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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

Monday, January 21, 2013

PMDD Wars: Supportive Partners, Women in Denial

I recently learned of a segment of the PMDD population I've left unaddressed--mainly because I had no idea it existed.  My post, Dealing with PMDD, Advice for Men, was written in response to the many posts I was seeing from women with unsupportive partners.  What, they wanted to know, could they do to help their partners understand their PMDD? 
So I put a post together, which in the end turned out to be three posts.  They're some of my most read posts, and I get the most mail regarding them.  But lately I have been hearing from men who love their wives and girlfriends, and would be more than willing to do whatever it took to help her to deal with her PMDD....
Only she's not interested.
Because she's not the one with the problem, he is, and if he can't deal with that, well, then...
Sound familiar?
It happens in a lot of relationships, and not just those that deal with PMDD.  One partner is trying to work things out, and the other is in denial.  Unfortunately, this is a sure-fire recipe for failure. 
For a relationship to succeed it has to have two consenting adults.  Two people behaving like grownups, each taking responsibility for their part in making the relationship work--or not work.  It's not about power, control, or changing the other person.  It's about doing your part to show your partner that your relationship is a priority in your life, and that you want it to last.
You don't do that by:
Playing the blame game
Expecting your partner to change
Trying to change your partner (for their own good or any other reason)
Ignoring your partner's needs
Being abusive to your partner
Denying there is a problem
Relationships require compromise, day in and day out.  They're not about one partner giving up all sense of self to cater to the wants and whims of the other.  It's a balancing act, and one that needs adjusting and readjusting daily.  It's hard enough to have a successful relationship between two healthy people.  Throw in some PMDD and your difficulties can increase exponentially.
But they don't have to.  Whether you believe it or not, you do have choices when it comes to your PMDD.  You can't control when it hits, but you can manage your reaction to it.  You can either take the path of least resistance and give in to your seemingly uncontrollable urges, or you can take a stand and say, "I am not my PMDD.  I am better than this." 
Your PMDD is not who you are, not the real you.  Root yourself in this knowledge and stand firm.  Refuse to let your PMDD get the better of you.  Refuse to let the negativity win.  Sure, you'll still be weepy and edgy and anxious and irrational at times....accept that that happens, but don't let it have free rein during an episode.  We all slip up now and then, but to totally immerse yourself in the negativity and irrationality...that doesn't do anybody any good--yourself, your partner, or your children.
Think of your children if you can't think of anything else.  Don't they deserve better than to see you not even trying to get along with your chosen mate?
This completely boggles my mind.  I myself entered a PMDD episode starting Friday night.  I knew it was coming, I could feel the storm approaching, and all I wanted to do was to be held.  Unfortunately, the circumstances for that to happen didn't fall in line.  It was payday and my partner was feeling flush.  He called and asked if I wanted to go out to dinner at our favorite restaurant.  I reluctantly said sure.  I was only going to heat up leftovers anyway.  Now I wouldn't have to do even that much.  In short, I adapted.  I decided to let myself be pampered another way since I couldn't have what I really wanted.  
But all night long, he kept asking, "Is something wrong?  You seem distracted."
Something was wrong, and I was distracted, but distraction is also an occupational hazard for me, so he's used to it.
Finally I said, "I can feel the storm coming."
He knew what I meant.
He took me home and I went right to bed. 
We spent the day apart on Saturday, seeing to individual tasks.  I felt all right most of the day, probably because I didn't have to interact with anyone, but around 5:00 p.m. I had an intense craving for carbs.  I ate a bowl of cereal. Shortly thereafter my partner arrived and off we went to church...where I could not stay focused to save myself.  My mind bounced from thought to thought to thought.
Afterward, now out of milk, we went to the grocery store.  I had three things I wanted to get: milk, brazil nuts (for selenium), and cat food.   It took every ounce of my concentration to stay on task, to simply remember those three items, and remember where each was located in the store.  Since by now I was feeling completely miserable--head pounding, joints aching, brain feeling like it was on fire--my mission was to get in, get my stuff, and get out. 
In church, I had let my mind wander, but now, I had to corral all those bouncing thoughts and force my mind to stay on track.  So deliberately focused was I that the minute we arrived in the parking lot, I jumped out of the vehicle and made a beeline for the store, completely ignoring my partner.  As soon as I entered the store, I saw the rack where I had last found the brazil nuts.
In that moment, nothing could have come between me and my goal. 
But they were out of brazil nuts.  They had almonds, walnuts, peanuts, pecans...but no brazil nuts.
My partner caught up with me as I stood in front of the nut rack, feeling completely derailed and wanting to weep.
I turned to him and said, "I want to cry, because there are no brazil nuts here."
I then asked him, "Am I acting strange?"
And he said, "Yes, I noticed something was off in church."
"I thought so," I said.  "It's that time again.  I'm having an episode."
I then turned away and went in search of the milk, once again leaving my partner behind.  As I was walking, I realized I was being rude.  I then recalled other times I had walked off without him and realized that each and every time it was during an episode. 
Suddenly it hit me that I wasn't trying to be rude--it was simply taking every ounce of energy I had to stay on task.  Otherwise I might look left or right, get distracted and we'd be wandering the store looking at nothing in particular until he said come on, let's go, and I would burst into tears for no apparent reason and our evening would be ruined. 
I stopped and explained this to him and we finished our shopping together.
But the whole time, I was feeling very angsty and edgy and primed to have a fight.  As he helped me out of the car when we got home, I said to him, "I could start a fight with you so easily right now."
He looked at me in surprise.  "About what?"
"That's just it," I said.  "About nothing."
I was overtired and achy and weepy and feeling like a toddler on the verge of a tantrum.  No lie.
Instead I went to bed. 
Because I know the difference between me and my PMDD.
And because our relationship matters to me.
It might not have been the most exciting ending to either evening, but at least it wasn't filled with a lot of drama that would leave each of us feeling devastated and alone.  My partner understood my need for rest and solitude because I was able to express it in a quiet and (somewhat) rational matter.  My partner understands my sudden rudeness and self absorption is not a reflection of him, but rather of my PMDD. 
With a different partner, it could have gone completely differently. 
If I had behaved differently, it could have gone completely differently.
Because inside of me was someone dying for a fight.  It didn't matter what the fight was about.  All I wanted to do was goad my partner into sparring with me until I could no longer stand my own irrationality and then burst into the tears I so desperately wanted to weep--and blame him for ruining everything.  Maybe even blame him for abandoning me or not loving me when he walked out the door in sheer frustration, for lack of knowing what else to do.
Not because he doesn't love me.  But because I wouldn't let him love me.  Wouldn't let him see my need, my vulnerability, my (what some would call) weakness, and wouldn't trust him to take care of me.
Think about it:  Which would you rather be...lovingly cared for, or crying and alone?
I'm still having an episode.  My head still pounds, my eyes hurt, my joints hurt, my back hurts, my brain burns, and I want to cry.  There is no doubt I could be drawn into an argument, any argument, with anyone, at the drop of a hat.  It may still happen...because sometimes the strength to hold the negativity at bay just isn't there.  But I do know that if it happens, it will only be for a moment, before I catch myself again, and remind myself that I am not my PMDD, and that my blindsided target doesn't deserve to be abused just because I am having a bad day. 
No one does.


  1. Thank you for your story. I am currently entering my usual two weeks before my period (nicknamed shark week for obvious PMDD sharkiness) and I'm feeling very low, inside my own head, blaming myself and have been picking fights for a couple weeks at least. I was sick during my period last month and it through off everything, so my hormones have been crazy making most of the week like PMDD lite. I found your blog awhile ago and today after talking with a friend felt the need to visit again. Your story helped me realize what I've been doing and how to put them at bay, at least for a little while.
    I've been on Yaz for almost a year but I don't think it's really helping. I'm hesitant to start a different drug, like anti-depressants but I get really stuck in my head in addition to a ton of other feelings including crying at least once a week. It's crazy and you know that, I just wanted to thank you for this blog and your personal stories, they help me a lot.

  2. Thank you so much for this Blog!

    I am dealing with the "Day After" results of a HUGE blow-up last night. I/we are open about my Wife's PMDD, and when it gets to that general time of month, I do make an effort to be understanding... to avoid being pulled into the arguement she's wanting to have.

    My biggest curiosity is this: She seems to be perfectly fine when around others? She will be her normal, cheery self. She will have a good time, and then once the other people are gone... well, that's when I typically feel blind-sided by it.

    Is this normal? Many of your posts talk about the woman needing to be alone, or avoiding anything social... in this case, it seems that she is completely normal in a social or public situation.

    An example, is that afterwards she will maybe make note of a specific couple, and something they recently did, etc. She will then start (mildly at first) to poke her finger at our relationship... making a lot of unfavorable comparisons, and basically begin to devalue anything and everything having to do with "our" life... while observing that everybody else has it so much better.

    I can deal with the PMDD for the most part, but it's the mental-confusion that I feel after she essentially thrashes the very relationship that just 2 days earlier, she was so thankful for.

    Thanks for your thoughts.

    1. I think it's quite normal for a PMDD woman to 'hold it together' outside the home and family if she really works at it, but the strain and drain of doing so will then result in a backlash at the people closest to her, the people who are supposed to love her no matter what. Not saying that you don't -- just saying this is how our minds work. On some level, we feel safe with those closest to us, and therefore they get the worst of our moods. Your fourth paragraph, where you describe the poking and comparisons, and thinking everyone else has it better, are totally typical. I know that doesn't help much, but you're pretty much describing classic symptoms. You've got to both work on not being pulled into the argument. If she's not actively working at it, an argument will result. I usually find that at the first sign of snapping at my family, it's time to go into a room by myself and stay there until the feeling passes. There's no other way around it, because if I stay, somebody's feelings are going to get shredded.

  3. As a guy on the other end of it, I can totally relate to what you are talking about. I love my sweetheart so much and 3 weeks a month she is my best friend, my lover and my soulmate. We do everything together and enjoy it! But for 72 hours (sometimes longer) every 28 days, we are totally 100% incompatible according to her. She picks everything to death and finds massive faults in our relationship which strangely did not exist even a few hours prior. She literally "beats the snot out of me" emotionally and verbally. All the while, she's everyone else's Best Friend and I'm the devil. It feels like she hates me and Italy's me want to retaliate. Sometimes I do--always verbally or by text, however engaging in any type of argument is a futile effort. No amount of yelling, logic, sweetness or leaving her alone is good enough. Getting in my car and staying at a friends house till it blows over makes it even worse. It seems like a total lose/lose situation. I do not know who this woman is that appears out of the blue, but almost always on schedule. It makes me want to leave her, but I love her too much to go.
    Thanks for letting me get that off my chest.
    Finally, where is a forum where guys who are going through this can support each other? A forum like that would be most useful. This illness is no joke and it affects the men as bad as it affects the women we love.

    1. Hello, and thank you for writing! Regarding a forum for men, you might try one of these over at mdjunction for starters...
      http://www.mdjunction.com/pre-menstrual-syndrome. There is also a group called Living With Her PMDD on Facebook you could join. It's a group for those with a loved one who has PMDD.

    2. And another group at The Experience Project for men. I'm going to add these links to the sidebar to your right....

  4. Liana, you have just explained the beginning of an episode in a nutshell (no pun intended here). I am still learning to walk away from my boyfriend when the pmdd urge comes on. All I ever feel like I want in that moment is to be held, and of course, we can never force our partners into doing that when they are not expecting an episode or just doing their own thing. I have been working so hard to try and walk away before the arguments start, but I am still having such a difficult time even though I love my boyfriend so much and do not want to fight with him. I am still having a difficult time telling myself that I am having an episode and I need to walk away. I had a moment yesterday afternoon (my period is late and I feel I am still not in the clear) when I wanted something so bad that I blamed my boyfriend when it was not around, it is such a terrible thing that happens. I love him so much every day of the month and then these days happen and I feel like I can throw our entire love away at the drop of a hat! Then I step back and reflect, and realize how messed up I had been and how completely out of sorts I was. I would like some pointers on how to step back in those moments as I am still having such a difficult time.

  5. That is a great idea/question. I am going to think this through and see what I come up with, but my first response is to practice "awareness," especially when you are not PMDDing, so that you have a better sense of what is coming on and when. It still takes me by surprise quite often, and the first sign I see of it is the startled look on a family member's face. If you practice when you are NOT PMDDing, it's a bit easier to fall into the groove when you are. As in practice makes perfect. Well, in this case, practice helps us to catch ourselves before we lose control. I also have to remind myself to 'take nothing personal." I just repeat in my head "That's the PMDD talking, not me, that's the PMDD talking, not me..."

    More on this later, once I've had a chance to really think about it.

  6. Thank you Liana, I am awaiting your response. I did feel very irritable today, and I feel I was able to take a step back, breathe, and tell myself "I am not my PMDD, it is not controlling me, I can do this" maybe 50 times, but it worked. However, today is not one of those "bad" days. I am an educated woman, a teacher with a masters degree, and I still can't step back and say, "ok, you have to stop" in those moments. Then, I try to apologize when things have gotten out of hand, and of course, my partner does not want to be around me and that hurts. The clingy "I want, I want, I want" and "I need, I need, I need" kicks in and it is so difficult in those moments. Thanks for your reply and I look forward to your response. :)

    1. Hi there, Creative Mind, Can I ask you to email me at info (at) livingwithpmdd (dot) com? I can whip out an email a lot faster than I can a blog post, and I was planning to answer your question in a blog post, but not right away. (I have three others I need to finish first, ones I have been promising for months, even a year or more.) So, while I would be more than happy to offer suggestions one on one, I can't get to your answer fast enough here on the blog. In the meantime, did you read my post The Other Side of PMDD, Continued? http://livingonaprayerwithpmdd.blogspot.com/2012/12/the-other-side-of-pmdd-continued.html
      In that post there are also links to two other posts regarding the same topic. Those are called They Only See Our Failures and It's Not Personal, It's Just Your PMDD. I think there may be enough hints in those posts to get you started! (This is what I mean by it will take me a while to answer you in a blog post, because the first thing I would do is go back and read the three I just mentioned, maybe even more related posts, and see what I already said, so that I don't reinvent the wheel and repeat myself.) Anyway, start there and then email me with any specific questions you might have. There is an autoresponse you will get first, but I will then answer within a day or so. You can also click on any word in the sidebar that you may want to read more about, for instance, irritability, or anger, or whatever, and a listing of all posts dealing with that subject will appear. Thank you so much for your interest and comments, and I look forward to hearing from you when you get a chance... I have other resources I can mention, that might be more specific to your situation. Blessings, Liana

  7. Thanks Liana, I will reread those articles and write down the aspects I find useful. I have spent countless hours already sifting through all your posts and the replies. I am aware now that I am not alone in this struggle just when I felt like no one knew what I was even talking about!!