By Courtney Crevier | A continuation of PMDD Diaries
Somedays I don’t feel strong. Somedays I feel weak and ill and unwell. Somedays I wake up and don’t want to wake up at all. But I’ve learned that all of this is OK. We all have something to deal with, to cope with. Somedays I have to be creative and self-talk myself into believing I will get through this. Somedays I know myself completely inside and out- so sure in understanding my visions and seeing my dreams. And then there are days where I become so astray, like a stranger from afar invades my mind to replace my thoughts with hers. It’s like I’m two different women in the same body. I have to save myself from myself. I’ve put on a mask to shield myself from the pains of the world. PMDD has stripped the person I really want to be. There is so much more to me than what is shown on the outside.
I am not my PMDD. I am the face beneath it all.
And then I find myself in my car feeling lost with nowhere to go. You don’t know where you’re going let alone who you are. I just sit there and cry. But I begin my journey- somewhere…
It doesn’t matter where you are in life- good or bad, PMDD will knock on your door. I’ve hit a brick wall time after time, month after month. Many people refer to this time as ‘dark’ because it certainly feels that way. Little to nothing can send me over the edge- and then I break down, I lose all control. Tension, anger, sadness consumes me. I become exhausted like I’m half-living my life. I shut down and begin isolating myself from others. Pretty soon I can’t function at all. I become so socially withdrawn, I push away even my closest loved ones because I don’t want them to see me in such distress and I feel that no one understands me.
It’s like I’m against myself.
My mind is attacking my body almost like an autoimmune disorder. That in order to save myself, I have to kill myself. My mind is trying to destroy what it can’t get rid of. These thought processes are very dark and dangerous.
A broken mirror looks back at me as many different faces. The image is distorted, like my thoughts. Each crack represents a new symptom and dysphoric feeling. I try to piece them together one by one to become whole- to become myself again. Having done research on many similar mental disorders, I’ve learned that for the most part, PMDD is like having all of them bundled into one. Many of the symptoms of bipolar disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and major depressive disorder seem to be interchangeable with PMDD. In addition, I’ve discovered that having a family history of any of these including post-partum depression, you are at a greater chance of having PMDD. PMDD is difficult to diagnose. My theory as to why is because it is so easily misdiagnosed with these other mental disorders that have the same symptoms. These disorders may be more widespread and better researched by clinicians. Also, there is a heavy stigma, even in the present day, placed on women and their periods. PMDD is often confused with the closely related (yet way less severe) condition called PMS (pre-menstrual syndrome- a manageable, more common condition). There is a lack of knowledge and awareness between patients, many doctors, and the public. People fail to recognize PMDD as a distinguished disorder. But if we pay attention to the signs, we begin to see things clearer.
Though PMDD cannot be cured, there are many things we can do to lessen the severity of symptoms. There are treatments available, but not without some cost and sacrifice. I’ve learned finding ways to de-stress is absolutely critical for optimal mental health. Taking up a new hobby or writing this essay are healthy outlets for me. Any creative activity helps- whatever eases your mind. Some birth controls containing low levels of progesterone may help. A lot of women are very sensitive to this particular hormone. Everybody is different and have different reactions to different treatments, so always ask your provider and let them know of any health issues, especially the mental ones. SSRI’s (antidepressants) are very effective for some women but sometimes have unpleasant side effects. Then, there are natural approaches including supplements like chaste berry which helps regulate hormones among many other benefits and primrose oil which helps decrease breast tenderness and muscle cramping. Next, cognitive behavioral therapy is helpful in a lot of ways to learn coping skills. There are even support groups. Lastly, lifestyle changes like good diet and exercise, and avoiding caffeine and alcohol help to maintain a healthy body and mind.
The pieces of the once broken mirror are beginning to come together like a puzzle and I see myself in a new light. A new light that saves me [my conscious mind]. As I reflect and internalize this information, I realize I am not alone. I take everything day by day now- because at least I can predict my symptoms based on the cyclical patterns. Learn your history and decide to change it. I’ve learned that sensitivity can be my guide and that I don’t have to fear PMDD. The more I know about it and myself, the more I can use it to my advantage. I’ve evolved with an open mind, but more importantly, I’ve survived with an open heart. Every one of us has a battle to face, just on different paths. But, we are all beautiful and we all have somewhere to go. Once we accept this, there’s only one direction to move and that’s forward.
The journey continues, but we are not alone.
About the Warrior
“You are not perfect. But you are perfectly you.”