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~Seek first to understand, then be understood~
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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

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A Perfect Storm of PMDD

Unfortunately, I’m one of those atypical types who has my PMDD served up in three different courses, which is one big reason it took me so long to get diagnosed. All the sites and information said specifically that for it to be PMDD, all symptoms must abate at the onset of menses, or when your period begins.

But mine never did. Mine came in three separate stages. Which I finally learned is possible as well. God knew I’d been living it long enough—but to see it actually mentioned in a book? Finally I could go to my doctor in confidence and get diagnosed.

I often compare my symptoms of PMDD to the course of a hurricane. Prior to the onset of my period is the building storm, the wind and the rain, with symptoms of irritability, edginess, an inexplicable, almost ravenous hunger, and cravings for salt and three specific foods---cheese, chocolate, and oranges. I have yet to figure out why, although occasionally I get glimmers of understanding and I am sure I will find the answer some day. But for now it’s enough to know that that’s what I crave, and when I find myself reaching for nothing but those three things, I know a storm is about to blow in.

On my pre-period days I also get jittery, clumsy, confused, and distracted, unable to focus on any one task for any length of time. My handwriting even changes. Usually, it’s comfortable, loose, flowing. When I’m having an episode of PMDD, it’s spiky, jerky, and messy. At times it looks like the handwriting of a much older woman. I’m always startled to see it come out that way, but not totally surprised, because as I’m writing, my hand doesn’t seem to work properly—which might also account for my tendency to drop things more than usual during those periods of time.

Anyway, the unfamiliar handwriting is generally one clue that something is happening in my brain. My typing is also affected. I have a friend who pointed out that I don’t bother to capitalize in my emails when I am having an episode of PMDD and I don’t do a lot of smiley faces. It’s as if to do either would take too much effort.

So in my case first comes the storm of irritability, anger, and rage. Snapping out at the drop of a hat. Lashing out at someone who didn’t say anything out of the ordinary, but just struck me as wrong. Feeling under attack and wanting to hit someone, anyone. Just give me a chance. Not a reason, but a chance. I call these my wanting to “drink, smoke, and be bad” days. Impulsive behavior does its best to take over, and I can fully understand in those days why some women go out and do completely irresponsible things they later regret. I’ve felt like doing so more times than I can count, and have complete empathy for those who give in to these bizarre urges. If I didn’t have a core of responsibility inside me that keeps me anchored in good times and bad, I would go out and do the same.

Usually the worst thing I ever did was go shopping and buy all sorts of things I didn’t need or never wore. If I were to look at my credit card statements for those time periods I’m sure I would see a pattern of spending that coincides with the pre-menstrual portion of my PMDD episodes. Fortunately, now I understand what is happening and stay home on those days instead of going shopping. Because inevitably the bill would come, and I would wonder why on earth I had done such a thing.

When I worked as an analyst for the government, on my pre-menstrual days I would suddenly notice that I hadn’t received a response on this project or the other, and would call up the parties in question and remind them I was waiting to hear from them. On any other day it wouldn’t have bothered me. People get busy, people go on vacation, people have priorities, people forget. In the overall scheme of things, my projects were never that vital. Most of the time, I was tolerant and flexible.

But on a PMDD day, everyone I came across was either incompetent or personally holding me back from untold success. I might not rant at them directly--after all, even on my worst days I knew you catch more flies with honey than vinegar--but I would complain to anyone else who would listen about how I seemed to be the only person around who could get things done and do them right. I had no tolerance for even the slightest delay or mistake. On those days, you didn’t want to mess with me.

Then my period would come and I’d be miserable in a new way for a couple of days. Cramps, backaches, and pain that sometimes radiated as far down as my knees, and made me feel like I wanted to throw up. Breathing hurt. I would lie very still, hot pack pressed to my lower abdomen, which felt like someone was slowly trying to pull my insides out with a three pronged gardening tool. Every single month. That, if you want to believe it, was the eye of the hurricane. The first two days of my period.

Then the sadness kicked in. On Day Three. Always on Day Three. If it was going to come, that would be the day. It didn’t always come, still doesn’t. Now I know it has to do with whether I release an egg or not that month. No egg, no sadness. Woo hoo! Party time.

Not quite. But at least it’s a lot more pleasant around here when the sadness doesn’t come. Because when it does, I’m tired all the time, my head feels like it has an iron band around it, I sigh incessantly, big, deep sighs like the weight of the world is on my shoulders—and for me, it is. Most everything looks hopeless, every good idea I had during the month goes to s***, I want to weep at every turn, you don’t dare tell me a joke or tease me, and I spend a lot of time wondering why I even bother.

During this phase of my PMDD, I used to beat myself up incessantly over the people I had snapped out at the week before. Now, at least, I don’t do that any more. I know I didn’t mean it, and in most cases it doesn’t get that far anymore, because I have a much deeper awareness of what is going on and can catch myself in counterproductive behavior.

Now, when I catch myself starting to snap out, I apologize and explain I am having a bad day. Most of my friends know what that means. If the person isn’t my friend, it’s okay to leave it at an apology without an explanation. By all means, if at all possible, never ruin a perfectly good apology with an explanation. You don’t need to justify yourself or your behavior. You just need to acknowledge it, apologize for it if the incident warrants an apology, and move on.

But back then, as I said, I would beat myself up incessantly. Which only intensified my sadness and made me feel like a totally worthless human being. My friends couldn’t possibly be my friends. They wouldn’t be my friends if they knew the real me. How would I ever find anybody to love me if I was so impossible to be around. Yada yada yada. You know how it goes.

The bottom line is the first part of my personal hurricane is the moody, bitchy, out of control part. Then would come the eye of pain and two days of solid pain but surprisingly clear thinking. Fortunately, now, as I begin to enter menopause, it’s just the clear thinking part, and a huge surge of positive energy. It’s a definite reprieve in the storm.

Then the sadness comes. The first D in PMDD. My depression. Or The Fog, as I call it. Back then it was devastating. How could anybody not hate me? Now I am able to separate myself from it and while it is still not pleasant, I know I am not my depression. I rest, relax, take it easy, spend time reading or listening to music or doing something quiet and non-demanding, secure in the knowledge that it will pass. I do what I can to help it pass sooner. I take walks, take naps, eat right and take supplements. I do not allow my negative thoughts to take over. In fact, I smile at them, knowing I know better. God does love me and so do the people in my life. My ideas are good ones and I am full of creativity. I am strong, capable, and competent. Just running a little slower than usual today. Just a tad off my stride. It will pass and I will be fine.

And I am.

One day The Fog lifts, and its back to the torrid pace of my life as usual—until the next wave of cravings and irritability hits.

25 comments:

  1. Thank you Liana, the clumsy behavior, the inability to concentrate, the nonstop weeping and the intense negativity are all part of my PMDD experience. The'eye'and 'the day three sadness'explains alot! You offer us a treasure by revealing all that you're learned :-)

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  2. Thank you so much Liana ! With everything I've been going through these past few years and it getting worse and worse since the birth of my second son almost 4 years ago, I've been searching and searching for an explanation. I thought I'd found it in PMDD until I read that symptoms go away once your period starts. Not my case, just like you. I also start with anger and irritability and intolerance to noise and then things calm down once my period starts, but I'm exhausted. Then, 3 or 4 days after it begins, I get one day period-free then the next day, it starts up again with first-day cramps and back pain. Sadness and depression are present throughout at varying intensity. So basically, I'm myself for about a week and a half, two weeks out of every month. The rest of the time I'm this sort of monster, feeling worthless and useless, feeling like I'm a bad mother and an awful girlfriend. I could go on but well, this is YOUR blog ;-)

    So again, thank you so much, just knowing I'm not alone is a comfort in itself.

    Celine in Montreal

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  3. Thank you! You have described what I go through to a t. Will be following your blog!!

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  4. Thank you so much for giving me hope, 30 years of the same kind of PMDD as you describe. Am also drug free for ten years after being used as a human guinea pig by so called professionals here in Scotland. Being told PMDD there is no such thing at the same time giving coils that release hormones, hormones replacement and SSRI's at the same time.

    I have no close friends most people thing am crazy and when I try to explain to them I look even crazier to them. So I live in isolation mostly and have to pretend am ok when I see people.

    My mother has had to have me sectioned a few times. Only my son and daughter get the real me and my PMDD and if it was not for them am sure I would have took my own life by now. Thank you so much you make me feel like holding on am living.

    Colette from Scotland

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    1. Dont know if this will even get to you Colette but I admire you for posting this and hope you feel better and find peace
      Janos (also Scotland)

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  5. That should have read my mother tried to have me sectioned, but my doctor just laughed at her because he knew it was PMDD. Best doctor I ever had.

    Colette Scotland

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  6. Thank God and you for your dedication to this matter. Reading this post made me feel as thought I'd written it!
    Karyn NYC, NY

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  7. My heart goes out to all of you going through PMDD. You are not alone. Mine got to a point where it was affecting all my body systems such as the digestive. For a week and a half my body did shut down and all I could do was sleep. I even ended up in the emergency room with a twisted bowel and I suspect it had to do with PMDD because the doctor's failed to figure out why by bowel twisted. The worst part of all, only those with this disorder understand it, the rest think we are crazy... Imagine, during PMDD, I actually forget how to spell words, my cognitive skills dropped to zero. I started taking Yaz(birth control six months ago) and my hormones and now in control. I am watching to see how things go overtime. I truely burst into tears when I read everyones story because I know what PMDD can do. All the best guys.

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  8. I love the name livingonaprayer. If it weren't for that I don't know where I'd be. I also find that mine continues through my period. No major pain except for extreme achiness in my joints, almost as if my bones hurt in my legs. I also find that on around day two or three I have heightened sensitivity to sound, smell and touch. It is horrible! The next day is usually a total crash. I am so tired I can barely function. I was wondering if you had experienced anything of that nature.

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  9. Yes, absolutely, I have experienced all of the above. Sometimes you just want to scream from the pain, and it does feel as if it goes bone deep, especially into your legs. And when it's over, yes, you do crash, as your body needs time to heal from the trauma of your period. I hope you find some helpful information in these posts. Good luck and all the best~

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  10. I know the feeling of the storm-the mental confusion and the lack of patience. I could snap at anybody for the slightest thing which is very odd because I am usually extremely passive. But I have thought the same thing, 'God help anyone who messes with me at this time'. It's kinda scary to think I could do something that I would later regret but as the site says- we are living on a prayer.

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  11. Not sure if I am the only man reading these blogs, but my girlfriend's PMDD has been quite a rollercoaster ride in our relationship of 3 1/2 yrs. Obviously it must be awful for her, but it certainly has put huge strain on our relationship. She is very intelligent,beautiful etc, and withing 9mnths of meeting, i had proposed and just after she moved in with me. The monthly PMDD became soo bad with talking about weddings etc that I eventually said I thought we should delay the wedding. Well, that created so many more problems. I didnt want to let her down, but her behaviour took me by surprise every month, and I was left astounded at what had just happened. She would storm out over the smallest of things, and I wouldnt see her for a week. It would then take us another week to make up, by which time her next cycle would start. I ended up getting made redundant from 2 well paid jobs because of all of the problems that we had. We are still together, but live separately, and are trying to work things out. I know how hard it is for her, and she is my main concern, but it has also really affected me.. I think our only long term solution is for her to have children, and then have a hysterectomy. Identically story to her Mum. Can anyone comment on my story pls?

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  12. What changed when she moved in with you? Did you no longer have times when you "just didn't see each other"? (because she wasn't feeling up to it?) Or was it the stress of the wedding...all those plans, all those decisions...Stress can indeed worsen the symptoms of PMDD. That week you wouldn't see her is because she was in the valley or abyss or whatever you want to call it. No doubt hating herself for what she had done the week before. The week you make up is after her period and before ovulation. I am sorry to hear her PMDD has affected you so negatively with respect to your work. Living separately might be the best solution for a while, until things settle down. OR having a code word to say when she's feeling at her worst and giving her space within your home to be alone and nurture herself. To have you nurture her if she will allow it. (Both of these are easier said than done.)

    But I think it's up to her to decide what happens to her body. There are things she can do to mitigate the symptoms of PMDD, choices her mother did not have. All the best to the both of you...

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  13. Hello, I am at the beginning of my journey to understand my pmdd. About 2,3 years ago I started noticing that my unexplainable boughts of depression had an interesting pattern. Unfortunately I had no one around who had ever heard of pmdd but a couple of months ago my obgyn diagnosed me with pmdd and it's helped a lot. I'm in between testing Prozac and 5-HTP seperatelly on myself to see if one will help, they cannot be taken together I'm told but I intend to look into that more. So I'm wondering how you and/or your readers have handled treatment? I may also suffer from anxiety seperate from pmdd and sometimes I cannot escape those terrifying feelings of no control. No control. During the bad times. I also would like some women who do NOT suffer from pmdd to talk about what their mensuration experience is like? I'm do afraid of those who think its pms because my only defense is "no, it's different, far more intense," "yeah that's what each woman says about their period" , "no really, I consider suicide on e a month like clockwork, that's wrong, that's not normal" , "oh more drama..." These ate conversations I've had and fear I'll have again. But I'm not alone! I hate that other women have to suffer as well, but we're not alone and that's important. Thank you.
    L

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    1. PMS is primarily physical symptoms with a little moodiness thrown in. PMDD is something else entirely. You can't be responsible for what other people think, but given the responses you presented in your comment, my guess is they simply don't care enough to actually "listen" to you. The fault does not lie with you. You are attempting to communicate your condition and your needs. They are not listening. People who do not suffer from PMDD can not even imagine the stuff we go through. No kidding, it's not normal to think about suicide once a month. But PMDD doesn't do normal. That doesn't mean YOU are not normal...it just means you have PMDD, and you are not your PMDD.

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  14. My wife has PMDD 2 weeks each month. I can now track it on a calendar. The meanness, sharp tongue, irritability, over sensitivity to the slightest comment...it's all there each month, like clockwork. I used to make the mistake of reacting to her negativity, which results in a showdown at the OK Corral with talks of divorce, etc etc. Now, I just keep my mouth shut, offer my help, not reacting to the negativity. It's not easy at all. My only escape is to go to the gym when it seems everything I do is wrong in her eyes. But I bear it each month necause I love my wife and I know it's not her. I say she becomes Mr Hyde once a month for 2 weeks, and I just learn to keep my mouth shut. A big exercise in tolerance and patience. If you love your wife or special someone,tolerance and patience are vital. If you don't have them, you will suffer.

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    1. Thank you for your comment! You will see that it gave me the perfect opportunity to write a new blog post, The Other Side of PMDD. http://livingonaprayerwithpmdd.blogspot.com/2012/12/the-other-side-of-pmdd.html
      Thank you again, and and bless you for being the tolerant and patient soul that you are.

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  15. What happens when the patience runs out or that as a guy you cant take it anymore? As i see it is given a name - PMDD, but that is a fine line between Domestic Abuse too. Where does one end at the other start? Ive recently had to separate from my wife and now she has discovered she fits PMDD and is taking the Pill to replace hormones as before having children she says she was fine. However now it got the point I was looking at any option to get out, i and my children were subjected, though mainly me and I couldnt understand why someone would hurt their partner, especially when they were a "Good" man

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  16. Is there any way to get this corrected, I am on the pill but is does not help, around that time I get psycho crazy and my husband and my fighting gets bad, I do not want my kids going through a broken home because of this, I am so torn up and do not know what to do

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  17. This is the most insight I have had about my wife ever. We have had such sorry due to PMDD and I am starting to feel hope. Thank you

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  18. Hello Liana
    I can't thank you enough for having the courage to put this blog out there and then be honest and specific about your symptoms and coping mechanisims as it realates to them. You wrote "No egg, no sadness. Woo hoo! Party time" which just explained to me why some months fell suicidal and some months LIFE IS WONDERFULL! hard not to think one is crazy when all of this bullshit is happening. It will almost make it bereable if there was a higher purpose to it, a reason why? I don't see a lot of people mentioning ANXIETY! as a symptom but it sure is one of mine, a surge of cortisol and other hormones so big that it triggers obsessive violent thoughts and then it all subsides once period time gets here. Educate yourself, learn to love yourself in spite of all the shit your head comes up with, there is some putting up with it that goes along it. For the men, if you love the woman, get educated about this as much as you can, I strongly recommend reading "Female Brain Gone Insane" by Mia Lundin, in it she sheds tremendous light on this subject and offers great natural suggestions for relieve, but the only way out is through,it doesn't mean you guys take any abuse, but for the love of everything that is Holly! do not get confrontational, rather go for a walk or something. For the ladys thinking hysterectomy as an end to this,PLEASE DON'T DO IT, it is the easy way out and when the storm-tsunami-hollocoust of this mess passess you will need those eggs! Hysterectomy is the first thing OBGYN offers because it is their money maker. Of course all I have said and from personal experience is easier said than done and please, please, please, take what you like and leave the rest. Pray a lot! talk it out, DO NOT ISOLATE, this monster wants you in a corner and it wants you dead or to make you hurt someone else and usually that someone else is a love one, although strangers can get a backlash too I take megadoses of vitaminc C, to bowel tollerance and after a few months, something inside is building back up, energy is slowly starting to come back, JUST FOR TODAY, I am 48 now. Something new now is that I get my period twice a month for the last two months and I feel my ovaries churning when an egg is released! unbelieable stuff but true. I also feel hard in the lower belly before period start (something new). In addition I want to shed some light from another blog I read, women who go through this, usually have had some early trauma in their lives(even or specially if they don't consciously remember) and then, Spiritually speaking, the pain (stuck energy) is trying to work itself out of your body through the horrors of PMDD (just something to think about). As for you Liana, you are the first person who have actually made feel and believe to the core of my being that this is not forever, that in fact "this too shall pass" and that I am not bad or crazy or being punished by the gods for all of my sins of being an imperfect human. I can't thank you enough and these posts in and of themselves are very cathartic. This is such an amazing twisted, enlightening, terrifying process, that I even wrote poetry a few years back and I never wrote a poem in my life...it is as if the garbage accumulate over a lifetime is trying to get out of you and your true beautiful Self is trying to shine through. Because ALL OF YOU, I feel less alone, less insane and more hopefull. Something that comes HARD to me, but that I am working on is:
    SURRENDER, ACCEPTANCE AND TRUST. "Trust the process that got you here to get you through".
    Love & Light and tons! of resilience, faith and strenght
    Happy 2015, may it all get better for EVERYONE!

    T.

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    1. Hello, T! Thank you for taking the time to write! If you don't mind, I would like to re-post your comment on my blog, and answer it there, in full, the form of a letter/blog post, where it will get more exposure and will allow me to share a few things about my story I haven't addressed yet on the blog. A good time to reintroduce myself to my readers and organize my thoughts for the new year. In the meantime, thank you again for taking the time to share your thoughts and give me a chance to do this! Blessings, Liana

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    2. oh! please, yes! re-post. I thought this was your blog, I am not too educated in terms of the internet world. so, please tell me where your blog is so I can follow
      thank you
      and have the happiest, healthier,saner 2015
      Blessings
      T

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  19. This is my blog, but what I did was cut up your letter and put my answers to it in another blog, so that it reads like a conversation we are having between two women with PMDD. Here is the link, and thank you again for writing! http://livingonaprayerwithpmdd.blogspot.com/2014/12/pmdd-conversation-with-someone-who-knows.html

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    1. Liana,
      just to show you how the lenses change depending on the day of the month and what I have put in my body (as if you alredy didn't know it) I post this as way to vent (once more). It turns out that my hypersensitivity to the hormonal fluctuations ovary to brain chemical relation is so SO, fined tuned (as you know some women more than others) that today the mood is: it is all this work we sensitive souls have to do as it relates to PMDD episodes worth doing just to resemble so form of normalcy?....to what end? today is what I call "What is the F%$& point to all of these? is it even worth it to try ONE MORE TIME?... not my most uplifting inspirational post, but my soul crushing job (cubicle 9 to 5, data entry) has me questioning my own existence (tears rolling down my face).Even the knowing that it is PMDD rearing its ugly head once more does not ameliorate the awful soul crushing feeling of WHAT-IS-THE -POINT?...thank you for letting me vent
      T

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