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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

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

(Just A Few) Things that Make Your PMDD Worse

Okay, I know I promised a post on ways to regain your hormonal balance this week, but first we have to talk about the kind of things that can throw you out of balance. Because everything you do to put yourself back in balance won’t matter one bit if you keep doing things that send your hormones out of balance. One thing will cancel out the other and you’ll be going nowhere fast.

That’s where I feel like I am right now. I haven’t been right since I spent several days in the whirlpool at the Y, trying to loosen up a bad shoulder. The bad shoulder was caused by driving too rigidly for several hours while under a lot of stress. You know how the best way to drive is calm and relaxed (and NOT on the phone), aware of your surroundings and what’s coming your way. Well, I was driving to a strange place, meeting strange people, had to be there at a specific time, didn’t know how much farther it would be, got caught in road construction, and had a lot on my mind. Not ideal conditions for driving, especially for a PMDD woman. Stress sets us off like nothing else can.

So my neck and shoulder locked up, aggravating an old rotator cuff/pinched nerve injury, and because the pain was so intense, I sought the comfort of the whirlpool.

Big mistake, and a heavy price to pay for 20 minutes a day of sheer bliss. Two months later, and I’m still paying that price.

Most of us don’t realize our skin works like a bodily organ, much like our kidney, liver, or a lung. Skin absorbs things in the water or air, like toxins and pollution, the same way it absorbs lotion. Skin also releases toxins we absorb, inhale, or ingest, through sweat.

I knew this could happen, but the pain was so intense I didn’t care. I couldn’t type, couldn’t read, couldn’t do any of my favorite things. So I opted for denial and took a chance.

Next thing I know, I’m sitting in a tub full of toxins—specifically an overchlorinated whirlpool, overchlorinated because God knows who is using the whirlpool or what germs they might carry—just to get a little relief from my pain. I only did it for four or five days, just long enough to help the pain subside, but--between that and my new stress over not being able to read or write or spend any time worth mentioning at the computer--it was more than enough to mess up my hormonal balance.

So, number one: Chlorinated pools are no good for women with hormonal imbalances. I mention this specifically today because it’s summer here, and what do people do to escape the heat in the summer? Head for the nearest pool.

But think about this…you know what chlorine does to your hair. You know how itchy it makes your skin feel. You know how sticky you feel after you get out of the pool and dry off. How you smell of chlorine until you take a soap shower. Did you know you shouldn’t wear gold into a pool because the chlorine will weaken it, eventually causing it to crumble? Ask your favorite jeweler. I had the tines on a ring completely dissolve after a few trips to the whirlpool. I had to have the tines on the ring recrafted, and the jeweler said absolutely…keep all gold out of the pool.

So, if you still believe none of that chlorine is soaking into your body, then check out this link that discusses swimming and chlorine toxicity.

Children are most at risk, but so are women’s hormonal balances. Not to get too far off topic, but fish have died from just the chlorine in tap water.

So tap water is also a concern for women with PMDD. (Drinking distilled water is best.)

Other things a woman with PMDD needs to avoid are (and I know this will have you shaking your head and saying no way, forget it, like I did for too many years to count, but if you want to stop feeling miserable, this is what you have to do):

Alcohol : Alcohol provides a temporary false relief, which only worsens the symptoms of PMDD.

Caffeine: Caffeine stimulates the nervous system, but worsens the symptoms of PMDD.

Chocolate: Women who suffer from PMDD crave chocolate. Pure, dark chocolate is rich in magnesium and eicosanoids, which our bodies need. Unfortunately, most chocolate is also laden with fat and sugar, which worsens the symptoms of PMDD. Dark chocolate, with 70% or more cocoa in it, is the best kind to eat for your hormonal needs. Not the kind with nougats or creme filling or caramel in it. Those only offer even more sugar and fat.

Oh, and never drink milk with your chocolate, or it cancels out the antioxidant benefits obtained.
(So much for milk and brownies...)

Nicotine: Nicotine stimulates the nervous system, but worsens the symptoms of PMDD. Unfortunately women with PMDD are especially prone to nicotine addiction, which makes it a vicious cycle.

Refined Sweeteners: Sugar, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, or any processed sweetener worsens the symptoms of PMDD--and yet the brain craves sugar, needs it to survive. So we can't get away from eating sugar altogether, but we can choose to eat healthy sources of sugar—fruits, vegetables, whole grains--over refined sources, so that our brain gets the kind of sugar it needs to work properly, while the rest of our body doesn't suffer from the effects of too many sweets, such as obesity and diabetes.

Sugar-Free Food and Drinks: Sorry, ladies, but sugar substitutes only worsen the symptoms of PMDD and we need to avoid them altogether.

Doesn’t leave us with anything fun to eat or drink, does it?

That’s not to say you can never have an ice cream cone again, or a glass of wine, or a diet soda, or anything made with chocolate. (In fact, here’s a blog dedicated to the health benefits of dark chocolate, so that you don’t feel totally deprived.) But while your hormones are out of balance--and you will know they are out of balance by the way you feel—it’s best to avoid these things until you are back in balance, and your body is better able to handle the occasional jolt to your hormones caused by one of these substances.

Until next week...Good Luck!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Snapping Out with PMDD

Here’s but one small example of how PMDD can affect your life and or relationships. A few weeks ago, my teenage son mentioned a wildly popular movie he’d seen over the weekend, and asked if I wanted to watch it with him. I love watching movies, and love spending time with my son, and was thrilled that he’d thought enough of the movie (and me) to ask so even though I had already seen the movie years before and didn’t particularly care for it, I said, “Sure, honey, we can watch it this weekend.”

For the past twelve years, we’ve enjoyed Movie Night every Sunday evening, as a way to settle in and prepare for the week to come. So he got the movie, and brought it home. A few days later, movie in hand, he asks, “Do you want to watch the movie now?”

And I snapped out on him and told him in no uncertain terms that I did not.

I don’t recall doing it. This is not me. I mean, I’ve watched Winnie the Pooh and Thomas the Tank Engine and Theodore the Tugboat videos over and over and over again. I’ve seen most Disney animated videos at least twice, some several times. For a couple of years, I stopped what I was doing every afternoon to watch the Power Rangers.

I have watched a LOT of shows and movies I might not have felt like watching, but did so because they were age appropriate at the time.

But apparently I changed my mind this time, and I don’t even remember doing so.

A few weeks later, I innocently mentioned to my son in passing that we hadn’t watched the movie yet, and he looked at me and said, “That’s because you said, `I don’t see why I should have to sit through a movie I don’t even like just because you want me to watch it.'"

“I did?” I asked, feeling totally embarrassed. “When did I do that?” “A few days after I first asked you about it and you said it would be okay.” “I’m sorry,” I said. “I don’t remember doing that. What did you say or do when I did that?” He shrugged and said, “I just figured it was one of your PMDD days and left it alone.”

I’m glad he knew it wasn’t him that caused my snappishness, but still…

“Where’s the movie now?” I asked.

“In my room,” he says.

“You want to watch it?”

He did. We did. It was better than I remembered, but I also remembered why I didn’t like it, as it contained some subject matter I find unpleasant. In addition to that, it had a sad ending.

“You asked me to watch a movie that would make me cry?” I teasingly accused him afterwards, still sniffling.

But he was sniffling, too. It was a good movie, a good moment, and sparked a good conversation about life and death.

And I would have missed that chance to have that conversation with him because of my PMDD.

I try not to look back, but I wonder how many other opportunities like that were missed because of something sharp I said when I didn’t mean to. Worse yet, I wonder how many times I hurt someone’s feelings by snapping out and don’t even remember it.

Because that’s part of PMDD. You get irritable, you snap at people, and don’t even realize you’re doing it. You think you’re behaving normally, until something ugly happens, or someone who feels close enough to you or comfortable enough with you gently points out you may be having an episode. (Which nine times out of ten you will vehemently deny until you realize they are right.)

Or, before either you or they are aware that you have PMDD, they may be less gentle or understanding, and may simply shout, “What the hell is wrong with you?”

You don’t know, they don’t know, and the relationship starts to strain at the seams. If you don’t get help, unless your friend or partner is a total saint or a doormat, the relationship falls apart.

Sound familiar?

Well, take heart in knowing it takes two to make a relationship work and it takes two to bring one to an end. It isn’t and wasn’t completely your fault. When you’re having an episode of PMDD, certain factors are out of your control.

That’s an explanation, not an excuse. (You’ll hear me say this over and over and over again, so get used to it.) You still need to go back and make amends if you’ve hurt someone you care about while your brain was not firing properly. You don’t need to beat yourself up over it. Your rage and irritability and emotional outbursts during an episode of PMDD are as uncontrollable as an allergic reaction. That doesn’t make them or the consequences from them any less painful, but neither does it mean you have to drown yourself in guilt afterward. You simply apologize and do what you can to make up for it.

If your loved ones really love you, they will understand and accept that there are times when you just aren’t yourself.

If you really love them, you’ll do everything in your power to see that those episodes are few and far between.

Tips and hints on how to do that can be found in this blog*, and in my books, PMDD and Relationships, and PMDD: A Handbook for Partners.  Also, if you use Amazon Smile, you can choose the Gia Allemand Foundation and they will receive a donation from Amazon.  Win-Win!

*Use the search box at the top of the page to locate topics you are interested in reading more about.  Type in the subject, and if I have written anything about it, a list of posts will appear.  This will save you a lot of time spent scrolling past stuff you're not interested in.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

PMDD and Losing Weight

I apologize for the inconvenience, but this post is currently undergoing renovations.

The bottom line is losing weight by conventional methods (eating less, exercising more) is impossible without making your PMDD worse.  Before you embark on any intense exercise program or diet, you must know what is going on with your hormones--and that includes your thyroid hormones. It's not just about estrogen and progesterone.  The thyroid plays a huge role in body metabolism, so please be sure to get yours checked regularly.  And if the test results fall in the normal range, but you are still experiencing low thyroid symptoms, keep looking for a medical practitioner who will work with you.  It is vital to your health and wellbeing.

Details when I complete the update of this post.  Thank you for your patience.