By Sophie Castellanos
PMDD, another acronym, another diagnosis, another confusing list of symptoms to describe to another doctor who has no clue what’s wrong with you…
“If only I knew what I know now,” isn’t that what we often tell ourselves? Unfortunately, the knowledge I know now can’t help my younger-self, but maybe it can help you. Help you understand that you aren’t alone in the way you feel mentally or physically. Maybe it’ll help me heal from all the pain that still sits hidden inside of me from all my years of struggling with PMDD.
There are so many things I wish I could tell my younger self, but the thing that stands out most in my mind are the memories of me as a young teenager crying in my room every month. I can remember one time looking at a calendar and thinking “This happened to me last month.” I wish I could call out to you. “Yes! You are right!” But I forgot, because that’s what PMDD does to you. Week to week you’re almost a different person. The way your hormones change your brain and your emotions. So much is forgotten and replaced with the most negative and untrue perspective of your surroundings during these “hell weeks.”
If only I could hold you and just tell you you’re not alone. Every month when you sat in the darkness of my room crying with that empty feeling aching in your heart, I’d tell you that it’s normal to feel that way, because your body is different. The sad poems. The feelings of rejection cutting just a little bit deeper on those dark days. The need for isolation. The looming anxiety, feeling like you have multiple personalities. It’s all part of one complex health problem. All exasperated by a birth control dose too high for your body, an ultimatum given to you by your boyfriend’s mother, left undiscussed with your parents. These things are not you, nor are they the life you must continue. You can choose to shed it all and heal your heavy heart.
Everything you have learned in these umpteen years must be unlearned. You must listen to your body carefully. It is the key that will tell you that something is wrong. Don’t worry if they think you’re crazy because you can only drink coffee two weeks of the month. Fill your life up with nature inside and out because it will heal you.
One thing you taught me in those dark lonely days was to keep pushing forward and never give up. If you, my teenage self, were able to live through the complete heartbreak each month, plus gut-wrenching cramps that knocked me off my feet, then I, as a woman, can do so much more.
Not everything I would say to you would be a warning. I would pick you up in my lap and tell you “Thank you for fighting and never giving into the feelings that swallowed you up. Your strength gave me a beautiful life.” Just to hold you so you could collapse in my arms, take away just one cycle so you could rest your mind, body, and heart. I wish I could hug you and tell you I’m sorry for all the sadness. I’m sorry you’re alone writing sad poems, crying in bed because you feel ugly, inadequate because your memory is erratic and it feels like the world hates you. But one day all this suffering will help others find their way out of the same darkness. You are a light, shine it, and you will find your way out of this darkness too.
About the Warrior:
Sophie Castellanos is a married mother of two girls, running her creative online business, Salt Hippy, from home where she shares her passion for the ocean, its healing magic, and how it has helped her find herself through years of struggling with PMDD.