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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, July 4, 2012

PMDD and the Trip of a Lifetime

This time last week I was in Alaska with six girlfriends.  You’d think, since it was the trip of a lifetime, one I had been wanting to go on for over twenty years, one I had been  planning and saving for and working toward for over a year and a half, that I would be having the time of my life. 

I would have been, if my PMDD hadn’t decided to come along. 

The warning signs started over two weeks ago, with the second day on the cruise ship.  I awoke, went to breakfast, went to a nature talk on what we could expect to see in Alaska, and could not stay awake to save myself.  After the lecture, I bailed on my friends, went back to the cabin, and slept soundly until I met up with everyone again for lunch.

I spent the afternoon feeling groggy, but okay.  Then we met for dinner (yes, you eat a lot on cruise ships – it’s part of the experience).  Somewhere in the middle of the meal, I literally felt something in my brain snap into place, like two pieces of a puzzle.  Like a connection that had come unplugged had suddenly been plugged back in.  I felt awake, energized, clear-headed.  Now I could get on with my cruise and have fun.  I  said as much to my companions.  We danced the night away.

Clearly, since that incident happened over two weeks ago, I was ovulating.

A few days later, the sleepiness returned, despite getting the best sleep of my life on the gently rocking ship.  On the tenth day of the trip my irritability arrived.  I snapped at my companions, and realized instantly I was having an episode.  I managed to hold my tongue for the rest of the day, but my inner thoughts ran rampant on every negative thing I could think of regarding the trip.  By evening I was in tears. 

I decided the best thing for everyone involved would be for me to go to bed early.  I did, and slept 14 hours.

The next day nothing, and I mean nothing could make me smile. 

Trip of a lifetime and I wanted to go home. 

I warned the ladies – Tomorrow I will be weeping.  They nodded in understanding.

It didn’t get that bad, fortunately.  Instead I mostly dragged through the day, sighing heavily, and privately wished I were home. 

Three days later I got my wish.  Once I was here, all I wanted to do was sleep.  (Well, I was awake for nearly 24 hours getting home.)  I took a nap every afternoon, claiming exhaustion from the trip.  But I knew I was hormonal, too, and warned those closest to me

My irritability returned, but again, after the first snap, I kept it inside…or at least I think I did.  My son did his best to make himself scarce, which only irritated me more.  Didn’t he miss me while I was gone?  He didn’t miss my PMDD self, that was for sure.  Still, I felt hurt and rejected.  I reached for the chocolate.

Monday comes…my work week begins.  I can’t get started.  I can’t get organized.  I wander around the house all morning, putting little things away, sorting this, filing that, clearing clutter, preparing myself to work, but doing no real work. 

That afternoon I take a 3-hour nap.  I awake ravenous and craving chocolate.  I am in full bore PMS mode (yes, you CAN have both PMS and PMDD) when that night and the next I make salty dinners.  Shrimp stir fry with Tamari the first night.  Tuna the second.  (I wanted tuna casserole, which is very salty, but somewhere in the day lost the motivation to make it, so settled for tuna salad and chocolate cake instead.)

My period is coming, but it’s not here yet. 

This morning I have brain fog.  I tried to pay bills.  Forgot to date one check, and forgot to include the credit card payment check in its envelope.  Par for the course with PMDD.  Small mistakes, but with big repercussions had I mailed them that way.  Instead, I ripped open the envelopes, made things right, and taped them up again.  At least I was still thinking clearly enough to catch my mistakes. 

At least I’m still thinking clearly enough to write.  That, too, may change in the next few hours.  Can you imagine how terrifying this loss of control is to a woman who does not know she has PMDD?  She has no idea what is happening to her.  All she knows is in the next few days, or even hours, she will lose her ability to both think clearly and control her emotions. 

And there’s absolutely nothing she can do to stop it.  Once that ship sets sail, it doesn’t stop until it wrecks.

Homes.  Families.  Relationships.

I am blessed in that I am in safe home, family, and relationship situations.  Those who are closest to me, those who spend the most time with me, are all understanding and supportive. 

But what if that wasn’t my situation?  What if I was in an abusive relationship?  Or living with someone who simply thought I was lazy and self-centered?  What if I lived with someone who called me crazy when this happened?  What if I lived with someone who didn’t want to be around me when it happened?  Who threatened to leave me if I didn't shape up?

What if I lived with someone who screamed and yelled at me, ordered me to snap out of it, called me names, and/or demanded, “What’s wrong with you?”

Self esteem takes a swan dive during a PMDD episode.  We feel unlovable to start with during this time.  Anything you say or do to make it worse will be magnified at least tenfold in our minds.  We are fragile and we don’t know why.  We need love and we want to be left alone.  It doesn’t make any sense to you, and it doesn’t make any sense to us.  We didn’t ask for this to happen, and in most cases it will be a long time (due to misdiagnoses and the hit or miss nature of treatments) before it stops happening.

And once an episode begins, nothing, nothing brings you joy…not even the trip of a lifetime.

So be patient with yourself, and be patient with your partner.  Finding the key to your individual situation will take time.  Look for answers from reputable sources.  Be wary of sources that claim to cure your PMDD.  Be cautious about anyone who stands to gain financially from your disorder.  Just like there are cheesy tourist traps when you go on vacation, there are those who only seek to profit from your PMDD misery.  Navigating the waters of PMDD products while searching for a solution can be choppy at best, and downright treacherous at times.  Hold on to the wheel (aka your sanity) with both hands, and if you have someone to help you when things get rough, be grateful for them and let them know it, no matter what ugly thoughts are going through your mind. 

Just keep mentally repeating, that’s my PMDD talking, not me, that’s my PMDD talking, not me.

Keep your mouth shut, and when the episode is over, thank them for being there for you.

The more you do this, the easier it gets.  And when you fail, see my post, They Only See Our Failures.

Take care, God Bless, and be proud of yourself.  Not every woman has the strength to wrestle with her PMDD, month after month after month.   But you are here, and looking for answers to yours.  That’s something worth recognizing and applauding.  


  1. I know I've commented before but thank you. Thank you for your blog, for posting so earnestly. Thank you for giving us a voice and some reasoning. Just flat out: thank you.

    1. And Thank YOU for coming here to read. I hope to write more often now that my work situation has settled down some. My work is computer based, and one can only spend so much time in front of a computer!

  2. A big thank u for this from me too, the worst feeling in the world is when u want everyone to leave u alone but at the same time want understanding and to be loved!! Its so confusing, ive now tried birth control, hrt and lifestyle changes and pmdd is back witha vebgeance this month - this arms with enough info and guidance to keep trying to find my solution : )

  3. First time I've sat down to actually read your posts - I can identify. Can't help but wonder how many other women out there are suffering. I suffered for more than 35 years without a clue as to what was going on - duh! Then easily self-diagnosed with the help of a mood chart. Knowing the name doesn't help lessen the symptoms but when I first learned that 'it' has a name, it was such a relief for me. Thanks for this site and for your candid sharing.