Monday, 19 May 2014

Poetry by E M *Guest Blog*

'PMS: Part 1'

Hunger. Emptiness. Holes.

It may be that I shall further reduce myself,
spit out a body.
The omnipotent female core of me is alert, aware:
she will not let me sleep, rather eat, eat.
Ravenousness multiplies fat cells; hunger softens the body:
the cries of fleshy hips smothered by dark shapeless clothes,
the swollen breasts with their aching teats constricted.
I am contained. I stand prone, chained at the stake,
looking out from these eyeholes, chewing and swallowing
instinctually like a calf-heavy cow.
Defenceless against nature.

The vagina is the killer.
A penis is something but a vagina is

an absence
a space
Holes and hunger!
Food, a penis, a baby:
I need to fill my holes
I cannot think until it is over;
this obsession is blinding my mind.

Let my blood flow. Let me give birth to myself. Let me return.

'PMS: Part 2'

PMS hits me.
I'm unaware and unprepared
every time.

(I forget, I change.)

Cravings without hunger;
exhaustion without tiredness;
tears without sadness.

I do not graze, I gorge.
I have no energy.
I cry.

Yes, I am utterly enslaved by my body.
It will not let me go.
I am trapped until my blood runs out.

'PMS ends'

I cannot control the floodgates.
Suddenly, I am bleeding.
I am a leaky vessel.
My blood is uncontained.
I flow in pain.
It is my time, but I did not choose it.
E M - UK

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Hysterectomy for PMDD by Jennie. Readers Q&A

A question about Hysterectomy and a response from Jennie, who has had a hysterectomy for PMDD.
Many thanks for creating such a great website.  I've just begun the hormone treatment but I've decided if this doesn't work I'm going to have a hysterectomy.  Have you had this done or decided to just live with it?
Uterus Body Painting by Bethany Roberts
I personally decided not to go down the hysterectomy route,  I tried out the Zoladex injections for 3 months and became very ill.  It was the blackest 3 months of my life and I ended up with many more sucidal thoughts than normal.  To help the withdrawal off the injections and to try and stabilise my mood, I was given lithium.  The whole experience was terrifying.  Having said that, I didn't have great support while I was on it.  No 'experts' looking after me, so it was a very unpleasant experience in my eyes.  I had got to a point where I believed there was only one way to go.  Only one option left.  Surgery.

When the hormone therapy didn't work for me I was devastated, I thought my life line had been cut.  But things changed, I began to change, and I found other ways to live with and manage the PMDD.  It's not easy, but with my body free from all medications I can be more in control.  The decision to live with it rather than go down the surgery route has been made easier with the easing of symptoms and family support.  I work with my cycle now, my life has been transformed and I am glad I didn't go for surgery.
To give you another view point, I passed your question over to Jennie Webster.  Jennie has been working really hard to raise awareness in Scotland for NAPS and PMDD in general, and she has always supported me and my projects.  Jennie recently had a hysterectomy and spent time on hormone therapy, so  I felt she was better qualified to provide an real honest answer about going down that route!
Jennie writes;
I spent nearly 5 years on hormone therapy to treat my PMDD. I used GnRH (Gonadotropin-releasing hormone) Analogues which are injections to shut down the ovaries, stop the menstrual cycle and induce a medical menopause.

These injections worked really well for me and whilst I had some issues regarding the add back HRT, I felt more like myself on this treatment than I ever have. I couldn't take any form of progesterone whilst on the injections so I had unopposed oestrogen for many years.

My gynaecologist kept a close eye on things enabling me to have regular ultrasounds to monitor my endometrium (womb lining). For a while, everything was okay but, eventually my luck ran out and I was told I had hyperplasia which is an overgrowth of cells on the endometrium. Because it was so severe, the only treatment option available to me was a total hysterectomy. I had been avoiding this surgery for years but knew that I would go down this path eventually, however, it still came as a shock.
I had the surgery in November 2012 and I don't regret it for a minute but I am now in surgical menopause and it's no picnic. I had my ovaries removed during the operation (the ovaries are responsible for the production of hormones which cause PMDD) and this means that I was thrown into menopause overnight.
I started my oestrogen only HRT again but as it takes a while for the blood levels to even out and due to previous reactions to HRT, I have to take it slowly. It’s a fine balancing act which I am only too happy to spend some time doing, but in the meantime, my body is crying out for oestrogen. I am having hot flushes, headaches, night sweats, joint pain and extreme tiredness which are all well known menopausal symptoms. I am also having mood swings (swinging between happy, sad, angry and more, rapid style) which is all down to hormonal imbalances. It seems unfair that I have spent my life suffering because of the hormones that my body produced and now I am suffering because of the hormones I am putting back in to try and have a healthy life. I am hoping to have this balance achieved very soon.
I need oestrogen to protect my bones and heart as I have gone through the menopause at a young age.  Swings and roundabouts. Every time I catch myself feeling low I try and turn my thoughts into happy ones but I’m finding it hard as I am still tired from the surgery.
The surgery really is the last option, the end of the road, the only documented real “cure” for PMDD, but I urge anyone who is considering it to be 110% sure that this is the road they want to take. It may be stating the obvious, but it's irreversible. My ability to bear a child has gone forever, I will be on HRT for the next 20 years and I run the risk of osteoporosis and premature heart disease.
There are many other ways to manage PMDD and, in my opinion, surgery should be seen as the very last resort.
Would I do it all again if I had to? Absolutely, but everyone is so individual. Please, if you are considering the operation, ensure you have thought long and hard about it and make sure that it is the right decision for YOU.
My thanks to Jennie for sharing her story.  I hope that helps some of you considering having a hysterectomy for PMDD. 

Friday, 16 May 2014

The Edge by Caroline *Guest Blog*

I'm standing barefoot, I can feel the grass under my feet. My toes are curled over the edge, another few inches and I'd be teetering.

The 'edge' is a desperate, consuming place where I feel that this is it. Sometimes I've walked towards it throughout the day, others I've woken up & I'm right there staring oblivion in the eye.

In my mind, the 'edge' is for arguments sake 'Beachy Head'. Throughout my day, its my background, it's always there. I can see, feel, hear it.

On the good days, it's sunny, warm, waves lap at the shore. On the darkest days, it's oh so black, cold & unforgiving. But the difference is, is that it's not my background, it's my here and now.

I stand on that 'edge' staring not at rough seas & blackened sky, but at an abyss of nothing and I can feel oblivion pulling me in. I don't want to be consummed by it, but sometimes I don't have the strength to walk or even crawl away. I've never been pulled in, I've come very close to losing my footing but somehow, something, someone has pulled me back.

I never stand on the 'edge' when the sun's shining & twinkling on the water, because I'm having a better time over there with family, friends, my life.

I'm managing oblivion, I'm repelling it & living my life, those days are the good ones.
The 'edge' is my background, somewhere where I don't want to go.
Today is not an 'edge' day. Today is the beginning of making me strong, resiliant, worthy of more than oblivion.

West Sussex, UK

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

The PMDD Underground by Rachael *Guest Blog*

My hormonal shifts are like a day trip to London. I am in a euphoric, happy state when I am above ground, then the tube ride symbolises the worsening of my symptoms before the final rush of relief.

Day 1 to 15… (approximately!)
I am up early and have already done a million jobs. I am above ground, ready and excited for the day ahead. I am looking at the famous landmarks and drinking in the astonishing history and culture; reading everything, hungry for knowledge and experience. The weather is chilly, but sunny and the hustle and bustle of commuters and tourists is interesting, purposeful, comforting, inspiring. I go clothes shopping and everything fits; looks stylish, trendy and flattering. I have lunch with friends; I choose a healthy selection of foods and I feel empowered and happy. I am intelligent, chatty and funny; I smile at the world and the world smiles back. I walk with my head held high and a confident swagger, secure in my life’s purpose: proud to be British, proud to be alive.

Day 16-day 28… (approximately!)
I descend the steps to the underground… people push past me and I trip, dropping my handbag and a million different painkillers spill out (none of which work), along with a lipstick which looks ridiculous on me anyway. Seriously, can you WATCH WHERE YOU ARE GOING YOU TOTAL IDIOTS!? Does this little old lady NEED to be walking in front of me right now?

Calm down I tell myself… they’re just people… going to work, going shopping, doing all the same things they normally do- it’s you that’s changing. I descend a few more steps…. Phew! Why does it have to be so HOT down here, seriously what is WRONG with the world??

I fight the crowds to purchase my ticket… how much?? That CANNOT be right, surely? Oh and when did this dress get so tight? My boobs feel like they’re going to explode. Everyone is looking at me and wondering what the hell I’m doing here, I don’t deserve to be using this service…just look at me!

I stand on the platform; everything goes into slow motion. I am alternately hot and cold, anxious and fidgety and nauseaus, angry and fighting back tears…. Oooooh look, a vending machine!! I NEED CHOCOLATE NOW!! It’ll make everything better, it couldn’t be worse. No-one cares if I put on weight; no-one fancies me or likes me anyway. What are you staring at??? Sod off… you’d eat chocolate too if you had my rubbish life.

Looking at the digital countdown on the clock, next tube in 2 minutes… I am relieved and scared at the same time. What if there’s a big push? I can’t handle being squished between strangers with BO and trendy skinny girls with their exciting lives and amazing shoes. 1 minute 30 seconds… I can literally feel time passing.

The tube arrives, I’m not ready for it. I don’t really want to go there anyway… I try to turn back but my way is blocked and I have no choice but to get on. Oh the NOISE!! The pain of the screeching brakes and the flashing lights. My head is going to explode! I feel panic rising and I do not know what to do…
Then it all goes quiet, the tube goes through a tunnel. Everything is black and cold, like the end of the world. I feel like I’m on the Hogwarts express and the dementors are feeding off every happy memory. Well, at least you don’t have to go through this every friggin’ month Harry!!! I want to cry and cry and I have no idea what for. I can’t even see or hear another human being; I am all alone.

The train begins to slow, the lights flicker on and faces emerge from the darkness. They are kind, friendly and familiar. My breathing returns to normal and I start to take an interest in my surroundings. Oh fab, I’ve just found an apple in my bag. I do like my hair like this, it’s looking nice today. Slowly, gradually, normality returns and I leave the tube station, emerging once again into the light.

There… that wasn’t so bad….was it? I enjoy a blissful few hours in the sunshine before I have to go home again. But how? Maybe I can take a bus? A boat? Steal one of Boris’s bikes? Mount a zebra from the London zoo and bareback it up the M25? No… there’s no option, it’ll have to be the tube.
I psych myself up… ready? 3…2…1…

Rachael, UK.

Monday, 12 May 2014

PMDD: one of evolution's unfortunate developments by E M

I was furious, upset, and most of all confused, stuffing random objects into an overnight bag while my partner sat staring at me, amazed. Why doesn’t he care? I thought, why does he just sit there, while I suffer this way. Because of him. With all of my being I hated him; I despised him. All of the love I usually felt toward him was gone, and I was terrified. I am no longer in love, I thought; I am devoid of love. Hatred, anger and fear were my primary emotions, and confusion fuzzed them all up in a most disconcerting manner. Strangely, I also wanted to laugh. (Women: hysterical, hormonal lunatics? Never! How I hate being controlled by my own body.) My partner was sighing with frustration and saying things like Don’t go, where are you going? I told him that it didn’t matter, since he didn’t care anyway. About an hour later, I was lying on the sofa, crying, while he went back to sleep in the bedroom. He didn’t care about me; he’d rather sleep than comfort me. Everything I thought made me cry harder. I didn’t leave, in the end. Instead I took some painkillers to numb my mind and rather ashamedly unpacked my bag.

The above paragraph is a true representation of the sort of situation that occurs monthly for me. I have PMDD, and it attempts to destroy my relationship every moth. Sometimes I think that it’s an evolutionary thing; that, because my partner has failed to impregnate me, my body’s response is to try to push him away in order to make way for a new, fertile mate for when I next ovulate. Now, I do think that theory makes a lot of sense, but it doesn’t really help me. The fact is, I can’t have a child at this point in my life; and even if I could, doing it to avoid PMDD is surely not the best reason to have children. Do I feel resentment toward my partner when I experience PMDD? Always. Usually – and this began long before I even thought about or heard about the theory above – I start to doubt his long-term commitment to me, and feel that he doesn’t earn enough, save enough or do enough. I think that he doesn’t love me and is only in this for the sex. I worry that he is cheating on me, that he isn’t interested in me. I have all sorts of conflicting and disturbing thoughts. Now, it’s not that I never have these thoughts unless I’m in the PMDD phase, but usually I can keep a handle on these thoughts and if they do arise, they aren’t serious concerns, they don’t bother me much and I don’t act on them. But that couple of weeks before my period arrives, I am often simply unable to ignore any little thing that happens or keep a sense of perspective. PMDD takes away that control, that perspective. Like many PMDD sufferers, I feel like Jekyll and Hyde. I fear, as King Lear said, I am not in my perfect mind. I believe that PMDD heightens any concerns I have regarding my ‘mate’ and is a way of saying: You’re not pregnant – find a more suitable man. PMDD is a warning to me and a deterrent to my mate.
But in our society, PMDD is not an evolutionary advantage; it is not helpful. For the many women who are physically, mentally, emotionally or financially unable to have children, have already had their children or who do not want children at all, PMDD merely destroys many facets of life with no benefit to the sufferer or the sufferer’s society. The interference in my relationship with my partner is by far the most destructive aspect of PMDD, for me. I worry that my body will successfully drive him away, that he will eventually give up on me, having to endure my hormone-crazy self every single month. I have actually come to long for my period to come so that it can all be over again – that’s how serious PMDD is. Compared to the emotional pain of PMDD, the physical pain of a period is a breeze

by E M, UK.

Sunday, 11 May 2014

A Career in Tatters by Jane *Guest Blog*

Looking back the clearest marker for the beginning of my battle with PMDD began following the birth of my second child (aged 30). At the time I believed I was suffering with straightforward Postnatal depression, but I now know that I am extremely sensitive to rapidly fluctuating hormones; so it follows that this was the likely trigger underlying my development of PND. It would also explain the terrible mood swings of the first 13 weeks of this pregnancy. I wondered what an earth was happening to me. I now know that all of this was likely caused by the fact that I am intolerant to the hormone progesterone ( as are a lot of women with PMDD).

Bouts of anxiety and depression were then constant features of my life from this time onwards. Unaware of PMDD, I put this down to the multiple stresses in my life at the time and for many years did not identify the pattern underlying my symptoms. I think the problem was muted in the early years after my sons birth, by the fact that I was on the combined contraceptive pill (so blocking ovulation), and I muddled along for a couple of years never feeling great, but able to manage.

I am a registered nurse and had been qualified for 4 years when my son was born. At the time of his birth I was working in the intensive care unit of the busy city hospital and for the most part loved my job. However following my return to work from maternity leave, I never settled back into it in the same way. I often felt out of place, overwhelmed and regularly felt unable to connect with my colleagues. I now know that these are symptoms of my PMDD, but at the time all I knew was that I was struggling both at home and at work.

I decided that the intense role of ICU nurse was not suiting me now I was a new mother, and decided to apply for a position on one of the surgical wards. When my son was 10 months old, and a couple of months after starting my new job; I nosedived headlong into PND and was off Work for two months. I was prescribed antidepressants and started feeling well enough to get back to work.

Although feeling so much better than I had been during my lowest phase, I don't feel I ever returned to the person I had been before my son was born. I plodded (no probably jogged and stumbled) along life's path juggling working full time with bringing up my young son and teenage daughter. I decided to take a change of direction and embarked on the challenge to try and fulfill my ambition to become a Health Visitor (I have had this ambition since the birth of my daughter when I was a young mum of 18, with a volatile, unsupportive partner and my Health Visitor was an inspiration to me).

So when my son was 2 years old, I took a change of direction and successfully obtained a position working as a trained nurse with the Health Visiting team. I did this for 2 years and then successfully applied for my Specialist Health Visiting degree. Midway through the year, I stopped my contraceptive pill because having completed our family, my husband underwent a vasectomy. On reflection, I can see that this is when my PMDD took on a life of its own, and my mental health went spiraling downwards.

At the time, I never made the link...I remember initially feeling better for ditching the pill, and enjoying an uplift in mood and libido. However, I can see now that this was probably prior to my first ovulation. Shortly after this, I remember a rapid increase in anxiety, and days where I just felt completely socially phobic, and unable to connect with anyone. At the time, I put these symptoms down to a stressful course and a bad practical placement. After an initially great start, my coping ability started spiraling downward, and I reached the point where I just felt like I could not go on anymore. I remember several occasions where I was driving home and just felt an overwhelming urge to drive the car into a tree. Despite this I kept the mask in place as much as possible, and limped on scared to ask for any help for fear of the impact any support for mental health problems would have on my chances of securing a post at the end of the course. I started taking St Johns wort for mood, and stumbled on through the fog.

Against all odds I qualified, and secured a full time post. Three months later, I broke down at work and had to take two weeks off. Thus began my relationship with antidepressants. I started on medication which did help lift my mood, and keep me from falling into the black pit of despair totally. Still not realizing the link with my hormones, I seemed to spend most of my time in a state of high anxiety. I had days where my self esteem was at an all time low and I struggled to meet the requirements of my role. I managed another 6 mths before once again I could keep going no more, and ended up totally falling apart at work having to have 3 mths off sick with my mood at an all time low. Looking back, I can see that this day where I fell apart was probably either post ovulation, or pre menstrual but the fall out from this experience was huge in that, I felt a complete failure, and it took me a long time to pick myself up.

On my return to work, still none the wiser about the link with my hormones...I spent another year just coping as best as I could with high levels of anxiety and low self esteem. My colleagues got used to me dissolving into tears at times, and behind the scenes, I would go home and once again...pull myself up by my boot straps and go in the following day and cope the best I could. The most serious consequence of this time was almost certainly the fact that all my energies went into getting through my work day, and then I would get home and almost shut down with exhaustion. This was hard on the whole family. Looking back, and knowing what I know now; I really don't know how I kept going for so long.

I ended up having to take another extended period of sick leave when I broke down at work and disclosed to my manager that I had considered taking an overdose the night before. At this time I regularly fantasized about death, and when thought it was quite normal to think..." Oh well if things get too bad, I can always end it all". It is frightening reflecting back now how easily that state of mind became my normal, and I could dee now way out. Not long after this, I finally noticed the link with my menstrual cycle. It became apparent that my worst times were the last two weeks of my month. So here started a new battle...the one with the health professionals.

When I mentioned it too my GP, she took it on board initially and asked me if I had tried any natural remedies. I replied that I had, and that was the extent of the support I received. She agreed to put me back on Yasmin (the combined pill) which I had read was rated as being a good choice for women suffering with PMS. This did improve things for a while, but completely killed my any libido, and left me feeling pretty flat most of the time. However, it kept me functioning and that was the important thing.

After a while, I noticed symptoms returning with more force, and worst of all...I was experiencing regular bouts of extremely low mood. These episodes would often take me by surprise and happen out of the blue. It meant that my work and general confidence and mood began to suffer as a result. The worst thing was that I had just started in a new NHS trust to try and leave my memories and undermined reputation behind. I really thought that if I stayed on the Yasmin until menopause, I would be sorted.

It was not to be however, and once again my ability to function both at home and at work took a nose dive. I regularly was to be found locked in the toilet trying to stop crying and pull myself together. I struggled terribly with the social aspect of the workplace terribly, with social and agoraphobic type symptoms, anxiety and paranoia. My sleep was awful and this just added to the struggle. I thought my colleagues must see me as jekyll and hyde, as my persona's varied so much from day to day, hour to hour.

On asking the GP if I could be referred to a gynecologist for my PMDD, she just replied "they won't do anything" and that was it...end of the road as far as she was concerned.
I was so desperate by this point after once again breaking down, unable to continue at work; that I went online and found a private menopause and PMS specialist in London...  Professor Studd.
I took the bull by the horns and rang and booked a consultation with him. In the end, I decided that it may be expensive, but without a job I wouldn't be able to afford anything so it was worth it.

The following month saw me heading up to London. I have to say it was the best decision I have ever made. For the first time I felt acknowledged and "normal."
He took a history and promised me that I would soon be feeling a lot better. I was prescribed oestrogen to boost my dwindling levels and suppress my cycle. I noticed the difference by the following mood felt boyant for the first time in ages. This incredible turnaround lasted a month or so, but then unfortunately my cycle kept breaking through leading to all the old unpleasant symptoms breaking through.

I went back up to see the Professor, and he clarified that my oestrogen levels were not high enough to suppress my cycle, so suggested an implant. I agreed to this and requested a mirena coil to provide the necessary opposing progesterone due to my intolerance issues. Unfortunately, I never benefitted from the increased oestrogen and gradually realized that this must be due to the mirena coil. Despite the progesterone level from the mirena being very small, it was having a very detrimental effect on me. I felt anxious all the time, slept poorly, felt flat in mood and had absolutely no libido whatsoever. I also bled continuously from the time it was put in.

During this time I was still off on long term sick from work, and the side effects from the mirena meant that I was not stable enough to build up the confidence necessary to get back. Consequently I ended up needing 5months off before I once again returned to my role. I decided to have the mirena removed and again almost overnight noticed the improvement in my mood and overall well being. However I was still suffering PMDD symptoms for all but about 5 days off the month. The most frustrating aspect of my PMDD is that I get two peaks of symptoms each month...once just after ovulation for about 24 hrs, then symptoms recede for up to a week and come on with avengance in the build up to my period. This just created havoc with my work life, and meant that I just used to pray that my days of worst symptoms would fall on my days off.

By now I realized that it was unrealistic for me to keep returning to London having to pay accommodation and transport, as well as the consultation fees. Again with no support from anyone except the fantastic forums I found on face book, I decided to ring the local private city hospital and ask them if they had a gynecologist or endocrinologist that specialized in PMS or menopause. Luckily they were able to suggest a female gynae that I could contact who had a clinic based in Truro Cornwall. So once again I was forced to go private to get the support I needed. I couldn't recommend Dr Gray highly enough though...she is so thorough and knowledgeable and took the time to explain everything to us clearly too.

So due to my progesterone intolerance and extreme sensitivity to fluctuations in oestrogen level, it became apparent that ovarian suppression with a GnRh analogue.
I therefore started ovarian suppression treatment with Zoladex which with add back oestrogen gel, finally effectively stabilized my PMDD symptoms. The plan was that if this worked then a referral for a full hysterectomy be made. The next challenge was to try and convince a surgeon on the NHS to take me on. This was the most stressful of times. It was so hard knowing what needed to happen for me to be able to carry on with my life successfully, but equally knowing that that it may not be possible to convince an NHS surgeon that My uterus would need to be removed Too due to the fact I am unable to tolerate progesterone. Thankfully Dr Gray was able to recommend a surgeon that she had known operate on a similar case previously. She sent a referral letter which my GP then forwarded on, and my anxious wait began.

Thankfully the referral was accepted, and I am due to have a full hysterectomy on April 19th.  Unfortunately the future of my career is hanging in the balance somewhat, as Despite hoping to carry on in post until my surgery; this was not possible. The Zoladex lost its effectiveness at suppressing my cycle after a couple of months, so PMDD was once again back in my life. A month before writing this, I had to give up my battle to keep going at work and once again had to go off sick. My sickness record is critical, my reputation tarnished and my professional confidence at an all time low. My work future following my hysterectomy is very uncertain, but at least bit by bit, without the presence of PMDD... I can start piecing my life back together.

Jane, UK.

Saturday, 10 May 2014

April, May....sun or showers... what’s it gonna be today? by Sarah *Guest Blog*

Interestingly, as I sit and type this, I wonder how many other women have gone to write something only to turn away from their keyboards for fear of recrimination in doing so.  Perhaps fear that wearing their heart on their sleeves will open up a whole hornets’ nest.    Fear of being judged by people who know little about PMDD but say a lot.  Fear of bosses who may think you are not capable of “doing the job”....after all there is a recession.  Fear of friends turning their backs or treating you differently.   Or perhaps it’s the fear of the real truth of PMDD, it’s symptoms and consequences.      In my life too... fear has a lot to answer for.

The biggest fear for me is Anger itself as this is my worst symptom of PMDD.  However, as we ride through each month, living with PMDD is different.  Like the changing of the weather, some months, it’s mostly dry with sunshine and just a sprinkling of showers.  But on others, it’s thunder and rain every day.

When PMDD really strikes me hard it’s bad.  A few days prior to it striking I am given a few warning ripples...I start by experiencing  memory loss.  I lack togetherness; my tolerance is lessened and I start to want to back off from the outside world (this is very hard with two children).   After 2 or 3 days of this behaviour IT Starts, it’s here.  Watch out; hide; take cover.     It’s like someone has injected me with a lethal dose of anger inducing drugs.  It’s like your worst nightmare because it is so so hard to control.  It takes over.  You feel bound.  You fight with all your might but it surges forth and it ALWAYS wins and since there is no cure, the only way forward is to ride the wave on a near hourly basis until calm restores itself, until the devil within quietens. 1 day, 3 days, 7 – who knows.   But the devil does go. 
The “you” does come back and I do my utter best to put right what my laser cut tongue has done wrong.
The problem with any mental dis..ease is, people don’t know what to say, how to react, how to help.   They can’t see the physical or mental symptoms from afar.  There are those that are your true friends and they are great.  They listen which is sometimes all you need.   Then there are those that think it’s all made up and we are just using it as an excuse to be angry or to get angry.  I wish I could lend my PMDD out a skin that can be worn, just for a few days to let others experience what it’s like.  But, unlike wearing a new warm coat, this outfit I’m afraid won’t make you feel so good. 
Funny that when I am out of my PMDD time zone, I feel strong, positive that it will be all alright.  I love life.  I love the birds and the trees and snuggling up with my husband and games with my children.     I love hearing their laughter.   But when I am in the midst of this ravaging thunderous storm each and every month, I could quite happily be led out to sea.  What brings me back I am not sure.  But, whatever it is I am merciful.

Next month I will touch on the subject of nutrition and heart coherence but until then, to all those that suffer, I am here with you and for you.  To all those on-lookers, I wish you sunshine and love in your soul.      Have a heart to ask, to care.

by Sarah UK.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

My PMDD by Liz *Guest Blog*

My first experience of periods was a mild 'shock': what is happening to me?

As a teenager, I remember having to leave class sometimes because of the cramps, dizziness, migraine. I also remember feeling very tearful, and much more sensitive to rejection around certain times of the month.

At university I had boyfriends, and they commented that 'I definitely got PMS!'.  I can remember staying in my bedroom crying all evening on occasions, while my bemused boyfriend sat in the living room watching TV. After I finished my degree, I was on a progestogen-only pill at the time, I started charting my symptoms and self-diagnosed myself with PMS.

I started my first job and I was ok for another year or so, until I had another relationship and took a progestogen-only pill again. This one made me drowsy and depressed, and I lost my libido. My ex-boyfriend and I argued a lot when I had PMS. He didn't understand it made me dopey/scatty, and so got annoyed when things went wrong which weren't my fault, just misunderstandings on my part because i wasn't really 'with it'! After I came off that pill, my moods were worse again. I started developing 'monthly' depression and lots of other symptoms, including hot flashes during my period.

So I started seeing GP's and gynecologists, trying to get some help for the moods. A long road, since none of them seemed to understand that PMS could be that much of a problem, or would admit to me that contraceptive pills had side-effects! Because they didn't listen to me, it felt like a constant battle, not what you need when you feel low anyway! Sometimes you do really have to fight to get what you want, especially with poorly recognised conditions like PMDD. It is worth spending time looking for a sympathetic doctor though.

My main symptoms are anger, depression, fatigue, migraines, feeling overwhelmed, or uncomfortable & restless and unable to concentrate on anything. On top of all that, I feel quite lonely when I have PMS. It's hard to explain to people that you are feeling 'crap' because periods are a taboo subject, especially with most men. People think you are weird if you talk about your hormones, or call you a hypochondriac. So you feel shit but aren't allowed to talk about it with out risking a negative reaction. People are a stress-trigger, and so I am more wary of social situations when in PMDD phase, and so it's easier to distance yourself. But during my period is also when I feel most needy, I guess i want to be looked after and have the pain 'taken away'. I also crave affection more. So I feel torn between wanting to be around people but also feeling unsociable and ill.

In the past, PMDD has made relationships more difficult because of the mood swings, but I've been more depressed when I've been alone. A therapist said any illness can put you more in touch with subconscious feelings, and that the psychological defenses come down. So perhaps what I am feeling, isn't completely irrational or pointless. Even my mum said that PMS may make you 'overreact' but the trigger is still real. In the past i've spent too much time feeling guilty and apologising for my moods, when sometimes they may have been caused by other people's behaviour. I've blamed too much on my hormones (and therefore myself).

The reptilian/primitive part of the brain controls our basic emotions (love, hate, fear, lust). In experiments where people have to make a decision on a computer simulator and have had a brain scan at the same time, the unconscious parts of the brain make the decision, and the 'conscious/thinking part' of the brain lights up afterwards, giving us the illusion that it has made the decision. I think it's the same when you feel depressed, the 'thinking part' of your brain is looking for reasons for your bad mood. This may be why you blame people around you, or self-blame (depression). I don't think it's true for me that negative thoughts cause depression, negative thoughts may come from trying to rationalise my mood. Many illness's and drugs can cause 'biological' depression.

I was lucky to see Dr Panay,  to receive HRT treatment for PMDD, which hasn't cured my moods completely but I don't suffer from the suicidal lows that I used to. Although I took this in conjunction with seeing a psychotherapist and swimming regularly, which may have helped too. I used to think "why see a shrink for something biological?" But if you can afford it, it does help having someone to talk to. And the mind and body are not separate entities, they are linked.

Bad relationships, work stress and contraceptive pills have always made PMDD worse for me. And I've worked hard recently to rid my life of stressful people and to have more control over my life. The same with men. On the whole I feel positive and happy at the moment but the oestrogen implant will wear out of my system in 6 months time, so we will see. I stopped HRT treatment because I became intolerant to progesterone. I have already noticed my concentration dropping at work.

Given hormones aggravate other illness's and psychiatric disorders, it could be that PMDD just intensifies existing problems. Or it could be biological, or caused by lifestyle (not enough sunlight/diet/the contraceptive pill?). Perhaps it has many causes. Whatever the cause, it's extremely distressing and prevents some women from fully living their life. And it would be great if they did more research into it, especially as hormones play such a big part in our personality and behaviour.
Liz, UK.
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