There’s one school of thought regarding PMDD that claims PMDD is not biological in nature at all, but rather a set of fanciful and imaginary symptoms devised by women as a means of expressing our discontent with our lot in life. Mad at your husband? Claim PMDD. Mad that you don’t get paid as much as a man when you’re doing the same work? Claim PMDD. Mad that the evils of the world have been attributed to women by organized religion? Claim PMDD. Feel like it’s unfair that you have to stay home with the kids while your partner gets to go out into the world and make his mark during power lunches, golf games, and beers with the guys? Claim PMDD.
In short, we’re not happy with our designated role in society, and so we have come up with a way to protest this arrangement by behaving badly and (hopefully) getting away with it. Science and medicine have nothing to do with it. There are no biological reasons for behaving the way we do. We’re simply a bunch of disgruntled women who have decided we don’t like the status quo.
So the best way to combat this insurgency is to deem us mentally ill, and classify our behavior as insane. Socially insane, if not legally so. The next step is to get us to buy into the stereotype. To get us to believe we are as crazy as they say we are. I’ve just been over at Facebook on the PMDD pages. The posts are full of women calling themselves crazy bitches and other references to insanity.
You are not insane. Your PMDD is real. It’s a biological condition, caused by a temporary fluctuation in your female hormones that *somehow* creates an imbalance in the chemicals in your brain, which in turn causes a disconnect in your thinking processes. It’s this mysterious *somehow* that nobody in the medical field seems to be able to pinpoint, any more than we know the underlying cause of cancer, or diabetes, or any number of disorders and conditions. Just as with those diseases, we’ve been able to identify many contributing factors, but not the actual cause(s).
Having just this week taken another quick dip into that realm of being disconnected, the memory is fresh in my mind. For the past three days, the weather here has been phenomenal. Perfect. Warm, sunny, splashes of vibrant color breaking out everywhere. It’s spring here, and rebirth and renewal are in the air. How can we help but feel blessed by the natural beauty that surrounds us? The generation of new life, the knowledge that whatever may be happening in our own, small, individual lives, overall, Life goes on, and it is inherently good.
As I sit or walk outside and experience nature blossoming all around me, hear the birds chirping, feel the sun and breeze on my face, see and smell the trees and flowers coming into bloom, I can intellectually understand the wonder and beauty of it all, can mentally acknowledge that Life is indeed beautiful—and it is--but am I feeling the Love?
Not. Why not? Because my brain chemistry has been temporarily altered, due to the fluctuations in my menstrual cycle, and there is a clear and distinct disconnect between my thoughts and my emotions.
Yesterday I wanted to weep. The day before that, I wanted to rage. The day before that, I was too tired to appreciate anything but the chance to take a nap.
This has nothing to do with my designated role in society. This has to do with my brain chemistry, period. I am not wanting to weep over the fact that women don’t get paid as much as men who do the same work. I am not raging at the idea that women have been blamed for all the evils in the world due to the doctrines of organized religion. I am not exhausted from having to take care of the dishes and the laundry and the myriad tasks that comprise taking care of a household and family. In fact, I do these tasks with love, as they bring me great satisfaction, knowing my home and family are lovingly cared for.
While I’m not happy with the societal conditions described above—I’d certainly like to get paid as much as a man in the workforce, and I’m not at all thrilled with the idea that women have been relegated to the status of a less than second class citizen by my faith, or that society in general sees women as either sexual objects or useless, with no in-between--those conditions are ever present every single day of my life. Those are my reality.
Why then, am I not furious, weepy, and/or exhausted every day if I’m so discontented with my lot in life?
You see? The theory that PMDD is just an excuse for women to express their unhappiness with the way things are just doesn’t make sense.
There are some theories that during a woman’s pre-menstrual time the so-called *veil* is lifted and we can see our overall connection to Life more clearly. For a few brief, shining moments, somewhere in the middle of our busy, overscheduled days, or maybe even the middle of our restless nights, we might suddenly see our relationships as they truly are, or discover an important revelation about our finances, our work situations, our living conditions--maybe entertain a thought or two that causes us to consider or reconsider any doubts we might have about our choices or our beliefs…
But it doesn’t cause us to go bat shit insane.
Think about this. It can’t be just your period coming that makes you go over the edge. Periods are a natural, normal part of the cycle of life, of fertility, of renewal.
To send you over the edge, something else has to be going on. Maybe even a lot of something else’s. Maybe even someone standing there, giving you a push.
Hey, it happens. More often than we’d like to admit. But that’s a topic for another day.
Today, we want to try to sort out what your part in all of this is.
So traditionally, the second half of the menstrual cycle is a time of personal insight, intuition, and clarity. This is normal. This is natural. This is the way God intended it to be. There was a time when a woman’s menstrual cycle was revered, respected, and yes, celebrated. A time of rest, reflection, and the potential for great wisdom.
Unfortunately, for us and for society in general, now it’s become nothing more than a curse, an inconvenience, a way for society to deem us as somehow unclean and flawed. Something to be ridiculed, suppressed, and avoided as much as possible.
Why is this, and how did it come to be?
That, too, is a topic for another day, but something we need to be thinking about in the meantime. So please, take some time out this week to think about your period. What it means to you. How it was explained to you, how you think about it, feel about it, handle it, and discuss it—if you even do. Or do you ignore it, pretend it simply isn’t happening?
How can we ignore something so fundamentally crucial to the well being of our bodies? How can we hate it?
PMDD women hate it because our menstrual cycle is what sets off this monthly--sometimes bi-weekly if we’re especially sensitive—chemical imbalance in our brains. The chemical imbalance that causes us to say things we don’t mean, do things we don’t want to (and would never do otherwise), make bad choices and decisions, hurt the people we love the most, and want to hurt ourselves.
But what if we came to understand it better? Came to understand that it’s not really the menstrual cycle—I mean, at least 90% of women who menstruate don’t have PMDD—but rather something unique that happens to PMDD women, in concert with our menstrual cycles.
In other words, don’t kill the messenger.
Just like women have been unfairly blamed for most of what’s wrong in the world by various sources, aren’t we unfairly blaming something normal and natural and an essential part of Life for something that really happens in our brains?
After all, isn’t when your period starts when the PMDD symptoms stop?
So let’s try flipping this idea around and see what happens. Can you just, just for a month or two, try seeing your period coming as something good and positive? Can you start to learn the natural rhythms of your body, and come to realize that your PMDD is just one aspect of a really complicated biological condition? A condition caused by something somewhere out of balance?
Can you start to look for the things in your life that might be out of balance, and allow the natural and normal process of wisdom and clarity to come through as you wait for your period to come? Can you make note of the thoughts that arise, and not act on them in your PMDD state, but set them aside until the PMDD passes and you can deal with your thoughts rationally?
In short, can you learn to be your own best friend? Can you stop beating yourself up for things you can’t control? Can you stop buying into the societal conditioning that women are too emotional and irrational to start with, and you’re just a crazy bitch in the extreme?
Because I think that once you do…once you take a few minutes out to stop and THINK about what you are allowing yourself to believe, about yourself and others, and once you try to view your menstrual cycle in just a slightly different manner, as I’ve suggested here, you might come a little closer to understanding this mysterious chemical imbalance that wreaks so much havoc in your life.
And once you do that, you’ll be able to start sorting out what is your PMDD, and what is not.
And as you begin to start untangling all the different threads that make up your Life, you’ll start to feel better.
Count on it.