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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, February 23, 2014

The Voices of PMDD, She's Just a Devil Woman

I posted Juliet's story once before, but then moved it to another page, and am now moving it back again, as I am rearranging my blog.  So, if you think you have read this before, you may well have, but it is well worth reading again.  If you are new to my blog, then welcome.  Once you read a few pages, you will learn you are not as alone as you might think you are, but in very good company!  Thank you so much, Juliet, for sharing your story with us, not once, but twice! 

She's Just a Devil Woman

Today, if you’ll forgive me, I’m allowing myself a small indulgence, little bit of self-therapy if you will. I’m having one of my PMDD days. Have you ever had that feeling that some other power or entity was taking control of your mind, orchestrating your feelings and directing your actions? Well, I get that once a month, and it’s never a positive experience. Thanks to a complicated cocktail of brain chemistry and raging hormones, on a four-weekly basis I find myself mutating into a fearsome, irritable, totally unreasonable monster.
Now, the vast majority of friends and not-so-close family will probably find this quite unpalatable. Most of them know that I pride myself on trying to keep an air of affability and co-operation, in fact my job demands that I maintain this, and 90% of the time, this comes as the result of a heartfelt personal passion that people are nice, deserve a fair break and should be treated with kindness. 
I’m so glad that these people don’t live with me.
When the time comes and the internal switch within me trips, you really wouldn’t want to be around me. Ask my family, I border on the psychotic, with episodes ranging from a disgruntled huffiness and tactical withdrawal to an all-out psychotic rage-monster screaming abuse for the smallest infraction.  It’s not something I’m proud of. It’s also something I’m not in control of. It’s called Pre-Menstrual Dysphoric Disorder, what I would only describe as PMT’s Evil Twin. It’s a condition that the medical world has only really started to recognise in the last couple of decades, but, you betcha, it’s been around a long time before then. History is peppered with tales of Mad Women, those possessed by demons and hurled into flaming pits, burned at the stake, drowned on ducking stools or thrown into archaic asylums. I can’t help wondering if a fair majority of these women were fellow sufferers of PMDD, especially as the whole ‘possessed’ moniker rings such a familiar bell. I know that, when I am in the throes of a particular bad rage episode, it feels like the ‘Red Mist’ has come down; I want a fight, but I don’t even know what I necessarily want to fight about. No amount of calm negotiation, reasoning or fair discussion can drag me down from my self-created pedestal of indignation. What makes it all the worse, is that, once the dust has finally settled down and I’ve returned to my ‘normal’ self, the whole episode is nothing but some misty half-memory. That wouldn’t be such a problem had I been the only victim of my angst-ridden screeching, however, it is my nearest and dearest that suffer too. As I slump in my chair, cup of coffee and much-needed chocolate bar in hand, I am forced to face the wreckage  of my emotional explosion- frightened children, an affronted husband and maybe even a terrified cat. It is then that the guilt floods in at the horror and turbulence caused by my ‘other self’ kicks in, and I find myself desperate to make amends. It is this desperation that usually sparks off stage 2 of my condition, the deep, hopeless depair.
A great amount of credit must go to my family for suffering this too long. My children are still too young to understand why Mummy flies into unprecedented rages over behaviours that, sometimes just hours before, elicited nothing more than a wry smile and an exasperated sigh. It must be a very confusing time, especially exacerbated by my repulsion at that time for any unsolicited physical contact. Poor kids, one minute they’re the butt of their mother’s rage, but then the usual offer of a cuddle just doesn’t make it better. As for my husband, well, the poor man has endured twenty years of the monthly Screaming Harpy episodes, and has done me the favour of never threatening to leave (even though he’s been shown the door or many an occasion). Together we have worked through many coping strategies and he has finally seemed to have settled on a vague acceptance and the eternal knowledge that it is only a passing phase. He is, indeed, my rock in the tumultuous seas of my hormone-addled mind, and I am forever grateful for the times he has held me as I weep on his shoulder in waves of remorse asking, yet again, “am I really like this every month?”
My PMDD has ruined more holidays, trashed more days out and screwed up more anniversaries then I care to remember. 
Of course, in this storm, there is a rainbow. Today, the medical world is coming to terms with the fact that such a condition of mine does exist, and we have progressed a long way from being diagnosed with “women’s troubles” and sent away from the doctors with a prescription of “deal with it, it’s part of the wonders of being a fertile female”. Medical experts the world over are still pondering over the actual causes of PMDD, some argue it is purely hormonal, others think it is cerebral. Some again cite environmental and dietary factors. For me, what seems to work best is a daily minimum dose of Prozac. It seems to help a lot, not so much in altogether preventing the attacks of irritability and rage that strike me, but more in allowing me a ‘buffer zone’ between my Jekyll and Hyde, the balanced me and the monster. With this buffer I have the opportunity to examine the causes of my anger for what they really are, and not to pick a monstrous fight over a pointless issue.
The best medical breakthrough for me, however, is not the treatment of the condition, but the recognition. To a degree, I feel vindicated, I’m not entirely mad. There have been many times, believe me, that I truly wondered if I was a mental-case, and therefore better off removed from normal society. That’s what PMDD does to you, it divorces you from your normal, rational self and throws you into a pit of rage and despair. The only positive thing for me, is that it’s a transient thing, relieved later in the month by the realignment of my hormones.  So many women dread the arrival of their period, I warmly welcome it. I cannot begin to understand those who suffer from other mental health problems from which there is no respite,  that must be another level of Hell altogether.
I only wish that this disabling condition had been recognised sooner in my life, and then, maybe, some relationships may have been different. My own mother, with whom I have good relationship today, openly admits that she “hated” me during my adolescent years, a feeling, no doubt derived from my sporadic and undeserved outbursts. Add to the mix an alcoholic father, whose own moods were driven by an entirely different but no less unpredictable ‘chemical’, and no wonder my teenage  home-life was sometimes a difficult and dysfunctional one.
Still, I live to tell the tale and I hope that my own daughter does not suffer in the same way that I did. Although, even if she does, at least I have the advantage of understanding her in the way my own family did not have the capacity for.
Thank you for reading my tale. If any of you are fellow sufferers, I hope you gleaned a small amount of understanding and knowledge that you are not alone. And for those of you who are fortunate enough not to suffer, at least you know when best to avoid me. Or better still, leave large gifts of chocolate at my doorstep before ringing the bell and running for your life!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

One Woman's Dreams Sidelined by her Birth Control -- How About You?

One U.S. skater you didn’t see in the Olympics this year was Megan Henry: Her 2012 training was disrupted by pulmonary embolisms in both lungs, caused by her birth control device.  She had to see five different doctors before one of them made the connection between multiple blood clots in both lungs and her choice of birth control. She's now participating with 3800 people in a multi-district lawsuit against the manufacturer of the device, who has announced it is willing to pay $100 million to resolve the lawsuit, but 95 percent of those who filed must accept a deal first.

Ladies, please think about what you are putting inside your body. Is it really worth your life?

Saturday, February 8, 2014

PMDD and Negativity

It may look like I'm just recycling posts, and I am to some extent, but these are really good posts that got shuffled down to the bottom of the popular posts list over time.  It doesn't mean they are any less informative or relevant.  Today's re-post is about the neural pathways we create in our brains, and how we can focus on turning around the negativity that comes with every episode of PMDD. 

In the meantime, I am working on three new posts, the first of which I hope to put up before the month is over.  All went well with my cerebral angiogram, I finally got the *all clear* for a full year, and so now I look forward to getting back into my research and writing, and having even more good posts and information for you to discover here at Living on A Prayer.

Thank you all for your encouragement and support this past year as I dealt with my aneurysms.  What a roller coaster ride it has been.