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~Seek first to understand, then be understood~
If you're looking for information on a particular topic, type that word in the search box below. If I have written about that subject, a list of posts will appear. If no posts come up, I haven't written about it...yet. Emails, and questions in the comments section for possible posts, are welcome.
I have a "friend" who shows up once a month. She turns my world upside down, over and over again.
I am a good person, caring and sweet, but when she comes to visit, I could rip off your head.
She takes no prisoners, foul words she does spout, I try to keep the words in, she lets them come out.
People don't understand me, or what this is about, to have this creature inside my head.
I despise who I am, half of the time, I feel sorry for my daughter, family and friends.
There's no way to describe it, for those who don't know, it's a living nightmare, she really needs to go.
~Neysia Manor, Rest in Peace

Sunday, December 2, 2012

The Other Side of PMDD

"My wife has PMDD 2 weeks each month. I can now track it on a calendar. The meanness, sharp tongue, irritability, over-sensitivity to the slightest comment...it's all there each month, like clockwork. I used to make the mistake of reacting to her negativity, which results in a showdown at the OK Corral with talks of divorce, etc., etc. Now, I just keep my mouth shut, offer my help, not reacting to the negativity. It's not easy at all. My only escape is to go to the gym when it seems everything I do is wrong in her eyes. But I bear it each month because I love my wife and I know it's not her. I say she becomes Mr. Hyde once a month for 2 weeks, and I just learn to keep my mouth shut. A big exercise in tolerance and patience. If you love your wife or special someone, tolerance and patience are vital. If you don't have them, you will suffer."

This is my most recent comment.  I thank God for Anonymous, because it allows me to print this comment in full--and use it as the subject of this post. 
This man is suffering.  My heart goes out to him.  My admiration and respect go out to him as well, because he loves his wife and refuses to let her PMDD ruin, end, or dissolve their marriage. 

What he says is true.  "If you love your wife or special someone, tolerance and patience are vital.  If you don't have them, you will suffer." 
I suspect he is talking about himself, here, but he could just as easily be talking about the both of them.  Much is made over the suffering of the non-PMDD partner in a relationship.  But let me say this -  as much as you are suffering by being the brunt of her emotions, she is suffering at least twice as much inside.  She doesn't want to be doing what she is doing.  She is often as horrified as you are by what comes out of her mouth.  Perhaps in that moment a part of her malfunctioning brain wants you to suffer as she is suffering, but overall, none of us wants to have PMDD, much less every month.
To partners like the man above, I am grateful beyond measure.  One, because you treat your PMDD woman with love and respect, and two, because writing that comment allows me to see where you are coming from, and to respond to what you see from the outside with what is happening to me on the inside.
Notice I didn't say what is happening to your PMDD woman.  That, I can not know for sure...but by explaining what happens to me, I might be able to open the door to a conversation between the two of you about what happens to her.
I'm going through an episode right now.  It started about two days ago.  I'd like to say I can pinpoint when the slide began, but I can not.  It seems like a gradual shift, a slow sinking into the darkness, as opposed to coming out of an episode, which I have literally felt in my head when my "brain" snapped back into place.  The return to sanity can be instantaneous.  The gradual slide into anger, despair, and hopelessness can take what feels like forever. 
So...while this is what you are seeing on the outside--a moody, irrational, unreasonable, emotional, maybe even rude or strangely acting woman--I'm going to tell you what's happening on the inside.  My head hurts, my body hurts, I didn't want to wake up this morning.  I feel like I have been drugged.  My mouth is dry and there is a tightness behind my eyes reminiscent of a hangover, but I have not had any alcohol.  I feel fat and smelly and ugly.  Yesterday, in the hopes of cheering myself up, I decided to organize the photos from my Trip of a Lifetime six months ago.  In every single photo I was in, I hated how I looked. 
Normally, my looks do not bother me.  At all, as I know I am loved just the way I am.  Yesterday, I was obsessed with my body image.  Couldn't find enough flaws to point out to myself. 
Okay, so that project didn't turn out.  Yesterday, I also went to a funeral.  It might not have been the best of ideas, but really, you have no choice when these things happen.  You either go or you don't go.  I felt that paying my respects was more important than hiding in my cave.  I waited until the last half hour of the viewing, so that if anything went awry, I had a natural exit.  As it turned out, there were several people there I would have loved to have stayed and talked with.  Sad circumstances, but I enjoyed seeing them all again just the same. 
The funeral itself was lovely and poignant...one of the most beautiful services I have ever attended...
But it sparked thoughts of death and dying for the rest of the day.  Who's going to go next?  How long do I have?  How many of us will be here next year?  What do I want to do with the time I have left?
This very question nearly devolved into an argument between myself and my partner last night.  Normally I am happy to let life unfold as it will.  Last night there was an urgency, an almost desperation behind my thoughts and words.  We need to do this, and we need to do that, and we need to do it NOW. 
I will feel very foolish when that feeling goes away next week.  I know this already. 
If he had argued with me instead of  patiently "listened" to me, I would have (at least mentally) declared the relationship hopeless and over.  There would have been harsh words and an explosion of tears. 
I suppose I should be happy that I'm only going to feel foolish.  Especially if he takes my dark words to heart....while I've blissfully gone back to my "It's all good" mode.
If you were my partner, wouldn't you be confused?
Another example:  Our church music minister plays guitar, has a beautiful voice, and chooses upbeat songs.  Normally I love to sing along with her.  Last night her music irritated the hell out of me.  She didn't do anything different.  I was the one who was different.
Inside.  Inside I was different.  But I never let on, not on the outside.  If I had, I'd only come off as crazy.
When we got back to the car, after a very uplifting service, I told my partner, "Right now, I could tell you what is wrong with anything.  You just name it, and I will tell you what is wrong with it."
This is where the "I can't do anything right" sentiment comes from in partners of PMDD women.
I spent most of yesterday alone, as my partner was busy elsewhere.  Even while my PMDD self was irritated beyond words at that, I was glad that he was not here, having to bear the brunt of my irrationality.  I knew, as he would have known had he been here, that there was absolutely nothing he could do right yesterday.
So it was best that he was elsewhere.  The same went for my son.  He walked in the door, aiming for a quick change of clothes, and within two minutes I was not speaking to him.  It was best for him, and for myself.  He left after giving me a big hug and telling me he loves me.  As I shut the door behind him my thoughts were, "Yeah, right."
I adore my son, and we get along great.  Anybody who knows us knows he loves me, too.  He can get manipulative, like kids do, and I let him, like Moms do, but the love is always there. 
Not yesterday.  Even though it was being freely offered, I wasn't feeling it.
Yesterday I was feeling my most unloveable.  Old, dumb, lazy, overwhelmed, uncertain, weepy, morbid, incompetent, uncaring and unkind.  In real life, I am none of those things.  If anyone had been around me yesterday...if I had not spent the day alone (except for the funeral)...I would have snapped and snarled all day.  Why? 
Because I was feeling extremely vulnerable.  I was feeling worthless, useless, and like every decision I'd ever made in my life had been wrong.
For one, that's not even possible.  But there you go.  PMDD doesn't make sense. 
So you're walking around, feeling gross physically, mentally, and emotionally, and you just...well, you're miserable inside.  Nothing can make you happy, and nobody better try...because if they try they will fail, you'll see to that...and if they don't try....well, you'll have something to say about that, too.
It's no wonder I get letters from PMDD women who fear they will spend the rest of their lives alone.  Who can deal with someone like that?  Where nothing you do is right for days, sometimes weeks, on end.
Yesterday I could have gone on a rant like you wouldn't believe about what was wrong in my life.
Funny, I was perfectly happy with my life three days ago.  Feeling rather blessed, actually.
Okay, so this personality change is bewildering enough to watch from the outside.  Try to imagine what it feels like from the inside.  Try to imagine what it feels like when your brain feeds you lies all day long.  Nobody likes you, everybody hates you, you're nothing but a big screw-up, a slob, a loser, a bad (mom, sister, daughter, friend, wife, girlfriend - fill in the blank), you're fat, you're ugly, you're disorganized and uncoordinated and talentless, your life is a mess, even your own (fill in the blank here) doesn't like you....
You spend all your energy fighting off these lies in your head.  Another blogger, Laura, put it really well.  PMDD is a bully.  So here you are, being bullied by your PMDD.  You're feeling your worst, and at your weakest.  Someone says something to you.  Something that in your PMDD state, your brain twists around to the most negative implication possible.
What are you going to do...fight or flight?
The primitive brain has us fighting.  That's where I think my brain goes during an episode of PMDD.  Into primitive, reptilian, survival mode.  It's fight or flight, survival of the fittest, baby, and I'm going to see to it that you go down in flames.
The opposite of fighting is withdrawal.  Withdrawal into ourselves--where we let the PMDD bully run rampant inside us--and withdrawal into depression--where we accept what the PMDD bully says, and beat ourselves up even after he or she is long gone.
Try living with a bully inside your head for two weeks a month and see how long you last before you lose it one way or another.  Either through anger or tears, or both.
So yes, while it is undoubtedly hard on our partners and the friends and family who love us, keep in mind that PMDD is no picnic for the woman herself, either. 
She's doing the best she can with a temporarily malfunctioning brain.  She doesn't want to ruin your party, your weekend, your vacation, relationship, or marriage.
She just wants to feel safe, from demons neither of you can see.


  1. Hi Liana, I've been reading your blog for a while. My wife also has PMDD. No point in explaining all the horrific situations we've been in due to this illness; I'm here to point out that she's been diagnosed with liver problems. Liver seems to play a big role in regulating the hormones.

    She's on a vitamin therapy including Myer's IV sessions, and she seems to be getting better. No panic attacks in two months. Lots of vitamins and enzymes every meal, plus fish oils.

    She's also losing some weight and finally getting rid of her acne.

    Look for a doctor who administer Myer's IV cocktail to his/her patients, I believe this might be beneficial to either yourself or some of your readers.

    (sorry for the poor English)

  2. Hi, Felipe, That's wonderful to hear. (not the part about the liver, though) I'm so glad your wife is doing well. I'll look into both liver problems and Myer's IV treatment and report what I find here -- eventually, as there are about ten topics ahead of you I have to research and writ about first! Thanks for reading and your English is beautiful. You have a rhythm and a style.

  3. Hi Liana,
    Having just stumbled on the fact that PMDD exists I am suddenly filled with hope and awareness that this is what I have been suffering from for the last 2 years! Thank you so much for your wonderful messages I will be a regular call back to catch up on all the articles but I can't wait to go home tonight and talk to my husband and get him to read some of the messages posted here from other men going thru the hell that he has endured ! thank you thank you. regards tracy

  4. I want to thank you for this blog. It has helped my wife and I very much. Umm...I don't know how to say this though. One thing I've read a couple times at least is, no matter how much you've suffered she's suffering twice as much. Please don't take this wrong as I'm sure you're coming at this from your viewpoint...here's one from the outside from a husband who has loved my wife for thirteen years. I've been left hundreds of times, beaten severely, threatened with deadly weapons, been spit on, been called every name in the book, had our house torn apart and furniture ripped to shreds...okay you get the idea. I know she is suffering but through it all I'm here and I love her. Now I know in her head all hell is breaking loose and she is hearing/feeling hurt, depressed, rage, etc. Now matter how many times I tell her she's beautiful, she hears ugly, no matter how many times I tell her she's mart...she hears dumb. Okay, again you get the point. But my point is, I know she's suffering but it is in her head she doesn't actually have someone telling her she's worthless, or beating her, or leaving her. So this is my question...do you really think the stuff in a person's head is worse than when someone is actually doing it to you? Again, I want to thank you...you've been a huge blessing but I'm already hurt, I'm already doing everything in me to love my wife...I know she's hurting and I'm trying to love her forgive me but I don't want to hear well you've got it better. Sorry that's my only thing I've had a hard time swallowing. AGAIN, THANK YOU

    1. You make an excellent point. I can only speak for how I feel, and based on the posts I have read by other bloggers, and people on Facebook. Everyone who posts feels horrible about what they do during episodes and many want to kill themselves. For me, the stuff that comes out of my mouth is only the tip of the iceberg. You have no idea how long I have battled with the nasty, negative thoughts before I break. You have no idea how much I don't want to break, and how upset or even horrified I am by my words and actions when I do. I am glad my blog is helping you and your wife, but perhaps something more is going on here if she is doing the things mentioned in the blog and not getting better. Abuse is abuse, whether it happens during an episode of PMDD or not. I am sorry that you have had to endure this for all these years, but I feel it's the things we suffer from within that are the hardest to deal with. When it comes to reasons we suffer from outside ourselves, we always have a choice. We can walk away, and sometimes we should. We don't have that choice when the pain and suffering comes from inside our heads. We can turn it off, maybe, with an enormous strength of will and energy, but we can never walk away from ourselves. The PMDD is there, whether we choose to deal with it or not. She can't walk away from that, she can't leave the room, the house, or take a break of any kind from what is happening to her. You can, and you choose not to, which I admire, but at least you still have a choice. We don't have a choice once an episode hits. The only choice we have is to keep fighting ourselves, isolate ourselves to protect our loved ones, or start venting on them. Not much of a choice when it comes right down to it. In comparison, your options, as a mentally healthy rational person, are limitless.

      Thank you again for reading, and for writing, and I appreciate your willingness to understand what your wife is going through. I hope things get better for you both soon.

    2. I got your other message. Thought I would remove the post you deleted to protect your wife's privacy. All the best to both of you!

  5. Hi. My wife and I have been married for 18 years. We have 7 children (3 of which are adopted). 6 of them are teenagers living at home. Needless to say, it's a stressfull life. PMDD has brought us to the breaking point a few times and seems to be getting worse. I love my wife and I'm trying to be loving and patient during these episodes. My stress level doesnt help with that. This website has been helpful for me to understand the demon that she is dealing with in her head, but I'm at a loss as to practically make this better. I thought of sending her on a mini vacation every month, but that's at the risk of her thinking that I just want the problem ("her") to go away.. any suggestions? Thanks!

    1. My best advice is to let her tell you what she wants. If she asks you to leave, then leave. But leave with love. Make sure she knows you still love her and you will be back. Do not leave in anger or frustration or in any negative way.

      If she doesn't know what she wants, then hold her, just hold her and let her know you care. Don't try to make it better or offer any advice. Just let her know you are there for her. If she's not an affectionate sort, then work out what type(s)of comfort she will allow.

      The best option is to work either scenario out ahead of time, when she's not having an episode. Maybe come up with a code phrase or something she can say or do to let you know she's in trouble, she knows she's in trouble, and she can't do anything about it at that moment. Agree ahead of time what you will do when she says that code phrase. Leave, draw her a bath, give her space, hold her, take the kids out to dinner, whatever she needs the most at that moment. But come to an agreement ahead of time.

    2. Mike,
      I'm the fellow from above in the comments section. My wife has benefitted from seeing a naturopath that did a full hormone (which takes a month) test. She takes quite a few different pills (and also a very small dose of prozac) but it has made a tremendous difference. Not saying life is perfect...but things are manageable. Unfortunately, the normal doc's never accomplished much (we tried this for about five years before seeing the naturopath). I think each woman struggling with this probably has their own nutritional needs...I never believed in naturopath's (ours is a liscensced doctor also...she's not anti western medicine but does think it treats the symptoms and not the causes in most cases) but she has made a large difference in my wife's health and life (and therefore in mine also).
      Good luck

  6. Hi. My wife and I have been married for 18 years. We have 7 children (3 of which are adopted). 6 kids are teenagers living at home. Needless to say, we're stressed. PMDD has made this life almost impossible at times. It seems to be getting worse each time. This website has helped me to understand the demon that she battles in her head. I'm trying to be patient and not take everything personally, but my stress doesnt help with that. Also, I'm concerned that the kids don't understand that this is not who she is or what she really thinks when she is rampaging. I really need some ideas on how to practically make things better. I thought maybe I could send her on a mini vacation once a month to get her out of here, but that's at the risk of her thinking that I just want the problem ("her") to go away. Any suggestions? Thanks!

  7. Wow! I am so grateful for finding this blog site. I just finished an extremely dangerous episode of PMDD. (extreme feelings of hopelessness, despair and wanting to give up on life) I knew it was a temporary feeling, but it was exhausting to fight the mental bully telling me to end it all. I've read these blogs and felt as if I wrote them myself. It is strangely uplifting to know that I am not alone. I had a partner who seemed to understand but it is so much to handle. I finally started dating again and just ran off a man who was extremely interested until my PMDD began. The confident, funny, easy going woman he was initially attracted to suddenly became a needy, insecure, crazy person. I just started the research again and will share any information I find to help us end or at least control this nightmare.

  8. I am SOOO thankful I have found this blog. You and the other bloggers on here are a godsend!. Im not married to the woman I am seeing, however have been together for sometime. She is beginning her first PMDD "season" with me and have found this blog to be a MASSIVE help. Keep posting what you find works and doesnt work. In the end, we are one big family!!!

  9. Hi everyone. I found this blog today. After years of suffering an unexplainable burden of my wife’s attitudes and misery I was being thrown in every bloody month over and over again, I am now hopeful again. I will now read each and every bit on “PMDD” there is. I feel a relief to finaly have the “proof” that it’s not me, that I am NOT the monster she was making me every time around the 28th. Based on what I read so far, the first thing to do will be to have her admit to her having the PMDD. She always claims, during and after the bout, that it is me with whom the fault lies. Her ‘not being her good herself’ period lasts practically two weeks. During and after, she is in denial. How do I start about getting her to ‘admit’?