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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, 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.

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