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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

Sunday, March 4, 2018

The Voices of PMDD: Tough on Relationships

Anyone with experience can tell you, PMDD is tough on relationships. By the time I was 25, it was certainly getting tough on my parents and sisters, and then my first husband. This was before I knew anything about PMDD. I thought it was just PMS, but no one else with “just PMS” seemed to be going through what I was. When I would try and explain to confidants, I would be warned off blaming everything on hormones. Yet once a month, like clockwork, I would dread interacting; I could feel my personality morphing. I would cancel plans, back out of things, even leave vacations to go home! I would have massive flip-outs. Family thought I was just a moody, selfish and spoiled brat. In truth, I was being ruled by my hormones. I hated it as much as they did. It made it so hard to make plans or get excited about anything. And since it was cyclical, it seemed like “just who I was”.
I’m married for the second time now, and it seems I decide to divorce my husband pretty much every month. For nearly a year, I’ve been pulling my luggage out of storage and packing my bags only to put it all away again a week or so later when my cycle shifts again.
Maybe I had no business getting married in the first place, but we had to. We lived in separate countries, and it was the only way to be together. As much as I may have wanted to live abroad, I quickly realized I didn’t have it in me to deal with the culture shock, language shock, new roommate shock, etc. and all of the loss…of home, work, friends, family, belongings, car, etc. I had no idea the impact of moving overseas and all it entailed would have on PMDD!
Over the first two years of our relationship, the stress I endured was enough to give me PTSD and a whole new level of experience with PMDD, which by the way, I had only learned about half-way through our marriage, as I desperately looked for answers about why I was suddenly such a full-on raging lunatic every month. When I read about it, it was like a string of lights lit up in my DNA. When I started tracking my symptoms, I had all the evidence I needed. I hadn’t been imagining this plague! It was only in hindsight I was able to piece together aspects of my history that pointed toward PMDD and that those pieces of a near life-long puzzle started snapping into place.
In this marriage, our problems have centered around my PMDD. It’s an easy target. Once I knew what it was, we’d talk about it on the good days; I’d try to explain it and tell him what I needed from him. He’d listen and nod and say he understood. But for some reason, month after month, he just couldn’t deliver. Was it me? I thought so. I really, honestly blamed myself. Maybe I was asking for too much space. Maybe I was demanding too much help. Maybe I wasn’t trying hard enough!
Our marriage passed through a very difficult season of intense arguments, usually when I was in the throes of PMDD. These arguments only served to further impair my already affected mental state and merely re-traumatize me in all the ways I’d lived with growing up. It was becoming unbearably painful. Again, I blamed myself. If only I didn’t have this disorder. If only I wasn’t so needy, so messed up, so controlling, so…me. Of course, I blamed him too. If only he’d clean up, do what he promised, give me space, be…someone else!
Then one day, after an excruciating and emotionally abusive exchange between us, a genuine turning point arrived. I realized this endless struggle simply wasn’t what I wanted for my life. If I had a disorder that made relationships challenging, then I had to decide whether my marriage was a help or hindrance to my healing. I realized it had become a hindrance. Yes, I had my issues, AND my husband had his own issues, and all of it was creating a mess I couldn’t bear. We weren’t being “good for each other”. It was plain and simple reality, regardless of fault. That’s when I knew it was really over. I told him I wanted out, for real this time.
I started to focus on my own healing (or refocus, truth be told). I got into positive psychology, started taking B-12, Magnesium, and Ashwaganda for my blown-out adrenals, and hired a counselor, too. I learned to focus my mind out of hormone-created mental “shit storms”, and on the days I couldn’t, I treated myself gently. I began to process all the changes and losses of the past couple of years. I thought about what I still valued in life and took notes. I also realized that I had to at least try and communicate with my husband what I was going through, if just for my own experience. It didn’t matter if he got it or not; I just had to learn to communicate it. I began to want to understand what it was like for him too. I wanted to know all the ways I had been unskillful in our marriage so that if I ever got into another one, it would be better. It was really painful work, digging in the underbelly of so much suffering, much of it self-created. It was also difficult letting go of all the things I simply couldn’t control…like certain symptoms of PMDD or my husband’s perception, understanding, or lack thereof.
Shortly after I took on this mending, a miracle happened. We started really talking again and meeting each other in a different playing field. We both got more skillful. We accepted what we’d been resisting and/or taking personally. We found our love for each other again. We were finding our way to being “good for each other” again.
We are definitely a work-in-progress. Believe me, we still piss each other off, but now, we know when to back off and give each other space, and we know and understand a little better the ways we are either too different or too much alike to help one another. There’s more respect between us.
 So, despite hiring a divorce lawyer, we’re still married and going on three years now. Will we make it to four? It’s possible now, though it had gotten to a point where it wasn’t. There are still times of the month when my cycle shifts gears that I see through the eyes of judgment instead of love, when I just want to get the hell out of here, and when fear tries to take a hold and make me see only problems. Yeah, yeah.
Whatever, dragon!
When I try too hard to understand it all, I often don’t know what to believe. Do I believe the judgments that say he’s a total jerk, agonize over the crumbs and spills in the kitchen, and ruminate on stories about how everything is so terribly wrong? Or do I put my faith in the days when I’m overjoyed to see him, love his hugs and kisses, laugh with him, and feel grateful for his presence in my life and all the ways he blesses it? I know now that for the most part, both heaven and hell are inside me, and no matter where I go, I’ll take them with me. It all boils down to where I place my focus! 
Liana's note:  The above guest post was written by the blogger Cheekyminx. With her permission, several of her posts about PMDD are featured on this blog. In the meantime, to find out more about her work as a PMDD Advocate, please visit her Facebook page, PMDD Life Support.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

The Voices of PMDD - My Ten Year Struggle With PMDD

A guest post, written by a fellow PMDD blogger.

I was 20 years old when I knew things were not quite right. After suppressing my ovarian cycle for 3 months my symptoms were resolved and it was very clear I had a serious intolerance to my own hormones. I was told this is a complex situation that would disrupt my daily/monthly activities. What did this even mean? I struggled to understand this at such a young age, comparing my life (or lack of it) with my friends and those around me. I didn't even know it was called PMDD at this stage. I struggled to maintain relationships with family/friends, struggled to have a balance of life and each month was very much half lived. There were many dark days, spent alone hiding from the world. 
My GP at the time was completely ignorant to the severity of my symptoms, so much so that I started seeing a walk-in GP who has now become my main GP. He referred me to the PMS Clinic at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in 2012- finally felt I was speaking with gynaecological doctors who understood and could help. I was excited to be cured and rid of this illness and I couldn't wait to finally start living a normal life. However, I was told there is no easy way to manage this and every case is individual, with a trial and adjusted medication plan. I went through rounds of Zoladex injections (surpressing my periods) and different doses of HRT to try control the PMDD. Zoladex was my saviour, ridding all my symptoms. The HRT gave me many side effects, but nothing was as bad as the PMDD. The doses of HRT had to be constantly adjusted, side effects become more unbearable and I decided to withdraw from the Zoladex and HRT in December 2013. It took about 8 months for my periods to return. Initially, things didn't seem so bad, but the hormones built up and the PMDD was back. I didn't quite know what to do and I was reluctant to go back on the Zoladex and HRT. I tried several contraceptive pills over a period of months, with no hope of control-august 2016. 
November 2016 to March 2017 was a blur, the PMDD was back. I was in denial, hiding the symptoms, struggling with work, found daily routines a strain and disengaged with activities. I avoided speaking to anyone about as I knew the only hope at this stage was to go back on the Zoladex and try other forms of HRT or I consider a Hysterectomy. I was 29 and couldn't quite understand how I was meant to make such life decisions. The questions of relationships, marriage and kids were always avoided. Eventually the PMDD became so overwhelming, I knew I was in trouble-emotionally I had entered a really dark place and the fear forced me to get help. I remember the walk to see my GP knowing he would take control and get me the help I needed. A couple of weeks later I was back at the PMS Clinic at Chel/West Hospital, on the Zoladex (suppression of my own hormones) and a different form of HRT. I was so anxious about taking this treatment again, but I had no choice. 
So where am I now? Life has been good since April 2017. I turned 30 years old in June 2017. I survived 10 years with PMDD!! I have learnt to appreciate the role of the medication and see how normal, balanced and full of life I can be when PMDD is not in control. Life feels new, exciting, opportunities seem possible and I feel so much love and happiness. I feel alive! I am able to forward plan and make commitments. I have also learnt to trust those around me - my friends have held me up during the most recent bad turn and reminded me of the person that I truly am. I never thought I would have such a strong circle around me and I cannot express how their energy and presence has been my saviour. For the first time in years I have been able to open up about my condition and my worries of the treatment and future. However, I still fear the future, the unknown impacts of the HRT. It is still a fight. I still worry about sharing all this with a man—will he ever accept me? what happens if I am taken off the medication? I want to get married, have kids and be happy. The difficulty lies in trying to achieve all this, whilst dealing with PMDD, taking medication that is variable and if it fails, the decision of having a Hysterectomy. It's a life changing decision, especially when you haven't had your own kids. 

I wrote this account for my fellow PMDD sufferers—you are not alone. The best advice I can give you is to find a GP who listens to you and lean on your friends when you are at your lowest point. Do not allow yourself to be alone. Do not hide or be ashamed. Face the PMDD head on. Those around you will make the decisions for you when you are not able to—trust in them. The other advice I can give you is to live life. Do not self hate. Make the most of the good days, rejoice in experiences, build relationships and laugh. Make the decisions that you need to, that best suit you and your life, so you can find a way of truly loving yourself.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Living with PMDD - Realize, Relief, Repeat

[Living With PMDD]
By: Danni Hanna
When you REALIZE it’s time, it’s already too late
Being engulfed in its flame is always your fate
Depression sets in.. in its bi monthly routine
Next comes the anxiety and the fatigue
Panic attacks make their appearance
And the joys in life make their disappearance
Suicidal thoughts fill your brain
But you know soon enough you’ll be off this train
The train runs on an endless track
Circling, circling, circling back
Exercise, medication, eating right
Won’t help you win this fight
Two weeks free, two weeks trapped
Two separate identities on constant relapse
One identity starving for control
The other is on an easy stroll
Career and relationship changes fill the void of sleepless nights
But freedom is coming into sight
The day of RELIEF has arrived
As per usual, right on time
An exchange of pain occurs in an instant
From mental to physical, it’s always consistent
Anxiety and depression leave your side
Feelings of comfort and amusement fill your mind
Quickly forgetting the two weeks of hell
You become trapped within its spell
You never seek help
Because this is the best you’ve ever felt
Unaware you’re still riding the train
Two weeks pass by and the hormones enter your brain
Once again the exchange has been made
Those joyous feelings briskly fade
So go ahead and take a seat
The journey of this train is about to REPEAT

Saturday, December 9, 2017

My First Memory of Having PMDD

It’s hard to pinpoint my first true memory of having PMDD. I think I struggled against my PMDD for so long, denying that I had a problem, that it manifested long before I admitted there was something wrong with me. No one else I knew went through these struggles, or if they did, they didn’t talk about it. They managed, they coped…why couldn’t I? What was wrong with me that I was fine one day, and could barely get out of bed the next? I think I blamed it on everything and anything else but me, sources outside myself, school, work, friends, family, whoever I was in a relationship with at the time--because I was young and healthy and mental-type problems only happened to other people.

The first episode I can remember which I would now attribute to PMDD was a two-week period in my freshman year of college, toward the end of the semester and year, when I simply didn’t get out of bed except to go to class. I was doing well in my classes, not having any problems to speak of, and then suddenly this period of total sadness and hopelessness and lethargy hit, and I had no motivation to do anything or go anywhere. Then just as suddenly it lifted, and for the remaining weeks of the semester I raced around like a madwoman, trying to catch up and make sure my grades didn’t suffer.  I was eighteen years old.

Now, looking back, I can see countless repetitions of this scenario, where I’m sailing along, and life is fine, and then suddenly...it isn’t. When all indications are that I should be happy beyond measure--having achieved every goal I’d set for myself to that date--but I wasn’t. I used to think there was just something inside of me that liked to make life a little more challenging. Something that liked to let me fall behind, just so I could prove that I could catch up and still come out ahead. Now I realize it was the PMDD dragging me down. Now I think about how much I could have accomplished, had I known what was happening and learned to manage my PMDD, like I eventually did.

But I don’t dwell on those thoughts, because those opportunities have come and gone, and negative thoughts will bring anybody down, not just a woman with PMDD. There’s no sense in feeding the fire. What’s come and gone has done just that…come and gone. The only moment we can do anything about is the moment we’re in right now. And right now, I know that most, if all negative thoughts I have stem from my PMDD and I’m just not going to give them any more air time. I’m still as stubborn as I was as a teenager, still as determined not to let the sadness and negativity get me down, only this time I know what I’m dealing with. Now I’m able to separate the two, my usual self and my PMDD self, and when my PMDD hits, I’m able to label my self-defeating thoughts as PMDD thoughts and just set them on a mental shelf to be dealt with later.

The beauty of this tactic? When later comes, those thoughts are no longer relevant. Mostly because they weren’t true to start with. On PMDD days now I rest and take it easy. I find something positive and uplifting to read or watch or listen to, and focus on small, sometimes mindless tasks that I know need to be done and have been saving up for just such a day. Organizing receipts or CDs or books on a shelf. Folding the laundry. Nothing heavy, nothing demanding either physically, mentally, or emotionally. For instance, sorting through old photographs probably wouldn’t be a good job for a PMDD day. The emotions they dredge up might not be positive, might make you miss someone or someplace or stir up regrets. Or they might remind you of a happier time, and instead of making you smile, might make you feel like you’ll never be happy again. That’s the PMDD brain talking, not you. And whatever it is saying is certainly not coming from God.

I bring God into this because my faith was and is a big part of my experience with PMDD. Without faith in something bigger than myself, I never would have come to have faith in myself. I can’t tell you how many times I thought there has to be a way to make this madness stop. The first book I picked up was Prayer, Faith and Healing: Cure Your Body, Heal Your Mind, and Restore Your Soul. I’d tried everything else. Maybe it was time to give prayer a chance. And so I started. With baby steps. One by one, one day at a time, learning how to listen to something positive outside myself for a change, until I learned that God was inside of me, too, and I could go within for the answers I needed. They didn’t have to come from outside sources.

The stronger I became on the inside, the more those negative external voices dimmed to background noise. Such as well-meaning friends and family with unsolicited advice, and not-so-well-meaning friends and family with selfish needs and demands.  Not to mention well-crafted advertisements pointing out all the areas in which I was lacking in my life, or organizations with agendas on how I needed to live my life, and countless books, magazines, radio and television programs telling me I could have it all, while at the same time measuring me by artificial standards no one person could ever hope to attain.

It’s hard enough navigating life with all your faculties intact. But when you’re a woman with PMDD, operating on half power or less half the time or more, life gets really challenging. So don’t beat yourself up. The world is more than happy to do that for you. Accept that you’re not perfect and you’re never going to get there, then relax and enjoy your life. When you’re feeling good, take on all you want to, and when you’re not—take time out to take care of you.

If you take nothing else from this post, take this: Don’t spend another day beating yourself up for something you have no control over. Do start listening to your body, and giving it--and yourself--the respect you deserve. If you don’t know how to do that, if you’re scratching your head at the very thought of it,  like I once was, then check out my blog, my Living with PMDD Facebook page, or my book, PMDD and Relationships, for more information on how to better manage your PMDD, as well as support, encouragement, and tips on how to be a better you…all month long.

Friday, December 8, 2017

PMDD Symptom Play by Play Number 2

The following guest post was written by the blogger Cheekyminx. With her permission, several of her posts about PMDD are being featured on this blog. To find out more about her work as a PMDD Advocate, please visit her Facebook page, PMDD Life Support.
I did promise to write another PMDD symptom play by play, and since my symptoms just kicked in today, I thought now would be as good a time as any to bare my "hormotional" soul. This isn't easy. In fact, it sucks. It's dreadfully intimate, questionably revealing, and even harder to admit. But I am committing. So here we go...
8 Days Out
So what changed in me that I knew that symptoms had kicked in anyway? Well, I felt constipated and bloated today (first time since last cycle), I started pulling my hair out (not intentionally...my fingers just go to my hair and when I pull them away, my hair follows!), and most importantly, I feel just plain flippin' irritated for no extraordinary reason about EVERYTHING. I feel somewhat hair-triggerable, if you will. So I'm starting to avoid the things that trigger me (being everything, meaning isolated myself). I have to add that this month has been an incredibly stressful one already with plenty of relationship tensions. I was already irritable, but it felt different than it does today. I wish I could explain it. There is an accompanying intolerance now that wasn't there before...an inability to censor. My diplomacy skills are fading. Many say that PMDD magnifies what is already there. If that's true, this month ought to be a "real blast".
7 Days Out
I just flipped out over my husband saying, "don't worry", when I couldn't find how to reverse an action he told me to take in some software, messing up my work view. I did warn him my symptoms were coming on.
So are men really that stupid? Don't ever effing tell me how to feel! And certainly DO NOT belittle my frustrations with your petty sentiments of projection. YOU "don't worry"! I'm frustrated. Deal with it! Ouch! Okay, last two nights...a touch of insomnia. Today, RAGE! I think I could pick up this 20-ton glass desk and hurl it out the window like it was made of cardboard! There is a jittery tension just underneath my skin accompanied by an overwhelming desire to be alone in the house...for the rest of my life. I have ghost cramps too. That's what I call cramps that arrive before my period.
6 Days Out
6 days? I don't know if I can last another six days. Today was rough. I cried this morning. I cried this afternoon. I cried tonight. I'm feeling incredibly insecure, let down by and estranged from everyone in my life, anxious, grumpy, and deeply sad. I have wished that I would simply die. Since that's unlikely, I just vegetate with Netflix until bedtime with grateful anticipation of the total unconsciousness it brings...and hope I never wake up.
5 Days Out
Didn't sleep well last night, ironically. In fact, I was ruminating in a way that only comes on with PMDD...a hateful, angry way. I swear, I don't know where this shit comes from. I seem to manufacture it in spite of my desire for peace. Each time I woke in the night, I pounded my pillow and cursed bitterly. This morning, I did my best to isolate myself. I tried to be on my best behavior too, bearing in mind today's best bore more resemblance to a caged animal than to a somewhat decent human. Despite my PMDD Tourette's, a lovely symptom where pure shit just gushes from my lips, I managed to hold-back on some of my impulses to push and stomp. With every bite of my tongue, a part of me celebrated the tiny victory (quite alone...as it was evident to no one but me) while in the next moment I was unbridled...judging, criticizing, blaming, fed up with the same old crap...emotionally abusing my husband while at the same time hearing in some vague and distant background all the kinder things I wish I was saying instead. They were too remote for access. They were a distant land. I wanted to run to my room, to be safe, to protect not only myself but him--the only measure I have at my disposal...isolation. It was too late. His deepest wounds were activated, his own mind becoming the same enemy mine had become to me. It would seem PMDD can be contagious, even without the hormones. My husband reacted and in turn became the emotional abuser, taunting me, drilling me, pressing me, driving me to tears with his own screams of how crazy I am, how uncaring, how hopeless, telling me nothing my PMDD mind hasn't already been telling me, but reinforcing it in a way that broke and battered my already damaged spirit. He threatened me...with quitting, with walking out. He's promised that so many times, and today, I wish he'd follow through. That same distant part of me was proud of him for speaking up for himself in the only way he knew how...not for how he did it, though. How he did it hurt. I must admit today, I had suicidal thoughts. I had world-destroying thoughts. And I cried and heaved, shook and crouched in a corner, desperate to be free of this storm inside of me and the external manifestations of it. Emotionally spent, I listened to a looping recording of a mantra about 20 times which calmed my suspiciously empty mind. I can't believe I'm writing this.
4 Days Out
After yesterday, I'm really emotionally exhausted and kind of blank. I've lost a day. I thought it was Thursday but it's only Wednesday. That's been happening a lot, but I don't relate it to PMDD. It's living in the middle of nowhere! There's nothing I want to do...or feel or think. Despite needing some groceries, I can't make myself go. I feel like the remnants of a bird that has burned in flames but has yet to arise once more from the ashes. I continue my deluge of mantra listening. And I eat chocolate. I know my situation is complex. I have many marks against me right now. To be honest, I probably have some form of PTSD after two years of the worst stress of my life which I admit at least half of it I took on willingly, arrogantly even, in addition to being peri-menopausal and PMDD. I also have no grounding, having moved to a foreign country where I cannot speak the language and where my support network is still fairly non-existent. I had a massage therapist when I could afford her, and now, I have a talk therapist who I will have my first session with tomorrow (Thursday. Not today, Wednesday.) It's a trade-off. There's the recent passing of my mother, too. It's a lot to cope with. Add "relationshit" to the mix, and it's tough to tease apart the symptoms of PMDD from the disaster that is my life. So everything just swirls together into a big complicated mess. Charting saves the day and preserves what little sanity I have left by revealing an intensity of symptoms at certain times of the month. I will persevere. I am resilient. I am determined, too. And in moments, I am remembering who I am.
3 Days Out
This morning, every bone hurts. It was very difficult to get myself up and moving. I would love a massage, but I don't have the funds for one. Yin yoga will have to suffice. My symptoms were less today, which historically, has happened...things can actually mellow before the actual onset of my period. Although, usually without fail, I blow out the day before. We'll soon know...
2 Days Out
Last night, I slept 12 hours!! Pretty typical right before. My dreams were very bizarre. My hair continues to fall, and I had ghost cramps again. Another thing that's started today is a weird head-to-toe itchiness; I've heard other women complain of this too, so I'm no longer surprised. When provoked earlier, I quite easily lost my cool outwardly, but overall, in my head, I feel more stable today, so I'd have to relate any emotional symptoms to other things in my life and not necessarily PMDD. Or maybe I'll start early. The cramps are a good indication I might.
1 Day Out
Surprise! Guess what's here, sparing me an extra day of misery and uncertainty? How am I feeling? The first thing I noticed was the intense ache from head to toe as I pulled myself out of bed at a fairly human time of day. I feel about 20 years older in body. Add a headache and the typical cramping in my lower gut, too. But I can handle the physical symptoms; they are kind of a joy after the week I've had. Emotionally, I feel tentative (as the rest of my life is still incredibly challenging). But I don't feel that uncontrollable sense of building blood-level tension that prompts me to catastrophize and explode (not that I couldn't given the right stimulus...but that I don't feel that "hair-trigger" thing). My mind is also quieter. When I woke this morning, from a dream about pastries and cookies, my first thought wasn't "Oh, fuck, I'm still here; shit, shit, shit!", it was more like, "I'm up." There was no punching of pillows or immediate tears. How do I explain it? It's like an equilibrium, a balancing out. A relief! So can I count on a few days of relief? Or will something fluctuate and turn me mental again? Sometimes, on day 5 or 6, I rebound into "crazy-land" for a day. Sometimes, I'm okay until I ovulate. It's difficult not knowing. It's difficult not knowing, too, whether outside circumstances will inflict traumas that bring the stormy inner waters back to the surface. I hope not. I need some peace. I need some rest. My problems are all still there. My relationship is still falling apart. I still live in the middle of nowhere in a foreign country. I'm still dealing with loss and grief and change of massive proportions and living an unrecognizable life. Somehow, somehow, there's something accessible now that feels like strength, like resilience, like patience, and even serenity. Holy crap! Did I just feel myself smile?

Thursday, November 9, 2017

PMDD Symptom Play by Play Number 1

The following guest post was written by the blogger Cheekyminx. With her permission, several of her posts about PMDD are being featured on this blog. To find out more about her work as a PMDD Advocate, please visit her Facebook page, PMDD Life Support.

Talking and writing openly about Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder is something I'm compelled to do, both for myself, other women, and the people who love us. I'm trying to understand myself and this very complicated phenomenon that seems to slip and shift into unrecognizable forms within a recognizable framework every month. Since learning about PMDD, I am now free to witness the cyclical changes taking place in my body and mind with some objectivity. As my body becomes more and more sensitive to the hormones surging through it, I'm less fearful about why I'm suddenly losing control, wondering how much worse it will get. It's easier to pay attention to the process, fascinated and taking notes.
Truly, as hard as it is to understand, things can be very different month to month. What I've done here is journal some of my symptoms in the days leading up to one period a few months ago. Were I to do this monthly, no doubt the expression of symptoms could be different each time. Typically, women begin to experience symptoms 14 to 11 days out from menstruation. The actual period tends to bring relief either instantly or within a couple of days. But again, this is only generally speaking. What I have garnered on the forums and from my own experience is there are exceptions to this rule, and a woman should not rule out PMDD just because she doesn't fit some erroneous profile that was originally established on a very small base of women. And if, like me, your hormones are in flux anyway due to perimenopause, you might indeed be a bit all over the symptom map!
With 11 days to go...The first thing I notice is an almost instant loss of my sense of humor. It was there one second, gone the next. My husband noticed it since we had been laughing for days prior. It isn't that things have ceased being humorous so much as that I have stopped being able to find humor in them. Even my face feels like it has forgotten how to move upward into a smile. The next thing I finally notice is growing fatigue. In fact, I'd slept 12 hours for two nights in three days. This is an absurdly long amount for me to sleep. I didn't even wake to relieve my bladder which is a common occurrence during a night of much less sleep. I gave into this need for sleep instead of fighting it off, and I think it did me a world of good. I also notice my body feeling colder. I wear a sweater and my hands ache with cold even though the temperature isn't that different from weeks prior. Then there's the hunger. I'd probably be eating all day long if I could. The menu? Salty chips, roasted nuts, dark chocolate, and butter on all manner of cakey-bready things. Unfortunately, the baker where we used to get our organic sourdough stopped taking orders, so I'm left with unfulfilled pangs and cravings for hot buttered toast or French toast. When it comes to food, I know I can't give into every craving anyway. I'd be the size of a buffalo. So, I balance things as best I can eating oat crackers and high-quality chocolate along with the grapefruit and parsley juice and salad and fruit. For the weeks leading up to this time, I was making banana shakes using almond milk, including the spices turmeric, cardamom, and cinnamon...each known to alleviate various PMDD symptoms like depression. I've also started taking magnesium which is supposed to help with symptoms. We'll see if I notice anything.
With 6 or 7 days to go...I felt like I was doing better this time around contrasted with last month. Is it the spices? The magnesium? Luck? I've noticed that, generally, I have good months and bad months. This makes the whole concept of PMDD even harder to understand and, for some, to believe. And yet, other women express the same experience. Some say every third period is the worst. I seem to have three on, three off...way off. Will this be a good month? Weepiness has set in and my legs are starting to feel like two leaden logs, so maybe it is too soon to tell. (Note from Liana: this good month/bad month pattern has been explained by whether or not the woman is ovulating.  If  you ovulate, you will experience PMDD symptoms.  As we enter perimenopause, we have fewer and fewer ovulations.  No ovulation = no symptoms.)
5 days and my mind is off and racing. I can't stop over-analyzing, over-thinking, and over-compensating. Some who know me might say I'm always like that. Okay, so, imagine that ramped up by 10. I've become afraid of the world, and what were merely challenges have become insurmountable obstacles. My husband is doing his best to distract me and also to listen to me without himself becoming depressed and defeated. Somehow, I've managed to regain my sense of humor, and this is really saving the day. Squirrel! 
4-2 days: Could I actually get through this month without losing it completely? I've had three social obligations in the last three days, and though as an introvert I'm feeling the drain, it isn't debilitating. The fact that I could even be social just a few days before my period is somewhat of a miracle.
1 day to go and everything I thought I'd managed to escape this cycle has come down full-force. The internal pressure I feel...how to describe it...has increased dramatically, making me very antsy...agitated. I feel like a combustible material. Pour the wrong remark over me and I will blow up.
So what happened next? I was attempting to control an out-of-hand ant problem (yes, ironic...me being antsy and all). My husband was pressuring me to leave for grocery shopping because the stores would close soon. He wasn't helping or taking part in what I saw as a near-disaster. Yes, I realize ants are not a near-disaster, but PMDD magnifies everything by about 1000. Couldn't he see what I was dealing with? I became furious.
So my husband asks, "Why are you acting like an asshole?"
Wrong move. That was it. The end of marital bliss. I may well have been an asshole, but I didn't need anyone pointing it out to me, thank you very much. I tore the shopping list in two, gave him his half and wished him luck. Despite wanting to call a truce in the market, I couldn't bring myself to do it because of the way he was now behaving...like an asshole.
The thing is, if I act like a big-enough asshole, then eventually, so does my husband. And then, we're lost. We're lost for an hour, a day, a week...hard to tell. But I know I can't engage with him AT ALL if he's also going to be a two-year old. And then I hate him because he doesn't have a "hormotional" excuse and could be making all this so much easier for us both.  (emphasis added)
Why couldn't he just have grabbed me, hugged me, and told me the ants were a little problem and that if I could just walk away I would feel better? Herein lies the greatest PMDD difficulty for me and countless others. Our behavior becomes exceedingly difficult if not impossible to control. (Liana adds: and once we have reached that tipping point, we are literally unable to go back, to retreat, to regain control.  All our efforts to soften our PMDD symptoms (meditation, herbs, vitamins, exercise, rest, nutrition, mantras, art or music therapy) are done in an effort to not reach that tipping point.  Because once we have, all is lost for that day or that PMDD episode. This is what most people do not understand.  We can't stop, once the emotional cascade begins.)
We're not doing it to be difficult. We're not doing it because we like throwing tantrums. We don't even get any pleasure out of it. Well, maybe some do. I don't. Mostly, I see a madwoman taking over my body and wonder how on earth to reach her, calm her, and love her. It is no easier for our significant others who try desperately to understand us as we're suddenly shooting daggers at them when five minutes ago they could do no wrong.
My husband and I talk about this stuff when we can. When I'm back to my old self again and after he's recovered, we talk about this funny thing called PMDD. We strategize and decide we can handle it. We make-up and go about our lives...laughing, loving, sometimes bugging each other, but getting over it. But then, when it rolls around again, it seems neither one of us remembers what to do. It's a common amnesia.
When I can, I will do another symptom play by play post. In the meantime, have you noticed similar symptoms in your own or a loved one's life?

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Today is World Mental Health Day - PMDD

This from the Gia Allemand Foundation:
Today is #WorldMentalHealthDay and this year's #WorldMentalHealthDay focuses on mental health in the workplace. Coping with PMDD in any aspect of your life is a challenge. Dealing with PMDD at work can be especially difficult.
Maintaining a business demeanor when you are experiencing violent mood swings, fatigue, anxiety, and often physical pain related to PMDD can seem an impossible thing to do. You may find that you need to be absent from work while your PMDD symptoms are at their most severe. You may wonder if you can do that without losing your job. Thankfully, in the United States, there are some measures you can take to ensure that you can take the time off work that you need in order to cope with your PMDD symptoms without losing your job.
For more information, and for access to valuable tools that may be helpful to you in your journey no matter were you live, please visit this Gia Allemand Foundation page.
Liana adds:  Remember, PMDD is an explanation, not an excuse, and is something that happens to you that you don't have any control over it happening. The only thing you can control is how you respond to your PMDD.  Just know you are not crazy, and that you are never alone.  Even though, I know, it totally feels like you are.  But you are not.  Help is available.