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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, October 20, 2010

Overcoming Your PMDD Starts With Being Good To Yourself

I am a work in progress. One thing I have that a lot of people don’t have, or don’t make the time for, is self-awareness. I’ve been digging into this PMDD thing for so long that I’ve finally learned how to separate my real self from my PMDD self. How do I do this? I’m constantly checking in with myself to see how I am feeling, and trying to determine the reasons for why I am feeling the way I am—if it could possibly be my PMDD (based on where I am in my cycle) or if it’s something else.

In doing this, I’ve learned I’m super sensitive to just about everything I eat, drink, and breathe in. For instance, yesterday I went to get my hair cut. This morning I woke up with a sore throat and congested cough. Am I coming down with something? No. It’s a reaction to all the chemicals I inhaled while getting my hair cut. All I have to do is drink plenty of fluids today and I will be fine.

So I’m constantly weighing, measuring, sifting, adjusting. If I feel a little off, I ask myself—what’s new? What did I do differently today or yesterday? Where did I go that I don’t usually go? What did I eat or drink that I don’t usually eat or drink? What stresses did I encounter that I don’t usually encounter?

By constantly doing this, I’m able to detect patterns, and learn what (and who) to avoid. For instance, just going to church gets my sinuses flowing. I can smell the cloud of perfume ten feet away from the front door. The same thing can happen in restaurants, theatres, sporting or music events. This doesn’t mean I don’t go to those things. It just means I’m aware of what can happen, and if I feel a little funky afterwards, I know why.

I’m determined to live my life drug free. Because I feel this way, even taking two ibuprofen affects me as much as say, taking a narcotic painkiller would affect someone who isn’t used to it. Oddly enough, since the birth of my son--a major hormonal event--anything I take that is supposed to make me drowsy tends to have the opposite effect. I can’t take decongestants at all. Narcotics, like Tylenol with codeine, forget it. I’ll be up all night.

I’ve gotten so sensitive that even certain foods affect me strangely. It sounds crazy, I know, but what’s really happening is just a strong bio-chemical reaction that when processed in my brain affects my moods. So what is a natural physiological reaction to a substance, because of the imbalance in my hormones, manifests itself as a mood symptom. This can include irritability, weepiness, anxiety, lethargy, depression, or even euphoria.

I believe there are many women out there just like me. Women who perhaps aren’t blessed with the time and opportunities I have had to really sit down and be still long enough to try and figure out just what in the world is going on in their bodies and brains. We live in such busy times, running from one commitment to another, taking care of the loved ones in our lives, conditioned by our culture, society, and religious beliefs to serve others and place our own selves last.

This drastically affects our health and well-being, but since we are so busy all the time, we don’t have the time (or energy) to figure out what’s wrong, why we are feeling so out of kilter, maybe even miserable most of the time. And then our cycle kicks in, with our PMDD, and everything really goes haywire. We scream, we yell, we snap, and have wild mood swings. We lash out at loved ones and coworkers and store clerks and other drivers, and then, if we haven’t found a way or two to numb our conscience, we feel badly about our behavior and find ways to beat ourselves up and/or try to make amends if we can. We spend so much time trying to make it right with people, or beating ourselves up and engaging in even more destructive behavior, that we get even further run down and behind.

And then the cycle begins again. So we look for quick fixes, anything that will keep us in motion, fulfilling our commitments and obligations, keep us awake and moving long enough to get everything we need to get done in any given day done before we crash in front of the TV or into bed, exhausted, grateful that another day has ended and we have somehow survived.

It’s no way to live. So several years ago I made the effort to strip my life down to what’s important to me, and just focus on that. One of those things was my physical health and well-being. I figured if I could just take care of that—the rest of it would take care of itself.

Little did I know how difficult just doing that would be. It’s no wonder more people don’t take time out to do the same.

But I’m a persistent soul, and determined to figure this thing out. What I present here are things I have learned along the way. They might apply to you, they might not. Every woman is different, and due to her menstrual cycle, every woman is just a little bit different every day. That makes us mysterious and exciting, not bitchy and crazy. That makes us worth taking the time to get to know.

I’d like to take the time to get to know you, to hear your story, and find out what works and doesn’t work for you. I’d like to share those stories here and try to find common ground so that we can help each other to feel better if we can.

It can be done. It’s just that the information out there is so confusing and so conflicting. And we’re all so busy. It would be heaven if we could just Google PMDD and get the answers we need, find the quick fix, and get on with our lives.

But it doesn’t work that way. The first step, I have found, is to take the time to get to know yourself, physically, mentally, and emotionally. Emotionally, because you have to know what emotions are being caused by your PMDD, and what emotions are normal and natural for you to be feeling. Contrary to popular belief, women are allowed to get upset, become irritated, annoyed, and angry. It doesn’t always have to be PMS or PMDD causing it, and we shouldn’t have to put up with snide comments about it being “that” time again, every time someone doesn’t hold up their end of the bargain and we express our disappointment in that.

It’s about accountability, and knowing yourself enough to know when it’s your fault, and when it’s not. I don’t know about you, but I’m not interested in taking the blame for things that aren’t of my doing. I make enough mistakes on my own, without that added burden, thank you.

That said, I’ve come to realize that PMDD is an explanation, not an excuse, for why I do the things I do when I’m having an episode, and I still need to be held accountable for those things, to take responsibility for myself and my actions, no matter how badly I may be feeling. It’s up to me, and me alone, to sort out what’s the real me, and what’s my PMDD, and keep the two as separate as I can. You know how you feel like you’re a totally different person when you’re having an episode. You know that’s not you. It takes a lot of strength, determination and willpower to separate the two, and the effort can be exhausting. But it can be done.

For example, the past few weeks I’ve been feeling just plain blah. No energy, no willpower, no motivation. I wondered if it was my PMDD, just come to roost for a while, but no, PMDD comes in cycles. This had to be something else. My thoughts were validated when my PMDD did arrive, and whew! It was like the difference between night and day. For just a couple of days, I sank into that abyss, and knew the difference. Clearly, on those other days, there was something missing in my diet that needed to be boosted…what that is I’m still sorting out, but I now know that lethargy is not my PMDD.

But I also know my PMDD is not me. And so I’ve learned to separate the two, and set the PMDD aside when it comes. I know it’s there, and it would very much like to take over and run (ruin) my day, but I won’t let it. I acknowledge that it’s present, and that I’m not crazy, and I warn my loved ones that I’m having a bad day and it has nothing to do with them, but it would be best to avoid me for a day or two.

With that in place, I go about my business, and get as much done as my energy level allows. If I need to take a nap, I do it. If I need some quiet time, I take it. If I need to eat some carbs…I do it. Guilt-free. That’s the key. Never feel guilty about taking time to care for yourself. Would you feel guilty about taking care of someone else? Then why don’t you deserve as much care and comfort as they do?

I listen to my body and give it what it needs, without giving in to the wild emotional swings that wait in the wings, and without giving any air time at all to the negative thoughts swirling in my brain. That’s just my PMDD talking, I tell myself, and I refuse to listen to it.

So the next time it happens to you, give it a shot. Just take a deep breath and refuse to give in. You are stronger than your PMDD, and it’s time you let your PMDD know it. You can channel your rage and anxiety and depression into strength and calm and control with simple awareness and practice. It won’t be easy, not at first. It’s a lot easier to just give in and go with the flow. But where has that gotten you?

Think about it, and you’ll know.

Any time you’re feeling out of control, just go to any number of PMDD sites and vent. We know. We care. We understand. We won’t take it personally. We’ll help you through it…because really, we know all you want to do is vent and be heard.

And then, maybe, while you’re visiting one of the message boards, or blogs, you’ll come across a bit of info that makes the next time a little easier to handle.

Baby steps, is all I can say. Be good to yourself, and things will get better. I promise.


  1. Hello Lian,
    I was just told by my counselor to look into PMDD since she has noticed quite a roller coaster of emotion around my menstrual cycle... and I couldn't agree more! I found a great tracking chart online and I have been tracking my symptoms for a few weeks. I more than likely have PMDD. After reading your blog I SO can relate. My handwriting changes, my typing skills change, my fiance's ever-so-slight teasing is taken uber personally (which I typically laugh at), I am depressed, I have no energy, and I crave CHEESE, too!!
    I appreciate your perspective on how to help yourself during that time. Allowing yourself to give in to the positive/ok cravings/needs. I, also, do not want to get on any medicine, though I am seeing why women do.
    This morning I found myself very lethargic and listless wanting to lay around the house all morning. I told myself things will probably be better if I went into the office for a bit and was at least a little productive. I did come into the office and I am being productive. That's cool, but I still feel like I could collapse. When do I call it quits on things? That's where I don't know to draw the line.
    What a rant this wound up being! Thank you for your insight I look forward to reading more!

  2. I'm so glad I found this site!!! I am a pmdd
    Sufferer and it's the worst thing ever. I describe it as a curse, I'm not myself when this time comes. I'm constantly looking at the calendar just waiting for it. It happens every 2 weeks and I've had so many relationships ruined because of it sometimes its just way too much to handle. And it's so hard to explain it to people who don't understand it. I'm on antidepressants and can't take any hormones, they make me sick. Its been hard but with time I've learned to recognize the symptoms and try to work with my feelings and like you I try to rest and take care of myself. Because of it I can't work anymore. I'm taking care of my family wich is very rewarding. I have 2 beautiful daughters and they're my joy and extremely good girls. They understand ejem mommy doesnt feel well And give me some space. My husband is also a big support and takes good care of me. But no matter what it's impossible for me to stop those feelings from coming every 2 weeks.... The lack of interest, the sadness, the weakness, and so many other feelings are just too much to deal with sometimes. So just like you I turn to the Internet and try to find as much information as I can to try to understand what's happening and it's a releif to find I'm not the only one. I also think more studies should be done on this disease to find better help and maybe more effective medication. Thank you so much for all this information and I will try to apply it to myself. It's always good to find good info it's a big relief thanks
    Pmdd sufferer# 34

  3. I feel this same exact way. I keep telling my boyfriend it is like someone else takes hold of my body and makes me do and say things. I am happy to see that I am not alone in feeling that way! Luckily I have a boyfriend who has been with a woman in the past with PMDD. He is the one that recognized it and has been helping me through it. But I have put him through so awful episodes. I started to journal about how I am feeling during and to weed out my real feelings versus my PMDD feelings. I tend to get very insecure and decide that he is going to break up with me every time. And I pick our relationship apart and decide he doesn't love me. So in my journal I made myself a list with reasons that I know he loves me and little things to read to feel better when I am feeling that way. I am hoping that will help this time. And we have been really great about communication. When I am mad and know it isn't really anything that would normally make me mad I just tell him I just need a minute and that it isn't worth getting into. That has really helped.

  4. So, Sunday I was so upset and hurt and just crying and yelling and wanting to just end it all. (I would never do that BTW) The feelings were all so intense and it seems like each month it has been getting worse. If I think back over the years it seems like a slow rolling wave, I am emotional anyway but at that time of the month it gets pretty bad, and each month it seems to be a little worse than the month before until WHAM I am a COMPLETE basket case, and (we will see next month if this is true) its like a reset and I am back to still emotional but not nearly as bad, but then each month it builds. I told my husband last night that I was probably within 7 days of starting (he just hung his head in sad frustration I was pretty hard on him) and sure enough this morning my "friend" arrived. I do NOT want to take Anti depressants I have seen and heard the horror stories. Thank you for posting this as I see I am not alone in this (though at that time I feel so totally alone "woe is me" LOL)

  5. So for me, my PMDD symptoms have been progressively getting more severe. Currently aside from emotional changes, I have been experiencing forgetfulness, extreme fatigue and confusion around my menstrual cycle. It is starting affect me at work - in which it become noticeable by other people I work with. Has anyone who is living with this condition ever had similar symptoms to mine? And if so, how are you treating the symptoms?... because I really need something to help me keep this condition under control, especially since I work in the Healthcare field. My doctor has not ever dealt with a patient with my condition and only prescribes me antidepressants that may treat some of the emotional changes but not the changes in mental status.

    1. Many, many women experience your symptoms. All of them. If you are on Facebook, go there and type in PMDD. A number of groups will appear. If your symptoms are is getting progressively more severe, you may be in perimenopause, and there are FB groups for that as well. Many members will offer support and ideas for treatment of symptoms. At the very least, you won't feel like you are the only person going through this. As for me, I wear an estrogen patch and am currently experimenting with my level of progesterone, but I am also coming closer and closer to thinking good nutrition is the key to minimizing my symptoms. For mental though, I am having great success with an estrogen patch and progesterone capsules. I started with the lowest dose several years ago .375mg patches, then progressed to .5mg patches, and am now at .75mg patch. Regarding the progesterone, I have 100 mg capsules and 200 mg capsules. I take the 100s most days and the 200s only on bad days. It seems to be working for me. If you want my vitamin and supplement regimen you will have to write to me and ask for it. My email address is at the bottom of the About Me section in the sidebar.

  6. Hi Liana,

    I would love to know what your vitamin and supplement regimen is-I am super new to this so I'm open to trying anything that can heal me.

    1. Thank you for asking! I am happy to share my regimen, but I do that privately, as it is my personal regimen and I would never presume it would work for everyone. I also get requests for the list regularly, and it changes over time as I tweak it to meet my individualized needs. But I am happy to share it if you send an email to info (at) livingwithpmdd (dot) com. I'll send the list out, pronto!

  7. I'm so extremely knew to all this well I guess the diagnosis of all this...mine just jeeps getting worst...this last time I was out of my normal self for almost two weeks...missed a whole week of work...at first I thought it was the flu but now going on my second week I'm leaning towards thus all being related...what I don't understand is why it keeps getting worst...and I would love to hear any kind of feed back on how to explain this to yr family...I know they think I've lost my mind...I have 5 kids well 6 including my husband...and it really became aperant how much I'm responsible for when I was down and out this last time...I'm so upset by all this and don't know how to explain why Mommy's crazy to my little ones and my teenagers look at me as if I've done some kind of drug and I'm trying to cover it...and my husband...well he doesn't try to understand....feeling at a lost any help or feed back would be much appreciated thanks

  8. I am so glad to know I am not alone, my symptoms started not long after I had my tubal, and keep getting worse each month. I usually exercise regularly and eat a healthy diet and feel great, but when it comes close to my period my PMDD symptoms hit me like a ton of bricks!! Literally! I get so weak, fatigued, depressed, appetite is outrageous, bloating, swelling everywhere, angry, irritable, forgettful, confused...the list goes on. My doctor has had me on antidepressants that didn't help, I tried low dose birthcontrol pills, didn't help. I am at a complete loss at what to do. I can't function in this state of mind or physically. If anyone has any suggestions it would be much appreciated.

    1. Hi Carrie
      I completely understand where you are coming. I was happy and positive up until a week ago and my PMDD literally turned my world upside down AGAIN!! This happens every 2.5 weeks I dread the run up to my period its so debilitating...im in a relationship which also doesnt help matters. Every time this happens I grow distant from my boyfriend and I am convinced I don't love him anymore..it's like any doubts I have about the relationship intensify around the time in my cycle and I can't thin rationally.

  9. Thank you for posting this..its so helpful!