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, December 31, 2014

PMDD, A Conversation with Someone Who KNOWS

Trust the process that got you here to get you through.
For today's post, I have taken a rather lengthy reader comment from one of my previous posts and re-formatted my reply to resemble a question and answer session, because, as you will see, the original comment touched on several  questions/ideas many of us have wondered about over time. 
By answering the reader here, I can reach more people.  So here goes:
Hello, Liana, 
I can't thank you enough for having the courage to put this blog out there and then be honest and specific about your symptoms and coping mechanisms as it relates to them. You wrote "No egg, no sadness. Woo hoo! Party time!" which just explained to me why some months feel suicidal and some months LIFE IS WONDERFUL!
Hard not to think one is crazy when all of this bullshit is happening.
Hello, T!  Welcome to my blog, and thank you for taking the time to write, especially in such detail.  I appreciate your affirmation and support.  And yes, the "no released egg, no symptoms" aspect of PMDD tends to throw just about everybody off and make countless women doubt their sanity.  Especially in our later years, as we begin to release fewer and fewer eggs.
It would almost make it bearable if there was a higher purpose to it, a reason why.
I've thought that same thing many times.  One day I decided the higher purpose to my PMDD is to write about it.  I spent many years thinking I was crazy, and then, finally, it hit me that "Surely there must be others out there like me, who think they are crazy.  I need to let them know (through writing about my PMDD experiences and research) that they are not."
So my blog was born during a five month period when my book editing business was slow.  I had three website pages completed before I realized the website was too static, and I needed to do a blog.  20 blog posts later my business picked up again and it's been a struggle to find time for my PMDD research and writing ever since. 
For a few years, I let my research slide.  No time.  Then, when I was ready to start up again, I had to re-do all of my research, in case new information had surfaced while I was busy doing other things.
And it had.  In the past two years, the news about PMDD has increased exponentially.  I get a Google alert every other day about someone writing something about PMDD.  So I go there to check it out.  Because, as many of us have learned the hard way, you can't trust just anything you read on the internet.  There are a LOT of supposed health sites that have jumped on the PMDD bandwagon, just to pull in readers.  Sites that I can now pick out when (because I've been researching PMDD for over a decade) they don't understand the first thing about PMDD.  Old information recycled as new, some information slanted to achieve a certain goal or just plain false, but enough of the article close enough to known facts to confuse someone new to the subject....
Anyway, I decided my mission/higher purpose would be to sort out the fact from fiction, and publish my findings here and elsewhere.
I haven't gotten to the elsewhere part yet, due to family and work obligations, and then, in 2013, there was my surprise brain surgery. 
But back to your comments:  I don't see a lot of people mentioning ANXIETY! as a symptom but it sure is one of mine, a surge of cortisol and other hormones so big it triggers obsessive violent thoughts and then it all subsides once period time gets here.
Anxiety is a huge problem for a lot of people.  I'm not sure if I'm one of them, mostly because I manage my environment around my PMDD,  so I don't put myself in situations that feed my anxiety.  But my anxieties are different from those of others, because there are a LOT of things I think nothing of, that terrify others.  And some things that terrify me, that don't bother others at all.
Educate yourself, learn to love yourself in spite of all the shit your head comes up with; there is some putting up with [this shit] that goes along with [PMDD].
I couldn't agree more, and that is what my blog is about.  I've sifted through probably 90% of the current information on the internet and in books relevant to PMDD and put the best of it on my blog.  If not in the posts, then on the sidebars, where there are links to all sorts of good resources.
For the men, if you love the woman, get educated about this as much as you can, I strongly recommend reading "Female Brain Gone Insane" by Mia Lundin.
I agree completely, and have a link to that same book in the sidebar of my blog.  Another excellent read is The Female Brain, by Dr. Louann Brizendine.
In it [Ms. Lundin] sheds tremendous light on this subject and offers great natural suggestions for relief,  but the only way out [of PMDD] is [to go] through it. [That] doesn't mean you guys take any abuse, but for the love of everything that is holy do not get confrontational—rather go for a walk or something.
Again, I agree 100% and have written three blog posts specifically for the partners of women with PMDD. 
For the ladies thinking hysterectomy as an end to this, PLEASE DON'T DO IT.  It is the easy way out and when the storm-tsunami-holocaust of this mess passes you will need those eggs!  Hysterectomy is the first thing OBGYN offers because it is a money maker.
I agree in that I believe most hysterectomies to lessen the horror of PMDD are unnecessary, and find it very saddening that there are so many women willing to die early (because hysterectomies do shorten your life span), risk their lives with major surgery, and take the very real chance that the operation won't help your PMDD symptoms at all if they don't take out your ovaries as well.  Also, when you get a hysterectomy, you go on hormone replacement therapy afterward, which just messes with your hormones all over again.  I would LOVE to hear from women who have had a hysterectomy for PMDD (not any other reason) and found it to be worth the risk, cost, lost time, health complications, and shortened life span in the end. 
I know your PMDD symptoms make you feel desperate, but I do not believe a hysterectomy is the answer.  Neither does Winnifed B. Cutler, PhD, and her reasons why are outlined in her book, Hormones and Your Health, also pictured in the sidebar of this blog. 
Of course all I have said is from personal experience and is easier said than done. So  please, please, please, take what you like and leave the rest.
To that I add, if you have already had a hysterectomy for your PMDD, just start where you are with improving your health and living the best and fullest life you can for the rest of your days.  Good nutrition, rest, exercise, and lowering stress are a recipe for better health for everyone, not just those of us with PMDD or hormonal mood disorders.
Pray a lot! Talk it out, DO NOT ISOLATE. This monster wants you in a corner and it wants you dead or to make you hurt someone else and usually that someone else is a loved one, although strangers can get a backlash too.
She nails it, don't you think?  PMDD is a monster determined to bend you to its will, and do as much damage as it can to your world along the way. 
I take megadoses of vitamin C, to bowel tolerance and after a few months, something inside is building back up, [and my] energy is slowly starting to come back, [but] JUST FOR TODAY.
One day at a time.  It's all any of us can do.  But vitamin C is a great place to start. 
I am 48 now. Something new is I get my period twice a month for the last two months and I feel my ovaries churning when an egg is released. I also feel hard in the lower belly before [my] period starts (something new).
I, too, get my period more often now.  Every three weeks instead of four. And I can feel when I ovulate as well.
In addition I want to shed some light from another blog I read, women who go through this, usually have had some early trauma in their lives (even or especially if they don't consciously remember) and then, spiritually speaking, the pain (stuck energy) is trying to work itself out of your body through the horrors of PMDD (just something to think about).
Don't sell yourself short, T.  I believe this can be the case as well.  And there have been scientific studies that prove a correlation between a traumatic childhood, childhood trauma in general, and sexual abuse and PMDD.  I plan to write more about it one day.  But for now I will say that for me personally, my PMDD and then period at the end of the cycle is like a huge purging of all that has distressed me in life and not yet been dealt with.  I used to let it take control.  No more.  Now I basically make note of what comes up during that time and deal with it when I'm feeling strong enough to handle it like a responsible adult. 
As for you Liana, you are the first person [to] have actually made feel and believe to the core of my being that this is not forever, that in fact "this too shall pass" and that I am not bad or crazy or being punished by the gods for all of my sins of being an imperfect human.
You are correct.  PMDD does not last forever.  It ends with menopause.  (It does, however, get worse during perimenopause if left untreated.)
You are not bad.
You are not crazy.
And you are not being punished for any sins.
I can't thank you enough and these posts in and of themselves are very cathartic. This is such an amazing twisted, enlightening, terrifying process, that I even wrote poetry a few years back and I never wrote a poem in my life...it is as if the garbage [we] accumulate over a lifetime is trying to get out of you and your true beautiful Self is trying to shine through.
Every woman's experience is different, but yes, writing or journaling about your PMDD can be extremely cathartic, and like I said above, I have long felt that my PMDD brings to the surface many things I tend overlook/avoid/suppress during my "good" times... either out of fear, denial, or the desire to avoid a confrontation.  I have read so many Facebook posts where women describe having a meltdown and then take the blame for the entire incident and don't even realize or acknowledge that the other person was yes, indeed, being a jerk.  (And that anyone in that same situation would have a right to be upset.)  It's always the PMDD that takes 100% of the blame, and not the 50% actions of the other party. 
Ladies, it takes two to make a relationship and it takes two to break one.  It's that simple.
So stop blaming your PMDD for every confrontation/mishap that happens in your life.  Other people do mean and stupid things too...what is their explanation?
Because PMDD is an explanation, not an excuse.  If you take nothing more away from this blog post than that, you will be doing something positive for yourself in 2015.
And now, a fitting farewell from our special guest interviewer, which I think sums up what many of us are feeling and experiencing.
Because [of] ALL OF YOU, I feel less alone, less insane and more hopeful. Something that comes HARD to me, but that I am working on is: SURRENDER, ACCEPTANCE AND TRUST.
As are we all; me, as well.  At the moment, I am working on exactly those three things.  Starting January 1, I've taken a 6-month hiatus from my income-generating work to focus on my PMDD blog and books, and it's going to take a lot of surrender, acceptance, and trust to see this whole thing through.
But letters like T's have convinced me it's the right thing to do.
That said, I join T. in wishing you all love and light and tons of resilience, faith, and strength in the coming year.  Happy 2015, ladies, and may it be the year YOUR beautiful Self shines through!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

PMDD and Holiday Stress

Offhand, I can think of four good sources of holiday stress: family, food, finances, and expectations.  Each causes its own manner of stress, but like a toxic family with a volatile history, they all intertwine.  For example: Your family has expectations that involve your finances, either via hosting a food-laden event, traveling to a food-laden event, or simply exchanging gifts. 
Funny, but our current culture would have us believe that the more we spend, the more we care.
Is that messed up or what?  Then, of course, there are the guilt purchases.  You know, the sometimes extravagant but almost always expensive gifts you buy to convince someone how much you care when you won't be showing up in person.  Or maybe you will be there, but you'll have to leave early, or it's the only time you've seen this person since whenever, and you feel guilty about that.  Then there's the keeping-up-with-everyone-else spending. Your gift can't possibly come in at a dollar value less that the gifts "the others" are giving, or you'll look bad.  So you either buy something you can't afford, or pony up your share of a gift you didn't choose and can't afford. 
But I digress.  Above are only a few examples of generic holiday stressors.  A PMDD woman doesn't handle stress well to start with, and so when the holiday madness begins....
You can understand why all she wants is for it to be over, or at the very least, to get through it without a meltdown.
So let's stop for a minute, just stop and think.  What are all these holiday gatherings supposed to be about?  Connecting, making memories to hold you through until you see each other again, right? (Or, if you're all local, celebrating another year of life's ups and downs together.) 
But somewhere along the way, everything shifted.  Away from Jesus and family, peace and goodwill, and toward fueling a selling season that accounts for 40% of the year's retail revenue. 
Connecting more deeply with friends and family is not about two months plus of frenzied shopping to see who comes up with the biggest, best, shiniest gift.  It's about coming to the table well-rested and healthy, comfortable and caring.  It's about making eye contact (put those electronics away!!), feeling genuinely happy to see each other, and connecting in a special way...but not a deep and forever-bonding kind of way.  If you come to the party expecting that, you've fallen into the trap of unrealistic expectations, and you'll only be disappointed. 
Holiday gatherings are for having lighthearted fun and making good, positive memories.  If a heart to heart connection happens, consider it a bonus.  But don't go into the event expecting anything more than a good time.
Happy holiday gatherings are about spending time with people who share common interests, values, and beliefs.  And if that doesn't happen—which is most of the time—it's about managing to enjoy the day and company as best as you can.  In a worst case scenario, it's about keeping the peace (and your peace) for as long as you and these spiritual, mental, and emotional strangers spend time together.
Not everyone is blessed enough to have a group to gather with.  If you are, but can't stand to be around them, and absolutely, positively can not escape attending the festivities, the prevailing advice is to limit your visits to a couple of hours at a time.  If you've traveled long distance, take breaks to visit friends in the area, or maybe revisit familiar local haunts, or even show your partner or kids where you grew up.  If you don't want to do that, or don't know anyone else in town, maybe you can visit some sort of tourist attraction in the area for a break between bouts with relatives.  Or you can offer to be the gofer who runs errands.  Somebody always needs something they forgot to bring at these things.  Offer to fetch it, and use the time to regroup.  If you're not from the area, just take a walk or a drive to explore the surroundings and clear your head.  What is it with people acting as if there's something wrong with wanting to spend more than a few minutes alone?  Could it be they envy your independence? Wish they could break away from the herd as well?  Think about it.
If you have no relatives nearby, find some friends and start your own traditions. Traditions are important, but creating new traditions can be equally important.  Families no longer look the same as they did in the past--we've got single moms and dads, same sex moms and dads, bi-racial couples and children, adopted children, foster children, blended families, events where all parties and their current significant other show up, presumably for the sake of the kids—so why should family events always be the same?  Consider incorporating something new into the mix.  Maybe you can all go to church together, or to a restaurant for dinner, or to a movie or bowling after your meal.  Mix up the traditional menu but try adding something new.  Maybe even ditch the whole thing and have a theme party.
Or maybe you can agree to go to the big family shindig only every other year, or only participate on alternate holidays.  Spend one any way you want to, (whether it be by staying home or planning a ski chalet weekend) and the next by attending a family gathering.  Or schedule the family event at a different time than the true holiday.  Think of all the stress you'll avoid, not scrambling out there with all the other holiday travelers. 
But don't go at all if you know the event will only bring more pain and destruction to yourself and the family.  Family gathering time is not the time to resolve family issues, conflicts, or make major family decisions.  The discussion about your cousin's financial woes or addiction or whether or how to move someone into assisted living is NOT one you want to have at a holiday gathering.  Ditto details about selling, renting, or discarding family property.  True, it may be the only time you are all together, but the holiday celebration itself is NOT the forum for such undertakings.  Those require a separate family meeting.
Just as the holidays are stressful for all of us, most of these suggestions could apply to anyone.  To specifically address your PMDD, I'd have to return to the line of "coming to the table well-rested and healthy, comfortable and caring."  If you are feeling none of these things on the date of the event, then you are not wrong in wanting to cancel, and if you do, please do not feel guilty or accept any blame for doing so.  Would you stay home if you had the flu?  Negative moods are just as contagious and can ruin a party just as easily.
Feeling guilt and accepting blame only escalate your PMDD symptoms.  By staying away from the event, you are protecting both the event and taking care of yourself.  Nothing in this world is more important than seeing to your own health and well-being.  Especially when it comes to your mental health.
Because if you don't care enough about yourself to take care of you, believe me, nobody else will either.

Liana Laverentz is the award-winning author of two books on PMDD, PMDD and Relationships, and PMDD: A Handbook for Partners.  Both books are based on the most asked questions by her readers, and therefore the most popular posts on this blog. Both books are also an excellent resource for understanding your PMDD and for starting a meaningful conversation with loved ones who want to know more about this debilitating disorder we live with daily. Both are available in ebook from Amazon and Smashwords (Kobo, ibooks, Nook, and Overdrive), and in print from Amazon, and the International Association for Premenstrual Disorders, or IAPMD.  For more information, please check out Liana's Facebook Page, Living with PMDD.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

PMDD, the Holidays, and Relationships

Going into the holiday season, often a time of stress in general, but especially so for PMDD women, who often can not predict how we will feel or how much energy or motivation we will have from day to day, I thought I'd revisit a few posts on relationships to remind us of what's important, what's not, and what we can do about it.

Here are the links to my series of posts about all sorts of relationships, because between now and when life settles down again in January, we'll most likely be dealing with more people than we do the rest of the year combined. So feel free to bookmark this page, and refer to it as needed :)

Relationships Begin With You

Learning to Treat Yourself Like a Friend

HOW to be a Friend to Yourself

Choosing Your Friends Wisely

Choosing Your Family

How to Survive Family Gatherings

It's Not Personal, It's Just Your PMDD

Finding the Right Partner

Dealing with PMDD - Advice for Men

and, as a gentle reminder,

They Only See Our Failures

Take care, God Bless, and may your holidays be happy.