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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

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

May is Mental Health Month - A Primer on PMDD

The following 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.
Many women the world over experience the usual discomforts associated with the premenstrual cycle. PMS is a well-known condition that often includes irritability, bloating, and physical pain. But if you feel like PMS takes you out of commission every month, there may be more to it for you. Could you be one of the growing numbers of women who realize they are suffering from Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder, or PMDD? What many women, and indeed many doctors, do not know is that in 2013, PMDD was officially recognized as a mood disorder (this classification will have to do for now) experienced by about 10% of all women who menstruate.
Now word is getting out. So how do women who have PMDD discover they have it? PMDD is caused by a sensitivity to normal hormone fluctuations rather than a hormonal imbalance, and getting tested for hormone levels usually reveals nothing. Many women discover it when they are at their wit’s end, having tried birth control, antidepressants, and other treatments to target symptoms they often think are the result of something else…like bipolar disorder or depression. In fact, many women with PMDD report not only PMS-like symptoms that are extreme and debilitating, but also much more dramatic and difficult-to-manage changes in mood and thought patterns, often leading to misdiagnosis. But intuitively, they know there’s something about their monthly cycle that seems to be playing a role, so they begin to chart their symptoms.
These symptoms are numerous and vary from person to person but generally involve anxiety, increasing irritability, hypersensitivity of the senses, depression, rage and other uncontrollable emotions. Thoughts can become insistent and feel “uncharacteristic” to the person having them. It is as though the mind becomes polluted, distorting everything. PMDD also seems to exacerbate underlying medical conditions, making it unique to every woman and can include dizziness, sluggishness, bloating, heavy bleeding, and sore muscles. But by and large, it is the increasing loss of patience and intensifying irrationality that makes PMDD such a nightmare, not only for the women, but for the people they love.
In fact, many find that during the 10-15 days of their hormonal sensitivity, they lose interest in their partners…not just sexually, but often to the extent of detesting them altogether. Some report regularly breaking up with their partners on a monthly basis. This Jekyll and Hyde transformation wrecks havoc on relationships of all kinds, not just romantic ones. It’s difficult for mothers to parent and for employees to continue with duties as usual. Overwhelmed by fatigue, cravings, paranoia, or even suicidal thoughts, normal life remains out of reach until the sensitivity ends, usually with the onset of menses–though there is debate the sensitivity fluctuates for some women at other times in their cycle. What’s important to realize is that the symptoms do disappear, sometimes instantaneously, whether it is the day the menstrual cycle starts or several days later. And suddenly, things are back to normal…but often leaving a great deal of destruction behind. In fact, women with PMDD often feel as though they spend two or more weeks a month in hell and the other two or less making up for it.
Think you might have PMDD? Here’s what you’ll want to do:
1. Start by paying attention to your cycle and taking notes. Get yourself a pocket calendar or use and app like iPeriod or PMS Tracker. Then start keeping track. When do symptoms hit? When do they stop? What are the main symptoms and to what degree are they experienced? Do they progressively get worse? Think not just of physical symptoms. Consider your emotional and mental states as well. Are you more prone to tears or anxiety? Is it more difficult to think positively? Have others commented about a change in your mood?
2. Take several months of your notes with you to your doctor if you decide to take a Western approach. Explain that you think you may have PMDD. If he or she dismisses you, find another doctor–one who will help you determine whether or not you have it, explain your options (they aren’t all that great at the moment and there is no known cure), and work with you to help you cope.
3. Educate yourself and find additional support. As a relatively new disorder, there is still much to be discussed and researched about PMDD. Read up on it online and talk to others who have it. Women who realize they have a condition with a name to it are usually very relieved when they realize they are not alone…and not crazy! Facebook has several groups, both open and closed, including a support group for family members of PMDD sufferers that offer insight, coping strategies, the latest science, and a safe place to vent.
If you do indeed have PMDD, now that you know, you can give yourself the support you need to get through it. It may call for changes in your diet, supplements, exercise and meditation, or even medication. And if you don’t have it? Chances are you know someone who does, and she might not realize what it is. So share what you’ve learned with others and help spread the word about PMDD.

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