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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

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Welcome to the NAPMDD Conference, Where The Real You Is Welcome

Two weeks ago today in Colorado, the first ever National Organization for PMDD (NAPMDD) Conference and Expo ended amid hugs, kisses, smiles, laughter, and tears...many, many tears.  Tears of hope, tears of joy, tears of relief, renewal, exhaustion, and—for the first time in what I would venture to say almost every attendees' life—tears of pure recognition and acceptance. 
For Acceptance—in addition to Hope—was the overall theme, message, and atmosphere of our time together in Denver.
While leading up to the conference many jokes were made in the PMDD community about what could happen in a room full of angry women with PMDD, the opposite was our reality.  There was no need to be angry because we had all "been there."  
Empathy was the reigning emotion of the weekend, because we understood each other—all too well.  Not just our emotions, but the process and pitfalls, jargon and results of the disorder.  I'm in Day 5.  Day 15 here.  I've been on six different drugs in ten years.  I'm on progesterone therapy.  I'm getting a divorce.  I'm thinking of getting a hysterectomy.  I hate my family.  I'm taking (name your medication).  I've been diagnosed as bipolar.  I think about suicide every month.  My doctor told me to "Just go shopping."
And where else could you go and tell a group of strangers about the color and condition of your cervix?  Better yet, splash pictures of it onscreen, then ask if anybody has questions?
I loved the openness of the conference.  Information was shared with total professionalism and respect, but also with a dash of humor when warranted.  The program provided by the speakers was invaluable.  The sessions sparked conversations about subjects such as nutrition, detoxification, inflammation, self-care, self-love, wellness, and healing.  Learning to live your cycle rather than fight it; learning to work with it rather than against it.       
So many options; so many choices.  But all with the same goal of wellness.  For that alone the conference was huge success.  (I'm just writing about it now, because I took a two week vacation to travel out West afterward.)  Kudos all around go out to Amanda and Melanie and Elizabeth and their well-organized team of volunteers. 
But what struck me most about the event—in addition to the great food, hotel, conversation, and stellar line up of speakers—was how much love and acceptance everyone shared. 
Yes, people cried throughout the weekend, in the audience, in corners, in hallways, on couches, and at the podium—but that was okay.  For the first time in history, women with PMDD (and their partners) were allowed the safe space to "be ourselves" in public.  Nobody had to go back to their room and suffer alone.  Nobody had to hide in the bathroom to cry.  Nobody had to excuse themselves because they made other people uncomfortable with their messy emotions.  Our tears and fears were welcome.  Our conversations were real.  Our hopes, dreams, sadness, and anxieties were out there for everyone to see.
And it was wonderful.  Freeing.  Empowering.
I'm sure the energy of welcoming acceptance that flowed throughout the conference will help to sustain attendees for many months to come.
And that is what NAPMDD is all about.
Support.  Encouragement. Acceptance. 
In sum, all I can say is while the educational information received at the conference was by far the bargain of the year, the warmth, friendship, and empathy I experienced at the NAPMDD conference was...
*For those who were unable to attend the conference, please check the NAPMDD site for links to free videos of the speaker sessions.