Handle It. Five Tips to Managing PMDD and a Career.

I want to preface this blog by saying that people who genuinely cannot function due to their mental health are not bad people. Nor do I think that they are lazy or have poor character. Mental illness is a disease like any other and exists on a spectrum.

I have often considered printing something like this and putting it on my office door. Maybe it some of the three hundred and seventy- two people who walk through my door each day would think twice and give me five minutes respite. As the full-time Wholesale Director and acting upper level management for a start up apparel company I wear a lot of hats. Not literally though. I look terrible in hats.

I love the challenge and complexity of the job but its stressful. Unfortunately, choosing to not go in because of my PMDD is simply not an option. So … what does one do? Quitting will not pay the bills and PMDD has not been declared a disability. I want to be more than just a blip on humanity’s radar. I need the money. I also need the challege keeping my overactive imagination busy with productive problems. I have to manage this disease, the depression, the anxiety and the suicidal ideations. I do not take medications and so I came up with a list in regards to my current PMDD management plan:

  1. Tracking Symptoms. – Get a period tracker. This gives you insight into your cycle. Knowing your body and how you react is going to enable you to control your environment, helping you to fight back a little.  Pay attention to your moods each day during your cycle. Maybe even keep a cycle journal. The Gia Allemand Foundation is working on an app for this right now! So excited.
  2. Self-Care: I’m a mother of two and “me-time” is hard to come by. I deliberately instituted hard 8pm bed-time rules so that Mommy could have a glass of wine (or Sweet Tea during PMDD) on the front porch in silence. I need it. We have a system that we follow every night. Dinner-bath- cuddles- teeth- potty- bed. Sure, things happen but knowing that my scheduled quiet time is coming helps me deal with things that may come up.
  3. Caffeine/Alcohol consumption – My PMDD presents primarily as anger or anxiety in the work place. On those mornings that I wake up feeling dysphoric, I know not to consume coffee. It will only turn up the volume on all of those feelings that I’m fighting to control.  Drinking during that time typically results in my depressive spirals.
  4. Dietary changes- As much as I HATE dieting, it really helps when I take a multi-vitamin and make more vegetable oriented choices during more symptomatic times. Drinking LOTS of water helps a lot too. It gives me more energy to fight back.
  5. Leaving Work At Work- I am a natural over-achiever and so I struggle with this but I have been deliberately not checking my email, responding to work texts or mulling over work problems at home. As a salaried employee the temptation is always there but I have to give my brain some space to process day to day life.  A proper work- life balance will not help you not WANT to give your notice every month but you will have the strength to remind yourself to focus on the positive.

Sometimes having a chronic disorder can feel like you are at war with your body. You only get one. Remind yourself of the reasons that you do this. You are smart. You are worthy of good things and you deserve a life that you own. Live your life on your terms. Do not allow PMDD to give you an excuse to not live the life you deserve.

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