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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

Monday, April 28, 2014

The Voices of PMDD, A Partner's Perspective



Do I suffer from PMDD? Well, technically no, as I’m of the wrong gender, but given one of the key parts of the definition of PMDD is that sufferers experience severe disruptions to their relationships, I suffer the effects of PMDD. One of the many nasty parts of PMDD is that the sufferer is generally unaware of the disruptions occurring around them.
Unfortunately, as a partner, I am.
So, from an outsiders perspective (well, a partner's), what does PMDD look like?
Imagine this: you are in a wonderfully loving relationship, when all of a sudden, completely out of the blue, your partner enters an unbelievable rage. You get criticized over trivial matters that have happened in the past, you are told life is much worse with you, that you are the biggest mistake ever. You attempt to present your point of view and you argue back and forth for hours. Your partner just seems to want to argue, to hurt you, to blame you for everything.  She tells you she wants to leave you. She leaves the bedroom, and potentially leaves the house and goes to sleep in her car, or in another room.
You are left dazed, confused, angry, frustrated. What just happened?
Next day: the cold shoulder. Single word responses to your questions. She wants nothing to do with you. Another set of hurtful comments coming your way that night? You approach her for intimacy, and are soundly rejected.
You make attempts to make the peace, but all fails.
The attacks are brutal—they are just words, but they seem designed to attack your greatest sensitivities, which of course she knows. Rages can last for hours—yelling, doors slamming, storming out of the house, storming back in to fight more. I’m not joking.
The worst in my household has been a 12-hour episode over night.  Scary stuff.
My partner tends to fight at night—you know, you get nice and settled in bed, then very late at night, ka-boom.
So, what have I been attacked for in the PMDD zone? Here goes:
My attitude toward my kids, my attitude toward my partner's kids, my financial habits, my relationship to my ex, my sexual interests in bed, money, my family, what my partner’s ex partner’s girlfriend thinks of me, my libido, my job, that I’m just like my partner's ex, that I’ve ruined her life, that she can’t believe she’s with me, that she only takes pills to please me...And that’s just to name a few.
My own mind becomes so bleak. I feel hated. Maybe I am that horrible a man?
Doesn’t she realize she has a man right here who loves her? The kids hear it also, but as kids can, they somehow tune it out.  My work suffers badly as well (It is incredibly hard to focus when you’ve been arguing all night.).
A week or so later, my partner’s period starts. A couple more days of extreme caution and all will be well again.
This is the world of PMDD.
So, I start to research, and thanks to a family member, start thinking about monthly cycles and an internet search leads me to PMDD. My partner fits the textbook descriptions perfectly.
One of the problems with PMDD is that few people understand it, including doctors. I’ve been to counselors whose only contribution is, “Well, she must be angry about something—anger is an emotional choice.”
Not for a PMDD sufferer it’s not.
So what have I learned?
Probably the most important thing is to put up and shut up during the PMDD zone (this is the time from ovulation (about two weeks prior to period starting) to period starting). This is also the hardest thing.
What do I mean? Well, your partner starts get angry with you, looking to start a fight, or completely ignores all your desires, needs, and feelings. The only acceptable response is to agree with her views, no matter what you are actually thinking.
One of my latest scenarios was as follows:
My partner was doing a business course, and we both stayed up until 1:00 am to get an assignment done, with me supporting her in the process.
The next night, I had a sick child, so knew I was in for a long night. Partner is distant at night, and as we go to bed, tells me I don’t appreciate her at all. I end up spending most of the night nursing my child.
Come morning, I’m now exhausted from two nights with little sleep. Response from my PMDD partner—cold shoulder. I’ve been around PMDD for a while—but even for me this was too much, so I wrote her a letter outlining my frustrations with her behavior. Bad move. I get back a letter outlining why everything in the relationship is a problem (all because of me, of course). Old issues get dredged up and flung back in my face.
So, how should this be approached? Hard as it is, just giving your partner space, and ignoring the cold shoulder. PMDD sucks. To be honest, I can understand the rationale about just letting a PMDD partner get on with the rage/anger etc, but I’ve got no idea how to emotionally ignore it. It is beyond me, and it always hurts. Every month. I’ve seen it come and go heaps of times, but it doesn’t make it any easier.
A woman in the PMDD zone is angry. Really angry. Most the time she can keep a lid on it, but she’s still angry. Ask her too many questions, or ask her to do something she doesn’t want to, and you’ll find out just how angry. She’s also likely to be depressed. Really depressed.
Trust nothing she says in the zone.
My partner has talked about killing herself, moving to the other side of world, lied to me about money, all while in the zone.
I use a Smartphone app—P Tracker, to let me know when the PMDD zone is approaching. I’m always surprised though—the actual symptoms always hit me out of the blue—they tend to be so sudden. One minute my partner is her normally loving self, the next minute she is in a rage.
And so to intimate behavior. Best to not try and initiate or expect anything during the PMDD zone as the results can be brutal. Scorn springs to mind. I’m left feeling rejected and frustrated. It is probably easiest to just expect nothing from your partner in the zone and take matters into your own hands. And guys, you know what I mean.
How do I cope? I’m really not sure I do. Tracking in P Tracker helps, as I can refer back to how bad things were, and know that they straightened out again. When you are experiencing the zone, it can help. I re-read the blog posts here, also.
Do I feel hated and rejected each month? Yes, I do. Do I wish I wasn’t? Absolutely.
Do I wish my partner didn’t suffer PMDD? Yes. But she does.

9 comments:

  1. I have PMDD every month and I don't rage... I get depressed. I become suicidal. I feel sorry for myself and angry with myself and so horribly guilty. I beg my partner to leave me to save herself. I get mad at her for not loving me enough. I hate myself so much. My partner gets the cold shoulder because I feel so disappointed with our relationship, so down about everything that I can't see straight. This lasts from day 21 to day 28 of my cycle. It's horrible for me and it's horrible for my partner. I don't know how we do it every month.

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  2. Thanks for sharing. I had no idea what my husband goes through each month......
    I hold close to my heart the words found at Revelation s 21:3 & 4. This is the only hope that I have for myself and my husband and children, is that Jehovah God will soon do away with what hurts us, including physical and mental ailments. No one really knows how bad this condition is except for its sufferers and their loved ones. It's very real.
    My prayers are with you

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  3. Hi Liana-
    I've been a reader here for a long time and LOVE this blog. It's been so helpful and I'm really grateful to you for being vulnerable with your readers and for always sharing such helpful information. I wrote up a response to this particular post on my own blog, I just wanted to comment here with it if anyone wants to read it. I so appreciate this man's honesty and vulnerability, and I had a few thoughts to add to it, so I thought I'd write them in my own blog.

    http://songsungtrue.blogspot.com/2014/05/pmdd-partners-perspective-response.html

    Thank you again for your blog - I'm grateful for it!

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  4. I know what my husband goes through. I don't rage quite as much as what you describe, but I do lash out. I hate myself for it, and loathe that I have this increasing tension that cannot be gotten rid of with meditation techniques. It kills me, because at the peak of each cycle, my husband snaps and becomes emotionally remote for over a week. So it ends up that he is not able to contribute during the time when I most need a hug as well as during the time when I am my normal happy self.

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  5. I've recently discovered that I suffer from this terrible condition. It's affected my life for as long as I can remember, but this past month, I completely blew it. My husband is no longer living with our family, and he wants a divorce.
    I have discussed what goes on with me during what we called "orange days." We call them that because I used an orange highlighter on a calendar so my family can watch out for "crazy mom." I don't know what to do, but this has gone on for so long, he no longer loves me and is not willing to invest anymore time into this marriage.
    I'm desperate to fix this. I really appreciate reading your account of what a partner experiences. After my "orange days," I feel ashamed and embarrassed and remorseful for the way I've treated my husband, but after my period starts, I love him to pieces again.
    Most of the time I need a hug, but he's afraid to even talk to me, let alone expose himself to a vicious attack on his character or worse by trying to help.
    Good luck to you and your partner. I know she feels terrible after these "episodes." I know I do.

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  6. My partner has PMDD, has tried all of the medical advices tied to it and they do not work. I know my partner hates that she has this. Hates being "sick" and gets so down and depressed after a lash out. I have read some blogs and have tried to not upset the apple cart during this time. I am turning to the blog because I do not have any support as others in my circle do not get PMDD. To watch a loved one suffer so much during this time is awful. Knowing that no matter what you do is not the right thing hurts. Knowing that even a comforting touch gives her the "crawlys" hurts. Picking up and moving forward after these raging/depressive cycles is not easy. I have been pulling away for my own comfort, and feel guilty. It is hard to bounce back month after month and feel like the partner lays in wait to pounce during those times.
    I love my partner and would do anything to take this away.

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  7. As a partner of a woman with PMDD I could not agree more with the article.

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  8. I have this too and it's strange because I know I can expect it but when it hits it seems to come out of nowhere. For a week before my period I am angry, feel out of control, feel like I am going to jump out of skin, can't eat or sleep, cry and yell and wish I was dead. I get so distrustful of people it borders on paranoia. I feel like I am losing my mind. It scares me, it scares my loved ones. Then one day i'll wake up feeling normal again and within an hour my period will come and everything makes sense. It is horrible.

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  9. I have a partner with PMDD and this article helped a lot very accurate. Nice living then I feel the tension and rage building and your picked apart. She relives our relationship through very negative goggles and if I talk back its the me and how I treat her. Good luck to all the men out there that have to deal with this. It's something a lot of people don't understand. It takes a strong man to take the daggers and carry on taking care of his family.

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