My PMS used to be so bad I would actually become suicidal and would develop paranoia that actually did border on insanity... I could barely breathe without becoming so agitated I wanted to scream. I used to fantasize about a sensory deprivation chamber where all 5 of my senses could be taken away so I wouldn't experience the raw nerves. that's the best way to describe it, I think: raw nerves, where even a gentle breeze provoked extreme pain. Oh, and my breasts hurt so badly I couldn't sleep. I gained 8-10 pounds beforehand, and I am a fairly small woman.
Today, my pms is probably worse than average, but it doesn't push me into mental illness. I've experimented with every kind of herb, nutritional strategy, contraceptives, and even anti-depressants for that week, and I've taken this as far as it can go in terms of physical changes. I'm much, much better. I still experience moodiness and erratic sleep patterns, and I gain 2-3 pounds, which seems normal and healthy. But, I still feel miserable. It starts 14 days before my period, when I ovulate. Then, I have a few days of relief, then it gets me again about 5 days before. Basically, my quality of life is SOOO much lower that week. If not for pms, I'd be one of the happiest people I know!
So, my strategy is to cram ALL my favorite things into those 5 days. I'm creating a 'pms treasure chest' with my favorite, most comfortable pants (purple corduroy), favorite lotions and hair styling products, my 4 most flattering pairs of earrings (to offset the puffy face I get), my favorite music and magazines and socks. A few other strategies I'm going to employ: usually, I try to do an hour of writing each morning, but during pms, I'm going to let myself NOT do my writing and go to the gym instead. I typically exercise 20-30 minutes, but on pms days, I'll exercise 45. When a new movie hits that I really want to see, I'll wait until my pms week to watch it in the theater. I'll also give myself plenty of opportunities to cry, since it has been suggested to me that I might be suppressing emotions the rest of the month and they 'crop up' right before my period.
I love projects like these. My goal is to get to the point where I hear myself thinking, "I can't wait for pms." I figure it will probably take me about 12 months to perfect the art. And then, maybe I'll write a book about it. :)