Tuesday, 17 December 2013

This is not the end.

It's been a while since I've written a blog, and there are many reasons for this. Life stuff takes over sometimes and attention needs to be elsewhere, but alongside this, I have been coming to some very different conclusions about my own PMDD. I have mentioned before about how hard it is to explain and express all the things that have changed within me since I started this blog, and I have felt a real inner conflict for many months now.

Some of the things I have learned means my view of PMDD has changed massively. When I started this blog, and began sharing my story and understandings, I was in a dark place. This was due to many things alongside PMDD. PMDD was not solely responsible for my life feeling too hard to bear. I can look back and see that now, but when you are caught up in the daily drama, it's easy to feel like PMDD is to blame for all of life's shortcomings. In 5 years, my life has changed dramatically, and in those years I have found friends, fellow sufferers and other people like me.

When I say 'other people like me' I mean those who also have PMDD, but are choosing to work spiritually with it rather than continue down the route of believing that we need to be 'fixed' or that there is something inherently wrong with us.

I no longer believe there is anything wrong with me. The past 5 years have taken me to the depths of despair, but they have also been so valuable. PMDD has actually been the most powerful guide I could have had. I know many readers may think I've lost the plot, or that maybe, I could never have really suffered with PMDD to begin with, and that's fine. You can judge me however you like.

I come across a lot of women through the PMDD community page, and many want a 'cure'. Many want a magic tablet to make everything better. They want labels and recognition for that label. PMDD is just a label. It's the label doctors give to a woman who is sensitive to the hormonal changes in the body, and when those hormonal changes create a string of infinite symptoms that becomes life destroying. Some people want it to be a mental disorder, some want it to be an endocrine disorder and some believe it originates in the gut. I shared an article recently about PMDD being labelled a mental disorder, and someone commented saying that if it was all in the mind then how did it a hysterectomy cure her? Thing is, the brain controls everything, it controls the production of hormones, and it is affected by hormones. Hysterectomy is the ultimate off switch. The brain no longer needs to tell the body to make those hormones. Having a hysterectomy may be the most successful way of treating PMDD to date, but it is an extreme measure to take, especially if you want children and haven't been able to conceive. So it may be effective, but is it the best way? Swapping PMDD for early menopause has never been something I have wanted to do. I know a few women who have had their PMDD 'cured' by means of hysterectomy, some have had other problems occur, some haven't, but on the most part, I hear many women say they are glad to have had it done, and I for one am happy that they are no longer suffering and have a chance at a new life without PMDD. There are many different views on the causes of PMDD. The only I would like to say for certain is it is a imbalance in the body and mind which can have devastating effects.

We all need more research to be done. Its almost 2014 and we still don't fully understand the workings of the female body, we don't know why hormones create such illusions and dysphoria in the brain. We don't know the root cause of PMDD (if there is one). There is research being done, all be it a few small studies here and there, but still not enough is known. The doctors don't understand it, and there are very few specialists. I'd like to point out that we are talking about the medical realm right now, so when I say doctors and specialists, I mean the people conventionally trained in conventional medicine. Doctors, more often than not, want to help, but they are in the dark too. They have drugs that are unlicensed for PMDD but treat conditions similar to PMDD, so that's what we get. They try, but always remember that the doctors are just ONE aspect or avenue to healing, and often, they are working with pharmaceutical companies pushing their products, getting people reliant on yet another expensive drug. They will look at PMDD ONE way, and often dismiss others.

Turning my back on medication was the best thing I ever did. Saying away from the health services unless absolutely necessary. This is my story, my reality, I am not suggesting anyone do the same. This is what's ended up silencing me so often. How do I share my healing and this amazing transition when it is so personal to me?

I think that people have their own realities and most tend to stay within certain ideals. If it is your belief that taking a pill can cure you, then maybe you will find peace or ways to manage PMDD by using medication. If your belief is that removing your womb will cure the problem then you are more likely to go for that option when your symptoms are out of control. If you believe that talking therapy and mind techniques such as CBT is the way then you may find that successful for you. You also have to factor in what 'pay offs' there are with each belief. Medication will most likely come with side effects. Surgery might mean HRT. Talking therapies may not help physical symptoms.

My belief is that my body can create illness. That the mind and body are closely interlinked and often, an illness in the body is connected to, maybe even created by the brain. If my dis-ease in the body is stemming from dis-ease in the brain then surely, healing the brain can heal the body? By healing the brain, or re-training the brain, we can break out of the cyclical patterns that PMDD can put us in. My life 5 years ago was chaotic (it still is.. but in a good way nowadays) There were many things going on that would make the sanest and strongest of women cry and feel like life wasn't worth living.

PMDD almost responds to how well you are living your life. For me, being really unwell is a measure of the stress in my life at that moment. I've spent 3 years observing my moods and monthly cycles. I am not free of mood swings, manic craziness and deep depression, but I am free of almost all of the negative self beliefs I held about myself, the extra nastiness that clings onto you after an 'episode'. I don't spend days beating myself up, telling myself how shit I am, convincing myself I am not loved or wanted like I used to. I get up, take a deep breath and get on with life again. I've manage to reduce the drama of PMDD. I'm learning how to communicate better, how to avert disaster by using the right words. Things that seem so simple, yet these simple things really have changed my life.

5 years ago I didn't really have any hopes for the future, I didn't know where I was going, what I wanted. Two young children and a mood disorder that seemed to ruin everything. I hated life. I guess it's something that all young mums go through at some point. The feeling like you'll never have a career, that the things you are interested in are at the bottom of the pile of importance. I was also in a terrible relationship and hadn't dealt with all my childhood stuff. Add PMDD symptoms at their worst and BAM, there I was. Now, it seems logical looking back, that my symptoms were at their worst because of the state my life was in, but you don't know when your are in that moment that this is the worst moment you'll ever have, or that things will even change. You get locked into a belief that things will stay the same forever, but that is the only thing of absolute certainty, everything changes, nothing stays the same.

I now live day to day with my 'PMDD'. On the most part I am fine, although I have noticed I seem to have 2 almighty crashes a year around spring and autumn, which corresponds to pre-ovulation (spring) and pre-menstruation (autumn). The only other times I crash is when life gets really stressful. Stress is relative. What I can cope with is different to what another can cope with. Life has been tough this year and I have had to test my methods against some really challenging situations. Thankfully, I came through it all, I survived, and any women PMDD or not, would have felt the pressure. When the darkness or craziness hits, I hold on. I know it will pass, I use the things I know will help me.

All this change however does mean saying goodbye to certain things. Blogging about my PMDD helped through the worst times. Writing articles and researching helped develop my understanding and open my mind to new ideas. Meeting so many lovely women through the blog and on Facebook has been the best return for the hours spent.

I now feel like I am well enough to start building a career, and wheels have been in motion for a while. PMDD and depression can mean you spend long periods of time looking at your life and working out what it is you want to do. I realised that I want my life to be about creating, about art, about teaching and living a mindful life. I don't want to spend my hours anymore focusing on PMDD in a way that pleases the masses. I don't want to have to try and explain myself to people who don't really care.
I worry that I will upset people, because my views have changed. I started a campaign to get PMDD recognised, because for that medical world, it NEEDS to be, but at the same time, I no longer want to carry the label. I use the label for society's sake, to give them something they can understand, but my inner belief is not that I have some terrible disorder that I have no control over. I have something that not many people can begin to comprehend. I have something that can actually be very useful to me.

Running the groups on FB and interacting with people on the community page can be really stressful. It takes my time and focus away from the positive things in my life, so these days I tend to limit my participation. I often feel bad for this, but I have to let go and move on. I find few people ready to even contemplate the possibility that they have the power to control and manage PMDD without meds, anything that I post that isn't mainstream gets jumped on, and my motives questioned. I have only ever been a Sharer Of Information! I share more things I have no personal interest in than things that I believe in... and this is where things have to change. I can't even stand the name of this blog anymore! MY PMDD! HA! I even claimed it as mine... well it isn't any longer.

I have to find my voice within the alternative PMDD realm and find the others like me. I have plans, but there is still some way to go, and my main priority is my art, spirituality and teaching. Thats what I want to spend my time on. I can no longer spend time on projects that feel like I'm banging my head against a brick wall. For now, I am in control and that means we go full steam ahead on projects. My cyclical energy still means I have downtime every month, but y'know, I think I'm healthier for it, and there are certainly less battles. I will write here occasionally, but the PMDD Awareness site is going to be taken down. I did it because I could, and because I thought it was needed and helpful, but I cannot maintain it and promote it. Anything I do from now on with regard to PMDD is gonna be a reflection of my beliefs and experiences, for other women out there who want to try managing their moods in an alternative way. This blog will stay as is and I may update from time to time to let you know about any new projects I may have in the future, but essentially, this is the end of an era.

I've said it before and I'll say it again.. Thank you for all the support you've all given me over the years, I wouldn't be here now if it weren't for each and every interaction I ever had through this blog and Facebook.

As always... thanks for reading.


Kimi said...

I understand that everyone has their own journey and that yours is leading you in another direction. I just want to wish you all the best and to thank you for starting this in the first place. It has really helped me with my healing and has helped me explain it to those around me who have to experience it with me. You helped me connect with other women who are dealing with the same think I deal with. That has also benefited me so much! Again...thank you so much!

Kitty said...

I understand everything you have written, and agree, and i'm sorry you feel others have jumped on you for having a different approach to PMDD. I can understand you want to move onto other projects, but do you need to take the PMDD awareness site down? It seems a shame as you put so much work into it and some women may find it useful? I am very glad i discovered your blog and facebook group as it has helped me a lot. take care and good luck with your new career Liz

Liana at livingwithpmdd.com said...

Beautiful post, Cat. I am so happy to see you moving in this direction. You have so much talent and creativity, and I love hearing about each and every new project. I, too, have noticed the more stress and negativity I bring into my life, the worse my PMDD episodes get. Therefore my wish for you is: May 2014 be your best and most joyful year ever!

Sharon Pointon said...

I can't understand why you found this out by yourself as i'd have thought that your mother should have known about it. I'm 46, had it since i was 12. Knew i had it at 16.

Sharon Pointon said...

I can't understand why you found this out by yourself as i'd have thought that your mother should have known about it. I'm 46, had it since i was 12. Knew i had it at 16.

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