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~Seek first to understand, then be understood~
If you're looking for information on a particular topic, type that word in the search box below. If I have written about that subject, a list of posts will appear. If no posts come up, I haven't written about it...yet. Emails, and questions in the comments section for possible posts, are welcome.
I have a "friend" who shows up once a month. She turns my world upside down, over and over again.
I am a good person, caring and sweet, but when she comes to visit, I could rip off your head.
She takes no prisoners, foul words she does spout, I try to keep the words in, she lets them come out.
People don't understand me, or what this is about, to have this creature inside my head.
I despise who I am, half of the time, I feel sorry for my daughter, family and friends.
There's no way to describe it, for those who don't know, it's a living nightmare, she really needs to go.
~Neysia Manor, Rest in Peace

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Today is World Mental Health Day - PMDD

This from the Gia Allemand Foundation:
Today is #WorldMentalHealthDay and this year's #WorldMentalHealthDay focuses on mental health in the workplace. Coping with PMDD in any aspect of your life is a challenge. Dealing with PMDD at work can be especially difficult.
Maintaining a business demeanor when you are experiencing violent mood swings, fatigue, anxiety, and often physical pain related to PMDD can seem an impossible thing to do. You may find that you need to be absent from work while your PMDD symptoms are at their most severe. You may wonder if you can do that without losing your job. Thankfully, in the United States, there are some measures you can take to ensure that you can take the time off work that you need in order to cope with your PMDD symptoms without losing your job.
For more information, and for access to valuable tools that may be helpful to you in your journey no matter were you live, please visit this Gia Allemand Foundation page.
Liana adds:  Remember, PMDD is an explanation, not an excuse, and is something that happens to you that you don't have any control over it happening. The only thing you can control is how you respond to your PMDD.  Just know you are not crazy, and that you are never alone.  Even though, I know, it totally feels like you are.  But you are not.  Help is available.  

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Take a Minute, Change a Life

2017 marks the 15th World Suicide Prevention Day. The day was first recognised in 2003, as an initiative of the International Association for Suicide Prevention and endorsed by the World Health Organization. World Suicide Prevention Day takes place each year on September 10. For more information, please visit this page.
To quote from the IASP site, because I couldn't say it better myself: "Life is precious and sometimes precarious. Taking a minute to reach out to someone – a complete stranger or close family member or friend – can change the course of their life.
No one has to have all the answers
People are often reluctant to intervene, even if they are quite concerned about someone. There are many reasons for this, not least that they fear they will not know what to say. It is important to remember, however, that there is no hard and fast formula. Individuals who have come through an episode of severe suicidal thinking often say that they were not looking for specific advice, but that compassion and empathy from others helped to turn things around for them and point them towards recovery.
Another factor that deters people from starting the conversation is that they worry that they may make the situation worse. Again, this hesitation is understandable; broaching the topic of suicide is difficult and there is a myth that talking about suicide with someone can put the idea into their head or trigger the act.
The evidence suggests that this is not the case. Being caring and listening with a non-judgmental ear are far more likely to reduce distress than exacerbate it." (Bold added by Liana.)
Be bold today, and every day. Reach out to someone in need.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

PMDD: Suddenly it All Makes Sense

Now I know why!
I know why two weeks out of every month I am waiting to feel like myself again. I know why for two weeks I suddenly don’t give a crap about anything I was excited or cared about in the weeks before. I know why I feel contempt for everyone and everything when I recently felt so in love with it all. I know why I suddenly doubt my abilities and talents. I know why I isolate myself on certain days…when I just know I’m not going to be able to accomplish the simplest of tasks without getting irritated or downright angry. I know why I am afraid to schedule anything in advance, lest whatever I have to do falls on a day when I am incapable of behaving reasonably. I know why hateful thoughts become so insistent and pervasive despite the fact that just two weeks ago, I was 100% certain I had finally transcended them all. I know why I can’t stand to be touched, when just last week, I couldn’t get or give enough hugs. I know why I suddenly feel so disconnected from my friends, doubt their friendships, and suddenly want to walk out on my husband.
In my quest to understand, I’ve been given plenty of opinions. I’ve heard some labels, and some I even tried to make fit. But in the end, I knew they didn’t. I knew I wasn’t “bipolar”. I knew I wasn’t “borderline” or “mood disordered” (even though that’s still the involuntary category in which I’m pegged). I knew I wasn’t “just imagining things” either. Nor was it the whole story that I was “just hormonal”. Something inside me had changed in the last couple of years and something was happening throughout my menstrual cycle to make me feel like two completely different people. Only recently, it had gotten much worse.
The Fighting Bell Rings
In one corner: a woman full of radiance and quick to smile. She can be so full of love inside herself to the point of bursting. She is centered and enthusiastic, bright and cheerful, optimistic and strong. She’s not perfect, of course, but she’s so okay with that. She’s on top of her thoughts and more than willing to be alive. She is excited about projects and new ventures…even if they are challenging. Anything seems possible…anything reasonable, that is. (She isn’t about to jump off a building or into traffic.) She believes in an abundant universe and that she has something to offer the world. She enjoys the company of others and lives to laugh, create, and feel gratitude. She would never dream of hurting herself or anyone else. She may have bad days, but she recovers quickly.
In the opposite corner: a bedraggled, wild-haired psycho who has to apply every ounce of her will to not lash out…though she eventually does, usually by imploding on herself or exploding at those closest to her. She is the wily animal who shudders at her own hateful attitude as she mourns the loss of her other self. She is the one who simply CAN’T control anything. She is full of shame for her inability to control herself. After all, hasn’t she learned anything? She cannot forgive or forget. Everything is the end of the world. She stomps to feel she exists, yet the very force of her enraged feelings lifts her off the ground. There is no justice, no joy, no purpose, and no comfort to give or receive. All is bullshit. She isolates to protect herself and others from this “thing” that has overtaken her, but life pokes and prods all the same.
Eckhart Tolle, author of The Power of Now, talks about the pain body in his work which comes close to matching the insane being that shows up in my mirror every month. There’s also this idea in spiritual circles about embracing and integrating the shadow-self. I wholeheartedly agree with the importance of doing that. It’s powerful stuff, but I don’t think it is the whole story for me. Always favoring the holistic over the quick fix, I’ve been exposed to a lot of different teachings in my quest for well-being. But none of them have satisfied this itch under my skin that what I was dealing with wasn’t just some egoist resistance on my part, wasn’t just some weakness in my character, lack of awareness in my being, or deep wounding from childhood . In fact, I have LOADS of awareness and more strength than a lot of people. So, something wasn’t jiving.
Something else is going on. Whatever it is, this pain body feels universal…not personal…yet it attacks in a personal way for sure. It isn’t a permanent state of being but it is one that, when I’m in it, feels like the only state of being I will ever know. Sometimes, it turns on a dime…a cruel word, a task gone wrong, a frustration or irritation that sends ever-widening ripples of tension out into my environment…but, and here’s the key, only at certain times within my cycle.
What I’ve discovered is the term PMDD or Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder. Though I don’t agree with a lot of the psychological/medical establishment bullshit (excuse my language…but let’s call it what it is) behind it, it has come closer than anything else I’ve ever encountered to explain what’s been happening increasingly so with me since going through a period of intense and prolonged stress.
I feel like I have to start by saying that I’m not interested in excuses for bad behavior. I’m not looking for a convenient explanation for bouts of anger or anxiety or anything else. I’m not trying to protect my identity as a “got my act together--no problems here” person, nor am I holding my shadow aspects in a closet of denial. I’m not interested in using the label of PMDD to explain away or justify crazy-making, just as I’ve never been interested in the label of “depression” to explain away unexamined pain and the absolutely natural waves of ups and downs that society would rather call a disease than a sign of being human in the world in which we live. What interests me about PMDD is that elements of it actually fit and explains myself to myself.  What fascinates me is that there are other women who feel like I do…that it is a real phenomenon to be examined and explored. It is a real phenomenon to be healed.
I’ve joined a couple of online PMDD groups, and what I’m noticing is that a lot of women feel they have no choice but to treat PMDD with very toxic antidepressants and hormone-related treatments that further disturb the delicate balance of the body. Some even decide to remove a part of their bodies, having hysterectomies, and are overjoyed with the results. I know many women get absolutely ill with vomiting. Why is the newly established “disorder” which was recognized in 2013 seem to be increasingly prevalent? I have my own theories circling around my head…the poisoning of our food supply perhaps or our increasing exposure to radiation and toxins. Who knows?
For me, it is mostly a mood challenge though I also get headaches, stomach aches, sleep disturbance, and other physical manifestations. Nothing like vomiting, thankfully. I feel incredibly blessed by and grateful for the management tools I’ve found that are side-effect free and have a great deal of sympathy for those who are buying into the system of big pharma (whose sole interest is to get everyone on their drugs regardless of whether it actually helps or even does more harm than good) and a patriarchal medical system (with a track-record of locking women away for their complaints). We can be products of the system that would call us “mentally disordered” offering us only what they deem as the answer or we can access inner qualities we can cultivate to cope and turn to more natural therapies until we discover what combination works for us. I know what my choice will always be. And that means that sometimes, I choose to live with a very difficult, very challenging state of being with very little outside assistance at my disposal. So be it.
Not just regarding treatment, PMDD is a hot topic of debate. In addition to being controversial in the medical community, there is, as with all conditions, a lot of general ignorance around PMDD. As I mentioned, it’s only been acknowledged since 2013. Right away, people assume it is PMS with a different name or an excuse for why a woman suddenly gets bitchy, tired or crampy. Or they draw other ill-informed conclusions. One woman made the mistake of sharing her condition with her employer to be told they feared she posed a threat to either herself or coworkers at work. I suspect there are people in their employ at far greater risk of flying off the handle, the ones they’d least suspect. Others are told, even by well-meaning friends, that it is all in the head and are told to chill out or get over it or try some quick fix. Clearly, those who don’t experience it are not in a position to offer advice!
Here’s the thing about PMDD. We may think about bludgeoning judgmental, self-righteous ignoramuses who think they know all the answers, but we tend not to act on it. Good thing, because there are plenty of them around.
Just as I have been (unprofessionally) mislabeled before discovering what is known as PMDD, I am sure there are women ascribing their behavior to PMDD when it truly belongs in another camp altogether. Supposedly, 40% of women who seek treatment for PMDD may have either what is known as PME (premenstrual exacerbation) or even an underlying mood disorder such as bipolar. It’s complicated. Of course, the professionals will continue to debate if any of this is real or not, some kind of anti-female rhetoric or not, or whether it is a mental disorder or not. This just muddies the waters, but what’s to be done? Human beings are intricate and unknowable and this “dis-ease” is extremely complicated because there are so many variables! In the meantime, there are those of us who live the spectrum. There are those of us who know.
Speaking of the spectrum…
There is PMS, the catchall that pertains to the mild, acute fluctuations of mood, irritability, fatigue, appetite changes, and cramping that affect 30 to 80% of menstruating women. It may be uncomfortable, but it is not generally debilitating.
There is PME. This is when a condition from which a woman suffers, such as asthma or an eating disorder, is worsened during PMS. So, PMS disappears after one’s period whereas PME symptoms merely improve.
Now there is PMDD which affects 3-9% of menstruating women. (With a female population of over 3 billion on the planet, 3-9% of those with periods is no small number!) With PMDD, the symptoms associated with PMS become debilitating and can include: depression or hopelessness, anxiousness, irritability, low energy, lack of interest, sleep and focus disturbance, loss of control and feelings of overwhelm, and suicidal thoughts. These symptoms tend to intensify as a woman nears her period and finally begin to abate a few days into her period. Women with PMDD generally feel themselves again for 7 – 10 days after their menses before entering the cycle again.
I’m not crazy about another label…another diagnosis…especially one categorized as a depressive disorder which, to me, shows very little understanding of the scope of symptoms different women have. I’m not crazy about listening to “experts” tell me about myself and never have been. What I am interested in is knowing my own truth for myself, suffering less, finding ways to cope and relate, and living as fully as I can. And I want to help other women reeling with this monthly curse and feeling that they are robbed of half of their lives to do the same.
Do I believe in PMDD? Not as boxed-in psychological babble and checklists, certainly. I’ll never see a doctor for it myself. But it is a condition with which I resonate with unquestionable certainty. I’ve charted my cycles. I know when “the shift” is about to occur. I know when it is over. I know it is linked to my cycle. I know the changes I feel are described by other women who think they have PMDD, too. I know the challenges such changes bring and the impact they have on my life. I know my perspective goes out the window. I know some months are worse than others. And I totally relate to the increasing amplification of symptoms as I near my period and that feeling of complete and utter relief when suddenly the sun is shining again a day into it.
Maybe we need another word for it…one not bound up with so much baloney…one immune to the twisted machinations of men who hate women and women who hate themselves. I don’t know. Here’s what I do know: this is my experience. Maybe it won’t be mine in two years. Maybe it wasn’t mine two year ago. But it is mine now. Bravely facing that self and being open about it with others going through the same experience is crucial. There is power in numbers, and we’ll learn more by exploring this together. If nothing else, maybe the diagnosis of PMDD will simply prove to be a means for women to talk about what being alive as a women today is like for them. That itself is a relief.

Liana's note:  The above guest post was written by the blogger Cheekyminx. With her permission, several of her posts about PMDD are featured on this blog. In the meantime, to find out more about her work as a PMDD Advocate, please visit her Facebook page, PMDD Life Support. 

Sunday, July 30, 2017

CIZE Does Matter - A PMDD Exercise Challenge

For todayʼs guest post, please welcome The Healthy Hackress.  Her PMDD thread will be ongoing, and I will be happy to post updates here, but if you don't want to wait for me, please follow her journey with PMDD and exercise either on her Facebook page or blog.  She also has a lot of great ideas for—What else?—healthy hacks!  Well worth checking into, even if you donʼt have PMDD.
Recently I was diagnosed with PMDD. Here is my journey from diagnosis, to treatment and more importantly, how Cize by Shaun T gave me my life back.
According to research, PMDD affects 2-10% of women during their reproductive years. It’s common. Very common – but misdiagnosed and misunderstood. Thousands of women right now feel at a loss and don’t truly understand why they don’t feel “normal” or worse, why their life literally falls apart starting two weeks prior to their cycle. Isolation, fear and shame are all too familiar feelings of women suffering from PMDD. I am one of them. Do these symptoms seem familiar? Is it you or someone you love?
PMDD is a mood-based hormone disorder that is cyclic and reoccurring. Sounds like a death sentence, right? Imagine, every single month you know “ITʼS” coming. You’re not sure why but two weeks prior your cycle you’re all over the place. It's like ADD meets Bi-Polar for a 2 week fling, then they break up…until next month. You’re clingy. You’re crying one minute, screaming the next, then sitting quietly, unsure of WHAT just happened. Feeling a bit like Norman Bates with those “episodes.”
Seriously – that’s PMDD. If you have a significant other and they haven’t left you already (because, PMDD truly affects all relationships) – then you’re lucky. They feel it too – but they don’t understand.
You don’t need to wait for a medical professional to confirm a diagnosis of PMDD – it’s self- diagnosable. You track your symptoms and report to your doctor. This is a great tracker that you can use from The National Association for Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder [now known as the Gia Allemand Foundation]. Basically, track how you’re feeling before, during, and after your cycle (anxiety, mood swings, irritability, sleep issues, etc). Your doctor is going to ask you to do this – so, if you go in already prepared you’re that much further ahead. This process took me 10 LONG months. Each month I tracked my symptoms so when I went to the doctor they couldn’t turn me away and just tell me, “Everything is normal.”  If you’re living with someone or have close friends/family – ask them to track for, or along with you. When you’re in “IT” – it’s very difficult to emotionally and mentally report back. Having someone point certain behaviors out can be hard – what I mean is, someone is going to tell you the RIGHT thing at the WRONG time – because, you’re not mentally/emotionally grounded. Try to remember – you NEED to hear it. Their unbiased observation is going to provide necessary data for yourself and doctor when treating YOUR PMDD.
Once I had all my data I made that initial appointment and received confirmation that Yes, “It’s PMDD.ˮ Finally, things fell into place and I could breathe a huge sigh of relief knowing I wasn’t crazy. Finally, someone was listening, and everything I had felt was real & important. I had done my research going in. I knew how PMDD was treated. I had questions on top of questions. I needed answers. After all, my children needed their mother and I needed myself. They started me on Yaz—reportedly the only over the counter birth control approved for PMDD. Yes, I know—bad reviews, lawsuits, etc.—BUT, when you’re in the Pits of Hell in the middle of a fight between Bi-Polar and ADD—you’ll try anything to destroy their toxic relationship. I tried Yaz. After my 2nd week both myself and my husband noticed a huge difference. I was less spacey – more clear in my thoughts and finally felt as if I had control. Did I still have anxiety at times? Sure, but mentally/emotionally I could WORK through it opposed to the constant feeling of drowning. Did I have irrational thoughts? Yes, but I was able to work through them. Yaz gave me some mental clarity back. Unfortunately, I developed an irregular heart rate at 145 – even when at rest. Physically, I was breaking down. After an ER visit and a couple visits to the Dr. – I came off of Yaz.
Then I tried Zoloft. *sigh* If you know me – I’m ALL natural—from giving birth naturally to treating headaches with almonds. I’m not huge on medication unless it’s NEEDED. “Well,ˮ I said to myself, “I have to try everything so I know at the end of the day – I did my best.ˮ  3 days later I caught myself staring out my window watching birds & not caring that I was sitting there staring out a window – Kathy Bates from Misery anyone? The things that once made me laugh no longer put a smile on my face. I wasn’t OK with that. I knew I wasn’t ME – bubbly, personable, caring – I wasn’t me. I was only on 25mg and that’s not even the therapeutic recommended dose of 50mg for Zoloft. I then safely decreased (with the support of my Dr.) to 12.5 and discontinued it. Wasn’t for me. That isn’t to say that someone else may not greatly benefit from SSRI’s.
Currently I’m on a different form of HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy) – Continuous Birth Control, which would halt the dramatic changes in hormones and provide balance. I will need to report back on this as this is my newest form of treatment. Along with the birth control I’m taking a Vitamin B Complex, Daily Multi for Women – I Prefer Rainbow. Natural. Plant based. Also, I’ve added 2 TBSP of Ground Flax Seed to my oatmeal in the morning. According to research, Flax Seed can mimic the female hormone Estrogen and provide other benefits such as relief from Depression. In my search for Vitamins and Minerals that could/would provide potential relief from PMDD – I came across some great work by Dr. Mark Hyman – He’s truly fantastic. I’m a Certified PLATE by Zumba Instructor and he provided some of the training. Here is a great article he wrote with vitamins and remedies in helping to relieve PMS/PMDD.
Now, you ask “Why does Cize Matter Again?” I woke up one morning very early. I couldn’t sleep and was just DONE with doctors not knowing how to help. Done with being turned away. Done with being told “Everything is normal.ˮ I was just done. From one failed medication to another I had it and wanted/needed to take control back. Then I watched the infomercial for Cize. I asked my husband to get it for me because I was willing to try anything to get my new self and leave my old self behind. He did. I was nervous and hesitant. After all, I had tried Insanity and Shaun T delivered. He kicked my A$$ and that felt good. This time around I knew I needed something a bit more “me” – this was it. Cize gave me that. From the minute I played the first day I was hooked. Losing weight and becoming a size 5 was no longer relevant. Waking up everyday knowing I could beat my anxiety became my goal.
Each day it became easier. I felt a bit better. I still had the PMDD symptoms – but mentally, I felt stronger than ever. Shaun T will never truly understand what he helped me get back. I’m in week 4 and I feel better. I look forward to my routines with him because I know he’s right there telling me, “You got this.” I know missing a day isn’t acceptable. Each day Cize is my Zoloft, except I don't suffer from any side effects – like staring out a window for 20 minutes or losing the ability to laugh at everything that once brought a smile to my face.
Some women may need some additional SSRI as a support. Please don't take my experience as true for everyone. Don't be ashamed. Each and every woman needs to find THEIR treatment because PMDD for one is VASTLY different for another.  Listen to your body and remember – doctors aren’t always right. Be your own doctor and researcher. Keep a journal of symptoms and never, ever – stop fighting.
This thread will be ongoing. I will keep everyone posted on my 60 day Cize challenge that I intend on making a routine for the rest of my life. Each day I laugh more, feel the fight harder and see the results I’ve been looking for all along. Mental and emotional health are far more important than your physical appearance. That will come in time. Nourish your soul and show yourself everyday that you matter – release those feel-good hormones because exercise and movement is truly the first line of treatment for any disorder.
Don't be ashamed to share your story, ask questions and or seek support. If it isn’t a fight and doesn’t hurt getting it, it isn’t worth it. Fight hard. Remember, it isn’t about the scale, it’s about how you feel!
If you know someone presenting with PMDD symptoms. Reach out. Don’t push them away. Be a support. Share this blog. The biggest and most deficient need of women suffering from PMDD is support. The National Association for Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder provides great support.
Thank you Shaun T for being there & giving me the strength to fight back.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Friends and Family Guide to PMDD -- Things NOT to Say

The following guest post was written by the blogger Cheekyminx. With her permission, several of her posts about PMDD are being featured on this blog. To find out more about her work as a PMDD Advocate, please visit her Facebook page, PMDD Life Support.
This post is for friends and family who want to be supportive of a woman with #PMDD. Here, we've covered things you should NEVER say, out of compassion. No doubt many of you may feel that it doesn’t matter what you say; it’s going to be wrong.
Sure enough, a couple of women responded to our question about what not to say by affirming that everything ticks them off at certain times of the month, so for some of you, your feelings may be justified.
Still, certain words can be hurtful, or even triggering, for a woman grappling with PMDD, whether or not she’s having symptoms. We don’t want to be stigmatized when we’re feeling good nor punched when we’re already down. While it is true that ultimately, our responses to any comments are our responsibility, not yours, those of you wanting to be more understanding towards us might want to abstain from the following phrases.
Once again, we asked women on various PMDD forums for their input. Once again, many of them reported very similar comments as annoying, offensive, or triggering. We’ve analyzed and categorized them to show the types of comments that are counterproductive; there could be many more variations under each heading. Statements in parentheses represent the internal thoughts shared by women on the forums. Depending on how these comments are delivered (and the level of your frustration when delivering them!), they can simply be insensitive or invalidating, or downright cruel and abusive. Do any of these sound like you sometimes?

Self-Anointed Diagnostician
“Is your PMDD here again?” or “Are you on your period?” (as if that explains away legitimate complaints)
“Is it that time again?”
“You must be: bi-polar, borderline, psycho, sick…” or “You need: professional help/to be committed.”
“Oh!!! You got your period then??”
“You are: crazy,  mental, nuts…”
“Did you take your tablets today?” or “Have you taken your meds? Maybe you should take 2!”

Just Get Over It
“Calm down!” or “Just control it!” or “Relax.”
“Your being dramatic; it’s not that big a deal,” or “You’re overreacting,” or “You’re just PMS-ing.”
“You’re so problematic… Why don’t you control yourself?”
“You’re being ridiculous! Are you mad?”
“Be rational. It doesn’t make sense to get so upset over something so small.”
“Stop bitching,” or “Stop being a bitch,” or “Just stop!”
“It will pass.” (Yes, I know. But right now, I need understanding. I feel like shit!)

Now What?
“What is wrong with you now?” or “What’s wrong now?”
“You were fine a few minutes ago,” or “Suddenly you’re in a bad mood?”
“Christ, here we go again!”
"Great. Now what are we supposed to do?"

Please Explain the Inexplicable
 “Why are you: depressed, sad, angry, mad…?”
“Is everything okay?”
“Why can’t you explain what’s wrong?”
“Are you mad at me?” (if only it was as simple as being “mad at you”)

Just Harsh
 “Same old excuse!”
“PMDD isn’t legitimate.”
“You are possessed!”
“You’re just lazy.”
“I can’t stand to be around you,” or “I can’t stand you when you’re like this.” (Great, that makes two of us!)

As I’ve said before, each of us is unique, so use this list to start a conversation with your partner/friend/sibling/daughter/girlfriend/wife during the good days. This way, when the bad days roll around, everyone is prepared…well, as prepared as possible anyway.
In summary, please don’t tell us to “calm down”, “get over it”, or “cheer up”. You’ll only be asking for a fight. If we could calm down and get over it, we’d already be calmed down and over it. Please do not call us “mental” or “crazy” or any other derogatory term related to our mental health. And for God’s sake, do not go around diagnosing us with mental disorders we don’t have. We may very well be acting like we’re nuts, but believe me…we are aware of this and DON’T need the reminder.
Finally, remember that we’re human. And like all humans, we still get angry and have a full range of emotions even when we don’t have PMDD. So please don’t blame everything on PMDD. We can’t. You shouldn’t be allowed to either. .
So, what do you think? Have we got it covered or is there something YOU would like to never hear again?

Sunday, June 4, 2017

An Open Letter to Partners of Women with PMDD

Today I'm honored to host a guest post by Chef Jay, who has decided to help raise PMDD awareness by starting a blog for men about PMDD.  You can find his original post, and others, here. 

Dearest Partners of Women with PMDD,

First of all, let me be clear. This letter does not come with answers or solutions. This is not a "be all & end all" to the chaos of PMDD. Every situation for every woman is different. Ergo (a word not used often enough), no household is the same. After many conversations and emails with men and women around the world, I've realized a few common traits, however. There are similar feelings, circumstances, emotions, issues and experiences...this letter addresses and recognizes them. This note recognizes the real, true emotions and thoughts emanating from the souls of men (and women) coping with a partner with PMDD. This is not a happy letter to make everyone feel better...it's one that draws attention to the mindset reality of living with PMDD. This isn't about me. It's about all of us.

I know you.

You're tired. Exhausted. You feel drained of all energy - emotional, physical, spiritual. Perhaps you feel absolutely nothing at all. You're like a zombie, going through the motions every day. But you're used to it...it's who you've become. You don't like it - you wish you had more energy and lust for life - but you give yourself a daily pep talk to survive the day, praying that today might be better...and you're not even the one with PMDD.

You are constantly on edge. You never know when her hurricane will hit. Predicting how one day to the next will transpire is fruitless. Hour to hour, day to day...hell, even minute to minute, is a pointless exercise. You see her, you love her, you feel for her but you wonder, "What else can I do?" - you've already tried everything!

You've thought about divorce. You've thought about having an affair. You've questioned your life choices...and those thoughts scare the hell out of you. So why do you stay? Why do you remain committed in a relationship that causes you stress and, most likely, shaves years off your life? Perhaps it's because of the words, "...in sickness and health...'til death do us part..." or maybe you're a glutton for punishment or feel, deep down, you can fix her or save her. Possibly, you fear what she'd do if you left. If you have kids, my guess is, you're there for them, more than her.

You've probably heard from her, more times than can count, that she "needs to do (this) or (that) because it might help" - this may include taking a course, going for a run, spending a day or two at the spa, getting massages, nights out with her girlfriends, binge watching Sex & the City or Supernatural, spending a few days here and there away from you (and the kids)...but can you do the same? No. Can you just take off for a few hours and have the day just for you? Probably not. Deep down, you wonder, could she handle the kids for 3 days without me? Your/my gut says no. The time you have out of the house is, most likely, spent getting groceries and doing things that need to be done to make the house and your life a little better.

You don't get enough downtime and, when you do have the opportunity to sit back and chill, your mind's still racing. Most likely, you just want to watch something pointless or mindless, have a beer and fall asleep. The thought of watching a show that has deep thoughts, intellectual content or educational information further stresses you out because your mind can't relax...there's no shut off switch to settle your brain.

You probably don't hear "Thank you" or "I love you" nearly often enough...and, as for, physical expressions of love? Not so much. (Or, at least, not like it used to be). But when SHE wants it, you must provide! Perhaps sex - or any form of intimacy - feels like a chore...another task to complete. Or perhaps, when it finally happens - a moment together, both of you in a positive, awake state of mind - it's a relief...an opportunity to forget about the trials of tribulations of the past few days.

You say words but may not mean them...or they don't have the same feeling behind them like they used to: "I love you" - perhaps it's said so she can hear the words but, your feeling behind them is different. "It'll be okay" - knowing, deep down, it'll get better for her but not for you. Her diatribes, constant needs, argumentative statements, vitriolic, mean words...you'll remember them and hold onto them and think of them all too often. You'll start to believe them - or, at minimum, question who you are based on her hurtful words. You say, "I'm here for you" but, perhaps deep down, you wish at that moment, you weren't. "

You question everything & constantly overthink. When you're sitting on the porch with her, having your coffee or glass of wine, and you hear her sigh heavily, you wonder if that's a sign of impending doom - something dark on her mind, or a coping mechanism to calm herself...or maybe she's just relaxing for the first time in awhile. In any case, you don't ask because "is everything okay?" or "what're you thinking?" or "something wrong?" might set off a chain of events you don't want to deal with.

You constantly look for ways to control your environment - from the way you schedule your day to what you cook for supper or how you organize things around the house. More often than not, when she's in her state, decisions are a further stress and amplify her anxiety. What do you do? You make all the decisions, thinking that'll make life easier for her. Yet, unfortunately, it doesn't often work out that way. Perhaps it's her response of "you should've asked/told me" or "why didn't you let me know?" or "if you loved me you'd have..." Friends may say, "Damned if you do, damned if you don't" but, to you, it had to be done. Survival instinct kicks in and you do what you need to do.

On the good days, when she's positive, upbeat, full of energy, revitalized, you struggle to enjoy the moment...you don't know how long it'll last...you fear the bubble popping...you're still on edge and, most likely, get down on yourself for not being fully present with her. Even when you know you SHOULD be enjoying yourself, you can't.

You're not fully present on a good day. You're not fully present when you're supposed to be having fun or enjoying life. But you ARE fully present when you're surrounded by her chaos, negativity, anger, frustration and darkness. Think about that for a moment:

You're only fully alive when you're being torn down, when your life force is being given to someone else, when every moment of your day is spent making sure your partner (and your household) lives to see another day.

You probably mutter or mumble under your breath as you walk away from her...things you wish you could say out loud but, knowing the damage they'd do to both of you, respecting her mental state, you keep it to yourself, tucking it deep inside where the feelings fester and ferment. Maybe those words of resentment will go away...or, maybe they've established a symbiotic relationship with your soul. These periods of resentment...they grow in number as the years go on...your thought process dips its toes into the murky waters of ire more frequently and easily.

You're constantly seeking an outlet for your tension. Nothing seems to work. Perhaps you go to the gym but, for some reason, you cut your workout short because you're worried about her...or you're too stressed to even relax to workout fully. Or, maybe, you go for a pint with your mates but, you're not fully present...your mind is elsewhere, wondering if she's okay. And you cut your night short because you know you need your energy to deal with the next day.

You feel guilty when you do something for you. Whether a ball game or buying something online, you wonder how she'll react or what she'll think or if she'll resent your 'selfish' ways. So you begin doing less and less for yourself, channeling your energy into your family and her.

If you have kids, you wonder what they'll remember about life in the house, growing up. Will they remember how Mommy hardly slept in the same bed as Daddy? Will they remember how Daddy would always wake them up in the morning, get them dressed, make them breakfast, pack their lunches, cook supper, clean the kitchen, do the laundry, get the groceries? Or will they remember that Daddy didn't have enough time to play with them because of everything he did to make the house function?

You cry. Sometimes there are tears streaming down your face or sometimes you're crying on the inside. But, regardless, you're sad. You're upset - at yourself, at her, at a higher power, at anyone, at no one - yet you keep it to yourself. It's your burden. Perhaps you feel like you asked for this. Perhaps you believe this is your own private challenge. Know you're not alone. There are people out there to help. People are there for you. They want to help...they're waiting at your doorstep...it's up to you to let them in.

This letter is part vent, part affirmation. Maybe you've had some (or all) of these thoughts. Maybe you can't relate at all. In any case, you aren't alone. Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, strength builds from pain. For whatever your reasons, your resolve to remain committed to someone struggling with the very fabric of being, is powerful. While my words may not be enough, you are a great person, standing beside someone who needs you more than words. You may not hear it enough or feel it or even believe it but your presence is an amazing gift - not only to her but to the universe. You make her world - and the world around you - a better place.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

May is Mental Health Month - A Primer on PMDD

The following guest post was written by the blogger Cheekyminx. With her permission, several of her posts about PMDD are being featured on this blog. To find out more about her work as a PMDD Advocate, please visit her Facebook page, PMDD Life Support.
Many women the world over experience the usual discomforts associated with the premenstrual cycle. PMS is a well-known condition that often includes irritability, bloating, and physical pain. But if you feel like PMS takes you out of commission every month, there may be more to it for you. Could you be one of the growing numbers of women who realize they are suffering from Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder, or PMDD? What many women, and indeed many doctors, do not know is that in 2013, PMDD was officially recognized as a mood disorder (this classification will have to do for now) experienced by about 10% of all women who menstruate.
Now word is getting out. So how do women who have PMDD discover they have it? PMDD is caused by a sensitivity to normal hormone fluctuations rather than a hormonal imbalance, and getting tested for hormone levels usually reveals nothing. Many women discover it when they are at their wit’s end, having tried birth control, antidepressants, and other treatments to target symptoms they often think are the result of something else…like bipolar disorder or depression. In fact, many women with PMDD report not only PMS-like symptoms that are extreme and debilitating, but also much more dramatic and difficult-to-manage changes in mood and thought patterns, often leading to misdiagnosis. But intuitively, they know there’s something about their monthly cycle that seems to be playing a role, so they begin to chart their symptoms.
These symptoms are numerous and vary from person to person but generally involve anxiety, increasing irritability, hypersensitivity of the senses, depression, rage and other uncontrollable emotions. Thoughts can become insistent and feel “uncharacteristic” to the person having them. It is as though the mind becomes polluted, distorting everything. PMDD also seems to exacerbate underlying medical conditions, making it unique to every woman and can include dizziness, sluggishness, bloating, heavy bleeding, and sore muscles. But by and large, it is the increasing loss of patience and intensifying irrationality that makes PMDD such a nightmare, not only for the women, but for the people they love.
In fact, many find that during the 10-15 days of their hormonal sensitivity, they lose interest in their partners…not just sexually, but often to the extent of detesting them altogether. Some report regularly breaking up with their partners on a monthly basis. This Jekyll and Hyde transformation wrecks havoc on relationships of all kinds, not just romantic ones. It’s difficult for mothers to parent and for employees to continue with duties as usual. Overwhelmed by fatigue, cravings, paranoia, or even suicidal thoughts, normal life remains out of reach until the sensitivity ends, usually with the onset of menses–though there is debate the sensitivity fluctuates for some women at other times in their cycle. What’s important to realize is that the symptoms do disappear, sometimes instantaneously, whether it is the day the menstrual cycle starts or several days later. And suddenly, things are back to normal…but often leaving a great deal of destruction behind. In fact, women with PMDD often feel as though they spend two or more weeks a month in hell and the other two or less making up for it.
Think you might have PMDD? Here’s what you’ll want to do:
1. Start by paying attention to your cycle and taking notes. Get yourself a pocket calendar or use and app like iPeriod or PMS Tracker. Then start keeping track. When do symptoms hit? When do they stop? What are the main symptoms and to what degree are they experienced? Do they progressively get worse? Think not just of physical symptoms. Consider your emotional and mental states as well. Are you more prone to tears or anxiety? Is it more difficult to think positively? Have others commented about a change in your mood?
2. Take several months of your notes with you to your doctor if you decide to take a Western approach. Explain that you think you may have PMDD. If he or she dismisses you, find another doctor–one who will help you determine whether or not you have it, explain your options (they aren’t all that great at the moment and there is no known cure), and work with you to help you cope.
3. Educate yourself and find additional support. As a relatively new disorder, there is still much to be discussed and researched about PMDD. Read up on it online and talk to others who have it. Women who realize they have a condition with a name to it are usually very relieved when they realize they are not alone…and not crazy! Facebook has several groups, both open and closed, including a support group for family members of PMDD sufferers that offer insight, coping strategies, the latest science, and a safe place to vent.
If you do indeed have PMDD, now that you know, you can give yourself the support you need to get through it. It may call for changes in your diet, supplements, exercise and meditation, or even medication. And if you don’t have it? Chances are you know someone who does, and she might not realize what it is. So share what you’ve learned with others and help spread the word about PMDD.