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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

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Choosing Your Friends Wisely - Whether You Have PMDD Or Not

Okay, so we’ve learned that Relationships Begin With You, and that you need to be a friend to yourself before you can be a friend to anyone else, and that being a friend to yourself starts with slowing down and listening to yourself, mind, body, heart, and soul.

For instance, I’m late with this post because yesterday I was listening to my body and being good to myself. I woke up with a tremendous pain in my neck, one that had kept me up for most of the night, so I called my chiropractor first thing, made my first appointment in months, and then actually listened to him when he told me to go home and take it easy, instead of throwing myself headlong back into my life. I came home and took a three-hour nap, then spent the evening reading a book. This morning, I made sure I attended my Qigong (slow movement and stretching) class, knowing that would help to keep my positive healing energy going.

Was there a lot I didn’t get done? Yes. But do I feel 100% better? Yes. Much better than slogging through the day, trying to cross half a dozen more things off my to-do list before the holidays. Things that will still be there to do after the holidays. Right now, I need to take care of me, or I will be miserable over the holidays and no fun to be around at all.

So…that’s the difference that comes from listening to my body and attending to—instead of ignoring--its needs. Since I started doing this unfailingly, I haven’t had a PMDD episode to speak of. I’ve had a dip or two in mood that was quickly boosted by eating some whole-grain carbs, but other than that, life has been on a pretty even keel for several months now.

So today I want to talk about relationships with friends. A lot of women with PMDD have at one time or another isolated ourselves, because we don’t feel friends or family will ‘understand’ when we are having an episode, so it’s easier just to go into isolation and deal with it alone.

Easier, but is it healthier? Wouldn’t it be nice to know you’re still loved and people still want to be around you, even when you feel the most unloveable?

You do this by choosing your friends wisely. You do this by choosing friends who are patient, kind, and understanding. You do this by moving away from people who are not. As a PMDD woman, you need to look out for yourself, because nobody is going to do it for you. If this means ending or scaling back a few friendships and/or relationships, then so be it.

You have to do what is right for you. Why would you want to remain in a friendship that isn’t healthy for you?

You decide who you want to have in your life, and who you don’t. You don’t have to cut former friends out completely. You can simply put some distance between you--see them less often, speak less often, or speak only when you run into each other during social events--just don’t do anything one on one anymore.

Instead, surround yourself with the kind of person you would like to be. To me, that’s kind, caring, giving, compassionate, and loving. I’ve moved away from anyone who doesn’t embody the kind of qualities I want to see more of in my life. I’ve moved away from those who are negative, demeaning, demanding, needy, and live lives full of drama they create themselves.

Some people need a lot of drama in their lives to be happy. I’m not one of them.

I’m not saying you can only be friends with people who are the same as you…or people without any problems (is there such a person??)...not at all. I have many different friends, with all sorts of different lifestyles, problems, interests and beliefs--but they all hold the same caring qualities in common. They have patience and understanding, tolerance and compassion, and accept when I tell them I’m having an episode and can’t really participate in whatever is going on.

They allow me to talk about my PMDD openly, and even though they don’t understand it, and can not imagine what I am going through, they accept that I am going through something that is extremely painful, upsetting, and draining for me.

They don’t try to talk me out of it, tell me to get over it, tell me I’m being a witch or boring or no fun, or tell me to “smile,” “relax,” or “just cheer up.”

They let me be quiet when I need to be quiet, and understand if I say things that don’t quite make sense.

On my part, I feel it’s up to me not to snap at or lash out at these friends, and so I take full responsibility for that. If I slip, I apologize immediately, and explain that I am having a PMDD day.

Remember, your PMDD is an explanation, but never an excuse.

In this way I have created a circle of friends who might not understand fully what PMDD is about, but respect and understand that I know what’s going on, and if I say I’m having a bad day, then they accept that I am having a bad day, and don’t expect or ask for more than I am willing to give.

Sometimes I don’t feel like going out or meeting anyone at all. Sometimes I will go to whatever it is, a meeting, a dinner, a lunch, or church, and just sit there and be quiet. Sometimes I will openly talk about what I am feeling inside, and how it completely goes against the reality of my life. (Or how my inner thoughts reflect the opposite of what is going on in my life, and how that doesn't make any sense at all.)

My life is pretty darn good. I have been abundantly blessed in ways tangible and intangible. I have a supportive family, caring and understanding friends, a warm and comfortable home, work that fulfills me, and a son who has been well-trained to deal with a woman’s hormonal moods--while at the same time accepting no disrespect from me or any other woman because of those moods.

I didn’t always have these things. I’ve been working at it for ten years, slowly pruning away what needed to go, and moving into the forefront of my life what needed to stay for me to live the kind of life I want to live—calm, creative, fulfilling, and productive.

I lost touch with some friends along the way. But as I began to better understand myself, I gained new, more accepting and understanding friends.

Studies show that if you hang around certain kinds of people, you will become more like them. If you surround/align yourself with hard workers, you’ll work harder; if you surround yourself with positive people, you’ll be more positive; if you hang around with those who take an active part in maintaining their health and well-being, you’ll be more active and healthier overall; if you keep company with goal-oriented people, you’ll attain a few goals, yourself.

In general, if you hang around successful people, you’ll be more successful.

The flip side of that works just as well: if you surround yourself with complainers, you’ll complain more; if you surround yourself with people who like to overindulge in food, drink, toxic environments or substances, whatever; you’ll do more of the same. If you hang with people who do things you know are detrimental to your health and well-being, you’ll do more than you may personally want to, just to fit in.

So choose the people you want to be with carefully. If you want to be well, then make friends with those who are also trying to be well. If you want to complain, then make friends with those who complain. Either way, you will have friends…

But which friends are more likely to help you make progress toward successfully managing your PMDD?

Think about it, and then adjust your life accordingly. Listen to your body, notice how you feel before, during, or after you’re around certain people. Some people can get you churned up just thinking about being around them. Take time to notice who these people are in your life. Don’t just go through life on auto-pilot, accepting whatever comes your way. That’s probably what got you where you are today, and why you’re reading this post.

So slow down, come to know yourself, make friends with yourself, and then choose the rest of your friends wisely. One small step at a time.

Until you have the life you really want.

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