By Rosie Escott
I am a charity manager and writer in my late-30s and have only really begun to manage my PMDD more successfully over the past few years. I feel that writing helped me through some of my darkest days before I knew I had PMDD and before I found an SSRI antidepressant (which personally, was a help for me).
I work for an arts-focused charity, so I have seen first-hand how the arts can help improve people’s wellbeing. There are lots of academic studies that show evidence of this, and whether you join a community choir, take up painting or sculpture, being creative is a great outlet for self-expression and helps people gain a sense of achievement. If you’re doing something in a group, that’s great too, as it helps you feel less isolated and more a part of your community.
However, when you have PMDD, in my experience anyway, it can be hard to commit to a regular group because when you feel bad, going out and engaging with other people can seem like the hardest thing in the world. Writing, however, is something you can do on your own and something that doesn’t cost a penny. Writing is a great way to express your feelings and it might be helpful to you if you have PMDD. Even if you feel you can’t write when you’re in the depths of PMDD despair, it is worth trying as it can really help to get something out of your system. It doesn’t matter if you think you can’t write anything ‘decent’ (no one will judge you on what you write; it’s for your eyes only, unless you choose to share), as writing down your feelings and experiences on a particular day when you’re suffering can be useful when describing your PMDD symptoms to your doctor, later on.
What would you like to splash in red paint across the walls of the doctor’s surgery when they don’t take your PMDD seriously? This is your “I, Daniel Blake” moment (not in real life, or you might end up in jail); what do you want to say? Get a piece of paper and start scribbling. If you feel despair, write it down. If you feel out of control, write it down. If you feel like you want to chew your neighbor’s arm off because you can hear their awful music banging through the walls, write it down (and invest in some earplugs or noise-canceling headphones; life-saving investments, for my neighbors, anyway!). Do you think your boyfriend is cheating on you because he borrowed a book from someone at work? Write it down; your fears, your worries, your feelings. Sometimes it can help to write these things out of your system. It’s certainly a better option than having a slanging match with your neighbors or an argument with your boyfriend. A lot of the time, we just need to express these feelings, and (sadly, it’s taken me many years to get the hang of this), it’s much better not to react angrily to our friends and neighbors, as then, you won’t have to pick up the pieces again when you’re better.
And sometimes, you might just end up writing something you quite like.
Below is a poem I wrote about a past love affair. It was a fairly tumultuous relationship, but I am sure part of the tumult was caused by my PMDD (this was before I found some medication that helped). Many of the lines could be addressed to PMDD, rather than to my ex. Especially the last line, which could easily be a description of the way PMDD makes us feel; we have a little break before it comes along again to knock us sideways. But we’re fighters, and if you give it a try, writing it out might just help you feel that little bit better.
A poem by Rosie Escott
You make me so angry that I’m going to give your ring to a tramp.
You make me so angry that all I can hear is my heartbeat, shaking my head with each catastrophic boom.
You make me so angry that I leave you every month.
Once you made me so angry that I ate half of your Christmas present.
You make me so angry that I abandon you and the car in the midst of a nice, quiet respectable street, shouting “F*** you,” with abandon into the air.
You make me so angry I stomp.
You make me so angry I could give up pacifism.
You make me so angry that I have a nigh-on permanent sneer.
You make me so angry that I am exhausted.
You make me so angry that I have to scratch it out of me onto the innocent paper.
I make me so angry because I am such an idiot for you.
I am such an idiot for you that I am still wearing your ring.
Rest now, breathe now, kiss me now darling, for here comes the next round. Ding ding.
About The Warrior
Rosie is a charity Director, PMDD-sufferer, and budding writer based in Kent in the UK. In her mid-thirties, she realized that her severe depression and mood swings were related to PMS and, following several years of seeking the right support, has found a medication that seems to be helping. She has lived by the sea in Margate for the past 6 years. One of her short fiction pieces, ‘All the Postcards Never Sent’, was published in the anthology, ‘Shoal’ in 2018.