Monday, 25 July 2011

I am The Sun

I am The Sun.
I love to shine! I was born to shine.
I love to spread warmth and love to everyone.
It is my job! It's our job! I love to laugh and have fun!
It is for all of us to shine and keep each other warm,
to make colour's brighter and the spirit lighter.
The only thing I want to do, is provide for you,
to sustain you... give you strength and courage.
I want to experience the world in all it's glory.
We all have a light to bring to the world...
.. but I think that if we all shone at once, we would all go blind.
Sometimes, suffocating dark clouds obscure my view.
I cant see the bright colourful world around me.
I feel lost, I can't shine, nothing gets through cloud that thick.
Sometimes there's thunder, and lightning strikes,
Sometimes, I can hear tornadoes and crying..
But I can't see, I cant help.. I CAN'T GET OUT OF THIS CLOUD!
It's wet and depressing, it's cold and bleak.
If I breath too deeply I choke from the thick air.
I just want to shine, that's all I want,
It's all I know, it's my purpose. The panic sets in
and it feels like this darkness will last forever.
I am The Sun.
The people around me, cant see my light anymore
they are mad at me for not shining, for not making them warm,
The clouds bring the rain, which the world needs too,
to cleanse and clean and nourish the earth.
But I'm invisible, and it's not my choice... all I want to do is shine.
The clouds slowly pass, and I can see again.
Sometimes I see devastation, and sometimes it's not so bad,
I always fear that I will open my eyes and find no-one there,
But I am the Sun, we are all the Sun,
and all we can do is shine brighter when the clouds have gone.
White fluffy clouds.. now, they are OK!
I like watching them pass.. a train... a bird.. a smiling face,
I like laying on the grass and watching the sky,
its a reminder that you are alive and that is a blessing
the clouds will come and go, storms WILL hit us...
but I like shining down on you and watching you play,
and in your hearts you know,
I will always return after the darkness has lifted.
Don't give up on me, I will be back,
and we will all enjoy another sunny day.
We are all The Sun.

By Cat Stone 2011

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

PMDD in the news

A new story hit the papers today, about a 41 year old woman from London called Kirsty.

The women told they're mentally ill when they are really crippled by period pain

Kirsty Baranowski stood in the middle of the road hammering on a taxi driver’s windscreen. She was incandescent with rage because he’d suddenly pulled out in front of her.

The outburst was completely out of character, but for 20 years she had been battling with violent mood swings in the run-up to her period.

‘Normally, I was mild mannered,’ says Kirsty, 41, who lives in Southfields, South-West London, with her children, Alexander, ten, and Sophia, nine.

Read more:

Other articles that have been in the papers are:

Donna from Scotland, who's story in 2009 led me back into researching and trying out GHRH injections.. She is still an inspiration, and I hear she is doing really well!

Elizabeth Freundel's story back in 2007:

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Mood charts and tracking symptoms

The only way to convince anyone you are suffering from cyclical symptoms is by filling in a mood chart. By noting your symptoms and severity, along with your menstrual cycle, it is easier to see patterns forming and for doctors to diagnose PMDD.
You have to be strict with yourself and make sure you do this EVERYDAY, or at the very least the morning after (for the day before), trying to be as accurate about how you felt as possible.

There are many free resources online, including printable mood charts. Printable worked for me as I filled it in in the evening and could keep it safe, or up on the kitchen cupboard door to remind me. It also means you automatically have something to show your doctor. I used the chart in the book by Diana Dell - The PMDD Phenomenom, as it gave me the option to fill in how bad things were too (by colouring 1, 2 or 3 boxes), so rather than just a yes or no, I could monitor slightly off moods to more intense, severe moods.

Dont be put off by charts that are called Bi-polar or depression mood charts. It's not the name that matters, but the information you track. Just find a chart that works for you.

You may want to try an online/interactive mood charts. Some require membership, but some are free. If you are at the computer a lot, then this might be a better way for you to record you moods each day. Obviously this means making sure you can print everything out to take to the doctors, and that you will always have access to a computer to keep it updated. I can't stress the importance of filling everything in EVERYDAY for at least 3 months. It's the best way for an outsider to know whats been going on up in there, and help you to diagnose your condition.

There is a very modern way of tracking your moods, if you happen to be the proud owner of an iPhone or Smartphone! Just search the app store for 'mood tracker', 'iPeriod' or 'period tracker' and take your pick! I have used Period Tracker (paid version), and it's very simple to use. It's hard to find a tracker that does all the things you want, but it worked pretty good for me. I now have an android phone and am using Womanlog, but there are many others, such as Ovuview, Pink Pad and My period and ovulation. Most have free downloads, I advise you trial the free version before you pay for one, just to make sure it works for you.

With so many options, we are spoilt for choice! There is definitely no excuse NOT to be tracking your moods and symptoms.... so, Get tracking!


PMS Symptom Tracker


Mood Tracker - Free

NAPS Interactive Mood Chart - Free, membership required.

My Monthly Cycles - Paid subscription for good resources, Limited free account.

These links are also available from the side bar of my blog.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Got Milk? GET REAL....

An ad campaign in America by The California Milk Processor Group.  It is supposed to increase the sales of milk.. using the obviously hilarious symptoms of PMS or rather, men's suffering at the hands of their pms'ing girlfriends.

It's aimed directly at men, and claims to be using humor to raise awareness of what they call "a REAL condition that affects millions of men every month" and that "PMS places undue strain on personal and professional relationships and for several days in each cycle, men are inexplicably unable to do anything right" The campaign hopes to encourage men to get their wives and girlfriends to drink more milk, as if that will magically solve women's PMS and give them a less stressful life.  It would be more helpful if they advised them to go talk to a Doctor or health professional.

They have a website, which gives you various 'funny' dials and gauges, like a color-coded ”global PMS level,” a “video apology enhancer” and a “mistake verification system”
The loading page shows a glass of milk, with a banner around it stating 'Milk can help the symptoms of PMS'.

On the website the milk group claim:
A majority of women who consumed 1200 mg of calcium a day for three months reported being less irritable, weepy and depressed, and suffering from fewer backaches, and less cramping and bloating. With 300 mg of calcium per glass, milk is the perfect PMS comfort food.
The study they used to come to this conclusion can be seen here, .  Only 55% of women reported an improvement, which means 45% didn't.  It was also shown that a THIRD of women who didn't take calcium experienced an improvement over time anyway.  To get the levels of calcium you would need to help symptoms, you would need to drink a pint of  skimmed or semi-skimmed milk every day, even more if you drink whole milk.

What they don't wish to tell you is that studies have been done regarding the health problems caused or aggravated by milk.  Some sources maintain that high dairy consumption can lead to an increased risk of PMS/PMDD.  Milk and other dairy products can contain high levels of hormones, and consumption can therefore alter hormone levels in sensitive peoples, leading to PMS/PMDD symptoms. Diets which are high in caffeine and sugar may also have this effect (there goes your white coffee or tea with 2 sugars!).

If you are a PMDD sufferer, because the symptoms are so serious and life restricting, you become obsessed with finding a solution, or finding ways to relieve the symptoms.  You will learn quickly that food plays a massive part in managing symptoms and there are foods that are better to avoid.  In a perfect world we would all eat unprocessed, fresh, natural food.  Whole food.  The milk that we buy in our current society is processed, it comes from cows that have been given hormones and antibiotics.  It is the best milk for calves, not necessarily, for humans.

Vivian Goldschmit (a graduate of New York University with a Masters of Arts degree in Nutritional Sciences and Biochemistry) creator of the website, an osteoporosis community, says we have been led to believe many myths about milk and in her article here, you can read many other facts about modern day milk:
One of the first myths, she says, is that drinking milk creates healthy bones because of the calcium found in the milk. However, the animal protein found in milk actually depletes the human body of calcium, exactly the opposite of what milk drinkers expect it to do.
Nowadays, milking cows are given antibiotics and most are also injected with a genetically engineered form of bovine growth hormone (rBGH). A man-made or synthetic hormone used to artificially increase milk production, rBGH also increases blood levels of the insulin-growth factor 1 (IGF-1) in those who drink it. And higher levels of IGF-1 are linked to several cancers.
On the website, you can find information on many health problems that are caused or aggravate by milk.  On the topic of mood swings, Robert Cohen says:
Imagine starting your day with an estrogen pill, followed by progesterone, prolactin, melatonin, oxytocin, and 50+ other hormones including gastrointestinal peptides and hypothalamic hormones. 
It is no wonder that the Townsend Medical Letter noted the following in May of 1995: "In reality, cow's milk, especially processed cow's milk, has been linked to a variety of health problems, including: mucous production, hemoglobin loss, childhood diabetes, heart disease, atherosclerosis, arthritis, kidney stones, MOOD SWINGS, depression, irritability, allergies."
Can I also mention, that if you were to follow the advice given by the Got Milk Campaign, drinking non or half fat milk will actually MAKE you put on more weight!
The fat in milk actually helps curb you appetite by making you feel fuller by triggering a release of the hormone cholecystokinin.  Fats also slow the release of sugar into your bloodstream, reducing the amount that can be stored as fat.

This is a low blow to those women who suffer from PMS, or it's big ugly sister, PMDD.
To take one unsubstantial research paper and base an entire promotional campaign is crazy, let alone the BAD advice of hormonal women drinking more milk.  The 'humerous' aspect will only be appreciated by men... I'm sorry.. but if we are gonna get sexist here, who does the shopping?

Statements like,  "I'm sorry I listened to what you said, not what you meant", "I'm sorry for the things I did or didn't do" and "We can BOTH blame myself" are sarcastic, insulting and quite frankly don't help anyone.  When you step into the realms of PMDD, you will find men who a dealing with a time bomb.  Someone they love, goes to hell and back every month and often tries to drag them along.  The fact that PMS and PMDD is so misunderstood, still so taboo, means that these men, and their families suffer for years without help.  Women with PMDD go through years of trial and error using medications that haven't been created to treat PMDD... we are guinea pigs.  There isnt enough research into PMS and PMDD, there aren't enough studies or new medications being created.  There just isn't the support available to women with this condition, or their long suffering partners.

A woman with severe PMS or PMDD will have to spend a lot of time dealing with the side effects of medications, only to realise that they are never going to work.
A woman with PMDD will battle every month to 'keep it together', they will try CBT, psychotherapy, counselling,  meditation, exercise, diet, anything that may offer a way of dealing with the feelings and situations that PMDD brings.
I've not met ONE woman with PMDD who jokes about saying something awful to a loved one, or being hurtful, letting people down, or self harming.  I see these women battle everyday with a life destroying illness, I see them battle for their kids, I see them battle for their man/partner, myself included.

I would embrace an advertising campaign that raises awareness about how badly mood disorders and hormone imbalances affect the lives of many.  I would embrace something that gives an uneducated person a true and fair insight into the lives of women, kids, AND men, who live with severe PMS or PMDD.  I would embrace something that promises to raise awareness and demands more research.  

This however, is far from that.  It's nothing more than a company trying to make more money at the expense of women by promoting something that could actually worsen symptoms in a woman with PMS or PMDD.  

Got Milk have released an article about the campaign saying:
GOT MILK? Comes to Relationship Rescue "During That Time of the Month"  
Are you a man living with PMS? That's the question the California Milk Processor Board (CMPB), the creator of the GOT MILK?, is asking California men this summer. In an advertising campaign titled 'Everything I Do Is Wrong,' the CMPB aims to use its signature GOT MILK? humor to highlight the strain placed on many relationships due to the monthly symptoms of premenstrual syndrome or PMS and how dairy milk can come to the rescue: studies show that the calcium in dairy milk can help reduce PMS symptoms by as much as 50 percent. Whereas most PMS-related messaging is aimed at women, the campaign's core question ("Are you a man living with PMS?") turns the tables and looks at this age-old dilemma from the point of view of the man and the couple. 
"PMS and its symptoms are sensitive issues to discuss among couples," says Steve James, executive director of the CMPB. "We hope that this campaign, through its message and humor, would empower both men and women to talk about this topic more openly and to take action by learning how to help relieve symptoms by drinking dairy milk."
"The goal of the campaign is to engage consumers, while helping users learn about the many benefits of drinking dairy milk," says Jeff Goodby, chairman of GSP. "Milk comes to the rescue and in the case of this campaign, it could very well help strengthen relationships." 
Goodby is no stranger to this topic, having had directed the first GOT MILK? PMS ad in 2005 titled 'Milk to the Rescue.' The humorous 30-second commercial was produced after studies in the Archives of Internal Medicine and in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology showed that the calcium in dairy milk can help reduce the symptoms of PMS. 'Milk to the Rescue' opens to scenes of men in grocery and convenience stores stocking up on gallons of milk. The frantic, near desperate looks on their faces are funny, but puzzling. Viewers are the then let in on the secret when a guy comes home with grocery bags full of milk and a bouquet of flowers. A full screen comes on where audiences learn how milk can make that "time-of-the-month" a little better. The ad ends with the ubiquitous tagline "GOT MILK?"
Jeff Goodby is quoted in The  NY Times as saying "We did it in the past, but the women just didn’t drink enough milk,” he says, laughing. “If they’d only drink enough, we wouldn’t come back."

No need to wonder where the sexist ideas come from then?

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Living Life

It's Summer, so I find myself spending more time outside whenever possible and less time in front of the computer.. that and my laptop went for a spin off the coffee table courtesy of my dog, Ember.  I am now on a borrowed laptop that is only good for surfing!

It's halted my writing and design work, which has meant lots of time for thinking, planning and taking care of home and family business.

My partner and I are back together.  I didn't see it coming, and had no idea it would happen, but it did, and I am very happy.  Life seems pretty good again, despite to constant niggles that PMDD brings.  I feel blessed to be able to call them niggles at the moment.  Physically, I am a mess!  Constant cramps, backache, leg pain.. but mentally, I feel pretty stable.  I put that down to lots of sunshine!  and there is where I feel blessed.. physical pain is pretty bearable, compared to the emotional and mental agony that my hormones bring with them.

The PMDD Support group on Facebook has now reached maximum capacity, that is, maximum capacity for a workable, readable group.  This has meant that I have opened a new 'room' to allow new members to join and create another small, private support group.  If you have PMDD, and would like to talk to other sufferers, on Facebook, real time support, please request membership using the link below:

I hope to catch up with the articles I have promised you, the essential oil guides, and general chit chat.. but right now, I have one daughters birthday down.. and one to go.  July is a busy month for my family!

My garden is looking lovely and I am spending lots of time out there... I have lots of pictures, but I'll share one of my favorites..

Sometimes, it is really nice to leave the computer and get outside.. I walked 4 miles today, in glorious sunshine!  Feels good :)
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