By Jane Sim
“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 and find the right treatment options for their needs. By being my own advocate, creating a healthy lifestyle and loving myself completely, I believe that these coping methods help transform me to be the best version of myself.
Making a promise to myself and keeping my word that I will do whatever it takes to be a better person has helped me get the right treatment needed. Over the years, no matter how hard I tried to overcome my depression and anxiety on my own, I kept finding myself struggling with my emotions and thoughts. Not knowing how to save myself and relationships from such self-sabotaging behaviors, I just wanted the pain to stop so I can get a peace of mind and improve my well-being. It was at that moment when I decided to put my ego aside and seek professional help.
I was first diagnosed with Major Depression in 2008 and took therapy, but it was not until 2016 when I got diagnosed with PTSD that all my emotional baggage from the sexual assault in 2011 began to unravel inside. From ongoing doctor visits, “Managing Your Depression Series” classes, taking Trazadone (sleeping aid medication for my insomnia), therapy sessions to creating a safety plan for dating, I thought that I was able to manage my mental illness but I was wrong. In 2017, I ended up calling the crisis hotline and visiting the crisis clinic to speak with a clinician because my suicidal ideation had reoccur. I was then diagnosed with Recurrent Depression and prescribed Prozac. However, due to a family history of mental illness and personal reasons, I decided to consult my doctor for natural treatment options instead. After months of careful monitoring with my doctor, it was concluded that I have PMDD. If it was not for this extensive observation and research, I would have not been able to get the necessary resources and become the confident and fearless PMDD warrior I am today.
Developing a healthy routine with alternatives has helped reduce my anxiety and need for isolation. By removing myself from toxic people, I learned how to create a more positive, safe and happy environment with people that care about my well-being. Joining multiple support groups, reading self-help books, listening to uplifting podcasts and music regularly, it has helped reduce my stress. In order for me to be more aware of my menstrual cycle, I plan ahead and keep track of my PMDD symptoms. For my diet and nutrition, I have found the following beneficial when coping with uncomfortable physical symptoms: applying the anti-inflammatory and Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) diet plan; take a Multivitamin, Vitamin B6, Magnesium, Calcium, D2 and Zinc; limit myself to one cup of caffeinated drink and stay away from food that will make me bloat. With a past history of alcohol addiction and 4 years of living a sober life, I have learned how to control my alcohol intake and only drink once a year. When it comes to doing activities that bring me joy, I allow at least 5 hours to myself for breakfast and a pleasurable activity like Zumba, reading or watching a movie. During my “Me Time”, I reflect on what I have done the past week, reevaluate my thinking patterns and feelings and resolve any issues that are stopping me from moving forward. To prevent complete isolation, I give myself at least once a week some quality time like dinner with my coworkers, friends or family. In expressing myself more frequently and practicing my social skills, I have learned that it builds up my confidence and I have less doubtful thoughts. As for treating my insomnia, I have got into the habit of the following routine: waking up the same time every day, not drinking caffeinated drinks after 2pm, removing electronic devices 2 hours before I sleep and once my eyes begin to feel heavy, I make sure I’m in bed within the 10-20 minute window or else I have a hard time sleeping. Overall, I needed to break my cycle of bad habits, start a clean slate and create a healthier lifestyle so I can become the person I aspire to be.
Learning how to completely accept my life with PMDD was the missing piece I needed to move forward. Instead of being open and breaking the silence about my story, I ended up carrying all the hurt, guilt, shame, fear and feeling of unworthiness over the years, which in turn, made me numb. I also admit that I did not have any desire to put the effort into resolving my internal conflict because it meant that I had to be vulnerable again and relive the uncomfortable traumatic thoughts. With this mentality, it just made my depression worse. I found myself repeatedly lacking the motivation and felt paralyzed with my emotions because I could not live up to my full potential and be the fashion designer I dream to be. I kept being hard on myself and using self-deprecating thoughts. So it was not until I started being more self-aware that I learned how to confidently trust my inner voice. With practice, I also got more comfortable in spending more alone time to enjoy my own company. Once I detect discomforting and irrational thoughts, I learn to take a deep breath and shift my self-talk into a more positive approach. Telling myself when I cry uncontrollably, “it is okay to not be okay”, has helped me to let go of my negative emotions more easily and snap out of the hurtful thinking pattern. Rather than hating my life for having such a disorder, I have chosen to be more forgiving with my past mistakes and be more mindful so it does not happen again.
Living a normal life with PMDD seems impossible, however, with a lot of self-love, patience, and self-discipline, I am relieved to have found natural treatment options that help me feel better and make my symptoms more manageable. Every day I am fighting to do my best in living a balanced life (emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually).
I want to educate others about my cyclical struggles, hardships, and complications to prevent misunderstandings with mental illness. If we continue to remain quiet about these PMDD symptoms, I believe that more people will be left untreated and the cycle of suffering will not end. I hope that by sharing my story and truth, it will bring more awareness and help break the stigma associated with mental health. I am a living example that love heals and that there is hope in all this chaos so we should never give up. PMDD is often misdiagnosed, overdiagnosed or not taken seriously, so it’s time for us to make a positive difference in this world and help save our future!
About The Warrior
I’m Jane, a 32-year-old striving to be the best version of myself with this PMDD life. My passion is to help those in need, share the beauty of life through art, and find healthy, natural ways to cope with PMDD symptoms. I am a work in progress and trying to raise awareness about mental health however I can.