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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, November 16, 2011

PMDD and Denial

So what did I do two weeks ago when I was hit with my latest double header? (And yes, that means I am in the throes of another one now -- right on schedule.) I worked, I wrote, and I slept. (Three hour naps are not unusual when my hormonal system gets so far out of whack.) I just pared my life down to the bare bones, ate take-out from the Whole Foods Co-op or heated up all-natural frozen entrees, focused on my work (I work at home, due in part to my PMDD), and wrote my heart out. Took a walk when I needed a boost in my serotonin level. Took time out for me.

But I didn’t do any of that until I finally admitted that I was having a problem. And so, it got me to thinking. Why was it that I waited so long to admit my PMDD was acting up again? Why was I so deep in denial? Because I had work to do, a schedule to maintain, a life to live. I didn’t have time to give in to some strange, intangible brain disorder that keeps me from getting the things done I wanted to get done. I wanted to be normal.

PMDD women want to be normal more than anything else in the world. We don’t want to admit there’s something going on in our brains that just isn’t quite right. Something that even the medical professionals can’t agree on, much less define. We can find a thousand excuses for why we are so clumsy at times, or so ravenous, or irritable, edgy, disoriented, anxious, or weepy. We deny and deny and deny there is anything wrong with us, or that we are in any way acting strangely, because to admit that we are doing so means we will have to stop and deal with it somehow, and how can you deal with something that defies description?

Somehow we’ve convinced ourselves it’s just easier to ignore the symptoms we can’t explain and plow onward. Because that’s what women do. We just keep going until we can’t go any more. PMDD women are especially strong and stubborn in this regard. We go and go and go until we collapse. Or until our behavior becomes so erratic that someone in our life can’t stand it anymore and says, “What’s wrong with you?”

Even then we deny it. There’s nothing wrong with me. If you’d just pick up your clothes, fix the faucet, turn down the TV, do your homework, call me, stop calling me, show up on time, take the trash out, talk to your parent/child/boss/sibling, move your car, paint the bedroom, fill out the report, do what I ask, everything would be fine. The problem is you, not me. You’re what’s wrong with me.

And off we head into another relationship disaster, be it with our children, parents, co-workers, siblings or partners.

The bottom line is there is something wrong with us. But it’s not something we have any control over, any more than we have control over our allergies, genetic predisposition to any number of diseases, eye color, or shoe size. And it’s not something we can explain, unless we’ve done a whole boatload of research—only to find out it’s different for every woman, because we each live in different circumstances and environments and the biological rhythms of our bodies are unique to each of us. No two women are alike. Some have some symptoms, others have others. They come at different times of the month. Before periods, after periods, some even before and/or after ovulation.

What we do have control over is how we respond to our PMDD. And denial is just not an option. Not if you don’t want to leave a landscape littered with big mistakes, bad decisions, and tattered and broken relationships behind you everywhere you go.

To get a handle on your PMDD, you need to get a handle on yourself. You need to find a way to spend time on you, spend some time with yourself, getting to know your body and your unique hormonal rhythms. You need peace and quiet to do this. You can’t do this in the middle of your latest financial, household, work, school, or family crisis. You also need to like yourself to do this. You need to believe you are worth the time and effort.

Sometimes I feel like I live a totally self-indulgent life. I do what I want to do, go where I want to go, see who I want to see, and generally manage my life so that it encounters the least amount of stress and conflict. No drama queen here. I don’t have time for drama. It only sets off my PMDD, and God knows I don’t want any more experiences with that if I can help it.

So I take care of myself. I eat right, I exercise, I manage my stress. And even then I still get hit with the occasional strong episode of PMDD. But just imagine if I didn’t do all of that. How out of control my life would be. How joyless, how miserable, how sad and self-destructive.

Ignoring your PMDD is like ignoring a train bearing down on you. A wreck is inevitable. Studies have shown that if you leave your PMDD untreated, it will only grow worse over time, and you have a very good chance of ending up with a major depressive disorder. Is this what you want for your life? I know it’s not what I want. I also know that ignoring my PMDD, denying it, doesn’t make me more normal at all. It only makes things worse.

Fortunately, I am surrounded by friends and family who are supportive. I have worked hard to reach that place in my life, and have had to weed out those who were not understanding or supportive of my efforts to acknowledge, understand, and manage my PMDD. I say manage, because there is no cure, despite what many on the internet will tell you.

There are many things you can do to lessen the severity of your symptoms, and most of them are mentioned somewhere in this blog. Most of them are also free, or relatively inexpensive. Which is why you don’t hear a lot about them. The only ones you hear about are the ones people are making money off of. And while some of these methods may work in part, they don’t address the overall problem. Only you can do that, though a careful assessment of your life, priorities, relationships, nutritional needs, and fitness activities. No magic pill is going to do that for you, no matter how hard you might try to convince yourself that it will. PMDD is not a one-size-fits-all disorder. We’ve got to stop treating it like it is. Putting PMDD women on anti-depressants to suppress (not solve) their hormonal imbalances, is like asking every woman to wear a tent dress. It might cover the body, but it’s not a good fit.

That aside, however, the first step is to stop denying we have a problem. Forty years later, I’m still guilty of doing it, even with all that I have learned about the disorder. Is it any wonder those who haven’t done the research I have are equally caught up in denial? And what about those who don’t even know PMDD exists? All they do is run around thinking they’re crazy, but denying it to themselves and everyone else.

You can’t possibly think that to wake up one morning feeling fine, then slowly start to lose your fine motor skills, become agitated and confused, weepy, exhausted, irritable, and ravenous before dinner time is normal. The ability to wash away all of that with 45 minutes of aerobic exercise is also not normal. The fact that doing so buys you a couple of hours of PMDD-free time is not normal. The inevitable sink in mood and energy level when it wears off is also not normal.

But it is what it is, and it’s all we’ve got to work with. PMDD doesn’t do normal. Accept that and just do what you can to get through it. Surround yourself with people who will support you in your efforts toward good health and wellness. Weed out the people and situations in your life that don’t. Take time for yourself, be good to yourself, and most of all, when the episodes come…don’t deny them. Just find your own way to relax and go with the flow—no pun intended J.

Friday, November 4, 2011

The Queen of Denial

She’s baaaack! And I’m not talking about me, writing this blog post. I’m talking about The Alien, or my PMDD self. After several months of relatively mild episodes, suddenly I’m hit with a humdinger. You know from my previous post, A Perfect Storm of PMDD, that I am one of the unfortunate many who have atypical PMDD, in that it occurs both before and after I menstruate. Kind of like a hurricane, with menstruation in the middle, serving as the eye of the storm, where I might feel lousy physically, but I’m clear-headed and things are relatively calm.
So, about ten days ago, I could feel a storm blowing in. I notice I’m starting to get agitated about things that don’t usually faze me. I realize I am emotionally looking for a fight, anywhere I can find it. I check the calendar, confirm it’s about that time of the month, and warn those closest to me that it may be a rocky few days. I back away from conversations and situations I know will set me off, and postpone any important decisions or discussions for a few days.
The storm came and went, no major incidents, other than a couple of afternoon naps due to extreme sleepiness. Menstruation started, and life was good again, aside from the physical discomforts of having a period. Usually, the second half of my PMDD begins on Day 3 of my period. So when Day 3 came and went with no trouble, I thought I was in the clear, home free, another PMDD episode averted. Kudos to me once again for not letting my PMDD get the better of me and wreaking all sorts of havoc in my life and personal relationships.
But this was not my usual period. This one lasted six days instead of three. Not a problem. I’m okay. Life is still good.
But then yesterday morning, I started noticing things. Like I tried to address an envelope, and my handwriting was all jumpy and spiky. My hand couldn’t control the pen the way it usually does. My typing was off, too. Kept hitting the wrong keys.
No matter. I’m just in a hurry.
Then I went to a funeral, at a church I had never been to before. I got lost. Suddenly I’m feeling anxious, confused, and my thoughts are scattered.
No biggie, it can happen to anyone.
At the funeral, all I wanted to do was weep.
Not a problem. People are supposed to be sad at funerals.
I came home, fixed myself something to eat. I work at home (in part due to my PMDD), so I started to work in my sun-drenched living room.
Suddenly I couldn’t keep my eyes open any longer.
Nothing unusual there, I told myself. The room was warm and I had just eaten.
Never mind that the room is equally warm and sunny most days, and I eat lunch every day about the same time and don’t get sleepy.
Finally I give in and take a nap, unable to concentrate or stay awake. It still hasn’t dawned on me, what is happening.
I wake up, totally ravenous, and wanting nothing but CHOCOLATE.
Still haven’t caught on. Or if I have, I’m in denial. I don’t have time for this nonsense. I have work to do.
A friend calls. We’re supposed to meet later on, go to Qigong class together. I want to know how soon “later on” is. Is it 4:30, 5:30, 6:30? If it’s sooner rather than later, I’ll wait to eat with my friend. If it’s later, I’ll eat now. No big deal either way, I just want to know, so I can plan my evening accordingly.
Somehow that simple conversation goes totally awry, and I end up in tears.
Bingo. The Alien has struck again. Now I know what’s going on. My PMDD has returned for round two. My head hurts, my eyes hurt, all I want to do is cry, and go back to sleep. But I’m too agitated and upset to go back to sleep, and I’m so effing hungry I want to scream. But I just ate a full meal a couple of hours ago. There’s no logical reason to be so hungry.
My friend calls back to see if I’m all right. How do I explain that everything is fine…but it’s not? How do I explain PMDD? This isn’t the type of conversation you want to have over the phone. It’s best that the other person can see the glassiness in your eyes, the exhaustion on your face, the lack of energy and slump of your body.
I fix something to eat (healthy carbs!) and work on a small project that only needs minimal concentration for an hour or so.
My friend arrives, and I try to explain what happened. He asks, “What can I do to help?”
The only answer I can come up with is, “Just be nice to me. I’m fragile today. Oh, and you might need to run interference for me at class. I’m not feeling very social right now.”
We go to class, and all goes well. I manage to muddle through the social aspects of class. The Qigong exercises get the blood circulating, produce the necessary boost in endorphins and serotonin. By the end of class, which was the absolute last thing I wanted to go to—I’d much rather have crawled back into bed and tried to sleep away my exhaustion—I was feeling 100% again, and had bought myself a couple of PMDD-free hours.
Because in my PMDD-induced confusion and misery I had forgotten what I could do to help myself. Light aerobic exercise. When I’m in the throes of a PMDD episode, and the last thing I want to do is get up and move, that’s the very thing I need to do. A simple walk is all it takes. After about 30 minutes, I start to feel better. By 45, I’m back on an even keel. An hour of any kind of light cardio activity and all symptoms are gone…
For about two hours.
So by the time I got home, I was back to being myself again. A totally different person. I was able to make it through the rest of the evening without incident.
But as soon as I opened my eyes this morning, I felt that heavy wet blanket of depression closing in on me again. The iron band around my head, the irritated eyes, like I’ve been crying (but I haven’t), the mental fuzziness, the sense of exhaustion even before I get out of bed.
There’s no denying it this time. It’s going to be another PMDD day.

Liana Laverentz is the award-winning author of two books on PMDD, PMDD and Relationships, and PMDD: A Handbook for Partners.  Both books are based on the most asked questions by her readers, and therefore the most popular posts on her blog, Living on a Prayer, Living with PMDD.  Both books are also an excellent resource for understanding your PMDD and starting a meaningful conversation with loved ones who want to know more about this debilitating disorder we live with daily. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Taking Time Out to Catch Up on My PMDD Research

It’s Wednesday, and time to put up another post. Things have been hit or miss the past few months, due to having so much non-PMDD stuff going on in my life, and not having enough time to write any well-researched posts. I’m grateful to Cat Stone for allowing me to share her awesome artwork and PMDD Crisis Guide, which has allowed me to keep something new and fresh on the blog at least every other week. She’s been a lifesaver in that regard.

Yesterday, when I was thinking about what to write for today’s post, I realized I once again didn’t want to throw something out there just to have something to post. This is a blog devoted to helping people with PMDD and those who love them to better understand this often debilitating disorder. It’s not about me and my ups and downs, it’s about using what I’ve learned to help others to find peace and some sense of normality. So there’s no need for me to share whatever vague thoughts are rumbling around in my mind just to fill up an empty space.

That said, I haven’t been completely idle regarding the blog. To follow up on my last post, I’ve been busy doing more research into the connection between PMDD and the cycle of menstruation—have uncovered some fascinating stuff--and once I have my thoughts and facts in order, I’ll post them here. On a more personal front, I’ve been seeing a nutritionist in my ongoing efforts to manage my PMDD. That is not going well, and when I write up the account of my experience, I’m sure a lot of you will nod your heads in understanding, as I’m sure many, if not most of you have experienced the same frustrations. But again, I need to wait until my research is complete to write about it.

So for this week, I invite you to browse through past posts—a good place to start would be the over on the sidebar, under Popular Posts. (I’ve moved it to the top of the page for now to make it easier to find.) You’ll notice three of the top ten are posts for men on how to deal with a partner who has PMDD. Lots of good information there, and well worth reading (or passing on to a caring partner) if your relationship is in any kind of trouble.

Another good post is More Things That Make Your PMDD worse. A Perfect Storm of PMDD describes in detail what it’s like to have an episode of PMDD. And if you haven’t read it already, my favorite post is They Only See Our Failures.

Until next time…please continue to read, learn, rest, relax…and Be Well.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Connection Between Menstruation and PMDD

There’s one school of thought regarding PMDD that claims PMDD is not biological in nature at all, but rather a set of fanciful and imaginary symptoms devised by women as a means of expressing our discontent with our lot in life. Mad at your husband? Claim PMDD. Mad that you don’t get paid as much as a man when you’re doing the same work? Claim PMDD. Mad that the evils of the world have been attributed to women by organized religion? Claim PMDD. Feel like it’s unfair that you have to stay home with the kids while your partner gets to go out into the world and make his mark during power lunches, golf games, and beers with the guys? Claim PMDD.

In short, we’re not happy with our designated role in society, and so we have come up with a way to protest this arrangement by behaving badly and (hopefully) getting away with it. Science and medicine have nothing to do with it. There are no biological reasons for behaving the way we do. We’re simply a bunch of disgruntled women who have decided we don’t like the status quo.

So the best way to combat this insurgency is to deem us mentally ill, and classify our behavior as insane. Socially insane, if not legally so. The next step is to get us to buy into the stereotype. To get us to believe we are as crazy as they say we are. I’ve just been over at Facebook on the PMDD pages. The posts are full of women calling themselves crazy bitches and other references to insanity.

You are not insane. Your PMDD is real. It’s a biological condition, caused by a temporary fluctuation in your female hormones that *somehow* creates an imbalance in the chemicals in your brain, which in turn causes a disconnect in your thinking processes. It’s this mysterious *somehow* that nobody in the medical field seems to be able to pinpoint, any more than we know the underlying cause of cancer, or diabetes, or any number of disorders and conditions. Just as with those diseases, we’ve been able to identify many contributing factors, but not the actual cause(s).

Having just this week taken another quick dip into that realm of being disconnected, the memory is fresh in my mind. For the past three days, the weather here has been phenomenal. Perfect. Warm, sunny, splashes of vibrant color breaking out everywhere. It’s spring here, and rebirth and renewal are in the air. How can we help but feel blessed by the natural beauty that surrounds us? The generation of new life, the knowledge that whatever may be happening in our own, small, individual lives, overall, Life goes on, and it is inherently good.

As I sit or walk outside and experience nature blossoming all around me, hear the birds chirping, feel the sun and breeze on my face, see and smell the trees and flowers coming into bloom, I can intellectually understand the wonder and beauty of it all, can mentally acknowledge that Life is indeed beautiful—and it is--but am I feeling the Love?

Not. Why not? Because my brain chemistry has been temporarily altered, due to the fluctuations in my menstrual cycle, and there is a clear and distinct disconnect between my thoughts and my emotions.

Yesterday I wanted to weep. The day before that, I wanted to rage. The day before that, I was too tired to appreciate anything but the chance to take a nap.

This has nothing to do with my designated role in society. This has to do with my brain chemistry, period. I am not wanting to weep over the fact that women don’t get paid as much as men who do the same work. I am not raging at the idea that women have been blamed for all the evils in the world due to the doctrines of organized religion. I am not exhausted from having to take care of the dishes and the laundry and the myriad tasks that comprise taking care of a household and family. In fact, I do these tasks with love, as they bring me great satisfaction, knowing my home and family are lovingly cared for.

While I’m not happy with the societal conditions described above—I’d certainly like to get paid as much as a man in the workforce, and I’m not at all thrilled with the idea that women have been relegated to the status of a less than second class citizen by my faith, or that society in general sees women as either sexual objects or useless, with no in-between--those conditions are ever present every single day of my life. Those are my reality.

Why then, am I not furious, weepy, and/or exhausted every day if I’m so discontented with my lot in life?

You see? The theory that PMDD is just an excuse for women to express their unhappiness with the way things are just doesn’t make sense.

There are some theories that during a woman’s pre-menstrual time the so-called *veil* is lifted and we can see our overall connection to Life more clearly. For a few brief, shining moments, somewhere in the middle of our busy, overscheduled days, or maybe even the middle of our restless nights, we might suddenly see our relationships as they truly are, or discover an important revelation about our finances, our work situations, our living conditions--maybe entertain a thought or two that causes us to consider or reconsider any doubts we might have about our choices or our beliefs…

But it doesn’t cause us to go bat shit insane.

Think about this. It can’t be just your period coming that makes you go over the edge. Periods are a natural, normal part of the cycle of life, of fertility, of renewal.

To send you over the edge, something else has to be going on. Maybe even a lot of something else’s. Maybe even someone standing there, giving you a push.

Hey, it happens. More often than we’d like to admit. But that’s a topic for another day.

Today, we want to try to sort out what your part in all of this is.

So traditionally, the second half of the menstrual cycle is a time of personal insight, intuition, and clarity. This is normal. This is natural. This is the way God intended it to be. There was a time when a woman’s menstrual cycle was revered, respected, and yes, celebrated. A time of rest, reflection, and the potential for great wisdom.

Unfortunately, for us and for society in general, now it’s become nothing more than a curse, an inconvenience, a way for society to deem us as somehow unclean and flawed. Something to be ridiculed, suppressed, and avoided as much as possible.

Why is this, and how did it come to be?

That, too, is a topic for another day, but something we need to be thinking about in the meantime. So please, take some time out this week to think about your period. What it means to you. How it was explained to you, how you think about it, feel about it, handle it, and discuss it—if you even do. Or do you ignore it, pretend it simply isn’t happening?

How can we ignore something so fundamentally crucial to the well being of our bodies? How can we hate it?

PMDD women hate it because our menstrual cycle is what sets off this monthly--sometimes bi-weekly if we’re especially sensitive—chemical imbalance in our brains. The chemical imbalance that causes us to say things we don’t mean, do things we don’t want to (and would never do otherwise), make bad choices and decisions, hurt the people we love the most, and want to hurt ourselves.

But what if we came to understand it better? Came to understand that it’s not really the menstrual cycle—I mean, at least 90% of women who menstruate don’t have PMDD—but rather something unique that happens to PMDD women, in concert with our menstrual cycles.

In other words, don’t kill the messenger.

Just like women have been unfairly blamed for most of what’s wrong in the world by various sources, aren’t we unfairly blaming something normal and natural and an essential part of Life for something that really happens in our brains?

After all, isn’t when your period starts when the PMDD symptoms stop?

So let’s try flipping this idea around and see what happens. Can you just, just for a month or two, try seeing your period coming as something good and positive? Can you start to learn the natural rhythms of your body, and come to realize that your PMDD is just one aspect of a really complicated biological condition? A condition caused by something somewhere out of balance?

Can you start to look for the things in your life that might be out of balance, and allow the natural and normal process of wisdom and clarity to come through as you wait for your period to come? Can you make note of the thoughts that arise, and not act on them in your PMDD state, but set them aside until the PMDD passes and you can deal with your thoughts rationally?

In short, can you learn to be your own best friend? Can you stop beating yourself up for things you can’t control? Can you stop buying into the societal conditioning that women are too emotional and irrational to start with, and you’re just a crazy bitch in the extreme?

Because I think that once you do…once you take a few minutes out to stop and THINK about what you are allowing yourself to believe, about yourself and others, and once you try to view your menstrual cycle in just a slightly different manner, as I’ve suggested here, you might come a little closer to understanding this mysterious chemical imbalance that wreaks so much havoc in your life.

And once you do that, you’ll be able to start sorting out what is your PMDD, and what is not.

And as you begin to start untangling all the different threads that make up your Life, you’ll start to feel better.

Count on it.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

PMDD Crisis Guide - The Mental Realm of PMDD

This week we continue with Cat Stone's PMDD Crisis Guide...welcome back, Cat!

You can find the Introduction to Cat's Crisis Guide here.. and her post on the Physical Realm here.

The Mental Realm

This realm is where you will find your thoughts, and inevitably, the things you say. Over time this realm is programmed with reactions and responses to things that you are told, or things that happen around you. This realm for a PMDD sufferer is usually very chaotic.

During the hormonal changes in a woman's cycle, her body will undergo changes and present physical problems. These are a little easier to deal with than the changes that go on in the mind during this time.

This is probably best represented by the term, 'mood swings' although that would suggest the problem is just an emotional one. It isn't. The chemical changes in the body actually create false moods, which often bring about 'false thinking'.

A PMDD sufferer will experience random thoughts, seemingly crazy thoughts during their 'bad' time of the month. Thinking outwardly becomes impossible. Seeing the bigger picture seems impossible. All thoughts become inward and bad memories surface. Reactions to what people say, can trigger a negative spiral of thinking that can be overwhelming.

For me, it's like a constant battle in my head. I KNOW how I would normally react, what I would normally think, but during that time, things are not normal. I begin thinking I'm the worst person in the world, that my kids would be better off without me. I think about my past and all the painful things that have happened. I think people should leave me alone, not bother with me.. I lose all my self esteem and belief. All the things that normally get me through no longer work... The clothes I wore last week don't look right, even though it's the exact same outfit. I look in the mirror and see something completely different. This change in perception is quite common in all women who suffer from PMS, but when it means you don't leave the house because you have tried on 10 outfits, are full of tears, anxious, stressed out and frustrated, you know you are suffering from something worse.

My thoughts spiral out of control during my PMDD time, but I am learning to control them. Realising that your thoughts are not really your truth, takes time to happen. I often say... 'In my good head, I know this is true... but right now, I think that blah negative blah' I can recognise what I would think if I were in a good week, and what I am actually thinking. Dealing with the emotions that these bad thoughts bring up is harder than trying to control the thoughts, but keeping your thoughts in check goes a long way to steering a breakdown off course.
After talking to many women who have PMDD, it is obvious that they all feel like 'Jekyll and Hyde'. In fact, you will find that term used quite often when describing PMDD.

A woman with PMDD will find herself thinking about abandoning her kids, and how she'd do it, and how she'd get away. Or leaving family, friends or job. She may think the answer is suicide and spend many hours debating suicide, going through plans or writing her note to leave behind. She may think about drinking till she sleeps, or hurting herself. Her thoughts will turn to guilt, and she'll sit and think about all the damage she has done to her family or friendships, how lonely she is, how no one will ever understand. I know this to be true because I have done all these things, on repeat... for years. These thoughts are what drive people to harm themselves, along with the negative emotions, and it's why it is important to try and get these thoughts under control.

What also changes at this time of the month is the way you speak. This is governed by your feelings, and the things that are going on in your head. A chilled-out, mild-mannered woman will turn into a screaming, shouting, crazy, scary beast. You think I'm joking? This is one area the most damage can be done to your family and friends. The things you say. I would bet that every woman with PMDD has had an episode, and when the storm has died down, has had to think about what she has said to the people she loves. Nasty, spiteful, bitchy, outrageous things. Stuff you would never let leave your mouth. Goddess forbid you argue or fight with a PMDD woman having a bad episode.... Sanity has left the room. Like a caged animal, you want to fight. You are feeling so tired, so low, frustrated, wired, scared, you want to die, you don't care what happens. In your head, your mind is telling you you are terrible, shameful, worthless, then it tells you you will never get away from this nightmare, you will have to do this till the day you die. You worry about every aspect of your life. Will my partner stay with me? What if I hurt my kids? How can I keep doing this? I'm tired... oh so tired... I just want to go to sleep and not wake up.... What will happen if I just walk out the front door now. Mind is on OVERDRIVE.

There is a great lyric, by one of my favourite 'bands'.

How hard is it to decide to be in a good mood, And then just be.. in.. a good mood?
Dan le Sac vs Scroobious Pip - Waiting for the beat to kick in.

Ha.. yes, it's a man talking, and he has never experienced PMDD, but sometimes, you do HAVE to just decide to have a better day! FOCUS on having a better day. Focus on other things other than the thoughts.

Writing or creative outlets can help focus the mind on other things. Baking a cake, going for a walk, going to the library. Having a job can be a great focus... Distraction, distraction, distraction.
If you cant work, volunteer.. or use your time more wisely. It is too easy to let yourself dwell on the past, and mistake hormonal thoughts for the truth. It's easy to let yourself spiral. It's much harder to find the strength to change your thoughts. (Italics added by Liana.)

Some days, it is too hard to get out of the spiral. Some days, you just CAN'T. So what do you do?
Allow the thoughts to come, acknowledge them, then let them go. It's holding on almost compulsively to negative thoughts that feeds the downward spiral. You can even start talking to yourself (assuming you don't already!) and by that I mean...

'Oh hello, negative thought... what was that? I am crap mother?'

'Yes.. you are the worst mother ever, look at you, you hardly take the kids out anywhere, and most the time you are so caught up in your selfish head, You are so selfish. You slept the whole day away and someone else looked after your kids... '

Now this can go two ways.... You can either agree, or totally kick its ass.

'So, you think I'm a bad Mum? Who else cooks for the kids and washes their clothes? Who else finds things to do on a shoe-string? Who else creates a tea party in the garden, with 5 mins notice?

I have seen my kids through everything, to the best of my ability... I love them, I put 100% in when I can, and when I can't, I may sleep, or be a bit distant, but isn't that better than screaming and shouting at them. I am not a bad Mum, and will not accept that. Next?

'You dont have a life.. you sit on your fat arse all day, and never go out. What career have you got? People think you are a sponger, you drain everyone. Your friends never ask you out, cos you never go. You might as well be dead.'

(Are you going to take that?)

'Of course I have a life! I'm here, aren't I? I have this and that, and am planning on doing lots of things in the future. Just because things have been difficult, doesn't mean I will always be like this. I do have friends! And the ones that don't bother with me, aren't worth worrying about. I'm happier with a few close friends, doesn't mean I'm not liked. I give what I can to others, when I can, so, NO, I don't accept that, today I'm feeling vulnerable and a bit depressed, but thats today. Not tomorrow.. or forever...'

Don't commit the future by how you are thinking or feeling on a bad day. (Again, Liana chiming in!)

If you can learn to remain calm, and blow up every negative with a missile of positive you will soon feel stronger and more in control.

We often feel we need outside help, but there is much that can be done by you, by just changing your thoughts.

If you feel you would like more professional help with your thoughts, I would recommend looking into CBT – Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, which helps you to define your thinking patterns so you can begin to change them, and NLP – Neuro Linguistic Programming, which helps you learn about your own ways of communicating and has an excellent way of re-shaping the way you perceive yourself, others and your thoughts and words..

We only use about 20% of our brains, and unfortunately, with PMDD sufferers, we have created such strong neural pathways, that we really do end up in one cycle of thinking. The connections our brain first started making years ago, that created the chemical imbalance, have become stronger and stronger. The more you sit back and allow it to happen, the more the brain feeds off the same thinking patterns. By attempting to break the cycle of negative thinking, you can start re-training your thoughts to support you, be your friend, rather than be your enemy.

Be careful of your thoughts, for your thought become your words.
Be careful of your words, for your words become your actions.
Be careful of your actions, for your actions become your habits.
Be careful of your habits, for your habits become your character.
Be careful of your character, for your character becomes your destiny.
~Author unknown

"Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius -- and a lot of courage -- to move in the opposite direction." ~Albert Einstein

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Taken By Surprise...

This has been an odd month for me. After a couple of years of only experiencing PMDD symptoms every few months--due to the onset of menopause--for the past two cycles I’ve been back to my regular clockwork schedule of symptoms and a refresher course of how miserable PMDD can be.

But now, I also know how to manage and minimize it. I now know I am not my PMDD, and my PMDD is not me. After nearly forty years of cycling through it, being buffeted by first regular, then random storms of PMDD, I have finally learned to separate myself from my PMDD.

To do that, however, takes a great deal of self-attention and self-awareness. You have to listen to everything your body tells you. The body never lies.

But a PMDD body does lie. Imagine that. Your own body lies to you.

No wonder you feel like you’re going crazy sometimes.

I am a very much a positive thinker. Calm, creative, goal-oriented, and optimistic. Generally I sail through my days without a problem. I don’t sweat the small stuff, and half the time don’t even sweat the big stuff. Life has a way of working out for me, and for that, I am grateful. The more it happens, the more I learn to trust—to trust in myself and my higher power—that all choices made from that quiet place within me can be trusted and will lead me to good and positive outcomes.

So imagine my surprise last week, when a day I had willingly chosen to give over to helping a loved one get the medical help he needed, for me turned into an endless loop of mental frustration. What is this? I kept asking myself. This day is no surprise, and I chose to spend it this way, and yet….

And yet I can’t seem to stop the thoughts of anger, resentment, and frustration from welling up inside of me.

I did not let them out. I knew well enough that the person I was spending the day with was not the problem. But Lord, how I wanted to. Just wanted to let loose with every negative thought on my mind. We even joked about it.

Did you catch that? I was able to joke about my feelings in the midst of a PMDD episode.

And I didn’t even know I was having one. I just knew something was “off.”

It wasn’t until the following afternoon that I began to suspect it was PMDD. Thursday morning I procrastinated until it was too late to leave for my Qigong class, which I absolutely love. There’s no reason for me to miss the class, as everyone there knows about my PMDD and accepts me as I am. They welcome my arrival no matter what my mood, which I often announce upon coming in the door.

“Brain’s not working right today,” I will say, and everyone will know I’m a little off my stride.

So I skipped class—all the while asking myself, “Why would you skip something that brings such good things into your life?”

Remember, PMDD doesn’t make sense. It just is.

That afternoon, I found myself unable to focus on what I needed to be doing. My handwriting was off, and I kept getting distracted by the latest shiny thing—a new email, a new link to explore, a phone call to answer, a note to write, a snack to make.

Speaking of snacks, suddenly, for the first time in weeks, I wanted chocolate.

Should have been another clue, but I wasn’t thinking PMDD yet.

Not until the next morning, Friday morning, when I literally did not want to wake up. I swear to you, it felt exactly like when I woke up to a carbon monoxide leak in my house last November. Debilitating, bone deep lack of motivation and fatigue. All I wanted to do was sleep.

The phone rang and I dragged myself out of bed. An hour and a half later, I’m still yawning, yawning, yawning. It took extreme effort to keep my eyes open. Coffee didn’t help. At all. I don’t normally drink coffee, so if I do have a cup, the effect is immediate.

Not today. Not a blip of relief. I felt like I had an iron band around my head, my tongue was made of cotton and was also thick and swollen (which is one of my PMDD symptoms—allergy aggravation), I couldn’t get enough water to drink, and I was ravenous both before breakfast and less than an hour after.

I finally realized I wasn’t truly hungry…I just wanted to eat. Believe it or not, there is a difference. My stomach was full. But my brain was sending distress messages. What those messages were, I have no clue, because there was nothing distressing that I know of going on in my life—you know, like the kind of situation that spurs emotional eating…

I just know the signals my brain was sending were manifesting as a nearly overwhelming desire to eat.

It was hard, but I didn’t succumb. My food charting (another experiment I hope to share the details of some day) told me I had already eaten as much as, if not a little more than, I had on any other day. So this was not true hunger. This was my PMDD talking, not me. I was not hungry. The chart clearly showed that on any other day, I wouldn’t have been the least bit hungry…and believe me, I am not one to deprive myself of basic nutrition, because I learned long ago that it will only make my PMDD worse.

So I compromised with my PMDD, and spent the day sipping my favorite chocolate drink, because suddenly all I wanted was chocolate.

I did, however, go to bed really early that evening, in deference to my fatigue. Added to that was now a strange aching in my legs, all the way down into my arches.

What had happened? Had I pulled/strained a muscle somewhere? Somehow? How could I, when I’d skipped class on Thursday? It didn’t make sense.

I woke up 12 hours later, still sleepy. Still ravenous. Still wanting chocolate. Still aching.

Okay…by now I am beginning to realize what is happening here. It must be my PMDD. By noon it was confirmed. I started spotting.

Suddenly everything that happened the previous three days made complete sense. The strange and unreasonable irritability on Wednesday, the clumsiness, disorientation, and inability to stay focused on Thursday, the lack of motivation, intense lethargy, fatigue, and ravenous appetite on Friday. The chocolate craving, the sensation of an iron band tightening around my head, the urge to weep, the dull ache in my legs.

I continued to eat normally, despite the ravenous hunger, sip my favorite chocolate drink, and headed off to the gym to walk around the track, even knowing it was the last thing I wanted to do. But exercise had helped before, and I wanted to experiment, wanted to see if there was actually something I could DO to make it better.

The first twenty minutes I felt like I wanted to vomit. No lie. Around the half hour mark, I started to feel a little better. By the 45 minute mark I was heading back toward an even keel. Came home, made a healthy, carb-laden supper, then went to church.

Things weren’t completely right, however, until I went out for a salty bowl of chicken noodle soup afterward.

Go figure. But for some reason, after the soup, I came home full of more energy than I’d had in three days. I was psyched, ready to take on the world.

Instead I rested and read and had a cup of tea. The storm wasn’t over yet; that was just the eye of it. Been here, done this enough times to know this thing comes in waves.

Sunday morning I was dozing again when the phone rang and woke me up. I didn’t have nearly as tough a time waking up as I had on Friday morning. Huge difference between then and now.

Why? The menstrual blood was flowing.

And because of that, I made it to my next Qigong class and the grocery store and was able to focus on a couple of creative projects I needed to complete.

The first wave of the storm had hit, and I weathered it. Mostly by repeating this is not me, this is my PMDD. I am not angry, resentful, mad—that’s my PMDD talking. I am not hungry, that’s my PMDD talking. I have no reason to cry—that’s my PMDD talking.

Unfortunately, there was not much I could do about the fatigue. But getting out for a walk definitely helped with that.

The good news is (except for one cup of coffee) I managed to avoid the quick-fix stimulants that so many of us use to get past our fatigue, stimulants that only make our PMDD hit back even harder. Tobacco, alcohol, caffeine, sugar, energy drinks.

You, too, can weather the storm, whether yours comes in waves, or all at once. It just takes an enormous amount of effort to do so. Not everyone has the time or energy or circumstances to be able to do it. I understand that. I accept that. You need to accept that too, and simply start wherever you are right now.

Start with what you have, start with whatever symptoms present themselves. Try to sort them out like tangled threads. This part is me, this part is my PMDD. I am not my PMDD. I am better than my PMDD. I am stronger than my PMDD. I will not allow my PMDD to define me.

And I will not allow anyone else to define me by it, either.

Because they have never slogged through the storm in my shoes.

Until you know how it feels to have a brain and body that sends basic biological signals contrary to all conventional wisdom and common sense, you will never understand.

To those who do, you deserve to be congratulated and applauded--not dismissed, discounted, and ridiculed.

We are the strong ones, we are the survivors, and we are not our PMDD.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

PMDD - They Only See Our Failures

I’m one of the fortunate few. Through years of carefully cultivated self-awareness, I’ve finally learned how to separate myself from my PMDD. I know that I am not my PMDD. But millions more women are out there, valiantly struggling to get though each day, secretly convinced they are going mad, and simply hoping, even praying, that one day they will wake up and the nightmare that lives inside their minds will be over.

On the outside these women may seem to be coping—some of them even coping brilliantly by all external accounts--but on the inside they are terrified by--and of--this mystifying cycle of emotional imbalance that hardly anyone understands.

They’re also afraid to tell anyone, for fear that those people, too, will think they are crazy.

Or worse, they’ve tried to tell others—friends, family, medical professionals--and have been discounted, dismissed, or simply not believed. Or perhaps the symptoms of PMDD have crashed over their internal walls and manifested themselves, and those they spend the most time with and/or are closest to have already deemed them as somehow defective. She’s a moody one all right, sweetness and light one minute, a raving bitch the next. What gives? What’s wrong with her? How can anyone be so freaking out of control?

Everyone wants to be normal, and PMDD women are no exception. But PMDD doesn’t do normal. PMDD is a biological imbalance in your brain that manifests itself both physically and emotionally. It’s the emotional part people can’t deal with. Women the world over are no stranger to physical discomfort. We can be feeling like something the dog dragged in three days ago and still meet our commitments, care for our families, run households and offices and companies and governments, head up foundations, give speeches, present or accept awards, create beautiful works of art, love our partners, and still get dinner on the table in time.

Women are awesome. We are born with the gifts of joy, laughter, insight, intuition, sensitivity, kindness, compassion, creativity, cooperation, and multi-tasking (our biggest downfall, as we routinely take on too much.) We have more endurance than men. We have more tolerance for pain, be it physical, mental, spiritual, or emotional. We are passionate in our beliefs, and loyal to those we love—even when that loyalty is far from returned.

If a woman had a broken leg, and was temporarily hobbling around on crutches, most people would understand if she was a little tired or edgy or weepy during the course of her day. Most people would offer to help, open doors, fetch and carry things for her, run some errands, give her opportunities to rest and refresh herself. Most would give her some leeway to maneuver as she tries to navigate through her suddenly complicated day. At the very least, they would try to be tolerant if her frustration spilled over.

But when our brains are temporarily broken, as in the case of the PMDD phase of our menstrual cycles, there are no boldly visible cues, like a pair of crutches. Sure, the sparkle in our eyes may dim, our heads and hearts and joints may hurt, our handwriting may become stiff and awkward, our reflexes slow and clutzy, but only those intimately acquainted with us may be able to notice. We might not even notice these things ourselves, if we aren’t paying close attention to our bodies. Which most women don’t, we’re so used to putting our own needs aside and fulfilling the roles we play for others—mother, daughter, sister, partner, caretaker, breadwinner, coordinator, confidante.

So silently we slog through our PMDD days, knowing we feel fragile inside, but with no visible way to communicate that to the world—other than our emotions. All through our lives, we’ve been socialized to believe emotions are bad for everybody but actors and actresses. Real people need to suppress their emotions. Emotions get you in trouble. Emotions are counterproductive. Emotions are messy and scary. Don’t make a scene, don’t make a fuss, don’t get hysterical, and for God’s sake, don’t ever cry.

People can’t handle it when other people cry. Men especially can’t handle it when women cry.

Anger is the accepted emotional outlet for men, but there is no acceptable emotional outlet for women. Women are not supposed to get angry. If we get angry, there’s something wrong with us—we’re being countercultural. Little girls are sugar and spice and everything nice. Women who show anger are frowned upon, called all sorts of derogatory names, dismissed, discounted, deterred and destroyed, one way or another.

And so most women turn that anger inward, where it manifests as depression.

This is what happens to someone who passes for a *normal* woman, mind you. But remember, PMDD doesn’t do normal. PMDD lifts the veil on all those suppressed emotions, all those bitten lips and mounting frustrations life throws at us, turns off the biological mechanism that holds all that suppressed emotion back, and flips the switch to ON.

PMDD is your steam valve, honey, and like clockwork, once a month it lets loose.

If you’re especially unlucky, it happens twice a month, catching you on your ovulation cycle, as well.

And when that happens, we fail. We fail spectacularly. We rant, we rave, we cry and throw things. We break things, too. Dishes and doors, spirits and hearts and hopes and dreams. We say things we don’t mean, and hurt the people we love the most.

Why? Because they can’t see inside our heads to where the synapses are temporarily not working right, because they can’t see that we’re fragile inside on those days.

Because they can’t see we’re temporarily on crutches.

And for that, people call us crazy.

We’re not crazy. We’re pre-menstrual. More about what this means next week. In the meantime, remember, You Are Not Your PMDD. It might take up a huge chunk of your life, especially since you probably spend your non-PMDD days trying to make up to everyone for the way you *supposedly* let them down on your PMDD days--but really, who let who down?

Think about it. If you were on crutches, wouldn't the people in your life treat you with more care?

So you are not your PMDD, and your PMDD is not you. It’s something you have to deal with, like you would if you broke your leg, but it does not define you. No one who doesn’t have PMDD has a clue about how much energy and effort is expended in trying NOT to blow up, NOT to burst into tears, NOT to ruin the party, the family outing, the meeting, the conference, the trip…

The relationship.

All others see is our failures. But I read the Facebook posts, and I see how hard everyone tries, and my heart goes out to each and every one of you as you describe for the others how you feel it coming on, how you feel the tension building, how you are in the middle of the storm, how you hate all of it…

And how you ache inside as you do your best to deal with the heartbreaking aftermath.

I am here, and I understand. Because while I have a better handle than most on my PMDD, can even separate it out and still get my work done when my mind is acting up the most, I know all too well how much energy that takes, and how drained you can feel at the end of the day.

And even when I make it through 90% of the day without weeping or snapping or snarling at someone, even when I’ve spent the day protecting others from myself and my moods, moods I have as much control over as I would an allergic reaction, even when I’ve done everything I can to make sure I don’t ruin their day…

There’s always the chance the dam will break.

And that is all they see.

Do not let anyone define you by your failures. It’s not right, it’s not fair, and you wouldn’t do it to them.

Take care and God Bless.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

How Mandalas Helped Me Cope With PMDD, by Cat Stone

Today Cat Stone returns to guest blog about Mandalas and how they have helped her cope with PMDD. Since I have yet to master the art of inserting pictures into my blog, and trying will keep me here all day, I have posted them off to the side for you to enjoy. Thank you, Cat, for sharing your art with us.

I can't remember when I first became aware of mandalas.

As a teen I was always interested in the esoteric and other faiths and cultures, but it was probably around the age of 19, when I began following a pagan path, that I began to learn about the circle, the quarters, symbolism, colours... Along my path, I found a branch that fitted my specific beliefs. It was witchcraft. I worked in ritual with covens, I worked solitary, I studied, I practised, I meditated. I have suffered with PMDD since I was 13, and life has always been difficult. Being active in the Pagan scene gave me somewhere to belong, and something else to focus on.

Meditation became an big interest of mine, as my mind was always full of swirly thoughts and ideas, that and my body being filled with false feelings and tension. I found it very hard to meditate, just sitting still, and joined a meditation class. We tried lots of different ways to meditate, and the most success I had, was with a moving meditation, or mudra meditation.

During the pregnancy of my first child at 21, my PMDD became very bad, contrary to the idea that pregnancy brings relief to PMDD, for me, my changing hormones threw me into severe depression, agrophobia, anxiety and panic attacks. Mixed up with post natal depression, and my marriage breaking up when my daughter was 3 years old, I found myself homeless. I had left the Witches behind, choosing to follow my own path, one that wasn't full of fear and hierarchy. I studied The Tarot and developed even more interest into the symbols, colours and correspondences of the cards

It was then that I began to draw my own mandalas. About 11 years ago, I bought a Tibetan mandala print, and began to research them more. I had opened up a whole new world.

As an artist, I had studied art and art theory since school. I had qualifications in Art and Graphic Design. But with everything that had happened to me, and the PMDD worsening, I had been unable to create anything. My research into mandalas spurred off a frenzy of creation. At first, my mandalas weren't geometric, they were just drawings in a circle, but the fact I HAD created was the buzz.

(See the Orange Eye, Dance, and Stars Mandalas, off to the side)

It didn't take long before I started using a ruler and protractor and began dividing the circle. Division and geometric designs take you into the realms of sacred geometry, and designs that repeat themselves lend themselves to meditation very well, during the creation and the colouring in.

(See the Medley and Universe Mandalas)

At college, I did a project on repetition, and I began to look into mantras and chanting. Repeating something over and over, such as the word OM, brings about a calm to the mind. It stops the mind from stressing by letting it focus on the sound, and sound that promotes healing. I became aware that that was what I was doing with the mandalas. In hand drawing, you have to repeat the same pattern or shape over and over.. in the colouring, your have to think about each shape you colour in.

It is like a moving meditation. For about 2 years, I drew nothing but mandalas. I drew them when I needed to have a focus, when I needed to escape what was going on around and inside me. I ended up drawing them as wedding presents, birth mandalas, and gifts.

My love for them has never waned. I have recently come out of a long dark period of my life, caused mainly by trying different hormone medications, and my ability to draw had completely vanished again. Thankfully, after a long and very missed break, my inspiration has returned. I still find it hard to draw during the really bad times, but I'm already creating more than I have for the whole of last year!

The best way to start, is to print off a free mandala design from the net. I have recently started a Moon Mandala Group on Facebook, and download page on my website, where you can regularly download new and original mandalas, created by me, using the inspiration of the current moon signs. There will be info about the full and new moons, and mandalas to download. The Facebook group is there for you to upload your creation and share with the rest of the mandala loving world! I also upload other mandala designs to colour in between new and full moons.

Once you have your mandala, find a quiet place, alone, with your favourite music. If this is impossible, just sit in front of the TV, you'll soon tune out of that and into your page.

Buy yourself some nice colouring pencils. I use Prismacolor, but there are other really nice makes out there. They are gonna be adult pencils, so spend a little more than you normally would. The results will be worth it! If you prefer colour felt tips.. get a big set with all the colours of the rainbow! If you've got kids.. mark them 'Mummys' and keep them out of their reach!

Sit with your mandala, and choose a colour. Pick a part of the mandala to colour, and get going. It's that simple. Grown up colouring. The next colour will almost choose itself, and if you start getting fretful over how it's turning out, just walk away, go make a cuppa, and relax. Its a colouring sheet. There is NOTHING to stress over. Even if you completed it and hated the colours you used, you can throw it in the bin, tear it up... print off another one and start again, or leave it till another day.

There should never be any worries or stress over creating a mandala, it's just for fun. You cant just click your fingers and meditate, not without years of practice, so you will find there will be times it flows and times when it's just not a good time to be trying.

It's good to date your mandala and note any particular feelings or thoughts you may have. Put it up somewhere, and keep looking at it. This mandala, represents your ability to focus, choose, make decisions, your stamina and attention, and your ability to see something through to the end. When you suffer from PMDD it is easy to feel like you cant make any decisions, it is easy to feel scared of starting things, and rare to feel like we have achieved something and seen it through. The ups and downs leave us feeling tired, stressed out, unable to relax or sleep. Using mandalas to quieten the mind, focus thoughts and relax our bodies can in turn help with our general stress levels. You can turn to a mandala when you have that urge to do something but you don't know what, or when you're bored and feeling lonely.

Mandalas, can help women deal with the many facets of her life. Mother, wife, daughter, sister, lover, friend, bill payer, money earner... it is hard to juggle all this, especially hard when you suffer with PMDD. The calm and peace creating mandalas can bring will help you to discover who you are, what you really feel about things, or even develop more self confidence.

(See the Goddess Mandala)

I have found that many ladies with PMDD are also very creative and have various ways of occupying their minds, from knitting to baking, photography to poetry. I hope that other sufferers of PMDD will give it a try and see if it helps!

You can find all my mandalas at www.chaoticat.com and all my PMDD artwork and blog at www.meetmypmdd.blospot.com.

Cat Stone

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Sharing Our Stories of PMDD

Today we have a guest blogger, Joya, who has graciously agreed to share her story of PMDD. I invite others to contact me who would like to share your story of how you discovered you had PMDD, were diagnosed, and what treatments--both successful and unsuccessful--you have tried in an effort to cope with this debilitating disorder. This helps every woman with PMDD to understand that while you are not alone, every case is as individual you are.

Welcome, Joya, and thank you for sharing your story with us.

I was diagnosed about three years ago.

Before I was diagnosed I felt awful & sick. I also thought I was losing my mind. It took a while for me to realize the awful feelings and the craziness were associated with my monthly cycle. I began to dread my cycle, but always looked forward to getting my period because I felt such a relief. There were times when I literally thought I was going insane. And the awful physical symptoms were at times too much to bear. I am grateful for my diagnosis as I have been empowered to find ways to help myself.

I am very fortunate I have a wonderful Doctor who listens to me and I believe he actually cares about my well being.

I have tried the following:

The Pill



Herbal treatments


And I am currently using the Mirena IUD

Side effects & benefits I have experienced:

The pill was not a good choice, I cannot handle the extra estrogen at all. I completely lose it. For whatever reason the pill intensifies my symptoms.

Anti-Depressants-at first seemed like a cure! Then I started to feel depressed all the time, and I became listless and lethargic. I gained 25 pounds and felt awful and the benefits seemed to have flown out the window. I am not a fan of anti-depressants. I am no longer using them for treatment of my PMDD.

Acupuncture helps-mainly it helps with relaxation. It is also not a cure-all, but can be very helpful in terms of relaxation. It can be expensive and it takes quite some time before it actually reduces any symptoms. I would like to return to acupuncture if for nothing else, but the calming effect it as.

Herbal supplements & supplements: for me they help, but do not have the strength to reduce my symptoms to a manageable level. I use supplements in conjunction with the IUD.

The IUD has been helpful, it has reduced my symptoms. However, after a little over a year of using the IUD I feel the effectiveness wearing off. It makes me want to cry. And I do not really have a period at all and I don't like this part of it. The idea of searching for another effective treatment feels a little frustrating at the moment.

I consider myself blessed. I have very loving and supportive friends and family. I have been honest about my PMDD-it does affect my ability to socialize and I can withdraw pretty easily. I hate when I am unkind, or I lash out at someone I love when I am PMDD-ing. It is awful and I feel horrible, and guilty. In some ways I try to keep to myself so that I do not do anything I will regret later. I live alone and work primarily alone, so I do control my interaction with people as much as possible. I have recently entered a romantic relationship-I have been upfront about my PMDD, and he is a very understanding person. However, I am terrified I will scare him away, and I know this is a large part of why I keep to myself. I try to keep myself and others safe, but I am starting to feel that it is not the solution.

I cannot think of a shape for PMDD, as it tends to have several forms for me. At times it may be rigid and square, uptight and bound, whereas other times-it is wide open and expansive...It encompasses many colors...red would be the primary color, as well as black and dark blue...perhaps with flashes of purples and greens.

The worst thing about PMDD for me is the darkness, the sadness, and the nasty voice inside me that gets so loud that I believe it. I believe every ugly lie the voice utters. I have made some serious life decisions while under the influence of the PMDD monster, only to wonder later-'what the hell was I thinking'. The other thing is I feel like I cannot trust myself and I do not want to be around anybody. It sucks, I am for the most part a friendly, upbeat and kind person. The PMDD twists things and I get twisted with them and then come out the other side-wondering what happened. I hate that I listen to the ugly angry distrustful voice, rather than my true core voice.

I have changed my diet, I eat mostly vegetarian. I focus on nutrition. Whole grains, veggies, I do have fats, like peanut butter and such. I love fruit too! I make 90% of my meals at home, this is very helpful. Honestly, diet and exercise have had a profound effect on my ability to cope. I make sure I get enough rest as I cannot function without adequate rest. I LOVE to exercise and I LOVE yoga and walking outdoors! However, when the monster (PMDD) is in house, I have to literally fight with myself to exercise, and do what is best for me. As there are times when I drink wine, or eat too much, and usually regret it.

I also remind myself what is happening and that it is not ME-it is PMDD and it is chemical and biological, but this is not always helpful. I take hot baths and drink tea, I use drops of white chestnut for anxiety. Basically, I try to take of myself and be loving towards myself. I do struggle and sometimes I cave to the cravings for fatty food, wine, or cigarettes. I realize that this is a work in progress, and from experience I KNOW that taking excellent care of myself is my best bet!

I work with a master metal smith-he is my dad. We design and create custom wedding rings. I work with 30 stores and retail clients from all across the globe! I am very fortunate to have the work I have. I work alone as most of my correspondence is via email. I love working with an artist and I love working with my clients. I am grateful for all of my clients. So I do not have a career I have a job, a wonderful job. I long for a career, but that is a long and painful subject for me. I have searched for 15, plus years to answer the 'what am I going to do with my life'? question only to still not know the answer. It causes me extreme grief. As I have taken endless classes and been in and out of school, etc...

For now, I am letting it go. I just recently withdrew from school, as the combination of work, school, PMDD and my learning disabilities proved to be too much for me. I am struggling with not feeling like an utter failure and feeling like I have liberated myself. I do not have children, I have a cat, whom has been with me for 15 years. I care for her deeply and she has been a most loving and loyal companion over the years.

I would like to have a career that I can pour my heart and soul into. I would like to love freely and create. I would like to be of service to the people, the Earth and the animals. It is unfortunate that every single month for two weeks I kinda fall apart and lose my grip. However, I refuse to give up and I hope that I can find a way to do what I long to and be even with PMDD.

I believe yoga and meditation are helpful. Yes, they help me to relax and change my focus and help me to slow down and breathe.

"Love all, trust a few. Do wrong to none." Unknown.

"Everything we see or seem is but a dream within a dream." Edger Allen Poe