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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, 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.

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