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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, March 4, 2018

The Voices of PMDD: Tough on Relationships

Anyone with experience can tell you, PMDD is tough on relationships. By the time I was 25, it was certainly getting tough on my parents and sisters, and then my first husband. This was before I knew anything about PMDD. I thought it was just PMS, but no one else with “just PMS” seemed to be going through what I was. When I would try and explain to confidants, I would be warned off blaming everything on hormones. Yet once a month, like clockwork, I would dread interacting; I could feel my personality morphing. I would cancel plans, back out of things, even leave vacations to go home! I would have massive flip-outs. Family thought I was just a moody, selfish and spoiled brat. In truth, I was being ruled by my hormones. I hated it as much as they did. It made it so hard to make plans or get excited about anything. And since it was cyclical, it seemed like “just who I was”.
I’m married for the second time now, and it seems I decide to divorce my husband pretty much every month. For nearly a year, I’ve been pulling my luggage out of storage and packing my bags only to put it all away again a week or so later when my cycle shifts again.
Maybe I had no business getting married in the first place, but we had to. We lived in separate countries, and it was the only way to be together. As much as I may have wanted to live abroad, I quickly realized I didn’t have it in me to deal with the culture shock, language shock, new roommate shock, etc. and all of the loss…of home, work, friends, family, belongings, car, etc. I had no idea the impact of moving overseas and all it entailed would have on PMDD!
Over the first two years of our relationship, the stress I endured was enough to give me PTSD and a whole new level of experience with PMDD, which by the way, I had only learned about half-way through our marriage, as I desperately looked for answers about why I was suddenly such a full-on raging lunatic every month. When I read about it, it was like a string of lights lit up in my DNA. When I started tracking my symptoms, I had all the evidence I needed. I hadn’t been imagining this plague! It was only in hindsight I was able to piece together aspects of my history that pointed toward PMDD and that those pieces of a near life-long puzzle started snapping into place.
In this marriage, our problems have centered around my PMDD. It’s an easy target. Once I knew what it was, we’d talk about it on the good days; I’d try to explain it and tell him what I needed from him. He’d listen and nod and say he understood. But for some reason, month after month, he just couldn’t deliver. Was it me? I thought so. I really, honestly blamed myself. Maybe I was asking for too much space. Maybe I was demanding too much help. Maybe I wasn’t trying hard enough!
Our marriage passed through a very difficult season of intense arguments, usually when I was in the throes of PMDD. These arguments only served to further impair my already affected mental state and merely re-traumatize me in all the ways I’d lived with growing up. It was becoming unbearably painful. Again, I blamed myself. If only I didn’t have this disorder. If only I wasn’t so needy, so messed up, so controlling, so…me. Of course, I blamed him too. If only he’d clean up, do what he promised, give me space, be…someone else!
Then one day, after an excruciating and emotionally abusive exchange between us, a genuine turning point arrived. I realized this endless struggle simply wasn’t what I wanted for my life. If I had a disorder that made relationships challenging, then I had to decide whether my marriage was a help or hindrance to my healing. I realized it had become a hindrance. Yes, I had my issues, AND my husband had his own issues, and all of it was creating a mess I couldn’t bear. We weren’t being “good for each other”. It was plain and simple reality, regardless of fault. That’s when I knew it was really over. I told him I wanted out, for real this time.
I started to focus on my own healing (or refocus, truth be told). I got into positive psychology, started taking B-12, Magnesium, and Ashwaganda for my blown-out adrenals, and hired a counselor, too. I learned to focus my mind out of hormone-created mental “shit storms”, and on the days I couldn’t, I treated myself gently. I began to process all the changes and losses of the past couple of years. I thought about what I still valued in life and took notes. I also realized that I had to at least try and communicate with my husband what I was going through, if just for my own experience. It didn’t matter if he got it or not; I just had to learn to communicate it. I began to want to understand what it was like for him too. I wanted to know all the ways I had been unskillful in our marriage so that if I ever got into another one, it would be better. It was really painful work, digging in the underbelly of so much suffering, much of it self-created. It was also difficult letting go of all the things I simply couldn’t control…like certain symptoms of PMDD or my husband’s perception, understanding, or lack thereof.
Shortly after I took on this mending, a miracle happened. We started really talking again and meeting each other in a different playing field. We both got more skillful. We accepted what we’d been resisting and/or taking personally. We found our love for each other again. We were finding our way to being “good for each other” again.
We are definitely a work-in-progress. Believe me, we still piss each other off, but now, we know when to back off and give each other space, and we know and understand a little better the ways we are either too different or too much alike to help one another. There’s more respect between us.
 So, despite hiring a divorce lawyer, we’re still married and going on three years now. Will we make it to four? It’s possible now, though it had gotten to a point where it wasn’t. There are still times of the month when my cycle shifts gears that I see through the eyes of judgment instead of love, when I just want to get the hell out of here, and when fear tries to take a hold and make me see only problems. Yeah, yeah.
Whatever, dragon!
When I try too hard to understand it all, I often don’t know what to believe. Do I believe the judgments that say he’s a total jerk, agonize over the crumbs and spills in the kitchen, and ruminate on stories about how everything is so terribly wrong? Or do I put my faith in the days when I’m overjoyed to see him, love his hugs and kisses, laugh with him, and feel grateful for his presence in my life and all the ways he blesses it? I know now that for the most part, both heaven and hell are inside me, and no matter where I go, I’ll take them with me. It all boils down to where I place my focus! 
Liana's note:  The above guest post was written by the blogger Cheekyminx. With her permission, several of her posts about PMDD are featured on this blog. In the meantime, to find out more about her work as a PMDD Advocate, please visit her Facebook page, PMDD Life Support.

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