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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

Saturday, March 25, 2017

PMDD: Into Me See

The following is a guest post by the blgger 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.
I've said I wanted to write about some of the things that help me to cope with PMDD. Maybe another day. Right now, NOTHING is helping. In fact, everything is just making it worse! I suspect, hell, I know from reading the forums, that this is pretty common. Nothing helps, at least it seems that way, and everything is an irritation. A speck of dust in the wrong place can make me want to jump out the window. Yes, it’s irrational. That’s kind of the point, and I don’t need to be reminded of it…  At least I have some control over a speck of dust.
The reason nothing helps is because nothing makes this chemical shit-storm of body and mind go away. It is still there, demanding attention, making me behave in ways I cannot stand. But there are things that do bring modicums of comfort. I can take a bath. Sitting in the sunshine smelling the grass helps, too. There are also my standbys of yoga and meditation. I would be lost without them, but sometimes, they aren’t enough. Really, they’re never enough…not during PMDD. They just offer a bit of relief and keep me as stable as possible.
The saddest thing may just be that so many of us have to get through this pretty much unsupported and alone. Very few people get it enough to be of help. The fact is, if you don’t have it, you just don’t get it. This includes friends, roommates and partners who, needless to say, have a very hard time of it, and often wind up making everything worse, even if they don’t intend to. Even if it was me on the receiving end of this phenomenon, I don’t know how I would respond. I guess it would depend on my own mental state that day. Sadly, PMDD ruins plenty of relationships.
But one can dream that suddenly, it wasn’t such a horrible thing for others to cope with…
Dream Sequence
I wake up and I can feel the stirring of hormonal reaction inside my body. The good days have passed. Shit! Here we go again. Two weeks until my period when I can think and act straight again and not detest myself for having no control.
In walks my husband with a bouquet of flowers. “Good morning, sunshine!” he says.
“Drop dead.” Shit, I think to myself. Did that just come out? Oh, crap, oh crap, oh crap. I want to enjoy the flowers. They are so beautiful. Please, please, please let me just enjoy the flowers. How did he know how much they would mean to me? And yet, I can’t express it. The only words out of my mouth are “drop dead?” What is wrong with me?
“Honey, I won’t take what you said to mean anything,” he says. “I know what day this is…um…I know any day now I’ll be losing you for a week or two to that whatever it is…but I just want you to know, I’m going to do everything I can to make it easier for you this time.”
Really? I think, heart melting inside while I roll my eyes on the outside thinking of what a damned irritating [insert cuss word] he usually is at this time. How does he intend to do that? Go on vacation for two weeks without me? He would abandon me like that!
I go down to the kitchen expecting crumbs on the cutting board, knowing I’m about to get all wound up, and what’s this? The kitchen has been cleaned! I mean, really cleaned! The floor actually sparkles. It’s a miracle!
“Do you want breakfast?”
“Just leave me alone,” comes out of my mouth while "Yes, please make me your lovely eggs" never leaves my lips.
“I’ll make some eggs. If you don’t want them, you don’t have to eat them. If you do, I’ll leave them here for you.”
Hmm…what’s gotten into him? I start to think paranoid and judgmental thoughts. I just manage to hold back the bitter words that want to exert my independence, “I can make my own eggs!”
“Oh, by the way, I know how much it’s been bothering you that I hadn’t fixed that sink since we moved in two months ago, so guess what?”
What? Another empty promise to fix it…someday…next year? I’m biting my tongue because I KNOW I’m thinking with way too much exaggeration. Words start leaking out…words I KNOW will only do more harm than good…
“I called the plumber. He’ll be here next week when you feel better.”
He… I can’t help but smile. The tension in my body that usually just gets tighter and tighter is starting to untwine. This is all getting to be too much.
“I also tidied my room just so you won’t have to be repeatedly irritated by the disorder in there. I know it affects you and makes things worse. In fact, I’ve decided to take care of everything on this here list that I normally force you to tolerate and remind me of month after month like I’m deaf. I may let things slide at other times, but I realize it just makes things worse once your cycle again. Besides, it really is my responsibility…”
Oh, my God! I just want to cry now. I have to cry. So out it comes. I am sobbing uncontrollably. Great. Now he’ll take it personally and the world falls to shit.
He doesn’t say anything. He gets a pained look on his face…and then, it happens. Another miracle. He takes me by the hand, leads me upstairs, and holds me on the bed while I finish crying. At first, I push him away. I can’t bear to be touched. It actually hurts. But he holds me even tighter. He isn’t trying to get me to stop crying, or offering me Kleenex, or asking me what’s wrong. He’s just there. Strong. Reassuring. And I feel safe for what feels like the first time in my life.
When I stop, I feel stupid. I feel embarrassed. And I push him away. He doesn’t say, “I can never do anything right.” He doesn’t throw up his hands. He doesn’t call me crazy or make me feel worse than I already do. He just says, “Honey, I love you. I’ll give you some time and space. I’ll go get some groceries because I know we are out of bananas and chocolate…and frankly, that scares me right now.”
I want to say, “and we need lettuce” but I can’t get it out my mouth. Why the fuck can’t he remember the fucking lettuce? And then I cry some more, ashamed of my ridiculous thoughts but also, feeling a strange sweetness inside. I think I’ll bake him some cookies.
I know. It’s just a dream. Maybe it is too much to ask. Is it catering and kowtowing? Is it just too utopian? To expect another person to be able to behave this way when faced with judgment, contempt, rage, and the other unpleasantries that consume a woman in PMDD? Is it too much to expect someone not to take such seemingly personal attacks personally? To be able to be in our heads knowing what it is we need or want when it is suddenly impossible for us to just speak it? To be able to set aside their own discomforts with whatever has taken us over to wonder, my God, what is it like for her?
I suppose so. People are people after all. There no such thing as a Stepford Husband.
Then again, maybe this is all it would take to change the patterns and break the cycles. Maybe, PMDD is a dis-ease in consciousness designed to make us learn things we never would have otherwise about ourselves and each other, given the compassion and support to get through it. What are the lessons? If we knew that, we wouldn’t be going through it. Maybe learning them would be the difference between escalation and management.
Or is it just spiritual bullshit to think there are lessons. And even if there are, what if they aren’t being learned?
If nothing else, maybe this little dream illuminates the secret machinations of the very complicated and unsettling PMDD mind.
I hope so.
Postscript: I shared this with my husband who said it helped him understand me better. I told him I wasn’t going to post it because it just felt too exposing. But then, on one of the Facebook forums, I read a post from a young woman who had just had a blowout with her boyfriend. She was so upset, and I could feel the shaking in my own body…  I thought about what my husband said, that this helped him understand. I thought about what he did for me after reading this: fixed the sink, took me grocery shopping, didn’t walk away when I was emotionally over-stimulated but held me instead. He just wants me to be happy. Given a little information, he actually wants to put it into practice. So, I’m getting over my damned self and sharing this now because it just may help someone else.

8 comments:

  1. First off PMDD is still a new thing to me even though I have suffered my entire life it was only recently that I was able to put a name to the insanity of myself.
    Currently sitting my my bathroom floor in tears, I am not sad but not happy and it seems as if my body is reacting before I have given it a second thought. Every month is this. Every relationship I have ruined and it's all because for a whole week every month of my life I am a different person.

    I've read all of your post, even sent my bf the ones your husband wrote. But here I am still crying alone on my floor. I guess what I'm trying to ask is if I know there is nothing wrong then how do I manage to fix or change it? I'm fully aware of how Iam and when I am being it but I am stuck between not wanting to have an excuse and not wanting to take medication. I can't always be the one to blame, why should I always have to take something to be different? I'm not always "bad" or "like this" but is that enough of a reason to make someone stay with me because it's just "part of my personality"..... I just feel so selfish. How can I expect someone to put up with me when I can hardly do so?

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    1. My best advice is to continue to cultivate this awareness you have already developed within yourself, to even better know what is you and what is your PMDD. If you have a thought you KNOW you would never have otherwise (like you suddenly have a thought and then wonder where the hell did THAT come from?), then you can attribute it to your PMDD and then IGNORE it. Just don't let it have any air time in your head. Shut it down and dismiss it with, "That's my PMDD talking, not me." It may seem insane to have this kind of inner conversations with yourself, but PMDD doesn't make sense to start with, and so I recommend what works for me. The more you do this, the better you will get at it, and the more you will be able to separate what are your own thoughts and what thoughts are coming from the PMDD brain. The goal is to get good enough to do this BEFORE you say something that hurts a relationship, to recognize when you are in "that kind of mood" and to have a relationship strong enough to weather you needing a little space or alone time for those few hours or days without devolving into a confrontation fueled by insecurities on both sides.

      You don't have an excuse, you have an explanation. One you should be able to make (if you so choose) without apology. "I have this thing called PMDD and it makes me (do these things) at certain times of the month. I do my best to moderate it, but sometimes it gets the better of me. Stress makes it worse, so I need a partner who is willing to work with me on keeping my symptoms low. Are you willing to do this?"

      There's no reason you should be taking the blame for everything that goes wrong in your relationship(s), whether you have PMDD or not. PMDD is an obstacle you need to work around, not a scapegoat for relationship troubles. It takes two to make a relationship and two to break one. So if your partner (or maybe it's just you who) is blaming you or your PMDD for relationship troubles, that's not right or fair. Any relationship takes two to make it work, and if you are the only one doing the work, either on your PMDD or on your relationship, that's not a recipe for success.

      You are perfect the way you are, and there is no reason on earth to "make" someone stay with you. You offer them the choice, and if they are willing to work together with you to provide the support and encouragement BOTH of you need to get through both Life and your PMDD, then that is wonderful. But if they are not, if they (or you) consider this to be your problem alone, then you do not have a healthy relationship to start with. A relationship takes two people, working together for a common goal, whatever that goal may be.

      It's the PMDD telling you that you are selfish to expect someone to put up with you when you can hardly do so. Don't listen to it. You deserve to have a loving partner just as much as anybody out there.

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  2. Holy crap this story is me and not a fantasy husband but my actual husband, who does exist. Further proof that I'm unbelievably lucky and I don't deserve him, which has been a dominating thought throughout the relationship (although my self-respect is only low enough to truly believe it when I'm being episodic). PMDD is new to me but I'm convinced I have it after seeing this page and the above commenter. It's me. I'm stunned. In terms of words of wisdom for other sufferers, I have none. Just this impossible sentiment: you deserve love and respect even when you're in the midst of an uncontrollable episode. You deserve love and respect all the time. Good luck, and I hope you find someone who understands that too; I hope you find your version of my husband. You are not alone <3

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  3. Where do you recommend a newly diagnosed teenager go for help? Endocrinologist? Family doctor?

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    1. I recommend that you find out all you can about PMDD and go to the doctor's office as informed as you can be about PMDD and if you know more than the doctor, I recommend you keep looking until you find the right doctor for you. There are good and bad family doctors, endocrinologists and even naturopathic doctors or nurse practitoners, which actually, is what I recommend the most. But in any area of medicine, you can find doctors who know what they are talking about and those who don't. So your best bet is to be your own health advocate. Some doctors will listen, some won't. Keep looking until you find one who will work with you, because whatever treatment they prescribe, you will have to report back as to how it is working, and if it is not, they need to be willing to work with you to adjust your prescribed protocol as necessary. Your body will give you the feedback you need to get better, and they need to be able to honor what you tell them. I have encountered both kinds of doctors. Fortunately, my family practitioner was the one who worked with me on my PMDD. She is now retiring, and I don't know who I'll encounter next. So I will soon be in the same position as you. The answer is to be informed, trust your instincts, and keep looking until you find the right doctor for you. The same applies if you opt for counseling as part of your treatment, which studies have shown is better than treatment with medication alone. You need someone who understands PMDD and works well with you as part of a team to help you find wellness -- which in and of itself is different for every woman with PMDD. So most of all, look for someone who is knowledgeable about the subject matter, or at least open to new information and flexible about treatment options.

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  4. These blog posts and comments are so helpful to me to see the experience of others. I'm so lucky to have my poor mum who is always on the receiving end of my episodes.
    My last relationship ended before my diagnosis and before I was put on medication (misdiagnosed as depression). Now my symptoms improve some months, but don't with others. Looking back, I see that what we were dealing with was my PMDD. Which I inevitably could not explain and he did not understand.
    There are lots of helpful posts about support for partners, husbands, family's and women who are struggling. However I wondered if there are any women who are trying to date whilst living with PMDD who would share any advice about how/when to broach the subject. Or even accept the idea of dating someone. I tend to turn down offers because I would not want to have someone who I could potentially care about have to be on the receiving end of me.
    (Sorry if I have missed a post about this, if someone could point me in the right direction).
    Thanks

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  5. There is no post on the subject of when to tell a prospective partner that you have PMDD - yet! But it is a great idea for a post, so I will get on that right away :)

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