Friday, 18 May 2012

PMDD and accountability

What is accountability?

In a nutshell it is about being responsible for your actions.

I recently had a friend of mine email me for support because she was getting a hard time from other PMDD sufferers about a video she made for you tube about PMDD and accountability.
This lady was the first person I had found who offered a group for PMDD, a site of valuable information and support.  If it weren't for her, I would probably still be out on a limb, not knowing where to turn, along with many other women who found her site all those years ago.  She has spent years helping other women with PMDD, and stuck her neck on the line to talk about accountability.  A subject that is hard to discuss within the realms of PMDD, and one that raises hackles and gets everyone all jumpy.

PMDD can seem to control you and your actions... verbally and physically.  It can turn you into a 'monster', wreck relationships and alienate you from those around you.

The one thing that sets PMDD apart from other illnesses, especially on the mental health front, is the fact that we always return to 'normal'.  We realise that we acted out of order or said terrible things.  This is one thing that is the most difficult to deal with when in a loving relationship.  I recently described it as being whipped up into a tornado and then being dumped out the other side.

So, being accountable for you actions is one step further towards healing.  You cannot blame everything on the PMDD.  You cannot be a complete bitch to everyone who loves you and expect no one to get hurt, or to end up walking away because of things you've said and done.  Normal people without PMDD can get hurt too.

Yes, it's sometimes hard to control an outburst, or to stop yourself from doing something stupid, but ultimately, it is YOU who are doing these things.  You are not possessed by the devil, you are not schizophrenic.  It may feel like this, but you aren't.  You ARE responsible for your actions and what you say.

I remember watching this you tube video years ago, and feeling a whole load of mixed feelings.  On one hand I could agree that I should be held accountable for the things I did, but on the other hand, I was thinking... but I can't control it, it's not ME doing these things or saying nasty stuff, it's the PMDD me.... COP OUT!  It is me that allows myself to say these things.. it is me that regularly made every ones lives hell.. no one else... ME.

Realising that I have to be accountable, meant I began to try to curb my outbursts.  I began to realise that the innocent person in front of me who was only trying to help didn't deserve to have their heads ripped off cos I was having a bad day.  Sometimes, an episode was so severe, that I couldn't control it, but over time, I have learned that to heal PMDD and to allow others to love and help me, I absolutely had to find ways of dealing with my bad feelings.

We often take our stuff out on others, and sometimes this isn't even because of something they have done.. it's a past issue that is rearing it's ugly head, and is being channeled into rage for someone else... Often women with PMDD will experience people around them leaving due to the fact they can't deal with the abuse.  This then feeds the negative thoughts that you are not worthy of love, that everyone hates you or you are a bad person.  YOU ARE WORTHY OF LOVE, YOU DO DESERVE FRIENDS AND RELATIONSHIPS!!  but how do you expect loved ones to cope with abuse every month without ending up at breaking point themselves?

Being accountable means you must deal with the consequences of what you say and do.  It is a hard topic to get your head around.  It is even harder to fight the urge to destroy everything around you, but fight you must, if you want those people to stay in your life.  No one owes you anything, and in my experience, those that love you and understand, just want to help and see you happy.  They don't then deserve to have strips teared off them.  You can sit in guilt and regret, you can feel bad and beat yourself up and then do the same thing every month, OR you can do something about it.

Learning self control and self restraint is key.  Learning how to channel that aggressive energy into something other than an offensive outburst is key.  After months of damaging my relationship every month via text messages to my partner, that were abusive, nasty, negative, self defeating and unreasonable, we came to the point when we split.  That was the consequences of my actions.  Luckily, there was enough love and strength there to come back together after a break, but not without big discussions regarding what we both needed.  I needed more support.. how the hell I thought I was going to get more support by freezing him out and sending him nasty messages I do not know....  He needed the messages to stop, and for me to allow him to help rather than target him as an enemy.  That was a year ago, and thankfully we are still together and very happy.

Nowadays, I stay away from my phone on bad days.  I sleep it off, or find something to occupy my mind.  Occasionally.. and it is very occasionally, I slip up and a nasty text will wing its way to him at work...  I'm hurting for whatever reason, usually during a wobbly time of the month and I will want him to hurt.. except, I don't want him to hurt, I want him with me, helping, consoling me, but because he's not, I get angry and I may lose control for a second.  I always regret it and end up apologising straight away, but I run the risk of that text being the text that makes him walk away...

STOP and THINK before you allow yourself to run at the mouth.  Take a minute to think about how that text, status update or answerphone message will be recieved.  Does that person really deserve it?  Is there a better way to express the anger and rage?  Would it be better to go to bed, take a bath or go for a walk?  When you start helping yourself and controlling your PMDD, you will find others are more willing to help and try and understand.

If you still believe that you are not in control and that when a PMDD episode takes over you should not be held accountable for your actions then ponder this...

We often relate to feeling like another person, an evil twin, Jekyll and Hyde...  when we are in the 'other' state we may feel like we have schizophrenia... yet we do not have schizophrenia...
We are both blessed and cursed in that we do still have our right mind somewhere in there.  It may be clouded with emotions and negativity, but it is still there.  Unlike schizophrenic people who lose all concept of the real person they are and end up with a complete different personality for days or weeks, we always return to ourselves, often stronger than we were before.
If a schizophrenic person committed a crime, say, a murder.. does that mean we should let them off because they were not in their right mind?  If a women with PMDD did something terrible during an outburst, should they not be held accountable?  I'm pretty sure, in one way or another, that person would need to be sectioned or imprisoned,  they are a danger to society because they do not know what they have done....  Obviously this is a hypothetical example, but if the negative reactions, aggressive and abusive outbursts are not controlled then who knows what you could be capable of.
I'm not going to get into here about diminished responsibility and the times that PMDD has been used in court, but it has, and on those occasions, it is accepted that the PMDD caused the person to be acting out of character.  Those are extreme cases, and each would be looked into individually.  I'm sure no one would want to end up in a situation like this, so being responsible for your actions on a basic daily level is important.

You ARE accountable for your actions.  If you really feel you aren't, then the problem may be more serious than PMDD or your PMDD may have got so severe you really need to seek more help.  PMDD is not an excuse or get out clause for being a total cow to everyone.

And as a PS to the ladies that are leaving nasty, negative comments to my friend who has done SO much to help others with PMDD, check yourselves...  You talk of sisterhood yet leave messages that are offensive and nasty to someone who has been brave enough to make a video to try and help, about something that is difficult to talk about... where is the sisterhood there?

You can find the original video here:


Stef31gifts said...

Than you my friend! It reminds me why I came out in the first place, I knew there would be women like you out there that would support me!

Jane said...

I am newly diagnosed and can totally empathise with your comments, and also am going to watch out for the 'spread' of my bad days to make sure they aren't more than they need to.

Your words are very true and the original video is a real insight. I have struggled with biting my tongue but am learning.. and trying.

Rebekah V. said...

I have grappled with this issue of accountability for years. It is such a delicate balance between taking responsibility and feeling horrible about myself because I have done it again. Your post is very encouraging and helps me at a(nother) crucial time when I feel like giving up and giving into the rage and despair. It helps me to remember that I still have choices, regardless of how difficult and narrow those choices may seem in the moment. I have never been comfortable with the idea that pmdd ruled my life completely and I think your treatment of this theme is perfect. It allows for the feelings of being out of control and provides the idea that regardless of how hard it is we do still have agency. I just wanted you to know how much I appreciate the reminder. I will keep trying. But today I think I will hole up in my room:) sometimes the structural change is easier than having to use pure willpower to keep the monster from emerging!

Unknown said...

This post was just what I needed to read today. I'm on my "monster days". That's how I call these 2 weeks of every month that come to make my life miserable. I warn my family and friends and tell them the monster's out. I'm trying so hard to take care of myself and not go off on the people that love me. I have an excellent support system and that helps but leaving like this is the worst. I'm so tired of feeling like this every month.

Liana at said...

I put it this way, PMDD is an explanation, not an excuse. There are days when you are genuinely upset about things, just like other women. While anger is not the most productive of emotions there are times when it serves to draw attention to the fact that something is out of balance, be it a relationship, a schedule, a workload, whatever. That's a cue to take a look at your life and find out what needs to be changed. PMDD is a whole other situation. It's true you can't help it in that moment, but you can catch yourself and apologize as soon as you realize your PMDD has kicked in. No need to beat yourself up about it. Just admit it, acknowledge it, and move on. You're doing the best you can with what you've been dealt, just like everyone else.

Gilly said...

Im not at this point yet, i don't have the control to stop and think. I also have other issues along with PMDD and am slowly dividing up the different symptoms into the various problems. however, some of them are closely linked so it is hard work. I would love to be able to bite my tongue, but it is a work in progress for me. Really glad to see that it CAN be done and i therefore have something to work towards.

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