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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, April 30, 2017

PMDD Awareness Month Ends, But the Struggle Continues

Today wraps up the end of PMDD Awareness Month.  I've spent the month sharing on Facebook and Twitter several posts from my Voices of PMDD series, where women with PMDD and their partners have shared their stories.  The quotes that follow come from Hormone Hell, the personal journey blog of a fellow PMDD Advocate, Jarrah, who asked her readers to describe what PMDD feels like to them.  I've chosen several responses that I fear we can all relate to in some way.  Please read on, and, if nothing else, know that you are far from alone in your struggles with the demon that is PMDD.  Perhaps one or more of these descriptions will help you to put into words for a loved one what it's like for you, each and every month, and raise awareness in your own way.
On my bad days it feels like my nerves are on the outside, that everything hurts, and there’s a heavy blanket on me that I can’t get out from.
It feels like nails in my brain that prevent me from thinking correctly. The nails stay in my skull for about 2 weeks and then they finally go away and I can think again.
Your brain feels like mush, your memory is poor. You're actually scared that one day you’re going to wake up and forget who you are. Your digestive system is going crazy, you’re constipated one minute, rushing to the toilet the next. Your bladder needs to empty itself 6 times in a single hour. You're hot, no you’re cold, umm, you’re hot again. You love your husband one minute and consider filing for divorce the next. If one more person chews, breathes or coughs, there will be bloodshed.
I’m angry, I’m sad, I’m laughing…now I’m crying. My joints ache. I am only 29 but I feel 99. My hair is thinning; it’s so dry it feels like straw. I have permanent dark circles under my eyes. My skin is so dry it’s flaking.
You’re so tired but no matter how much sleep you get, you still wake feeling tired. You’re hungry one minute, you’re nauseous the next. You can’t breathe; your heart races and you can’t stop sweating. You don’t want to be touched, you feel suffocated if someone sits close to you.
Overthinking is an everyday occurrence and often your head is swimming with thoughts that leave you feeling terribly anxious. You no longer look forward to anything, as each day is just a matter of survival. You have no passion and no longer think about the future. You hate this empty person you have become.
You start daydreaming about dying. Deep down, you know there’s a part of you that definitely does not want to die. You know that, logically, things are fine and you will be okay. But you can’t FEEL that. All you feel is despair, hopelessness, and a suddenly strong urge to leave this world.
Worthless. Empty. Angry. Bloated. Exhausted. Sometimes I just wish I could disappear…just lay down in the grass and get absorbed in to the earth somehow. Oh yeah, and Crazy. I know what I feel isn’t normal, but I can’t change it…at least until my period comes and then I’m right as rain.
Anticipation for hell week becomes a hell week in itself. I can’t control the choking wave of anxiety or the rage of this demon but I have changed my outlook. It will not own me.  I will not let it drown me.  I will swim and swim until I come up for air. Until the next storm. There have been a few hell weeks where no matter how hard I swam I could not escape the urge to let it pull me under and take me in its entirety. Those days and those times I don’t know how anyone makes it out alive.  
Rage, anxiety, mind going crazy, all of those things attacking you all at once. You wish it was over and the sad thing is you have no control over it. You see yourself doing all these dumb things and you try and stop it but it’s so hard to control. But you keep fighting because you love your family and you love yourself too much to give up!
Like a tightness of the skull above the eyes, like my skin and hearing is super sensitive, so I have a headache and am easily overwhelmed. This coupled with lowered patience and attention span means I’m really short-tempered. Sometimes that results in a snappy comment and then unreasonable crying (e.g. about burnt pine nuts), but other times it’s disproportionate rage. Sometimes it’s just a brain fog, where I sit and stare at the work computer, trying to figure what I’m supposed to be doing, and how someone is paying me to sit and feel like my powers of logic and reason have been pulled out through my eye sockets.
It’s like a switch that is flicked inside me as soon as ovulation begins. From that point on I become the opposite of what I consider to be my “normal” self. I’m suddenly extremely anxious, paranoid, worried, irritable and I can snap at the smallest things. The rages are life-destroying. They hurt everyone I care for, and scare off anyone else. My period finally begins and within a day or two, my mood lifts. The anxiety goes away, the paranoia is no longer there. I can think rationally and logically. I have energy to do anything I want, and sadly most of that time is spent picking up the pieces of the storm that lives inside of me, and has--for now--disappeared.  
At the start depression starts to set in, aching body, foggy head, headaches, high anxiety, pains in the stomach, sweating, panic attacks when I go in public, hysterical crying, at my worst, thoughts of suicide. Then my period arrives...all those feelings and thoughts are gone just like that…I’m back, me again, I’m back to normal. I can go to work with ease (if I still have a job). I can go out anywhere with no panic attacks, anxiety (what anxiety?) I am fun, I enjoy being around people and they enjoy being around me. I wish I could be this person all the time, I hate knowing it is short lived and the devil lady will be back again soon.
Sensitivity to light and sound…my son talks and talks and I just want to curl in a ball to escape. That’s horrible to say…but I just can’t handle it.
I always wonder if this mental illness will kill me one day—I’m sure it will. The brightest days are good. I enjoy them. The darkest days however, seem like I won’t ever escape them. Each time it feels like maybe this could be it, the one that I don’t come back from. But somehow I make it through. PMDD is cruel. It’s like every month, sanity is dangled in front of me and I have to hold onto it. There’s a glimmer of hope that this month I’ll be cured, then suddenly it’s ripped away.
I was sitting in my seat watching a movie, my whole body was tense, I was clenching my teeth, my heart was racing, and I was swallowing back the nausea I felt…I tried to push all those feelings out of my head so I could try to enjoy the movie. As I sat there I couldn’t help but think…So this is what my life has come to? It’s a movie for goodness' sake and my body is acting like I need to be on alert just in case at any second someone might try and kill me.
I ended up going for a walk to try to clear my head. My legs would only carry me half way around the block, my whole body was so fatigued and I was so nauseous the symptoms reminded me of how I felt when I was in the first trimester of pregnancy.
PMDD….a war you’re constantly fighting that no one else can see.