in courts for denying child custody to mothers. Please, please think rationally and not fall in the trap of pseudoscience and pseudointellectuals
THE EASTERN NEIGHBOR Oct 05, 2021 02:38am
@Shaan very harsh comment...women have always suffered...Just that few have started talking now. i guess it hurts male ego..where you want status quo.
THE EASTERN NEIGHBOR Oct 05, 2021 02:40am
@Ahmed yes we women suffer and complain and want spl treatment...Equality means same value..Just because we need break on certain days doesnt make us inferior..Like the same way...we deliver we are not superior either