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

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Five Secrets for Surviving PMDD

Sometimes when we’re on the edge, a little dose of truth is all we need to keep from toppling over. Here are 5 secrets that can make surviving PMDD a lot easier.
1. Resistance creates suffering. Yes, PMDD causes unbelievable discomfort and mental agony. But were you aware that when you resist that discomfort and agony, you are actually creating MORE of the same? The human race is quite masterful at wanting things to be different. We’ve gotten quite adept at overanalyzing, strategizing, manipulating, denying, oppressing, and yes, even brooding over what is. But what is, still is. With or without all the energy we expend pushing things away, blaming ourselves or others, and replaying events of the past or imagining disasters in our future, reality is still reality. The trick, and I tell you true, is to use that very same energy you’ve been wasting on what you cannot change and divert it into new channels that actually make you feel better. It’s so flippin’ simple and obvious, and yet doing it takes tremendous energy and refocus.  
2. Build your energy. Okay, so now you know. You’ve got to spend the energy you have differently and also increase your energy enough to be able to break out of old habits. So, you have to identify all the ways you waste or leak energy. It could be through crappy relationships, through poor diet, not getting enough sleep, and the less obvious ways of stuffing emotions, harboring negative thoughts, or denying yourself as a matter of habit everything you truly want in life (by, for example, not even asking for it!). And here’s another tip: the more comfortable you can become with your discomfort, the more energy you will reserve and build. When you want to flee or fight, but there’s no imminent threat, stop. Feel. Breathe, woman! I promise it will pass. 
3. You don’t need to fix yourself. I know. It’s hard to believe. But it is true. You don’t NEED to be any different than you are…no matter what you or anyone else has been telling you. I know PMDD sucks. I know it can turn you from sweet and loving to bitter and hateful in under 3 seconds. But the thing is, neither of those personalities is you. You are a deep and beautiful mystery created by Life, infused by life, and guided by life. Flawless! Next time you get the message that you suck, duck! Let that bullshit ride the airwaves right over your head and out the window. There’s nothing you can do to change what is until Life decides it’s time. And then all you have to do is not resist! So until then, dream a better life but without the underlying judgment that says, “I am not doing enough.” 
4. Let yourself off the hook. The nature of PMDD ensures you’re going to have bad days. Why beat yourself up about them? Why bash yourself with judgments and shame or guilt over what you thought or felt or did? Make reparations if you can, of course. But it is actually a complete waste of energy to chastise yourself for losing your temper or getting depressed again. It is useless to tell yourself to get a grip or get over it. And you certainly wouldn’t appreciate hearing that from someone else, so why do it to yourself? Accept that in every moment, you unquestionably do the best you can. If you could do any better, you would. Allow yourself your mistakes, forgetfulness, reactions… Whatever thoughts or feelings or emotions you experience, they really aren’t personal. They pass and evaporate, eventually. They aren’t YOU. 
5. Stop believing your complaints. PMDD causes sufficient misery to provoke numerous complaints. You’ve earned the right to complain. So if you need to vent, vent! It’s healthy! But that doesn’t mean you have to believe your complaints or use other people like sponges to absorb all of your problems. Whatever you need to express, do it with people who aren’t going to buy into and reinforce the story. But take care you don’t reach out to people who are going to devalue your experience either. What you feel is real. What you believe about it…not so much. It is a delicate balance, and it starts with you. Recognize that sensations arise in consciousness. You will never be able to control them, so don’t waste that precious energy trying so hard. Instead, learn to doubt them. Learn to see them for what they are. You’re not broken, doomed, hopeless, or useless and life hasn’t handed you an impenetrable bum deal. The truth is, life is so much easier than we make it…if we’re willing to let it be.
Liana's note:  The above guest post was written by the blogger Cheekyminx. With her permission, several of her posts about PMDD are being featured on this blog. To find out more about her work as a PMDD Advocate, please visit her Facebook page, PMDD Life Support.

Sharing the Sisterly Love - A Report From the 2nd Annual National Association for PMDD Conference in Philadelphia

The 2nd annual National Association forPre-Menstrual Dysphoric Disorder (NAPMDD) conference was like no other, ever, anywhere. Since continuing medical education credits were offered this year, they had a wide array of medical professionals present, both at the podium and among the attendees—all of them discussing Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder, a disorder that affects women around the world with life-altering symptoms that revolve around their menstrual cycles.  Clinicians from all fields of PMDD treatment shared what they knew, what they believed, what they had discovered, what could be proven, and what worked for their patients.
For a research geek like me, it was sheer heaven. Nowhere else on earth would I find one location with so many dimensions of medical care for PMDD represented—and openly exchanging ideas, some of them rather heatedly. But to witness a public forum of medical professionals discussing the disorder I have suffered from for over forty years was a dream come true.
My deepest gratitude and admiration goes out to NAPMDD Executive Director Amanda LaFleur and her tireless board of women determined and dedicated to doing all they can to promote awareness and open discussion of a disorder we have suffered from in silence, confusion and neglect for more than the 70 years since it was discovered. In Philadelphia, on the 51st floor of a building overlooking the beautiful City of Brotherly Love, psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, endocrinologists, gynecologists, medical researchers, reproductive hormone specialists and other PMDD advocates gathered. Several speakers commented that they’d only seen PMDD from their specialty’s perspective until this conference, and they appreciated the opportunity to hear other points of view, as it brought up ideas they had never before considered, and made their PMDD picture more complete.
Surprisingly enough, one thing everyone in the room during a particularly dynamic discussion of treatment options agreed on—the name needs to be changed and the designation of ‘dysphoric’ dropped, to remove PMDD from the realm of mental illness. PMDD is a biological disorder, not a mental one, and needs to be treated as such, and not with the current cache of psychotropic drugs designed to alter the mind.
That was my major takeaway from the conference. No, you are not crazy. That alone made it worth the price of admission.
I also attended last year’s NAPMDD conference in Denver. I would say the major takeaway from that conference was: You are not alone. Between the two conferences, I now have something I didn’t have the first forty years of my life with PMDD: Hope—if not for a cure in my lifetime, then at least for a reliable answer as to what causes PMDD and the best way to treat it. Nearly everyone I heard speaking on the subject, with only one notable exception, said antidepressants and/or birth control were not the answer for treating PMDD, but merely band-aids used to mask the symptoms, which can (and do) rebound worse than ever when this faux treatment stops.
But take heart. Caring professionals are out there studying PMDD diligently. Others want to learn all they can about PMDD, to be able to treat their patients correctly and with compassion. This is progress like my generation merely dreamed of. I am truly energized with hope for the growing number of women still in their childbearing years, struggling with this debilitating disorder. Now, thanks to NAPMDD, there’s a chance you won’t have to suffer like so many women who have come before you, shuttling from doctor to doctor to doctor, being misdiagnosed and mistreated, being told “It’s all in your head” or having your concerns completely dismissed because the doctor had no clue what you were talking about. Not to mention being used as a human guinea pig for countless medications we now know don’t work for PMDD, because while they may aid in suppressing some symptoms, they do not address the root biological cause of what is happening to you.
The second part of the conference was all about support and social networking. Last year, I think we were all simply relieved to meet “other people like us.” This year, we had many return attendees. Instead of anxious, relieved and emotional women dominating the conference landscape like last year, this year we had a strong squad of empowered women who returned to speak about their successes (and failures) in managing their PMDD, and to provide support and resources to those attending for the first time. Many new attendees brought mothers, sisters, friends or partners for support, and it was beautiful to see. The atmosphere was just as warm and welcoming as last year, if not more so. The Gia Allemand Foundation Reception Friday night was open to the public, and provided a fantastic opportunity to meet and mingle with both attendees and speakers. 
At the reception I had a fangirl moment when a PMDD researcher I’ve admired for years sat at our table and I told her, “I have a special binder full of all of your studies.” In exchange, she told us how she got into PMDD research and how inspired she is by the increasing awareness of PMDD in the medical community. Other highlights of the weekend include a tour of Philadelphia on a double-decker bus with ten other conference participants, exchanging ideas over breakfast with fellow speakers and drinks and snacks at the Tap House with Executive Director Amanda and our wonderful videography team at BKN Creative. I returned home with friendships I know will last a lifetime.
So the conference is not just about exciting news and taking notes. It’s also about having fun with friends and creating a network of support and resources you can count on during the hard times.
If you missed the conference this year, join NAPMDD to stay in the know, which will provide you with access to the videotaped presentations of both the first and second national conferences, to discover this information for yourself. The cost is $36 and well worth the price of admission. There is also a free membership, but that does not provide access to the videotapes; you’d have to buy them separately.
Knowledge is power, and knowing all of your options can empower you to seek proper treatment for your PMDD, and to stand up for yourself when you meet a medical professional that refuses to believe or work with you to find the individual solution that works best for you. With the information from these videos, you have the tools you need to be your own best advocate.
For more information on NAPMDD and how to attend their next conference, go to NAPMDD.org.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

The Voices of PMDD - Battling the Darkness

Today's powerful guest post was written by Amanda Van Slyke, Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Flurt Magazine.  For more information, please visit Flurt's Facebook Page.

Every month around this time the darkness swallows me up. It seems to happen in an instant, where I previously felt more creative and fulfilled than I've felt in a long time. Just before the lights go out, I climb mountains of work that I've been trying to reach for weeks. I write essays full of passion and reach out to others for emotional connection. I walk down the street smiling ear to ear, thinking that maybe – hopefully, this time – I've escaped the torture I see others endure online. They post about how they can't do this anymore – about how it happens every month, and every month like clockwork it's the same thing – feelings of hopelessness, loneliness and isolation. But I am happy. I eat well and do yoga and meditate and run – everything you're supposed to do to get rid of the darkness. I think that if only people did what I did, they'd feel just as great as I do. I am the exception to the rule.
When I was younger, I came to a point where I'd felt like I had already died. I was a shell of a person, barely leaving my bed because of the fatigue and depression, stuffing my face with whatever temporarily took away the pain. I barely escaped to the west coast to get away from the darkness before it swallowed me whole – and I saw a lifestyle that could make me feel better. I stopped drinking, stopped eating sugar and dairy and gluten – and I know how you all feel about gluten, but it worked. For the first time in my life, my face cleared up. My bloated belly flattened. When I filled my body with fuel instead of poison, my energy started to come back. My depression started to lift. I could feel the oxygen coming back into my bloodstream. The more I took care of my body, the more I saw God through me – and I was an atheist.
I know that sometimes people take medication – SSRIs mixed with therapeutic conversation – and believe me, I've been on so many pills I considered swallowing them all at once. But pills took away something far deeper than the darkness – they took away my ability to feel your toes tingle and your whole body remember what spirituality feels like. And for me, I'm not willing to give up my God – the one that speaks to me through my own moans and screams. To me, feeling that numbness inside me might as well as be the death of me. So I tapered off my medication – well, after I tried to go cold turkey, and my boyfriend almost broke up with me. When I finally felt I was myself again – the one I had been searching for and didn't know could exist – I wanted everyone to know about the revolution.
And the revolution came in a plant based crusade. I felt like I had finally found a cure for the darkness. I went two years without eating meat, and I was so skinny my panties fell to the floor. But I still said that I was part of the movement. I shared photos of my recipes online, and talked about how well I was doing. But away from the limelight my diet fluctuated just as much as much as my mood. Just like I'd tapered off my medication, I tapered off fuel for my body, replacing it with poison – processed foods that were easy, thinking that just a little bit of junk food would make the pain go away. Because the pain never did, regardless of what I was eating. If I gave in and reached for the poison, it would spread throughout my body and the pain would inflate my belly and the lights would go out. And then I would say, "Screw it," like the people online that I thought just needed to be more like me.
I know now the darkness is inevitable. I know I need to do my best to choose the light – and that I won't choose it every day, nor will anyone else – even the gurus on Instagram who post photos of food I don't have the money to make. Because the darkness isn't a place where you only go when you're weak. Diet and exercise and medication is for the privileged – and I'm privileged enough – but sometimes I don't have much money for food or the will to leave my apartment, so I reach for something I know will be easy but harder in the long run. And then I spiral down – feeling hopeless, lonely, and isolated – where my only friend is the poison that I know will kill me. Because people die from this.
The darkness leaves you feeling like there's a hole where your heart should be – where you try to fill it with things to make the pain subside. Junk food, alcohol, sex, and drugs. But the real misery comes when you realize these things are never going to be enough. It comes from the knowledge that only finding self love can fill that hole – and trying to love yourself is hard when you never did. Once you see it's just you and the darkness, you can either stay up til morning or go to sleep. And while it's easy to say some are weak for not fighting, I don't blame them.

Because right now, I am unhappy. I walk around my apartment with swollen eyes, moping about how I'm just like everyone else, posting online about how I can't do this anymore, about how it happens every month, and every month like clockwork the darkness returns. But I know that soon the light will appear – so for today, I eat well, do yoga, meditate and run. I know it isn't a “cure,” but I know the more I take care of my body the more I'll see God through me. And maybe she can give me strength so I can see the light another day and remember what it's like to be happy – to smile ear to ear, thinking that maybe – hopefully, this time – I've escaped the darkness.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

The Voices of PMDD -- The Rising and Passing Storm

Today I am honored to be able to share the work and insight of guest author Julie Peavey, who initially wrote this essay about her PMDD for an English class.  I believe it will strike a chord in many hearts, and says things that have been left unspoken for far too long.  Millions of women the world over are losing precious days and weeks of our lives due to this menstrual disorder, with no real relief in sight.  
How much longer must we suffer like this?  

How do I effectively describe what I go through each month?  How do I compare who I really am to the ugly beast that raises its head, without sounding like someone who is insane?  Every month, because of Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder, or PMDD, I temporarily become someone other than myself as I enter a storm that I cannot control and must wait for it to pass.
            I can feel the PMDD approaching, hovering, waiting.  It feels like a another presence, a shadow, that lives inside of me and it’s slowly making its way to my mind where it can take over my thoughts and emotions.  It’s behind me where I can sense it, but not see it.  I’m aware of it there and can push it back for a little while, but I can’t stop it and it slowly creeps forward, closer than it was before.  I try to prepare for the inevitable, knowing that I can never really prepare myself for what is about to come.
Darkness, despair, and swirling thoughts descend upon me.  There is a part of me that wants to give up.  I could easily spend hours lying in silence, trapped with my own thoughts in my head.  I question my existence and purpose.  “Why am I here?  Do I really matter?”  My thoughts jump from one to another so quickly that I can’t even fully register them.  Except for one.  One thought keeps coming back over and over again no matter how hard I try to push it away or change it.  That is the thought of being alone and wishing that I had someone I could connect with at that moment, someone who would really understand me for who I am and what I’m going through.  I feel the loneliness in the pit of my stomach and the tears start to flow.  I am unable to stop the emotions once they start, which only leads to frustration at my inability to control the crying.  The tears flow heavier.  I beat myself up for my lack of self-control.  In my head I am yelling at myself to stop crying, to suck it up.  It doesn’t help.  I cry harder, I wail like an infant who yearns for her mother’s embrace, because I too, am in need of a comforting touch to ease the pain of loneliness.  My mind lies to me as I’m not truly alone, but I can’t comprehend that, I believe the lies.
            The loneliness and sadness overpower me.  As a tornado twists and turns and destroys everything in its path, so do those two emotions.  They swirl inside of me destroying any rational thoughts and creating turmoil.  I feel as if I am wrapped in a heavy cloak of loneliness.  Its weight is present in my every thought and action.  My desire to reach out for help is shattered by the false realization that there isn’t anyone I can turn to for even a moment of comfort.  I have no need to share my cloak; all I need is to feel a small amount of weight lifted by the simple connection with a positive soul. 
            Then the depression starts and I go in the opposite direction and want to avoid contact with people.  I write in my journal “Go ahead, lock me up and put me away.  Help me escape this existence called life.  Medicate me until I can no longer remember my name or feel this pain.  Isolate me from the world and allow me to create voices in my head.  At least they will understand me.  Take from me what I do not want and give me peaceful bliss instead.” 
I stay home from work and spend hours wrapped in my blankets thinking that this will somehow help.  I finally pull myself out of bed only to sit in front of the television and numb the emotions with food and hours of watching Netflix.  This is only a temporary fix and somehow I finally garner the strength to reach out to an online community, a family of understanding souls who also suffer every month.  The support comes; words of encouragement and wisdom are given with empathy and compassion.  We know better than anyone else what each other goes through and because of that we are there for each other if only we ask.  “This too shall pass” is shared with me, one of our favorites, because we all know that this eventually will pass.
            And it does pass; the storm ends and the waves of depression subside as the beast settles down to rest until my body decides to send the chemicals needed to wake her from her sleep once again.  The sadness and loneliness are gone and the heavy cloak is replaced with a veil of happiness.  Life has meaning again and I laugh easily and freely. I feel peaceful and calm as I rise early to watch the sun crest the horizon and wash away the darkness.  There is light in my soul again and I stroll in the sunlight and witness nature’s glory all around me.  I experience delight and appreciation in each passing moment, basking in the joy of life.  Like the butterfly that emerges from its cocoon transformed, so too, have I emerged from the storm transformed back into my true self.  I reconnect with my friends and family and vow to always treasure the love and close bonds that we share.  I re-visit the online community and this time, I am one of those offering support and words of encouragement, because I understand exactly what they are going through and wish to ease their suffering if I can.
            The days move forward and I search for a remedy from this madness called PMDD.  I am hopeful that with the help of my doctors I will eventually find a solution that will lessen if not eliminate these symptoms.  I am temporarily free, and yet I can’t help starting the countdown until the next battle begins, and I hope, I hope and pray for the strength and courage to make it through the storm one more time.

To find out more about PMDD and what is being done (and what needs to be done) to help women with this disorder, please visit the National Association for Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder/Gia Allemand Foundation, or the NAPMDD Facebook page.  

Also, until midnight October 26, 2016 NAPMDD is participating in the Love Is On Revlon challenge in an effort to raise One Million Dollars for PMDD Research.  We are currently in the top 12 of 150 competitors.  With your help, we could reach number one.  For more information, go here

Sunday, September 18, 2016

She - An Inside Look at What It's Like to Have PMDD

I can sense she is coming, as my world starts to blur, she climbs into my body and claims it as hers.
Nobody sees her, she causes such pain.  She is nothing like me yet goes by my name.

It's like a possession no priest could exile, she's taken me over, she's stolen my smile.
My body is hurting, I'm wrecked and alone.  For two weeks a month, my body's her home.

Her rage has no limit, she's hurtful and cruel, she says things I wouldn't, and I look like a fool.
She drags me by force to the depths of despair, until I don't know myself, I am no longer there.

She damages my friendships and destructs my work, has me laid up in bed, exhausted and hurt.
And when I'm broken and lost and she's had her fun, she climbs right back out, I've survived another month.

And I take back my body, my mind and my heart, I repair all the damage, I make a new start.
I'm back and I'm happy, I'm thankful and free, though I know in good time she'll return for me.

Maybe one day I'll be free from her hell, she will no longer own me, and I will be well.
Until that day, I will swim the rough seas.
I won't let her drown me, for she isn't ME.

by Nicola James, 2016

Hello! It’s Not Just PMS. PMS and PMDD Are Not the Same Thing

Let's set the record straight once and for all, shall we? PMS and PMDD are not the same thing.
I remember PMS. I had it as a very young girl and woman. It was signified by the typical energy drop, irritability, cravings, weepiness, bloating and leaden legs that preceded my period. It was a pain in the...well, you know. It made it a challenge to go about life as usual, but I managed, because PMS is manageable. At least, it was for me. I have a huge pain tolerance!
At some point in my life, something switched on...or maybe off. Either way, PMS started to transform into something a lot less friendly. I was markedly becoming an entirely different person for several days before my period, changing back again as soon as the blood flowed. This wasn't about bloating and irritability. This was about marked personality changes characterized by extreme sensitivity to stimulus and anger. Simply put, I couldn't stand to be around people, and I couldn't handle the simplest of frustrations.
Enter peri-menopause. Now at age 48, PMDD has become an even bigger nightmare. With the shifting of my hormones comes a much more unpredictable barrage of cyclic symptoms including anxiety, rapid mood swings, rumination and self-sabotage the likes of which even years of extreme personal development can't help me tackle. Add to the mix suicidal fantasy, full-on rage, and an aversion to my partner with its characteristic withdrawal and silence that is completely destructive. Marked personality changes have become unrecognizable personality! Day-long crying jags have replaced weepiness. And bloating and cramping have morphed into days of constipation, muscle aches, headaches, and other inexplicable weirdness including strings of 12 hour naps! This ain't PMS, folks!
I wonder how many of my well-meaning associates who say they have or had PMDD really know what they are talking about. Did they have those simple cramps, bloating, and mood changes I recall from my youth? Do they think that is PMDD? Do they understand that PMDD is a life-altering, destructive, and altogether demonic monthly possession which leaves one feeling completely effed-up? I have to wonder. Because often, something in the way they say it or look at me or how they live their lives makes me think they don't. The dead give-away is of course, "It went away with exercise and dietary changes" or "You just have to think more positively".
These two female "things," PMS and PMDD, are often lumped together. There is no harm in that, necessarily. The problem arises when everything that is generally known about PMS is transferred to PMDD and an assumption is made that they are in fact the same thing or so closely associated as to be kissing cousins. In actuality, they are entirely different races. And speaking of races, it's a lot easier to run the PMS race, let me tell you. The PMDD race? Honey, it's a never-ending marathon of trials over which a woman has very little control, no matter the extent of her efforts.
Are you suffering from PMS or PMDD? Learning the difference can make a world of difference in understanding yourself and your symptoms. For more information, visit the National Association for PMDD/Gia Allemand Foundation website. 
Liana's note:  The above guest post was written by the blogger Cheekyminx. With her permission, several posts she has written about PMDD will be featured on this blog in the months to come. In the meantime, to find out more about her work as a PMDD Advocate, please visit her Facebook page, PMDD Life Support.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Differences Between PMDD and Bipolar Disorder

The following is a guest post inspired by fellow PMDD advocate Danielle Lasher Bosley, who answers countless questions in Facebook groups regarding what she's learned about PMDD.  Today's topic is about the differences between bipolar disorder and PMDD, which are commonly confused in the medical arena.  Welcome, Danielle!
I've had a few women message me lately about the tangled web of bipolar disorder and PMDD and how to tell the difference between them. This is a question that pops up more and more. And the answer is tricky, but I'm going to try to address it since it keeps coming up.
One thing I've noticed is most women who ask me about this do so privately. So many seem ashamed over the idea they could have bipolar disorder (which affects up to 3% of the population). I get it. Having PMDD - an autoimmune hormonal issue - seems a lot less stigmatized than saying you have a well-known mental health disorder people make fun of and mock all the time. So yes, I get it.
Buuuut... The longer you go treating one disorder (like PMDD) when you may not even have it and ignore the other (like bipolar), the worse it gets.  Liana adds: The reverse is also true—you could be taking medications for bipolar disorder when you actually have PMDD. Either way, The treatment plans and medications are not the same. Something to think about.
So... The diagnostic criteria for PMDD and bipolar disorder are different. There are different types of bipolar, too. I'm not gonna get into all of that right now. What I will say is - in the majority of cases with bipolar, there is some level of mania. Yes, there is one type that doesn't have mania. There is also hypomania which is milder. These cases are not the majority of bipolar cases. Most will have mania. Bipolar disorder also brings with it certain typical behaviors: reckless behaviors like frequent sexual partners and impulsive spending. These are not typical of PMDD. Do they exist with PMDD? Sure, they can because we are all different and have differing personalities, but as a whole, it's not a commonly recognized symptom like it is with bipolar.  Liana adds: PMDD impulse control issues generally have to do with mood swings and saying things we don't mean. That doesn't mean we don't indulge in a little retail therapy now and then, but not to the scale of shopping sprees during manic episodes of bipolar.
Most importantly: PMDD doesn't happen outside the luteal phase (the last two weeks of your menstrual cycle). Yes, stress and surprises and emotional upset are still hard for a woman with PMDD to handle. But the depressive lows or extreme highs will not suddenly hit you on Day 8 of your cycle. That's not PMDD.
Now, there is also PME, which throws many with bipolar disorder off track and onto PMDD. Women with PME experience prominent symptoms in their luteal phase because the fluctuating hormones worsen the underlying bipolar disorder. But the difference is that bipolar symptoms are still present outside of the luteal phase. Bipolar disorder is not predictable like PMDD symptoms are and with bipolar disorder it's not happening during the same timeframe month to month.

With bipolar disorder... your depressive state may lead to suicidal thoughts that change over to feelings of euphoria  and endless energy. These extreme mood swings can occur more frequently – such as every week – or show up more sporadically – maybe just twice a year. There is also no defined pattern to the mood swings. One does not always occur before the other – and the length of time you are in one state or the other varies as well... 

Also, and this is the most important part: if you don't have physical symptoms, it's very likely not PMDD. The diagnostic criteria for PMDD is used to emphasize this better. Since it was tweaked in 2013, we are seeing more women with bipolar disorder being misdiagnosed or self-diagnosing with PMDD. Traditionally, the most common physical symptoms of PMDD are extreme bloating, an all over heaviness, joint and muscle aching, acne, lethargy and fatigue, weight gain, and food cravings... And most with PMDD have more than one or two of these physical symptoms. If you're dealing mostly with mild mood changes and the physical stuff is more along the lines of PMS, the issue may actually be bipolar with PMS, not PMDD.
Substance abuse (whether it's pills and needles or you're the woman who "needs" wine every day) is also far more common in women with bipolar disorder than PMDD.
Danielle sums up: This is how I differentiate between bipolar and PMDD. You don't have to agree, but I think the differences need to be mentioned and that women who suffer with either PMDD or bipolar disorder need to recognize what exactly they have, own it, and get the help they need. As we well know, doctors haven't been the most helpful in this regard over the years. So we need to be our own best advocate. We need to be  honest with ourselves about what's going on.  Liana chimes in: I agree.  We need to do our own research.  With just a little effort, you *can* figure out the difference for yourself.  The tools are available and the information is out there.  And we deserve better than to spend years taking the wrong medication for something we don't have.
As always, get your hormones and thyroid tested annually (if only to find out what you don't have). Chart your cycles.  It's the best way to determine whether you have PMDD or not.
But most of all: Don't give up. ❤ The answer that is right for you is out there somewhere.

Monday, August 22, 2016

PMDD Quote of the Week

~I can feel the PMDD approaching, hovering, waiting. It feels like another presence, a shadow, that lives inside me and it's slowly making its way to my mind where it can take over my thoughts and emotions. It's behind me where I can sense it but not see it. I'm aware of it there and can push it back a little, but I can't stop it and it slowly creeps forward closer and further than it was before. I try to prepare for the inevitable, knowing that I can never really prepare myself for what's to come.~ JP

Friday, August 12, 2016

PMDD Quote to Reflect On

From a participant in the Facebook groups...

~I came to the realization that PMDD is as much of a spectrum disorder as autism is. Everything is different for each of us, severity so different, that there is no real way to pin it down. Maybe that's why treatment is so elusive. We are trying to classify it to fit in a single box, and it simply can't. In other diseases there are finite ways to tackle it. That is just not so with any spectrum disorder.~ 

Monday, July 4, 2016

Declare Your Independence from PMDD - Nutrition Matters

Today we offer a two-for-one post, with a guest segment from Julie, a woman who, like me, has taken the responsibility for management of her PMDD symptoms into her own hands.  Read on to find out how and why. 
Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food. ~Hippocrates, founder of the Hippocratic School of Medicine
Julie starts:  Over a decade ago, I sat down with a doctor and burst into tears. Literally within moments, I had a prescription for an antidepressant.
I left feeling ashamed and deficient somehow. The drug didn't help at all and I was cycled through various others to see if one would finally work for me. When I decided to quit the search, I was tapered off of everything and felt like bolts of lightning were jolting through my body for weeks.
Nobody ever asked about my diet.
I've had three idiopathic blood clots. That means doctors can't identify what caused them. But now I take an anticoagulant for the rest of my life. For years, I've had to be careful about which foods I ate because certain foods could interfere with the medicine.
I even saw a gastroenterologist who wrote me a prescription for an anti-anxiety drug before printing me a list of foods that might be the culprit behind my constantly upset belly. There was no real plan, no follow-through. Just a drug to treat the symptoms.
I was told that my symptoms were all in my head and just manifesting themselves in my gut. I felt broken and shamed again.
Yoga was my first step in recovering from depression. I'm now a registered yoga teacher and practice almost daily. I meditate and take long walks to soothe my nervous anxiety. I have been gluten-free for years and until recently ate what I thought to be a fairly healthy diet. I don't drink or smoke or even drink caffeine. Most people who know me would probably consider me somewhat of a health nut.
One day it occurred to me that I would never just "open my medicine cabinet and start swallowing random handfuls of drugs." I don't even take Tylenol without checking to see if it's safe with anything else I have to take. But I do this with food. I open the refrigerator and...
I [finally realized that I] paid more attention to the appetizing picture on the package than to what was actually in the package. I finally understood that FOOD IS MEDICINE and that literally every single cell in my body was made of the food I chose to eat.
For the past several weeks, I've been eating nothing but clean food. I've removed all dairy, grains, legumes, soy, and sugar from my diet. I have piled my plate with veggies, fruit, and protein. Everything has been delicious and satisfying. I've definitely lost weight, and I've never felt deprived or gone to bed hungry.
But I've also gained strength and endurance. My sleep has improved. My skin is happy. And my resting heart rate has dropped steadily.
And this happened after only two weeks!
I'm much happier these days than I was a decade ago. I've fought for my own happiness. I now know who I am and what I need to feel like me. Antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs are helpful to many and there's no shame in taking them—none—but they've become so stigmatized that we sometimes get defensive about them instead of fairly examining the whole picture.
None of the doctors I met ever asked me about my diet. I was told that my symptoms were all in my head. Who cares that my head happens to be connected to the rest of my body?
What we eat matters and affects our entire being, not just our physical body.
Did you know that body fat secretes hormones? It works like an organ. If any other organ were enlarged and throwing the rest of your system out of whack, you'd probably consider that a problem.
Food is comforting. These past weeks have been emotionally exhausting. I got a call from the vet who has been treating our beloved dog for his leukemia. When they diagnosed him, they said he had 7-60 days left. He fought for more than six months! Even so, the vet confirmed that we had to say goodbye. He suggested euthanasia was the most compassionate response. It was gut-wrenching. I was standing in Target sobbing and calling around looking for someone to come to the house that night to help my dog transition in peace.
During that situation and other, equally stressful situations, I found myself face to face with the reality that I use food to comfort myself. I longed for sugar, cream, grains... Cookies, basically. I stared at the brightly colored bags of treats and imagined what it would be like to eat them. To feel their crunch and sweetness and melting chocolate. I felt alarms going off in my head like an addict fighting to stay clean amid temptation. I pushed my cart through the store with eyes red from crying and left with my commitment to a clean diet intact.
Once at home, I made myself a bowl of chia seed pudding with coconut milk and cream, bananas, blueberries, and love. It satisfied and comforted me. It nourished me instead of making me feel sick and sad.
It's okay and good and right to feel comforted by your food. Food is medicine. Food is one of the truest joys in life. Learning to see food for what it really is has been an intense and eye-opening experience.
If you're looking to learn more about all of this, please go find a copy of the book, It Starts with Food. Written by a certified sports nutritionist, it's an absolutely fascinating and inspiring read.
Liana adds:  So make today the day you declare your independence from PMDD.  In addition to whatever treatment plan you are following, take a good, hard look at your food habits.  What you eat, when you eat, where you eat, and why you eat.  Read up on food and nutrition and how it all works to support and sustain your brain and body.  Do what you can to eat clean(er)—and feel the difference for yourself.  Become more body aware as you start to feel healthier. 
Make changes in small increments if that's the only way you can stick to a plan.  Baby steps. 
That's the way I did it, and, like Julie, my symptoms have eased to barely worth mentioning in the year and a half  I have been eating cleaner.  So much so that I haven't needed to take anything for anger, irritability, depression, mood swings or anxiety other than an extra 100mg of progesterone as needed.  (I wear an estrogen patch (.75.mg) and take 100 mg progesterone capsule at bedtime daily.  I take an added dose of progesterone (either via a second 100 mg capsule or a dime-size dollop of progesterone cream) on days when I feel symptomatic.)
Nutrition matters.  And you deserve to be nourished, not pacified.  So give cleaning up your diet a sincere effort, like Julie and I have.  There's nobody out there who can or even will do it for you.  It has to come from you.
Then, once you, too, feel stronger and have more stamina and energy—mentally, emotionally, and physically—you may be able, with the supervision of your medical practitioner, to be weaned from any substances (or situations) you have determined are making you feel worse...instead of better. 
And wouldn't that be something to celebrate?
Readers can find Julie on Instagram @hideadollar and can reach Liana either through posting a comment here or by emailing her at info (at) livingwithpmdd (dot) com.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

PMDD Quote of the Week

~Just yesterday I could not stop eating.  It was like I was keeping myself from being dragged under.~

Sunday, June 19, 2016

PMDD Quote of the Week

~Some people just can't let you have any peace while being in the same room with them.~

Anyone with a story to share?  Comments welcome...

Sunday, June 12, 2016

PMDD - After the Hysterectomy

In my first post, I shared what it was like for us in the trenches with PMDD.  This installment, I want to discuss what happened after my wife's hysterectomy, or how we finally got to life without PMDD.
The decision, I remember, was discussed a handful of times regarding whether my partner should have a hysterectomy. I remember us doing a lot of due diligence on the topic, mostly surrounded around her health. We knew we were at peace with the idea that we would no longer be able to have children—we already had two beautiful, healthy kids and we were truly blessed. The larger conversations centered around "then what?" What are the guarantees? What are the potential complications? What if the surgery doesn't work and what would the domino effect be, knowing she just had her entire reproductive house torn down and she still had PMDD?!
The decision was ultimately hers. She decided it was worth the risk of everything we had discussed, knowing the reward would mean so much more.
She had her surgery. It went well and we were told there would be no major side effects, just 6-8 weeks or physical recovery time. All good, right?
Let's harken back to PMDD and how most of us, even doctors, are learning on the fly. I obviously wasn't prepared for the three months after surgery and how PMDD kept creeping into our lives. It wouldn't go down without a kick in the gut, a roundhouse right to the head, and headlock for good measure. One of the hardest battles lied ahead and I was not any wiser to what the hell it was—again my preparation—or lack of it—didn't matter.
My wife fought for three months after her surgery. It was probably just as hard as when she had PMDD. I remember the emotional strain it took on her—how her body would never be the same. How the same place that had housed our children for almost 10 months was gone. It was an emotional rollercoaster. The fights still existed, the threats of divorce were still present, and it seemed at times as if one of my fears had come true—IT DIDN'T WORK!
As each day went by I was looking for a ray of hope. After she was fully recovered physically (try more like 3 months, not 6-8 weeks) some normalcy started to happen and it felt odd. We were always waiting for the next fight to happen. I was always tracking her episodes on my iPhone, trying to prepare for the next hostile takeover. We went back and forth at times really questioning if the surgery worked 100%.
It was a long road back emotionally for my wife post-surgery. It was harder, and took longer than any of us expected. PMDD gave us one last fight and didn't go down quietly...why should I have expected it to?
For whoever reads this, I leave you with this: It can and will get better. There are options for you and your partner. You don't have to live this way any longer. I know it is easier to run like hell than to stand and fight. I chose to stand and fight when at times I wanted to run far, far away.
I leave you with three points to help get you through it all:
1) Remember why you fell in love with her. It will carry you at times through the muck even though the woman you fell in love with might be a shadow of herself during PMDD.
2) It's okay to feel the way you do, no matter how much you might feel guilty for feeling a certain way. Things will cross your mind during her PMDD episodes that will have you questioning your sanity. You will feel like snapping at times. You will feel like doing irrational things just in the hopes that your wrong behaviors or attitudes are not so much payback for PMDD, but a pathway between staying balanced and losing your mind.
Talk about the way you feel with others even if they might not fully understand it. Just letting it go and letting out a good cry is also therapeutic. Don't hold it in. Find an outlet for yourself too. Your health still matters.
3) Lastly...Don't give up. She needs you still. She is fighting a swarm of demons that she doesn't want around. She doesn't want this any more than you do. [Whichever treatment option(s) you choose] Work towards achieving healthy solutions for both of you. There are solutions out there. Do your homework, reach out to PMDD survivors and their peers, and never, ever give up Hope.
You are stronger than you ever realized, partner, and God wouldn't give you anything you couldn't handle. Call it cliché but it's true. You were built for this for now, but it is not yours or hers to live with forever.
Liana's note: For more information on the basics of PMDD, please read my posts Dealing with PMDD - Advice for Men, and Confusion City.   Also worth reading are Top 20 Tips for Dealing with PMDD, and More Tips for Men Whose Partners Have PMDD.  All four posts are included in my book PMDD: A Handbook for Partners.  For those who prefer to have all this information (and much more!) in one convenient place, it's the book with the blue cover at the top of the sidebar. 

Sunday, June 5, 2016

PMDD in the Trenches -- A Partner Speaks Out

Hello. My wife is a survivor of PMDD and successfully had a hysterectomy last year.
Everybody's partner has their own unique perspective, story, and battle scars. However, I can only imagine what it is or was like for each and every woman that has battled uphill fighting PMDD. My story plays out in three segments: Pre-PMDD, PMDD in the trenches, and post-PMDD.  I'll present the first two here today.
Pre-PMDD: The Quiet Volcano
Before our daughter was born, my wife had fundamental characteristics, that looking back now could have somewhat prepared us for what was to be PMDD. However, I am not a doctor and I don't play one on TV and I am not the Amazing Kreskin, so in hindsight, it wasn't our fault that we were not able to predict the future. We had a wonderful courtship, engagement, and newlywed life; everything that you would want pre-children.
But bubbling under the surface was the volcano. I still somewhat to this day wished I had been a more cognizant partner. Maybe those fundamental characteristics could have prepared me to be on the lookout postpartum. I am a planner. I like to stick to schedules, show up on time, and live by the preparation sword. So you can imagine that when my wife and PMDD met; it was nothing you can prepare for.
No partner can gameplan to tackle PMDD head-on. Heck, 90% of the country hasn't even heard of it. Those of you who might be reading this as a partner, might feel the same way I did. I implore you to step back and give yourself some reprieve today and every day moving forward. Likely now you might be in the thick of it, or maybe you're in the [somewhat more peaceful] post-PMDD phase. All you can do [either way] is live in the present moment because there is no point--I promise you--in focusing on anything else [when you are in the throes of PMDD].
PMDD in the Trenches
I can honestly say there has never been a period in my life and during my married life that I felt the walls caving in like they were during "PMDD in the trenches." This is where all the battle scars happened, horrible words were thrown around, bombs dropped, and at the end of it all there were no winners. It was nearly a 5 year period of some of the most tumultuous scenes of my life played out for all to see sometimes, sometimes played out in a shroud of silence. Scenes that looked like they could have been on a Thursday Night Lifetime Movie event, or sometimes things that you see on the local news channel --Yeah, that bad. Remember, I'm a planner; I like things in order, I believe that all things have a place...I am a huge advocate for keeping my life as efficiently run as a possible. My wife having PMDD was the antithesis of all those things.
PMDD ran our life. It was a Gestapo, a real son of a bitch. My wife's life was controlled by a parasitic mind fuck over mind, body, and soul. It took everything out of her and undoubtedly took everything out of me. I wanted to quit. I wanted to run away. I wanted nothing more than to take my children away and never come back. I found solitude in imaginary places that existed far from my wife and far away from any PMDD.
For 2 weeks a month, we were at the mercy of PMDD. It had a massive effect on our lives. I lived by the theory of "hope." I continually held out hope that things would improve. Maybe this month she won't want to lock herself in the closet. Maybe this month she'll want to parent her children. Maybe this month she won't have a panic attack. Maybe this month she'll toughen up--Yes I was thinking that, sadly enough. I was desperate for truth...Desperate for answers....Desperate for normalcy.
I knew as much as she did. I knew probably as much as some of the doctors & therapists knew. What I knew more than anybody though is I still loved my wife through and through. I wasn't going to run, though I wanted to. I wasn't going to get divorced, though I wanted to. I just wanted PMDD to stop ruining our lives. I wanted my lovely wife healthy, happy, balanced, and present--no longer consumed by the heavy fog that is PMDD. I can honestly say we were both held as emotional hostages each and every month.  By a pair of ovaries.
Note from Liana:  A hysterectomy alone will not eliminate PMDD.  If you choose this treatment option, you  need to have the ovaries removed as well.  PMDD stems from something that starts in the ovaries.
I encourage you all today to hold out hope. Hope is all we have. Like Andy Dufresne in The Shawshank Redemption said to Red, "Remember Red, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies." I am glad I held out hope because, know this....there is a light at the end of the tunnel. There is an end [to PMDD] and a post-PMDD world exists......

More on this next week.  

Sunday, May 22, 2016

PMDD Quote of the Week

PMDD - It's not just mental and emotional.  

~Horrible, horrible anxiety tonight, along with every joint in my body aching.~

~Exhausted, and falling asleep against my will all day...~

~PMDD is sometimes like being a prisoner of your own body.~ 

~The thing is, at the toughest time of the month, I don't "cry" -- I just close my eyes and tears stream out of them.~

~I have almost taken my life numerous times in the past, unaware of what I was dealing with, thinking it was some moral failing on my part.~

PMDD can also affect us physically and spiritually.  We can feel on top of the world one minute, and the next be on our knees praying for the strength we need to get through the next day, hour, even the next minute.  Most times there's no way to prepare for its arrival, as the nightmare that is PMDD can creep in slowly, or broadside us in a blink, and totally without warning.  

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Pre Menstrual Euphoric Disorder - Have You Experienced It?

A reader asks:  Something I've never understood is my own menstrual symptoms, which I've never seen discussed anywhere.  I get the complete opposite of you.  Instead of PMDD, I get Premenstrual Euphoric D.  For three or four days before bleeding starts, I get s surge of energy, both creative and physical, and my sex drive goes through the roof.  Later, when my period starts, I get quite severe backache and cramps.  This, I assume, is another type of PMS.

I have other atypical reactions, too.  If I get too aroused while standing, I fall over.  I can't be the only woman who experiences this, but I've never heard it described.  Seems to me that we need a lot more research in this area. PMS isn't just cultural.  It's physical, but I suspect it's far broader and more complex than people realize.

If you come across an explanation for my PMED, I'd be very grateful to find out.

Readers:  Can we help a sister out?  Please share any similar experiences (or any links to relevant material) you may have in the comments section, or write to me privately here.  Thank you!

PMDD Quote of the Week

~Everything, and I mean Everything, is going good in my life right now.  It doesn't make any sense at all but I'm so very sad anyway.~

Sunday, May 1, 2016

PMDD Quote of the Week

~I hate that none of my friends and family really know the demons I battle every month and that all my hard work during my good days barely seems to count because of my bad ones.~

Sunday, April 17, 2016

PMDD - When Women Who Don't Have it Do Harm to Those Who Do

April is PMDD Awareness Month.  Last week, I presented a Quote of the Week from a psychiatrist in South Africa who does indeed understand what PMDD is about and the need to treat it.  This week we present the flip side of the coin--the side most of us are unfortunately all too familiar with--in the form of a guest post by fellow blogger Twilah, written in response to a TED Talk in which a woman psychologist proceeds to negate the validity of PMDD by, among other things, dismissing PMDD and its sister disorder PMS as a cultural myth.

Twilah: This TED talk came to my attention because it was posted on a PMDD forum online. Other women complained that the talk seemed invalidating and dismissive of the illness they live with. I tend to agree with the feedback of the women affected by PMDD. This is my analysis.

The speaker, Robyn Stein DeLuca, opens by gauging the audience’s familiarity with the concept of PMS. She establishes that PMS is a familiar concept with easily recognizable symptoms. She goes on to point out that mainstream American media accepts and propagates ideas and assumptions about PMS.

DeLuca then drops her bombshell that after five decades of research the jury is still out on PMS. It’s poorly defined, treatment protocols vary… it may not even be real! She explains how historically the symptoms of the disorder described by psychologists varied so greatly that the very definition of PMS became meaningless! 

She goes on to outline the shabby research techniques and protocols that characterized the presumably five decades of research she referred to earlier. She claims that the DSM “…in 1994…redefined PMS as PMDD, Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder.”

Actually the DSM didn’t distinctly include PMDD until DSM 5, which was released in 2013. Prior to that, the DSM 4 included PMDD not as a distinct mental illness, but as a “depressive disorder not otherwise specified.” The speaker heralds the clarity established by the diagnostic guidelines offered in DSM 5. She then points out that under the new criteria in DSM 5 the number of women affected by PMDD turns out to be only 3-8%, which she considers “not even a lot of women.”

So DeLuca opens with a claim that five decades of research hasn’t supported the premise that PMS exists. Then she points out how poorly conducted much of that research was. 

Okay…you are using five decades of research that by your own reports doesn’t count for anything to support your premise that PMS is a dangerous and erroneous cultural creation? It’s generally a bad idea to use volumes of poorly conducted research as support for anything. And a mere 3-8% of presumably the world’s female population is affected? If women are slightly less than 50% of the estimated 7 billion humans on this planet, and about 2 billion of these women are menstruating, then 3% of menstruating women translates to roughly 60 million women with PMS/PMDD…whichever she is calling it right now…because she wants to undermine a PMDD diagnosis by conflating it with a cultural concept of PMS!  (Liana speaks up:  I want to say here that PMS and PMDD should never, ever be used interchangeably, as they are two separate conditions, and while PMDD affects 3-8% of menstruating women, PMS is said to affect approximately 80% of menstruating women. That means this woman, aside and apart from the huge disservice she is doing to women who do have PMDD, is also dismissing the monthly experiences of possibly another 1.6 billion women and calling it "good news".) 

Head spins…

She goes on to posit that, “the PMS myth” persists because of cultural limitations on the role of women.

Now I won’t argue for a minute that many cultures, especially the American one to which she is primarily referring, frequently limit the roles of women. Popular conceptions of PMS have been used by sexist people to minimize women’s speech and self-advocacy. That is undeniable. But the irrational interpretations of a sexist culture have zero bearing on whether a medical condition is real. Many well established medical conditions are stigmatized and used to oppress individuals affected by the conditions. Think of any disease that might cause a person to wear a colostomy bag, think leprosy, think any one of legions of mental illnesses. Simply because a culture uses a diagnosis to oppress a person with the diagnosis does not mean there is no validity to the diagnosis. The cultural interpretation of the illness needs to be addressed, the disease doesn’t need to be denied. 

DeLuca’s assertion that PMS is a largely Western concept is irrelevant also (Liana: as well as totally untrue). Lots of women’s health issues are more marginalized in non-Western societies. That has no bearing on their realness or validity. If society at large and physicians in particular choose not to discuss the high infant mortality rate in any country that doesn’t hold women in high regard, that doesn’t mean high infant mortality doesn’t exist in that country. That means it isn’t talked about or researched in that country.

To say that diagnosis and treatment of PMS or PMDD is anti-feminist is more hurtful to 60 million women than much run of the mill sexism. To have other women, who we would hope are our allies, take a stand to deny us diagnosis and treatment for a life threatening condition is morally reprehensible. 

Because that’s what PMDD is. It is a life threatening condition. The 3-8% of women who are affected by this disease experience job loss, relationship difficulties, relationship loss, depression, and potentially suicide. And this woman thinks it is helpful to stand up in a forum like a TED talk and tell people that it’s really no big deal that over 60 million human beings deal with this disease every month? To suggest it is a cultural problem and not a medical problem? She criticizes what she calls “the medicalization of women’s reproductive health.” I criticize the politicization of a medical disorder. I criticize speech that discourages further well conducted research into a life threatening illness.  (Liana:  Up to 30% of women with PMDD regularly experience suicidal ideation or attempt suicide.  15%  those succeed.) 

The root of the problem is not a cultural misperception about PMS. The root of the problem is that an endocrinological disorder is being treated as a mental illness. The problem is that the hormonal health of women is being handed to psychologists and psychiatrists for treatment. Imagine going to a psychiatrist for your diabetes or your hypothyroidism. What do you think the outcome would be? What do you think the data would show? Imagine a man being told to go to therapy instead of being given testosterone supplementation for age related testosterone production changes.  (Liana:  I half agree, but also disagree.  If psychiatrists and psychologists are the only medical professionals attempting to take PMDD on, then I would gladly go to them over accepting no medical help at all.  But I do believe PMDD is more an endocrinological disorder than a mental one.)

DeLuca says that, “…the success of medication in treating PMS symptoms vary from woman to woman.” She uses that as evidence to support the invalidity of a PMS diagnosis. Of course the success rate of using psychiatric drugs to treat a hormonal disorder would have varying rates of success! Considering the efficacy of antidepressants to treat depression is disputed, with estimates ranging all over the place, it’s not surprise the efficacy is unpredictable when you prescribe a psychiatric drug for an endocrine condition. I’m sure you’d find the same kind of inconsistency if you prescribed Prozac for erectile dysfunction. A man just might get an erection because increased serotonin made him happier overall. (Liana:  If the medication doesn't work, that does not mean the condition is not real.  It means the medical options provided are not addressing the medical issue.)

But wait, we’re talking about women.

This presentation is so off base. The problem isn’t that a make believe, culturally based illness is being given credence. The problem is that a hormonally based illness is being investigated by mental health professionals, simply because one aspect of its presentation is similar to recognized mental illnesses. The problem that American society uses the term PMS to dismiss or demean women’s emotional states is a completely separate issue from research and treatment of a disease that may affect more than 60 million women. The problem is that an educated women would stand up in front of an audience of thousands and undermine the health concerns of millions of fellow women.

Let’s not back away from helping women because existing research is incomplete or inconclusive. Let’s fund more and better studies. Let’s take seriously the complaints of millions of women that their health is being affected by their hormones. Let’s listen to women’s voices instead of dismissing them. 

Twilah's blog can be found here.  

Sunday, April 10, 2016

PMDD Quote of the Week - A Doctor's View

April is PMDD Awareness month.  I can't begin to imagine how much further we would be along the path to health and healing if we only had more doctors like this.  This woman "gets" it.
What is PMDD?
"A reproductive disorder whereby women experience transient physical and emotional changes around the time of their period, PMDD is associated with a level of impairment that is similar to major depressive disorder and poorer quality of life compared with community norms, therefore it should be considered a serious health condition. PMDD can have adverse consequences on a woman's social functioning, relationships, work productivity and healthcare use..."
"Treatment generally continues for duration of a woman's reproductive life.  If one considers that a female typically menstruates 300 - 500 times during her lifetime, timely identification and initiation of appropriate treatment may prevent impairment.  This, together with support and TLC from loved ones or spouses, can go a long way in improving the quality of life of PMDD sufferers."
~Dr. Eileen Thomas, a specialist psychiatrist at Akeso Clinic, Milnerton (Cape Town, South Africa)

To read the full article, go here.

As Dr. Thomas so rightfully points out, a female can experience up to 500 menstrual cycles during her lifetime. I also mention this in my books, PMDD and Relationships, and PMDD:  A Handbook for Partners.  Below are a couple of sample excerpts:

Let’s do the math. The average age of female puberty is 12; the average age of menopause is 51. Round that off to 40 years of menstruation. Multiply that by 12; that gives you 480 months of periods if you never have children, less if you do. Let’s go with 450 periods for now. That gives you 900 weeks of pre-menstrual issues. Divide that by 52 weeks per year, and you get 17+ years that a woman can spend in the living hell that is PMDD.
Seventeen years, people!
Seventeen years is a long time to feel and/or be out of control. Seventeen years is also a long time to be on medication, especially medication that studies now show doesn’t work more than half the time.
Listen, nobody knows for sure what causes PMDD. All scientists know is it is a biological event that manifests as emotional symptoms. What does that mean? It means PMDD is caused by something that happens in your body and shows/expresses itself in your moods. The closest science has come to defining what happens is that whatever happens, happens in concert with your menstrual cycle, and involves your hormones. The hormones they have looked at the most are estrogen, progesterone, and now a metabolite of progesterone, called allopregnanolone.
Some schools of thought are convinced it has something to do with the levels of these hormones in your body, and whether they are in the right balance or not. But you can’t detect PMDD with a blood test, and every estrogen/progesterone blood test I have taken has shown my levels to be perfectly normal, even when I was in the middle of a PMDD episode.
I think the best science has come up with so far is that yes, PMDD does have to do with your hormonal fluctuations, but it’s more that something goes awry in your brain when processing these normal and natural hormonal fluctuations in your body.
That’s right. Something goes wrong in your brain.
No news to us, right? We’ve known all along something wasn’t right with our brains, with our thinking processes, during an episode of PMDD. Why else would we say and do the things we say and do during an episode, but not during the rest of the month?

As part of PMDD Awareness month, I invite you to share in the comments section below any adverse consequences YOU have experienced in your social functioning, relationships, work productivity and/or healthcare use due to your PMDD.  Share to help make aware!

Sunday, April 3, 2016

PMDD Quote of the Week

Getting out of PMDD is as if someone who is strangling you around your neck, suddenly decides to let you live.  Slowly releases their hands and you feel the air kicking into your lungs, and you immediately start appreciating your life, your talents, and your inspiration for life.  And you feel accomplished for making it one more time... Congratulations, strong ladies!  ~Miroslava Byrns

Friday, March 25, 2016

A Special PMDD Quote of the Week for Easter

I love this quote and am sharing it not because it shows that there's something lacking in us.  It's not about us not being whole...It's about us being strong and fierce in our will to follow our dreams and live every day the best we can despite having a thorn stuck in our side.  It's an ode to every one of us for waking up, despite wanting to never open our eyes again.  It does make us more complete than ever... Having to deal with something we never asked for has certainly changed us and I want to believe that we have changed for the better or at least try to, every single day. ~Neha Rajawat

I thought this an especially appropriate quote for Easter, a time that is almost as busy and stressful for women with PMDD and their families as Christmas. Therefore I wish you a moment to yourself, the strength to dig deep down and survive the weekend no matter what you are facing, be it chaos or isolation, and the certain knowledge that many, many others who have PMDD know and understand what you are going through. You are not alone in your struggles on this, or any other day. ~Liana 

Sunday, March 20, 2016

PMDD Quote of the Week

~I wasn't always easy to get along with and I used to be less under control, but now I will warn the people in my life that I have PMDD and take responsibility for it but I still get harassed about it, like they think I'm making things up, like when it makes me irritable, or cold, or cry for no reason.  I make sure that they know it's that time and nothing is personal, yet they still act surprised when I show symptoms.  They try to debate me about my emotions, which after years I have come to accept I have less control over, but they don't trust me about my own experiences.~

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

PMDD - One Woman's Prayer

Below is a poem written by a young woman before she had children.  I asked to post it here because I spent many years hoping the same--and for the very same reason.

I Hope I Never Have a Daughter
I hope I never have a daughter
I don't want to see her cry
I don't want to have to tell her
That sometimes there are no reasons why
Why you feel completely alone
And that no one really cares
Why you cry yourself to sleep at night
And, get angry/upset unawares
Other people just don't get it
But your Mama she understands
Because she went through the same thing
And will be there to hold your hand
Some people just think it's an 'excuse'
Well, I'm here to tell you it's not
Don't blame it on yourself, love
This isn't a disease that you've got
It might have a few names or titles, if you will
But, if you haven't suffered from it
Others usually tell you to just 'chill'
Chilling doesn't really help
'Cause the pain doesn't disappear
I can't quite put my finger on it
'Cause nothing at all is clear
If I ever have a daughter
I hope she isn't like me
I don't want her to suffer
because of
©Sarah Prais - 2016