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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, January 12, 2011

It's Not Personal, It's Just Your PMDD

Okay, we’ve covered your relationship with you, learning to treat yourself as well as you would a friend, how exactly to have a relationship with yourself, choosing your friends wisely, avoiding relatives who are toxic to you if you can, and tips to get along with them if you do choose to attend family functions.

Now we’re going to look at your relationship with another aspect of your family—the people you live with every day.

This could be any combination of people and or ages. Mother/guardian and children; parents and/or siblings (you, living with your parents and siblings); adult woman living with parents; adult woman caring for parents; roommates; mother, partner, and children; childless couples; same sex couples, you name it. But these are the people we are closest to, physically, if not emotionally. It would be nice if we were as emotionally close to them as we are physically, but for any number of reasons that often isn’t the case.

Stress at home is bad enough, but for a PMDD woman, it can be the key element that keeps you from getting well, as any kind of strife at home only exacerbates a PMDD woman’s symptoms. During a PMDD episode, we are biologically sensitive creatures, as in sensitive to light, sound, touch, taste, and smells. This has been proven. A PMDD woman’s five senses can be enhanced during an episode, enhanced to the point of discomfort and beyond, which makes us react in ways not welcome or understood by those who do not suffer such on again, off again changes in sensitivity to light, sound, touch, taste, and/or smell.

Please understand this: It’s biological, this shift/change that is happening in our bodies, but we react to it/manifest it emotionally.

Anger has been a basic form of self defense since the cave dwellers. Our bodies are hardwired to react with some form of flight or fight (including anger and aggression) when we feel threatened.

You’re having a PMDD episode and the kids are being too loud? You snap and snarl to get them to quiet down. Your head is pounding with a PMDD migraine, you tell your beloved to shut up and turn out the lights. Both of these reactions are nothing more than self-preservation instincts kicking in. Too many flashing lights? Too much electronic noise? Same deal. Significant other giving you a hard time? Everybody wants a piece of you at the same time?

Your biological responses kick in, and you lash out in self defense.

The target of your attack responds with “What’s wrong with you? I was just…?”

They wonder if you’re crazy. You wonder if you’re crazy. Some are even so mean-spirited as to taunt you and make you do it again and again and again…because when you’re out of control, the focus is off of them. Just remember that.

The best way to fight this form of mean-spiritedness is to become your own best friend, get to know yourself better than anyone else knows you, sort through what is your fault and what is not, then amend your own behavior—such as catching yourself before you explode into anger or tears—and learn how to apologize when you don’t.

Never apologize for “being the way I am.” You are who you are. And God loves you just the way you are. If your family or partner doesn’t…you need to think about that. Think about some changes you might need to make before you can be well again.

But right now you need to focus on you, to get a handle on your PMDD.

If you don’t catch yourself in time, apologize immediately for the hurt you caused the other person. Not for being upset in the first place. When you snap out during an episode of PMDD, unless you are aware of what you are doing and actually feel it coming on, you have no more control over what you say and do than you would over an allergic reaction.

Because it’s biological in nature, and deals with, among other things, your stress responses.

Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Which came first, stress or PMDD? Stress contributes to PMDD, and PMDD causes stress. The only thing you can do to break the cycle (short of taking drugs that only mask your symptoms and give you various side effects to deal with) is to get to know yourself as well as you possibly can, and learn ways to head off these “natural as an allergic reaction” responses to stress.

If you chart your symptoms, which really is a must for a PMDD woman, you can tell when things are going to start getting dicey in your life. You can plan around those days, plan to take it easy on those days if at all possible, learn to pamper yourself a little. You can also warn those you live with that those days are coming.

If they are not sympathetic, do not explode. Simply be the change you want to see in the world. Model the type of behavior you would like to receive from them. Do unto others….

It all starts with you. Why? Because if you don’t take care of you, nobody else will. If you have to start being nicer to someone so that they will be nicer to you, then so be it. Give peace a chance. There are those who won’t respond positively, or who won’t respond at all. That does not matter. The only person whose behavior you are responsible for is you. And once you have a handle on your own behavior, they can’t use it against you any more.

So think about that.

My house is a haven. It’s where I go to find peace, to recharge, to rest and relax. It wasn’t always that way, and I had to make some serious choices and changes to get to where I am today. One baby step at a time.

But now, if I am having a bad day, all I have to do is say so, and everyone knows it has nothing to do with them and everything to do with me and my PMDD. The best course of action is to avoid me, make no demands, agree with me if I start something, and not take anything I say or do personally.

My job is to stay aware of what I am doing, go about my business quietly, gently remind people who forget and start to ask for something I can’t give at that moment that I am having a bad day, do my best not to start anything, and not take anything personally.

The best advice for everyone involved is to not to take anything personally on those days. This is not a license to freely do and say what you want to during that period, but an agreement that if things should go awry or even get out of hand—it’s not personal. It’s just your PMDD.

Remember, PMDD is an explanation, not an excuse.

And if others in your household are behaving badly when you are having an episode of PMDD, what is their explanation for it?

Think about that one for a while.

You’ll soon realize it’s not just you.

So stop taking the blame for everything that does wrong in your relationships. Recognize that it takes two to have a relationship and both parties have to want the relationship equally for it to work.

I’m talking about adults here.

When it comes to kids, it should be easier to simply explain to them that Mommy is having a bad day, and needs some quiet time, and it would be a really big help if they could find something quiet to do while Mommy rests so she can feel better sooner.

If your kids don’t understand or refuse to honor this simple request, then a parenting class might be in order. If your partner doesn’t understand or refuses to honor this simple request, a relationships class might be in order. There’s nothing wrong with asking for a little peace and quiet, a little time to yourself to regroup, especially when you are not feeling well.

Around here, we use words like…
I’m feeling fragile today.
I can’t handle too much information today.
I’m having a bad day.
I’m having a sad day.
Whatever you say or do today will be wrong, so it’s best to steer clear of me today.
It’s not personal.
It’s not you.
She’s baaaack! (Meaning my evil twin).
Guess who’s visiting? (The Alien, which is another name for her.)
All I want is chocolate.
Let’s go out to eat.
I can’t stay awake today.
I think I’ll just read a book for a while.
Not today, hon, I can’t seem to hold onto my thoughts for very long.
I think I’ll just end this day now and go to bed. (Usually said when I am extremely irritable, and no matter who says anything to me, they are likely to get blasted. I simply remove myself from the situation and temptation.)

That’s enough for today. I hope I’ve given you some food for thought.

18 comments:

  1. This is SUCH good advice! Thank you for continuing to give encouragment and suggestions for how to help other than pushing meds that do exactly what you said - create side effects to add onto the stress one is already dealing with! If anyone has an iPhone, I would highly reccommend the P tracker. I've dealt with PMDD for almost 6 years now and never tracked my symptoms, I just know when my "off" days are going to be and when I'm most likely to have an episode. But with this app, you can chart your symptoms and write notes - help yourself remember what is going on around you. It's a great tool!!! Thank you again for all your encouragment :)

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  2. Oh, but that is so true. The "what's the matter with you" question is like red rag to a bull, because, let's face it, how many days of the month do you accommodate the people around you, mood swings, demands, stresses and all, before hormones dictate you take care of you and snap?

    Very informative!

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  3. This post comes at an apt time. Was met with 'I know you feel crap, but you don't need to be mean to me, your not even trying today, I want to hear that your trying'. I was trying SO hard it was a tough day and my 'reaction' was VERY minor in the grand scheme of things. But then realised later that he was bringin his own grumps with him because of other circumstances. It's not always you... other people have tough days too. And the two combined is hard work!!

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  4. Hey Liana, Of course you can use my guide as a guest post, I would be honored. I replied to your comment, but figured you might not get notification of it.

    Speak soon

    Cat x

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  5. I've just discovered this blog and want to thank you for bringing rationality to something that is so inherently irrational.
    I've been coping with the realization that my life-long "insanity" is PMDD for the last 2 years. All this time, I've been single. Now, I've met someone new and have not yet told him the "evil truth". Your blog is fantastic and really helps me to understand how to approach my new situation with this someone special. Thank you.

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  6. I am for sure bookmarking your site. I have been living with this since I was 11 years old. It gets worse when my life tends to be more stressful. I am just beginning to learn about PMDD, I believe I was mistakenly diagnosed with depression when I was 12 and mistakenly diagnosed with PCOS in my 20's. I am know 33 and have had to have physical therapy for stress related pain. It's all related to PMDD. I have an appointment with my doctor in 2 days. I hope they help. Thanks for blogging this is a good site. I wish there was more on weight loss. did you lose weight with the working out and adding carbs?

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  7. Coming out of deep lurk to answer your comment :) Thank you for bookmarking my site! I, too, have been diagnosed at one time or another with both depression and PCOS. Both were wrong. I hope you have more luck with your doctor. I now have a new doctor and we are on the same page and the right path. I hope to address weight loss more in the future. As of right now, I haven't found an easy secret. The most success I have had was in using Myfitnesspal.com, where you log in daily the foods you eat and the exercise you get. There is also a box for comments or notes on your progress. Once I started using that, I started seeing a clear pattern emerging between my PMDD and eating habits. What I learned was that I needed a minimum of 50 - 60 grams of carbs per meal to stay on an even keel. Otherwise my level of serotonin dipped and the sadness creeped in. It was also helpful to see how on the days when I craved carbs and felt constantly hungry that indeed I was consuming no more or no less than any *normal* day. The record of what I was eating showed I had eaten the same amount of calories as, say, two days before, and nothing had changed in my life other than I felt massively hungry all the time. So, armed with the knowledge that I was not starving myself, as my body seemed to be telling me, I was able to say to myself, this is my PMDD and I am not really hungry. This helped me to stay on track with my eating. But then there are those days when you just can't keep fighting it and to get some relief you have to eat something. I have a list of a few healthy snacks that ease the cravings. This is turning into a blog post, so I will work on that and provide specific information that I hope will be of help to you and others. Thank you for asking your question, as it lets me know what others want to hear about and gives me ideas for blog posts!

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  8. Your Blog is Heaven Sent. I'm 25 and I feel so misunderstood due to my struggles with this. I don't feel so alone now. I plan to go to a holistic doctor for help with my hormones. I have 50 pounds that won't go away. I've always struggled with my weight, but I believe God will help and heal me from this!

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  9. First I want to thank you for having the courage to write this blog. I came online to find a PMDD support group, and this came after taking yet another "mental health" day from work. I've spent the last 4 hours crying off and on and arguing with my boyfriend while trying to explain to him that I just needed someone to talk to. PMDD is such a lonely disorder. It's rarity coupled with its extreme nature make it so difficult to cope with at times. I can't just talk to other women because in reality most of them haven't experienced this. My boyfriend keep comparing it to PMS and he tries to make me feel better by saying all women go through it, but he is completely off base and misinformed. It is not PMS an most women don't go through this. I guess we are the lucky chosen few.

    The thing I struggle the most in my relationships is trying to convince people that I'm aware of my symptoms, but I can't control them. I cant simply will it all away. I have actually chosen to take an anti-anxiety drug called Celexa during the luteal phase of my menstral cycle (that is exactly 14 days before my period starts, and while I am ovulating). I have downloaded the womanlog app on my phone that helps me track "day 14" and since I ovulate exactly every 29 days I find that my symptoms come on like clockwork. The Celexa helps tremendously, but since I only take them 2 weeks out of every month, I always have to wait 48 hours from taking the first pill for them to kick in with relief. I am very sensitive to meds to I only take 5 mg. I started with 10, but that made me too sleepy during the day to function. I find that 5 mg. is perfect for my body.

    Alas, although relief is in sight I still go through those few days every single month where I'm waiting for my meds to kick in. Those few days where I often feel that my very life hangs in the balance. Prior to my diagnosis and treatment I had attempted suicide once and threatned suicide at least 4 other times in my life since then. As you can see PMDD can be deadly if left untreated, and most doctors don't treat it with such care.

    I am embarrassed to admit that I have this illness to anyone as only two people in my life know that I suffer...my mom and my boyfriend. My mom is very supportive, but my boyfriend treats me like I am weak minded. I'm not sure our relationship will survive this. I'm afraid to date anyone else for fear that no one will ever accept this about me.

    At any rate, I'm glad to have found this website and I feel hopeful at least that if I can encourage my boyfriend to become educated about what I am experiencing and how to better support me, then perhaps we can make it. My plan is to invite him over to read this blog. I pray that one day he will realize that when it comes to my PMDD, I don't want his opinion, I just want his love and support. Heck a simple hug or telling me "I love you" would be nice.

    Thanks for letting me share my story. Best of luck to all of you. God bless you.

    R

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  10. I am very excited that I found this blog as I have been suffering from PMDD for what seems 3 years after beginning birth control. One I stopped birth control last year, it has been a roller coaster as the monthly mood swings have been amped to full extent. I am screaming like a banshee, crying, throwing things, etc. and I can honestly say I sit back as if paralyzed and awestruck in my own mind, trying to break free from the cycle of Jekyll and Hyde. I usually like things neat and in order (kind of a perfectionist) on a normal basis and it seems it becomes ten-fold when I am in a PMDD episode. I want everything to be finished properly, no lose ends, or it strikes the sour mood. I am currently in a relationship of three years and this monthly pandemic is truly putting much stress on our relationship. My boyfriend is usually sweet and apologetic, trying to solve things before they get out of control and I of course, want things to go my way, and if they don`t hell will literally break lose. I am trying to find help for what has been happening with little avail. I am currently employed in a small town where medical help (especially something as precise as PMDD) has little to no available resources. I just wanted to say that I have been on this site several times, reading up, and trying to find ways to improve my mood when an episode hits. Sometimes, I don`t even feel it coming on and I will just turn into a ball of negativity and I can`t seem to tell myself to stop. It is as if I am in a trance, and everyone around me has the problem (I know, clearly the hormones talking). I will continue to read this blog and find ways to develop better ways of coping. Thank you for being there for all us women who may need an extra voice of assistance :)

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  11. I have since started taking Fluoxetine this month and the pmdd symptoms were so minimal, except for severe bloating, headaches, and muscle aches which seemed to be alleviated with 2 midols every few hours. I got through a period without any outbursts other than a small 10 minute teary-eyed me which signified time to take the medication and it worked. The prozac made me extremely tired during my pmdd, but it was better than feeling like a complete invalid. I am proud to say I have made it through this month for the first time in 6 months without breaking down for hours!! It is possible with the right mix of sleep, exercise, relaxation, and medication; still a work in progress!

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  12. I've just split up with my partner, whom I love. She suffers from endometriosis and related ailments. We've not been together long, but during this time she has consistently questioned my love and commitment. she's convinced that I am still emotionally attached to my (very) ex girlfiend, which isn't the case. It doesn't matter what I say or do, to demonstrate otherwise, every two weeks or so (iregular cycles), we would end up in a shouting match, where she would level all manner of wrongdoings at me, call me a liar, deceitful, incapable of demonstrating affection...she would recall, verbatim, snippets of conversations, taken out of context, which confirmed her doubts and suspicions. Reading through all the advice and information on how pmdd and associated hormonal conditions can affect reasoning and rationality, has been truly enlightening...my heart felt condolencies to the women who live with this condition...spare a thought also, for their partners who may suffer the consequencies. Without love, patience and understanding, through education, shared information and support there'd be many a lost soul

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  13. I'm so glad to have found this blog:thank you, thank you, thank you....I won't go into the details of my monthly hell hole experience, but I do want some advise on how to deal with this MONTHLY beast while being a single mom of a fifteen and a half teenage boy, who refuses to leave the house and just play stupid video games, who is the kindest and most beautiful human being I know and who often bears the brunt of my verbal rage! I know I don't deserve this, but I am certain he does not either, yet he fails to understand that I NEED!!!!! time alone. Add to that the size of our apartment (shoe box) and at period time I feel like jumping off the nearest bridge, I can't stand the site of him and it makes me feel even worse about myself because he is simply AMAZING!

    Thank you
    T

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    1. Just remember that you love him, and focus on the positive as best as you can. You know where he is and he's not getting into trouble. He's old enough now for you to be able to explain to him what happens to you, and to know it's not his fault, and to know to stay clear of you when you give the signal it's that time of month. If after you explain things to him he still fails to understand then he's choosing not to understand and that is a different situation altogether. But show him some of these blogs and be open with him about the things you thing and feel when your PMDD comes. I'm sure it will be better than being blindsided by your rage month after month. Maybe you can also get a dialogue going as to why he never wants to go out. The bottom line is you have to work around the PMDD together. It doesn't work if you don't have support from those you live with. Blessings, Liana

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    2. thank you Liana, your post feels so comforting like a warm blanket in a winter's morning. It makes me feel less alone and more hopeful and just to let you know, we do family therapy with a professional therapist to give him room to understand all of these. Your advice is gold and priceless and I thank you for taking the time to respond so quickly. I love your mandala on the lotus flower. I have plenty of symbols and jewelry I make repressenting the lotus flower, in the hopes that I too can rise from this mud a better being.

      Love

      T

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    3. Thank you! Just want to give credit where credit is due...Cat Hawkins does the mandalas and is awesome at it http://chaoticat.com/mandalas/ I'm glad that you, too, have a creative outlet for your energy when it comes... All the best, Liana

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    4. I feel the same with my 24 year old daughter and my 71 year old mother. All I want to do is scream. Explaining what's going on with my has no effect. The demands, verbal abuse I endure to keep from going into a raging tirade and saying things that would be unfairly detrimental to them. I really need some relief and I am going to get it, even if I have to eliminate every stressful relationship in my life.

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  14. I'm so grateful that I found your blogs. I'm having an extremely hard time with my PMDD, and I'mSafraid it's going to cost my relationship if we can't figure out how to work together on this. You have given me more info on this disorder than my own Dr. Thank you for that! I'm able to inform my family and bf with things that are not just about pms. Now if he'd just read the links I send him. I ask him to read the information do he can understand my pmdd but he doesn't seem to want to. Just tells me he saved the Link to look at later. When I ask if he did he says no but I have it saved to look at later.. I'm just learning ask these things and I can't even talk to him about them.

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