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~Seek first to understand, then be understood~
If you're looking for information on a particular topic, type that word in the search box below. If I have written about that subject, a list of posts will appear. If no posts come up, I haven't written about it...yet. Emails, and questions in the comments section for possible posts, are welcome.
I have a "friend" who shows up once a month. She turns my world upside down, over and over again.
I am a good person, caring and sweet, but when she comes to visit, I could rip off your head.
She takes no prisoners, foul words she does spout, I try to keep the words in, she lets them come out.
People don't understand me, or what this is about, to have this creature inside my head.
I despise who I am, half of the time, I feel sorry for my daughter, family and friends.
There's no way to describe it, for those who don't know, it's a living nightmare, she really needs to go.
~Neysia Manor, Rest in Peace

Monday, August 22, 2016

PMDD Quote of the Week

~I can feel the PMDD approaching, hovering, waiting. It feels like another presence, a shadow, that lives inside me and it's slowly making its way to my mind where it can take over my thoughts and emotions. It's behind me where I can sense it but not see it. I'm aware of it there and can push it back a little, but I can't stop it and it slowly creeps forward closer and further than it was before. I try to prepare for the inevitable, knowing that I can never really prepare myself for what's to come.~ JP

Friday, August 12, 2016

PMDD Quote to Reflect On

From a participant in the Facebook groups...

~I came to the realization that PMDD is as much of a spectrum disorder as autism is. Everything is different for each of us, severity so different, that there is no real way to pin it down. Maybe that's why treatment is so elusive. We are trying to classify it to fit in a single box, and it simply can't. In other diseases there are finite ways to tackle it. That is just not so with any spectrum disorder.~ 

Monday, July 4, 2016

Declare Your Independence from PMDD - Nutrition Matters

Today we offer a two-for-one post, with a guest segment from Julie, a woman who, like me, has taken the responsibility for management of her PMDD symptoms into her own hands.  Read on to find out how and why. 
Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food. ~Hippocrates, founder of the Hippocratic School of Medicine
Julie starts:  Over a decade ago, I sat down with a doctor and burst into tears. Literally within moments, I had a prescription for an antidepressant.
I left feeling ashamed and deficient somehow. The drug didn't help at all and I was cycled through various others to see if one would finally work for me. When I decided to quit the search, I was tapered off of everything and felt like bolts of lightning were jolting through my body for weeks.
Nobody ever asked about my diet.
I've had three idiopathic blood clots. That means doctors can't identify what caused them. But now I take an anticoagulant for the rest of my life. For years, I've had to be careful about which foods I ate because certain foods could interfere with the medicine.
I even saw a gastroenterologist who wrote me a prescription for an anti-anxiety drug before printing me a list of foods that might be the culprit behind my constantly upset belly. There was no real plan, no follow-through. Just a drug to treat the symptoms.
I was told that my symptoms were all in my head and just manifesting themselves in my gut. I felt broken and shamed again.
Yoga was my first step in recovering from depression. I'm now a registered yoga teacher and practice almost daily. I meditate and take long walks to soothe my nervous anxiety. I have been gluten-free for years and until recently ate what I thought to be a fairly healthy diet. I don't drink or smoke or even drink caffeine. Most people who know me would probably consider me somewhat of a health nut.
One day it occurred to me that I would never just "open my medicine cabinet and start swallowing random handfuls of drugs." I don't even take Tylenol without checking to see if it's safe with anything else I have to take. But I do this with food. I open the refrigerator and...
I [finally realized that I] paid more attention to the appetizing picture on the package than to what was actually in the package. I finally understood that FOOD IS MEDICINE and that literally every single cell in my body was made of the food I chose to eat.
For the past several weeks, I've been eating nothing but clean food. I've removed all dairy, grains, legumes, soy, and sugar from my diet. I have piled my plate with veggies, fruit, and protein. Everything has been delicious and satisfying. I've definitely lost weight, and I've never felt deprived or gone to bed hungry.
But I've also gained strength and endurance. My sleep has improved. My skin is happy. And my resting heart rate has dropped steadily.
And this happened after only two weeks!
I'm much happier these days than I was a decade ago. I've fought for my own happiness. I now know who I am and what I need to feel like me. Antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs are helpful to many and there's no shame in taking them—none—but they've become so stigmatized that we sometimes get defensive about them instead of fairly examining the whole picture.
None of the doctors I met ever asked me about my diet. I was told that my symptoms were all in my head. Who cares that my head happens to be connected to the rest of my body?
What we eat matters and affects our entire being, not just our physical body.
Did you know that body fat secretes hormones? It works like an organ. If any other organ were enlarged and throwing the rest of your system out of whack, you'd probably consider that a problem.
Food is comforting. These past weeks have been emotionally exhausting. I got a call from the vet who has been treating our beloved dog for his leukemia. When they diagnosed him, they said he had 7-60 days left. He fought for more than six months! Even so, the vet confirmed that we had to say goodbye. He suggested euthanasia was the most compassionate response. It was gut-wrenching. I was standing in Target sobbing and calling around looking for someone to come to the house that night to help my dog transition in peace.
During that situation and other, equally stressful situations, I found myself face to face with the reality that I use food to comfort myself. I longed for sugar, cream, grains... Cookies, basically. I stared at the brightly colored bags of treats and imagined what it would be like to eat them. To feel their crunch and sweetness and melting chocolate. I felt alarms going off in my head like an addict fighting to stay clean amid temptation. I pushed my cart through the store with eyes red from crying and left with my commitment to a clean diet intact.
Once at home, I made myself a bowl of chia seed pudding with coconut milk and cream, bananas, blueberries, and love. It satisfied and comforted me. It nourished me instead of making me feel sick and sad.
It's okay and good and right to feel comforted by your food. Food is medicine. Food is one of the truest joys in life. Learning to see food for what it really is has been an intense and eye-opening experience.
If you're looking to learn more about all of this, please go find a copy of the book, It Starts with Food. Written by a certified sports nutritionist, it's an absolutely fascinating and inspiring read.
Liana adds:  So make today the day you declare your independence from PMDD.  In addition to whatever treatment plan you are following, take a good, hard look at your food habits.  What you eat, when you eat, where you eat, and why you eat.  Read up on food and nutrition and how it all works to support and sustain your brain and body.  Do what you can to eat clean(er)—and feel the difference for yourself.  Become more body aware as you start to feel healthier. 
Make changes in small increments if that's the only way you can stick to a plan.  Baby steps. 
That's the way I did it, and, like Julie, my symptoms have eased to barely worth mentioning in the year and a half  I have been eating cleaner.  So much so that I haven't needed to take anything for anger, irritability, depression, mood swings or anxiety other than an extra 100mg of progesterone as needed.  (I wear an estrogen patch (.75.mg) and take 100 mg progesterone capsule at bedtime daily.  I take an added dose of progesterone (either via a second 100 mg capsule or a dime-size dollop of progesterone cream) on days when I feel symptomatic.)
Nutrition matters.  And you deserve to be nourished, not pacified.  So give cleaning up your diet a sincere effort, like Julie and I have.  There's nobody out there who can or even will do it for you.  It has to come from you.
Then, once you, too, feel stronger and have more stamina and energy—mentally, emotionally, and physically—you may be able, with the supervision of your medical practitioner, to be weaned from any substances (or situations) you have determined are making you feel worse...instead of better. 
And wouldn't that be something to celebrate?
Readers can find Julie on Instagram @hideadollar and can reach Liana either through posting a comment here or by emailing her at info (at) livingwithpmdd (dot) com.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

PMDD Quote of the Week

~Just yesterday I could not stop eating.  It was like I was keeping myself from being dragged under.~

Sunday, June 19, 2016

PMDD Quote of the Week

~Some people just can't let you have any peace while being in the same room with them.~

Anyone with a story to share?  Comments welcome...

Sunday, June 12, 2016

PMDD - After the Hysterectomy

In my first post, I shared what it was like for us in the trenches with PMDD.  This installment, I want to discuss what happened after my wife's hysterectomy, or how we finally got to life without PMDD.
The decision, I remember, was discussed a handful of times regarding whether my partner should have a hysterectomy. I remember us doing a lot of due diligence on the topic, mostly surrounded around her health. We knew we were at peace with the idea that we would no longer be able to have children—we already had two beautiful, healthy kids and we were truly blessed. The larger conversations centered around "then what?" What are the guarantees? What are the potential complications? What if the surgery doesn't work and what would the domino effect be, knowing she just had her entire reproductive house torn down and she still had PMDD?!
The decision was ultimately hers. She decided it was worth the risk of everything we had discussed, knowing the reward would mean so much more.
She had her surgery. It went well and we were told there would be no major side effects, just 6-8 weeks or physical recovery time. All good, right?
Let's harken back to PMDD and how most of us, even doctors, are learning on the fly. I obviously wasn't prepared for the three months after surgery and how PMDD kept creeping into our lives. It wouldn't go down without a kick in the gut, a roundhouse right to the head, and headlock for good measure. One of the hardest battles lied ahead and I was not any wiser to what the hell it was—again my preparation—or lack of it—didn't matter.
My wife fought for three months after her surgery. It was probably just as hard as when she had PMDD. I remember the emotional strain it took on her—how her body would never be the same. How the same place that had housed our children for almost 10 months was gone. It was an emotional rollercoaster. The fights still existed, the threats of divorce were still present, and it seemed at times as if one of my fears had come true—IT DIDN'T WORK!
As each day went by I was looking for a ray of hope. After she was fully recovered physically (try more like 3 months, not 6-8 weeks) some normalcy started to happen and it felt odd. We were always waiting for the next fight to happen. I was always tracking her episodes on my iPhone, trying to prepare for the next hostile takeover. We went back and forth at times really questioning if the surgery worked 100%.
It was a long road back emotionally for my wife post-surgery. It was harder, and took longer than any of us expected. PMDD gave us one last fight and didn't go down quietly...why should I have expected it to?
For whoever reads this, I leave you with this: It can and will get better. There are options for you and your partner. You don't have to live this way any longer. I know it is easier to run like hell than to stand and fight. I chose to stand and fight when at times I wanted to run far, far away.
I leave you with three points to help get you through it all:
1) Remember why you fell in love with her. It will carry you at times through the muck even though the woman you fell in love with might be a shadow of herself during PMDD.
2) It's okay to feel the way you do, no matter how much you might feel guilty for feeling a certain way. Things will cross your mind during her PMDD episodes that will have you questioning your sanity. You will feel like snapping at times. You will feel like doing irrational things just in the hopes that your wrong behaviors or attitudes are not so much payback for PMDD, but a pathway between staying balanced and losing your mind.
Talk about the way you feel with others even if they might not fully understand it. Just letting it go and letting out a good cry is also therapeutic. Don't hold it in. Find an outlet for yourself too. Your health still matters.
3) Lastly...Don't give up. She needs you still. She is fighting a swarm of demons that she doesn't want around. She doesn't want this any more than you do. [Whichever treatment option(s) you choose] Work towards achieving healthy solutions for both of you. There are solutions out there. Do your homework, reach out to PMDD survivors and their peers, and never, ever give up Hope.
You are stronger than you ever realized, partner, and God wouldn't give you anything you couldn't handle. Call it cliché but it's true. You were built for this for now, but it is not yours or hers to live with forever.
Liana's note: For more information on the basics of PMDD, please read my posts Dealing with PMDD - Advice for Men, and Confusion City.   Also worth reading are Top 20 Tips for Dealing with PMDD, and More Tips for Men Whose Partners Have PMDD.  All four posts are included in my book PMDD: A Handbook for Partners.  For those who prefer to have all this information (and much more!) in one convenient place, it's the book with the blue cover at the top of the sidebar. 

Sunday, June 5, 2016

PMDD in the Trenches -- A Partner Speaks Out

Hello. My wife is a survivor of PMDD and successfully had a hysterectomy last year.
Everybody's partner has their own unique perspective, story, and battle scars. However, I can only imagine what it is or was like for each and every woman that has battled uphill fighting PMDD. My story plays out in three segments: Pre-PMDD, PMDD in the trenches, and post-PMDD.  I'll present the first two here today.
Pre-PMDD: The Quiet Volcano
Before our daughter was born, my wife had fundamental characteristics, that looking back now could have somewhat prepared us for what was to be PMDD. However, I am not a doctor and I don't play one on TV and I am not the Amazing Kreskin, so in hindsight, it wasn't our fault that we were not able to predict the future. We had a wonderful courtship, engagement, and newlywed life; everything that you would want pre-children.
But bubbling under the surface was the volcano. I still somewhat to this day wished I had been a more cognizant partner. Maybe those fundamental characteristics could have prepared me to be on the lookout postpartum. I am a planner. I like to stick to schedules, show up on time, and live by the preparation sword. So you can imagine that when my wife and PMDD met; it was nothing you can prepare for.
No partner can gameplan to tackle PMDD head-on. Heck, 90% of the country hasn't even heard of it. Those of you who might be reading this as a partner, might feel the same way I did. I implore you to step back and give yourself some reprieve today and every day moving forward. Likely now you might be in the thick of it, or maybe you're in the [somewhat more peaceful] post-PMDD phase. All you can do [either way] is live in the present moment because there is no point--I promise you--in focusing on anything else [when you are in the throes of PMDD].
PMDD in the Trenches
I can honestly say there has never been a period in my life and during my married life that I felt the walls caving in like they were during "PMDD in the trenches." This is where all the battle scars happened, horrible words were thrown around, bombs dropped, and at the end of it all there were no winners. It was nearly a 5 year period of some of the most tumultuous scenes of my life played out for all to see sometimes, sometimes played out in a shroud of silence. Scenes that looked like they could have been on a Thursday Night Lifetime Movie event, or sometimes things that you see on the local news channel --Yeah, that bad. Remember, I'm a planner; I like things in order, I believe that all things have a place...I am a huge advocate for keeping my life as efficiently run as a possible. My wife having PMDD was the antithesis of all those things.
PMDD ran our life. It was a Gestapo, a real son of a bitch. My wife's life was controlled by a parasitic mind fuck over mind, body, and soul. It took everything out of her and undoubtedly took everything out of me. I wanted to quit. I wanted to run away. I wanted nothing more than to take my children away and never come back. I found solitude in imaginary places that existed far from my wife and far away from any PMDD.
For 2 weeks a month, we were at the mercy of PMDD. It had a massive effect on our lives. I lived by the theory of "hope." I continually held out hope that things would improve. Maybe this month she won't want to lock herself in the closet. Maybe this month she'll want to parent her children. Maybe this month she won't have a panic attack. Maybe this month she'll toughen up--Yes I was thinking that, sadly enough. I was desperate for truth...Desperate for answers....Desperate for normalcy.
I knew as much as she did. I knew probably as much as some of the doctors & therapists knew. What I knew more than anybody though is I still loved my wife through and through. I wasn't going to run, though I wanted to. I wasn't going to get divorced, though I wanted to. I just wanted PMDD to stop ruining our lives. I wanted my lovely wife healthy, happy, balanced, and present--no longer consumed by the heavy fog that is PMDD. I can honestly say we were both held as emotional hostages each and every month.  By a pair of ovaries.
Note from Liana:  A hysterectomy alone will not eliminate PMDD.  If you choose this treatment option, you  need to have the ovaries removed as well.  PMDD stems from something that starts in the ovaries.
I encourage you all today to hold out hope. Hope is all we have. Like Andy Dufresne in The Shawshank Redemption said to Red, "Remember Red, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies." I am glad I held out hope because, know this....there is a light at the end of the tunnel. There is an end [to PMDD] and a post-PMDD world exists......

More on this next week.