Is This a Fancy or a Feeling?
Before my PMDD diagnosis, my self-esteem was in tiny pieces all over everyone else’s floor. Who am I? Love me! I couldn’t figure out why I was being so irrational and if that was because of who I was spending my time with, or if I was just as screwed up as people seemed to think. After my diagnosis, I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what was just my opinionated personality and which attributes were caused by the PMDD. When you’re dysphoric, it all seems rational.
PMDD comes in a variety of flavors; as many as exist on the personality spectrum. To better understand what aspects of your sometimes less “enjoyable” actions are part of your personality and what is genuinely PMDD, exploring your personality a bit can help. The New York Times wrote an article on the better personality tests out there. There are books upon books about these personality types. Educate yourself. Facts will build your confidence and lessen the post-ovulation tsunami of guilt we all know and love. Isabel Briggs Myers said, “Whatever the circumstances of your life, the understanding of type can make your perceptions clearer, your judgements sounder, and your life closer to your heart’s desire.”
Seeing a therapist that can help you define which ideas are less logical and which are more significant is ALWAYS worthwhile. You can ask them to help develop coping mechanisms that are beneficial as opposed to the choices that can harm you or others.
Having a more technical or analytical approach to PMDD is a coping mechanism for me. I know that I’m erratic at times and so I tell myself, if I can wrap these ideas neatly in a box to share with potential friends, I will sound more sane. The goal, motivating those around me to be more tolerant. It works until I insult them in a panic of dysphoria, accusing them of being a womanizing jerk. Then the potential friend wonders what happened to the rational girl they’ve been friends with for 6 months. I’m working on a balance.
I know it seems helpless but there are ways to manage without a hysterectomy. Self care is mandatory. Making sure your body is running on all cylinders will help to alleviate some of the more manageable symptoms. For example: While you’re ovulating, exercise or cutting back on caffeine can help lessen anxiety and avoiding alcohol can help with managing some of the inevitable depression. You’re already stuck with it. Why make it worse with substances?
What fills your emotional gas tank? Reading a book? Taking a bath? Yoga or taking the dog on a long, quiet walk? Put the kids in front of their favorite movie with a snack and take care of yourself. They’ll live with a little bit of tv time but will you live without it? Justifying self care is especially difficult for parents, but you MUST take that time.
Talking about your symptoms will always alleviate some of your suffering. There are multiple support groups on the internet, including Facebook groups like PMDD Mom’s. Finding other people who know that your intention is not to hurt those around you gives you hope in the really dark moments. These people are also all willing to talk you through your monthly spiral when some of your non-suffering friends start to get a little tired of hearing about it.
If diet and exercise don’t help, try talking to your therapist or primary care physician about your SSRI options. They can refer you to a psychiatrist if you need to explore more complex options like more controlled anti-anxiety medications, and Adderall or Vyvance to help with some of the short term inability to concentrate.
Your health and happiness is valuable. Nothing you have said or done during your dysphoria deprives you of that right. Your life is valuable. If you’re reading this, you’re probably fixating and overwhelmed. Breathe in through your nose.. now out through your mouth.
Say this out loud, “It is all going to be ok. It isn’t hopeless. I just have to keep going.” If you can’t do this, and are genuinely considering suicide, please call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.
You’re not alone my friend. Remember that.
Love and Light,