Recently, I have been feeling much better. This is a real turnaround after many years of feeling like a pendulum swinging back and forth. I feel I have more control. I am coping with my bad days more effectively and achieving more on my good days... AND it's winter!
Up until now, it has been hard to write without getting too emotionally involved, and that's no good if you are trying to help others in an emotional state. I finally feel that I can share some practical advice, and I really hope it helps other women cope with PMDD.
Firstly, here's a little about what I have learned and coped with over the years. I'm not a Doctor, but I am an Aromatherapist, and have researched many therapies and theories over the years. I have also had PMDD for 20 years... since I was 13. I have lived with this disorder all my adult life. I don't remember a time when I wasn't feeling crazy and out of control on a regular basis. I used to believe I was really mentally ill. I just wanted to be taken away and put in a padded cell.
When I look back at this, the desire to be taken away, away from my kids and life, stemmed from the overwhelming feeling of being unable to cope. A week or month in a psychiatric ward looked more like a holiday. A break from the pressure, the relentless cycle of life, bills, kids, shopping, etc.
That never happened. They never took me away. I was a single mum with a 3 year old. No family or friends as I'd just moved to a new area after separating from my adulterous husband and being homeless. I would hit crisis every month. Crisis at this time in my life was volatile... I had been through so much emotional trauma by this time that I was reacting to everything, and was feeling more and more suicidal.
Screaming, frustration, anger, rage and shouting. Throwing things, kicking things, punching, scratching my arms with my own nails, drinking, sobbing, weeping, and suicidal feelings.
I would lose all control over myself. An ex-boyfriend said once that I made no sense while I was having an episode. Words would come out, but he couldn't understand me. I figured I was a raving lunatic. I feared for my daughter. I thought I was an inadequate mother. I felt she should be taken away from me. I digress.... I know that ladies reading this who have PMDD can relate to my story, and those people who don't suffer, will never be able to truly understand how it feels.
The point to my story is that I have been in crisis more times than I care to remember. It's taken me years to understand, years to develop ways of coping, years of trying different meds... I grieve the years I have lost to PMDD, the opportunities lost and the events I've missed.
In everything I study, there are different realms... We live in physical, mental, emotional and spiritual realms. In holistic therapy, we can become unwell or suffer dis-ease in any of the realms. I believe in the theory that everything is interconnected. An illness in the mind can become an illness in the body, and PMDD is a disorder in the body that causes a disorder in the mind.
PMDD is an invisible disorder. Women that suffer look no different to women that don't (unless you count the extra grey hairs and bags under the eyes!). PMDD dis-ables women. It robs them of approximately two thirds of their life, every month, without fail.
PMDD often gets misdiagnosed as Bi-Polar. I asked my Psychiatrist what the difference between the two is, and he said 'Bi-polar sufferers will have periods of time (weeks, sometimes months) when they function normally. Life is relatively normal. Then they will swing, either up or down, again for a longer period of time, and the cycle continues. PMDD works on a much faster cycle. The ups and the downs can be weekly, sometimes even daily, and there is no long period of normal, functioning time.' PMDD sufferers may get a few days in a row of feeling OK, and believe me, there is MUCH to do during those days... sort out problems, fill in forms, do the shopping, clean the house, catch up on work. It all too quickly deteriorates and jobs end up having to wait again till the turmoil is over.
If you can get to the point when you know you're about to explode, when you can recognise the feelings building, when you are aware of your actions, then you have half a chance of diverting disaster. In my next few posts, I will be looking at each 'realm' in turn, and how PMDD affects you on different levels.
This is my interpretation, my opinions, theories and my experiences. One thing is for sure.. although there are a lot of commonalities between PMDD sufferers, what works as a treatment, what helps you get through and survive is usually very different. There is no one way to treat PMDD. I am just sharing my way, in the hope I might be able to help others find their own path through PMDD.
My next post.... PMDD and the physical realm: Looking after the body to look after the mind.