Monday, 11 April 2011

PMDD Crisis Guide - The Mental Realm of PMDD

Apologies for the length of time it's taken to get this blog up... Life has been pretty hectic (as usual)
Hope this helps you in some way...

You can find the Introduction here.. and the Physical Realm here.

The Mental Realm

This realm is where you will find your thoughts, and inevitably, the things you say. Over time this realm is programmed with reactions and responses to things that you are told, or things that happen around you. This realm for a PMDD sufferer is usually very chaotic.

During the hormonal changes in a woman's cycle, her body will undergo changes and present physical problems. These are a little easier to deal with than the changes that go on in the mind during this time.

This is probably best represented by the term, 'mood swings' although that would suggest the problem is just an emotional one. It isn't. The chemical changes in the body actually create false moods, which often bring about 'false thinking'.
A PMDD sufferer will experience random thoughts, seemingly crazy thoughts during their 'bad' time of the month. Thinking outwardly becomes impossible. Seeing the bigger picture seems impossible. All thoughts become inward and bad memories surface. Reactions to what people say, can trigger a negative spiral of thinking that can be overwhelming.

For me, it's like a constant battle in my head. I KNOW how I would normally react, what I would normally think, but during that time, things are not normal. I begin thinking I'm the worst person in the world, that my kids would be better off without me. I think about my past and all the painful things that have happened. I think people should leave me alone, not bother with me.. I lose all my self esteem and belief. All the things that normally get me through no longer work... The clothes I wore last week don't look right, even though it's the exact same outfit. I look in the mirror and see something completely different. This change in perception is quite common in all women who suffer from PMS, but when it means you don't leave the house because you have tried on 10 outfits, are full of tears, anxious, stressed out and frustrated, you know you are suffering from something worse.

My thoughts spiral out of control during my PMDD time, but I am learning to control them. Realising that your thoughts are not really your truth, takes time to happen. I often say... 'In my good head, I know this is true... but right now, I think that blah negative blah' I can recognise what I would think if I were in a good week, and what I am actually thinking. Dealing with the emotions that these bad thoughts bring up is harder than trying to control the thoughts, but keeping your thoughts in check goes a long way to steering a breakdown off course.

After talking to many women who have PMDD, it is obvious that they all feel like 'Jekyll and Hyde'. In fact, you will find that term used quite often when describing PMDD.
A woman with PMDD will find herself thinking about abandoning her kids, and how she'd do it, and how she'd get away.   Or leaving family, friends or job.  She may think the answer is suicide and spend many hours debating suicide, going through plans or writing her note to leave behind. She may think about drinking till she sleeps, or hurting herself. Her thoughts will turn to guilt, and she'll sit and think about all the damage she has done to her family or friendships, how lonely she is, how no one will ever understand. I know this to be true because I have done all these things, on repeat... for years. These thoughts are what drive people to harm themselves, along with the negative emotions, and it's why it is important to try and get these thoughts under control.

What also changes at this time of the month is the way you speak. This is governed by your feelings, and the things that are going on in your head. A chilled out, mild manner woman, will turn into a screaming, shouting, crazy, scary beast. You think I'm joking? This is one area the most damage can be done to your family and friends. The things you say. I would bet that every woman with PMDD has had an episode, and when the storm has died down, has had to think about what she has said to the people she loves. Nasty, spiteful, bitchy, outrageous things. Stuff you would never let leave your mouth. Goddess forbid you argue or fight with a PMDD woman having a bad episode.... Sanity has left the room. Like a caged animal, you want to fight. You are feeling so tired, so low, frustrated, wired, scared, you want to die, you don't care what happens. In you head, your mind is telling you you are terrible, shameful, worthless, then it tells you you will never get away from this nightmare, you will have to do this till the day you die. You worry about every aspect of your life. Will my partner stay with me? What if I hurt my kids? How can I keep doing this? I'm tired... oh so tired... I just want to go to sleep and not wake up.... What will happen if I just walk out the front door now. Mind is on OVERDRIVE.

There is a great lyric, by one of my favourite 'bands'.

How hard is it to decide to be in a good mood, And then just be.. in.. a good mood?
Dan le Sac vs Scroobious Pip - Waiting for the beat to kick in.

Ha.. yes, it's a man talking, and he has never experienced PMDD, but sometimes, you do HAVE to just decide to have a better day! FOCUS on having a better day. Focus on other things other than the thoughts.
Writing or creative outlets can help focus the mind on other things. Baking a cake, going for a walk, going to the library. Having a job can be a great focus... Distraction, distraction, distraction.
If you cant work, volunteer.. or use your time more wisely.   It is too easy to let yourself dwell on the past, and mistake hormonal thoughts for the truth. It's easy to let yourself spiral. It's much harder to find the strength to change your thoughts.

Some days, it is too hard to get out of the spiral. Some days, you just CAN'T. So what do you do?

Allow the thoughts to come, acknowledge them, then let them go. It's holding on almost compulsively to negative thoughts that feeds the downward spiral. You can even start talking to yourself (assuming you don't already!) and by that I mean...

'Oh hello, negative thought... what was that? I am crap mother?'

'Yes.. you are the worst mother ever, look at you, you hardly take the kids out anywhere, and most the time you are so caught up in your selfish head, You are so selfish. You slept the whole day away and someone else looked after your kids... '

Now this can go two ways.... You can either agree, or totally kick it's ass.

'So, you think I'm a bad Mum? Who else cooks for the kids and washes their clothes? Who else finds things to do on a shoe-string? Who else creates a tea party in the garden, with 5 mins notice? I have seen my kids through everything, to the best of my ability... I love them, I put 100% in when I can, and when I can't, I may sleep, or be a bit distant, but isn't that better than screaming and shouting at them. I am not a bad Mum, and will not accept that. Next?

'You dont have a life.. you sit on your fat arse all day, and never go out. What career have you got? People think you are a sponger, you drain everyone. Your friends never ask you out, cos you never go. You might as well be dead'
(Are you going to take that?)

'Of course I have a life! I'm here aren't I? I have this and that, and am planning on doing lots of things in the future. Just because things have been difficult, doesn't mean I will always be like this. I do have friends! And the ones that don't bother with me, aren't worth worrying about. I'm happier with a few close friends, doesnt mean I'm not liked. I give what I can to others, when I can, so, NO, I dont accept that, today I'm feeling vulnerable and a bit depressed, but thats today. Not tomorrow.. or forever...'

Don't commit the future by how you are thinking or feeling on a bad day.
If you can learn to remain calm, and blow up every negative with a missile of positive you will soon feel stronger and more in control.

We often feel we need outside help, but there is much that can be done by you, by just changing your thoughts.

If you feel you would like more professional help with your thoughts, I would recommend looking into CBT – Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, which helps you to define your thinking patterns so you can begin to change them, and NLP – Neuro Linguistic Programming, which helps you learn about your own ways of communicating and has an excellent way of re-shaping the way you perceive yourself, others and your thoughts and words..

We only use about 20% of our brains, and unfortunately, with PMDD sufferers, we have created such strong neural pathways, that we really do end up in one cycle of thinking. The connections our brain first started making years ago, that created the chemical imbalance, have become stronger and stronger. The more you sit back and allow it to happen, the more the brain feeds off the same thinking patterns. By attempting to break the cycle of negative thinking, you can start re-training your thoughts to support you, be your friend, rather than be your enemy.

Be careful of your thoughts, for your thought become your words.
Be careful of your words, for your words become your actions.
Be careful of your actions, for your actions become your habits.
Be careful of your habits, for your habits become your character.
Be careful of your character, for your character becomes your destiny.
Author unknown

"Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius -- and a lot of courage -- to move in the opposite direction." A Einstein

Next realm... The stormy seas of emotion!


Soo C Tee said...

I have PMDD too... and i just broke up with my bf is because of the fucking PMDD... i feel so sorry to him. but he don't seems to understand... some people thought PMDD is just an excuse... but who will understand it? T_T i have bad thought and i told him everything and he was hurt and he said he is scared for this relationship...

Liana at said...

There are a lot of good places you can go for information on PMDD that you can share with your partner. Start looking on Facebook if you haven't already. People there understand. Good luck to both of you!

Strawberry said...

I just created a blog on here so that I could comment on yours. I was scouring google searching for anything I could find that would give me some direction. Your blog has given me exactly what I am looking for. I'm only 19 years old and was officially diagnosed only a year and a half ago, but i know now that I have had this since I was about 14.I have never seen or heard anyone describe the mental process we go through as well as you have. I felt as if I was reading my own thoughts written out for me. I feel so much better knowing that the insanity I feel is 'normal'. Thank you for posting. I can not even say how much i appreciate it and I will continue to look for later posts.

Cat said...

Thankyou Strawberry!

I'm so pleased you found it helpful. You are not alone, and if you need support, check out my facebook group.

I will be writing about the emotional realm next... not an easy one to talk about!!

Blessings xx

Jane said...

I do believe PMDD to be psychological (for me) rather than physical, hormones in the brain are just as controlling as physical health / changes.

I read this with so many 'that is JUST how I feel' thoughts it was untrue. you are spot on in so many ways.

What is the facebook group? would love to join.

KenyaDoll said...

I am in tears as I read this. I have struggled with PMDD for a year and just reading your blog, I feel your spirit and I have experienced everything you spoke off. I know you blog is one year old but it helped me here 4:00 in the a.m. feeling too depressed to sleep.

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