Hello and Welcome!!

~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 10, 2012

My PMDD Is Not Your PMDD

PMDD is such an individual thing.  What works for me will not necessarily work for you.  What triggers mine will not necessarily trigger yours.  The best I can do is share my research and hope some part of it resonates with enough women that it makes a difference in their lives.  Take caffeine, for instance.  It's been proven to be bad for PMDD.  But is it bad for your PMDD?  Only you can know.  I hardly drink caffeine at all, and I still have PMDD.  I never took birth control pills and I still have PMDD.  I've never experienced trauma of the kinds described in my previous post, and I have PMDD. 
Stress, yes, I have stress in my life.  But my stress is not your stress.  What sets me off might not faze you in the least.  I've only been pregnant once, only had one child.  I've tried HTP-5, Tryptophan, Calcium, Vitamin B Complex and Magnesium.  I've done energy work, meditation, deep breathing exercises, and walking.  Kava kava, evening primrose oil, Omega 3 essential fatty acids, GABA, and various vitamin supplements in cute little packages.  Fluoxetine is as far as I've gone in the drug realm.  I've tried hormone and neurotransmitter balancing diets, cut out sugar and alcohol.  Used bioidentical estrogen and progesterone therapy, both the cream and prescription capsules.  I've faced my emotional issues, cleaned up my life, and taken relationship classes.  I've eaten serotonin boosting foods, made sure I get enough rest, and chart my symptoms.
And still I have PMDD.  But it's not nearly as bad as it used to be.
So what works for me?  I'm not even sure yet.  My symptoms are different from month to month, as are my stressors.  And, as one astute commenter pointed out, stress can come from positive events as well -- it doesn't all have to be negative.  Happy times can cause just as much emotional upheaval as sad ones.
The one thing that has worked the most for me is awareness.  Paying attention to my body, paying attention to my intuition -  listening to how I feel inside.  It's not woo woo.  It's simple wisdom.  For instance, I know a 45 minute walk makes me feel great.  I know certain people and situations make me feel uncomfortable.  I know when something I am doing "just isn't fun" anymore.  I know what makes me feel calm and peaceful, and I know what makes me feel unsettled and angry. 
A lot of women don't know that about themselves.  A lot of women are just so busy running from activity to activity that they simply haven't made the time to get to know themselves. 
There was a time in my life when I thought I wasn't worth getting to know.  Now I am my own best friend.  I look to myself, rely on myself, for every important decision I make.  I go by how it makes me feel inside.  Anxious and edgy?  Cautious?  Bored? Confident? Terrified? Serene?
The body never lies.  If you let it, it will tell you exactly what you need to know...and exactly how you feel about something...anything...going on in your life.
Ever look at a cat, really look at it?  I've used this example before.  Cats just "are."  They know who they are, and what they want, and what they don't want.  And they know how to tell you these things -- without making excuses or apologies. If they want love, they come around.  If they want to be left alone, they go off and be alone.  If they are unhappy, they let you know. 
Why can't we be the same?  Why can't we simply accept or decline whatever is placed before us without going through a whole bunch of angst and/or guilt?  Why can't we live in the moment and deal with situations as they arise?  Why can't we just take a nap in the sun if that's what our bodies indicate we should do?  Why do we have to run around -- do this, do that -- exhausted all the time? 
Why can't we make changes and maybe try something new without upsetting someone else?  I hear this from women all the time.  "He wouldn't want me to..."  "I don't think my (insert friend, relative, co-worker here) would like that."  Or "I don't think (name someone, even your children) would let me do that."
Wouldn't like it?  Wouldn't let you?  I'm talking about things here that would benefit your health and well being.  I'm not talking about women going wild.  I'm talking about basic human needs.  Love, companionship, respect, dignity.  Consideration, concern, compassion, and understanding.  Why wouldn't someone who claims to love you or even just care about you want you to do what you need to do to be the best person you can possibly be?  Why would they want to hold you back from that?  Why would they want you to be "less" of a complete companion, parent, child, sibling, caretaker, employee?
To completely manage your PMDD, you need to take time out for you.  You need to be your own best friend and advocate.  You need to slow down long enough to listen to your body, and listen to your feelings, not the cacophony of demands life puts on us all day long.  You need to take some time to understand your individual quirks and condition, what sets you off and what makes you calm.  You need to stop "reacting" to your life (which leads to that out of control feeling we all know and hate) and become more "proactive".  You need to anticipate when your PMDD is coming, and adjust things around how you feel. 
I'm having a PMDD episode right now.  It's been going on for several days.  My awareness of it has allowed me to adjust for it, and keep my activities calm and low key.  Doing so has also allowed me to put in three slow but steady 18-hour days in a row without snapping at anyone or bursting into tears. 
Amazing. That never would have happened before I became aware of my PMDD.  I can think of at least half a dozen times these past few days where I would have *lost it* in the past.  I may still lose it.  It happens.  But the chance of it happening is a hell of a lot less than it used to be - since I started listening to my body.  Since I started cultivating my awareness of my PMDD.
The body never lies.  When it needs something, it lets you know.  When it senses trouble or danger, it lets you know.  When you meet someone who will be good for you...it lets you know.  The same goes for when you encounter someone or something that is bad for you.  The body knows right from wrong even if your mind is muddled by such things as guilt, pressure, manipulation, deception, negativity, or prevailing social and cultural messages. 
I think a lot of our PMDD crises stem from outside sources.  That's not to say that there's not stuff going on inside that makes us detonate....I'm well aware right now that I could either fall apart or blow up or both at any moment...but if I wasn't able to control my attitude -- and if I wasn't able to be proactive through awareness instead of reactive -- I know my fuse would be a lot shorter. 
Instead I'm listening to my body, taking each moment as it comes, moving from task to task, taking calming breaths, eating healthy, maintaining as positive an attitude as my PMDD brain will let me -- and when I start to get all tense and stressed....I either go for a walk, or lie down and rest. 
The work will wait.  The world can wait.  I'm not that indispensable that my life -- or anyone else's -- will fall apart if I take half an hour to recharge and regroup.
Try it.  What have you got to lose?

Thursday, October 4, 2012

PMDD and Learning to "Just say No"

Okay, I promised ways to de-stress your life in this post, which is exactly what took me this long to write it.  I looked through my files for what would be good advice, and found all the stuff we already know:   avoid alcohol and smoking and sugar and caffeine, drink lots of water, exercise, eat more vegetables and get lots of rest. 
Boring.  Nobody wants to do that.  Or to be told to do that --- yet again. 
Nope, we'd rather look for that magic formula, that silver bullet, that holy grail of a cure for our PMDD. 
And while we're looking, we don't want to have to give up our crutches. 
We also don't want to have to make any changes in our lives.  Change is hard.  It's messy.  It's unsettling.  It makes us feel all confused and chaotic inside, and we already feel confused and chaotic enough, thank you.
But change is the only thing that's going to work for you, ladies, because what you're doing now obviously isn't working, or you wouldn't be here.
I don't say that to insult you.  I say that to give you a starting point.  The first step to change is to admit that something isn't working. 
So, what in your life isn't working? 
Take some time to think about it, and yes, the answer "Nothing in my life is working" is an acceptable answer.  It happens to more of us than you'd think.  Everybody's just so busy running around pretending that their life is working because it looks like everyone else's life (everyone who matters to us, that is) is "working" but ours, and God forbid we should be perceived as imperfect or somehow less-than. 
Well guess what?  Nobody out here has all the answers.  Including me.  Especially me. 
But...if I had to limit myself to one pearl of wisdom regarding de-stressing your life, it would be this: 
Stop looking for the answer outside yourself. 
You're not going to find it in a pill, a supplement, or cream.  The best you're going to be able to do with those is manage your condition - maybe.  True healing comes from within.  You know what you have to do, and you know that only you can do it --  be it something you know you need to give up to feel better, or something you know you need to add to your life to do the same. 
Here are some ways to start, off the top of my head:
Don't do anything you don't want to do.  Period. (If you have children under the age of 18, you need to see to their needs -- that's needs, not wants -- such as food, shelter, clothing, love, and safety.  But beyond that, you don't owe anybody anything.)
Say goodbye to guilt.  Refuse to let yourself be ruled by it.  If someone is manipulating you through guilt, put an end to it once and for all.  You don't deserve to live your life that way.
If you don't want to go to that family/church/community/social function that stresses you out so much, don't go.  You are a grownup and are allowed to make your own choices.  You don't have to apologize or explain yourself, either.
If you don't like the way someone is treating you, either stand up for yourself or leave.  Nobody is going to rescue you.  People will only treat you as badly as you let them treat you.
If you're in an abusive situation, get help.  Staying is not healthy for you, or your kids.  If your friends and family won't listen, there are strangers who will.  It's not like it used to be.  There are resources all around to help you.  I'm not saying it's easy...it will never be easy...but there are a lot more people willing to help than you think.  But no one will help you if you don't take any steps to help yourself.
If you need counseling and think you can't afford it, look harder.  There are those who offer programs and services on a sliding scale.
These statements may seem harsh, but are all true.  Most of our stress comes from letting other people manipulate us via guilt and shame. So find a way to deal with that and "just say no" to those who try -- and that includes yourself.
"Well if I don't (insert something to go to or do here) I'll look bad (to the committee, my family, the teachers, the other parents, my friends, the neighbors, my co-workers.)"
If you find yourself saying that...Don't Go. 
If you find yourself saying, "If I don't (do this), I'll let (someone I love) down," then give it some thought.  If it's someone whose opinion you truly care about, then give it some thought.
Looking out for yourself and getting rid of guilt will not turn you into a person without morals.  You will still know wrong from right.  And when the time comes to make decisions about how to spend your precious time -- how to spend the moments of your life -- you will be guided by your heart, not your guilt.  Once you start living from the heart, you will automatically start taking care of yourself, because you will love yourself.  You can't love anybody else until you love yourself.  Oh, you can take care of them and do for them and cater to them, but you can't truly LOVE them until you love yourself -- and you can't love yourself if you're beating yourself up, or letting others beat you up, mentally, physically, or emotionally.
It's time that stopped.  I don't care what you've done, or what you think you have done.  If God can forgive you, you don't need to worry about anyone else.  Doing so places them above God.  This includes you.  If you can't forgive yourself for something, you're making yourself bigger than God.  Think about it. 
Now, once you've gotten rid of the junk in your life, be it spiritual, mental, emotional, or physical, you have some breathing room to concentrate on the positive.
See if you can get through a day, just one, without complaining.  Okay, try five minutes :).  What you focus on is what you get.   If you focus on the negative in your life, you'll only get more of it.  Try it.  Start paying attention.  Negative events spiral.  The good news is so do positive ones. 
But they spiral upward.
So try being positive for a change.  Re-frame your so-called failures into successes.  I made it until noon without bursting into tears.  That's a positive.  I didn't scream at anyone for two hours today.  That's a positive.  I took a nap and was good to myself.  That's a positive.  I walked for half an hour.  That's a positive.  I got (some job) done.  That's a positive.  I didn't eat any sugar today.  That's a positive. 
If the opposite happens, that's okay.  But find something positive to hang onto as you crawl your way out of that pit.
Focus on what's good in your life, not what's bad.  What's bad is on its way out the door anyway.  You're making room for good and positive people and things to come in and replace them.  It's the best way to de-stress your life.  Fill it with people and activities that nourish you instead of deplete you.  Things that uplift you instead of drag you down.  Things that bring you life instead of drain you of it.
Go ahead, make a list.  Make a list about what you like about your life and what you don't.  Find something small you can do to get rid of a negative.  Just doing this alone makes your life a little more positive.  Double the benefit by adding something small to your day that's positive.
Do this one day at a time, one moment at a time. 
It's all any of us has. 
And remember, even if you're taking baby steps -- you're moving in the right direction.