“No more shame! No more fear! No more self-doubt!” After 10 years of coping with my depression, past trauma and alcohol addiction, it is time to come forward with my story. As a sexual assault survivor and Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) warrior, I am breaking the stigma associated with mental illness in hope that my wisdom will encourage others to confidently reach out for help.
When I realized I was suffering from a cycle of depression caused by my hormones, I could not have felt more broken. I had experienced a spell of depression in my teenage years, so it was easy to recognize the symptoms when they resurfaced. This time, however, my circumstances had changed a bit. This depression was not like the one I had experienced before – it was cyclical. Every week or two before my period I was buckling up for depression once again.
One good thing that PMDD has taught me is mindfulness and self care. I recently had to take some classes on meditation and mindfulness for a requirement. In class, we learned how to be more conscious of our bodies and our surroundings. We often did an exercise called a full body scan: we would lay still and scan our bodies to become aware of the sensations. We would also train ourselves to feel the feelings and pain without letting them consume us.
It’s only taken nearly 20 years for a medical professional to remotely acknowledge that PMDD exists and that is my likely diagnosis, a young psychiatric nurse at that. After visiting several health professionals over the years about what mother nature does, “just PMT” they said.
Since I was in my teens, I noticed that I’d have periods of depression or anxiety. I could never figure out that these feelings peaked a week or two before my period. A year or two ago I wouldn’t have been able to feel this shift. I want to share some things that have been working for me.
PMS and PMDD are quite different. However, they are often described in the books as PMS and then PMDD, a more severe form of PMS. This is partially true, but this analogy can create a lot of confusion and harm to all of us. Here is a little synopsis of what we all know so well:
Learning how to cope. The hardest four letter word you will experience when you’re a PMDD warrior. Everyone finds their own strategies to cope. These tips have helped me on my journey and I hope that they can help you too!
We’ve all had our fair share of exhausting PMDD days, and often enough it’s easy to feel like there’s no light within the dark. If being a warrior has taught us anything it’s understanding the power of thinking positive.
Getting away from your triggers, be they at work or home, the people who irritate you are normally amplified on bad days. How can you walk away from your life? Your home? Your job The only way that I have been able to describe it and come close is in two ways with two examples.
Today they told me I have PMDD. It was no surprise really. I didn’t know whether to feel relieved or distressed. Would knowing make me feel these emotions more intensely? Sometimes being less self-aware might be a blessing, but the truth is, I’m the opposite.