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~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

Saturday, December 9, 2017

My First Memory of Having PMDD

It’s hard to pinpoint my first true memory of having PMDD. I think I struggled against my PMDD for so long, denying that I had a problem, that it manifested long before I admitted there was something wrong with me. No one else I knew went through these struggles, or if they did, they didn’t talk about it. They managed, they coped…why couldn’t I? What was wrong with me that I was fine one day, and could barely get out of bed the next? I think I blamed it on everything and anything else but me, sources outside myself, school, work, friends, family, whoever I was in a relationship with at the time--because I was young and healthy and mental-type problems only happened to other people.

The first episode I can remember which I would now attribute to PMDD was a two-week period in my freshman year of college, toward the end of the semester and year, when I simply didn’t get out of bed except to go to class. I was doing well in my classes, not having any problems to speak of, and then suddenly this period of total sadness and hopelessness and lethargy hit, and I had no motivation to do anything or go anywhere. Then just as suddenly it lifted, and for the remaining weeks of the semester I raced around like a madwoman, trying to catch up and make sure my grades didn’t suffer.  I was eighteen years old.

Now, looking back, I can see countless repetitions of this scenario, where I’m sailing along, and life is fine, and then suddenly...it isn’t. When all indications are that I should be happy beyond measure--having achieved every goal I’d set for myself to that date--but I wasn’t. I used to think there was just something inside of me that liked to make life a little more challenging. Something that liked to let me fall behind, just so I could prove that I could catch up and still come out ahead. Now I realize it was the PMDD dragging me down. Now I think about how much I could have accomplished, had I known what was happening and learned to manage my PMDD, like I eventually did.

But I don’t dwell on those thoughts, because those opportunities have come and gone, and negative thoughts will bring anybody down, not just a woman with PMDD. There’s no sense in feeding the fire. What’s come and gone has done just that…come and gone. The only moment we can do anything about is the moment we’re in right now. And right now, I know that most, if all negative thoughts I have stem from my PMDD and I’m just not going to give them any more air time. I’m still as stubborn as I was as a teenager, still as determined not to let the sadness and negativity get me down, only this time I know what I’m dealing with. Now I’m able to separate the two, my usual self and my PMDD self, and when my PMDD hits, I’m able to label my self-defeating thoughts as PMDD thoughts and just set them on a mental shelf to be dealt with later.

The beauty of this tactic? When later comes, those thoughts are no longer relevant. Mostly because they weren’t true to start with. On PMDD days now I rest and take it easy. I find something positive and uplifting to read or watch or listen to, and focus on small, sometimes mindless tasks that I know need to be done and have been saving up for just such a day. Organizing receipts or CDs or books on a shelf. Folding the laundry. Nothing heavy, nothing demanding either physically, mentally, or emotionally. For instance, sorting through old photographs probably wouldn’t be a good job for a PMDD day. The emotions they dredge up might not be positive, might make you miss someone or someplace or stir up regrets. Or they might remind you of a happier time, and instead of making you smile, might make you feel like you’ll never be happy again. That’s the PMDD brain talking, not you. And whatever it is saying is certainly not coming from God.

I bring God into this because my faith was and is a big part of my experience with PMDD. Without faith in something bigger than myself, I never would have come to have faith in myself. I can’t tell you how many times I thought there has to be a way to make this madness stop. The first book I picked up was Prayer, Faith and Healing: Cure Your Body, Heal Your Mind, and Restore Your Soul. I’d tried everything else. Maybe it was time to give prayer a chance. And so I started. With baby steps. One by one, one day at a time, learning how to listen to something positive outside myself for a change, until I learned that God was inside of me, too, and I could go within for the answers I needed. They didn’t have to come from outside sources.

The stronger I became on the inside, the more those negative external voices dimmed to background noise. Such as well-meaning friends and family with unsolicited advice, and not-so-well-meaning friends and family with selfish needs and demands.  Not to mention well-crafted advertisements pointing out all the areas in which I was lacking in my life, or organizations with agendas on how I needed to live my life, and countless books, magazines, radio and television programs telling me I could have it all, while at the same time measuring me by artificial standards no one person could ever hope to attain.

It’s hard enough navigating life with all your faculties intact. But when you’re a woman with PMDD, operating on half power or less half the time or more, life gets really challenging. So don’t beat yourself up. The world is more than happy to do that for you. Accept that you’re not perfect and you’re never going to get there, then relax and enjoy your life. When you’re feeling good, take on all you want to, and when you’re not—take time out to take care of you.

If you take nothing else from this post, take this: Don’t spend another day beating yourself up for something you have no control over. Do start listening to your body, and giving it--and yourself--the respect you deserve. If you don’t know how to do that, if you’re scratching your head at the very thought of it,  like I once was, then check out my blog, my Living with PMDD Facebook page, or my book, PMDD and Relationships, for more information on how to better manage your PMDD, as well as support, encouragement, and tips on how to be a better you…all month long.

Friday, December 8, 2017

PMDD Symptom Play by Play Number 2

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.
I did promise to write another PMDD symptom play by play, and since my symptoms just kicked in today, I thought now would be as good a time as any to bare my "hormotional" soul. This isn't easy. In fact, it sucks. It's dreadfully intimate, questionably revealing, and even harder to admit. But I am committing. So here we go...
8 Days Out
So what changed in me that I knew that symptoms had kicked in anyway? Well, I felt constipated and bloated today (first time since last cycle), I started pulling my hair out (not intentionally...my fingers just go to my hair and when I pull them away, my hair follows!), and most importantly, I feel just plain flippin' irritated for no extraordinary reason about EVERYTHING. I feel somewhat hair-triggerable, if you will. So I'm starting to avoid the things that trigger me (being everything, meaning isolated myself). I have to add that this month has been an incredibly stressful one already with plenty of relationship tensions. I was already irritable, but it felt different than it does today. I wish I could explain it. There is an accompanying intolerance now that wasn't there before...an inability to censor. My diplomacy skills are fading. Many say that PMDD magnifies what is already there. If that's true, this month ought to be a "real blast".
7 Days Out
I just flipped out over my husband saying, "don't worry", when I couldn't find how to reverse an action he told me to take in some software, messing up my work view. I did warn him my symptoms were coming on.
So are men really that stupid? Don't ever effing tell me how to feel! And certainly DO NOT belittle my frustrations with your petty sentiments of projection. YOU "don't worry"! I'm frustrated. Deal with it! Ouch! Okay, last two nights...a touch of insomnia. Today, RAGE! I think I could pick up this 20-ton glass desk and hurl it out the window like it was made of cardboard! There is a jittery tension just underneath my skin accompanied by an overwhelming desire to be alone in the house...for the rest of my life. I have ghost cramps too. That's what I call cramps that arrive before my period.
6 Days Out
6 days? I don't know if I can last another six days. Today was rough. I cried this morning. I cried this afternoon. I cried tonight. I'm feeling incredibly insecure, let down by and estranged from everyone in my life, anxious, grumpy, and deeply sad. I have wished that I would simply die. Since that's unlikely, I just vegetate with Netflix until bedtime with grateful anticipation of the total unconsciousness it brings...and hope I never wake up.
5 Days Out
Didn't sleep well last night, ironically. In fact, I was ruminating in a way that only comes on with PMDD...a hateful, angry way. I swear, I don't know where this shit comes from. I seem to manufacture it in spite of my desire for peace. Each time I woke in the night, I pounded my pillow and cursed bitterly. This morning, I did my best to isolate myself. I tried to be on my best behavior too, bearing in mind today's best bore more resemblance to a caged animal than to a somewhat decent human. Despite my PMDD Tourette's, a lovely symptom where pure shit just gushes from my lips, I managed to hold-back on some of my impulses to push and stomp. With every bite of my tongue, a part of me celebrated the tiny victory (quite alone...as it was evident to no one but me) while in the next moment I was unbridled...judging, criticizing, blaming, fed up with the same old crap...emotionally abusing my husband while at the same time hearing in some vague and distant background all the kinder things I wish I was saying instead. They were too remote for access. They were a distant land. I wanted to run to my room, to be safe, to protect not only myself but him--the only measure I have at my disposal...isolation. It was too late. His deepest wounds were activated, his own mind becoming the same enemy mine had become to me. It would seem PMDD can be contagious, even without the hormones. My husband reacted and in turn became the emotional abuser, taunting me, drilling me, pressing me, driving me to tears with his own screams of how crazy I am, how uncaring, how hopeless, telling me nothing my PMDD mind hasn't already been telling me, but reinforcing it in a way that broke and battered my already damaged spirit. He threatened me...with quitting, with walking out. He's promised that so many times, and today, I wish he'd follow through. That same distant part of me was proud of him for speaking up for himself in the only way he knew how...not for how he did it, though. How he did it hurt. I must admit today, I had suicidal thoughts. I had world-destroying thoughts. And I cried and heaved, shook and crouched in a corner, desperate to be free of this storm inside of me and the external manifestations of it. Emotionally spent, I listened to a looping recording of a mantra about 20 times which calmed my suspiciously empty mind. I can't believe I'm writing this.
4 Days Out
After yesterday, I'm really emotionally exhausted and kind of blank. I've lost a day. I thought it was Thursday but it's only Wednesday. That's been happening a lot, but I don't relate it to PMDD. It's living in the middle of nowhere! There's nothing I want to do...or feel or think. Despite needing some groceries, I can't make myself go. I feel like the remnants of a bird that has burned in flames but has yet to arise once more from the ashes. I continue my deluge of mantra listening. And I eat chocolate. I know my situation is complex. I have many marks against me right now. To be honest, I probably have some form of PTSD after two years of the worst stress of my life which I admit at least half of it I took on willingly, arrogantly even, in addition to being peri-menopausal and PMDD. I also have no grounding, having moved to a foreign country where I cannot speak the language and where my support network is still fairly non-existent. I had a massage therapist when I could afford her, and now, I have a talk therapist who I will have my first session with tomorrow (Thursday. Not today, Wednesday.) It's a trade-off. There's the recent passing of my mother, too. It's a lot to cope with. Add "relationshit" to the mix, and it's tough to tease apart the symptoms of PMDD from the disaster that is my life. So everything just swirls together into a big complicated mess. Charting saves the day and preserves what little sanity I have left by revealing an intensity of symptoms at certain times of the month. I will persevere. I am resilient. I am determined, too. And in moments, I am remembering who I am.
3 Days Out
This morning, every bone hurts. It was very difficult to get myself up and moving. I would love a massage, but I don't have the funds for one. Yin yoga will have to suffice. My symptoms were less today, which historically, has happened...things can actually mellow before the actual onset of my period. Although, usually without fail, I blow out the day before. We'll soon know...
2 Days Out
Last night, I slept 12 hours!! Pretty typical right before. My dreams were very bizarre. My hair continues to fall, and I had ghost cramps again. Another thing that's started today is a weird head-to-toe itchiness; I've heard other women complain of this too, so I'm no longer surprised. When provoked earlier, I quite easily lost my cool outwardly, but overall, in my head, I feel more stable today, so I'd have to relate any emotional symptoms to other things in my life and not necessarily PMDD. Or maybe I'll start early. The cramps are a good indication I might.
1 Day Out
Surprise! Guess what's here, sparing me an extra day of misery and uncertainty? How am I feeling? The first thing I noticed was the intense ache from head to toe as I pulled myself out of bed at a fairly human time of day. I feel about 20 years older in body. Add a headache and the typical cramping in my lower gut, too. But I can handle the physical symptoms; they are kind of a joy after the week I've had. Emotionally, I feel tentative (as the rest of my life is still incredibly challenging). But I don't feel that uncontrollable sense of building blood-level tension that prompts me to catastrophize and explode (not that I couldn't given the right stimulus...but that I don't feel that "hair-trigger" thing). My mind is also quieter. When I woke this morning, from a dream about pastries and cookies, my first thought wasn't "Oh, fuck, I'm still here; shit, shit, shit!", it was more like, "I'm up." There was no punching of pillows or immediate tears. How do I explain it? It's like an equilibrium, a balancing out. A relief! So can I count on a few days of relief? Or will something fluctuate and turn me mental again? Sometimes, on day 5 or 6, I rebound into "crazy-land" for a day. Sometimes, I'm okay until I ovulate. It's difficult not knowing. It's difficult not knowing, too, whether outside circumstances will inflict traumas that bring the stormy inner waters back to the surface. I hope not. I need some peace. I need some rest. My problems are all still there. My relationship is still falling apart. I still live in the middle of nowhere in a foreign country. I'm still dealing with loss and grief and change of massive proportions and living an unrecognizable life. Somehow, somehow, there's something accessible now that feels like strength, like resilience, like patience, and even serenity. Holy crap! Did I just feel myself smile?