In my Voices of PMDD series, we spent the summer of 2014 hearing from women with PMDD and their partners, through blogposts describing the struggles and challenges they face monthly. Going into fall, I'd like to focus on some solutions various women with PMDD have found. Since every woman's PMDD is different in the symptoms she feels and the severity of those symptoms, not every suggestion regarding relief will work, but I offer these posts in the hopes that something will strike a chord somewhere, and at least put you on the path to lessening your PMDD pain, be it physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual.
Today's guest post is written by Kit, and comes filled with great wisdom, and several positive choices for feeling better. That said, here's Kit:
Apart from feeling a little tense/dramatic during ovulation weekend and a little teary the day before my period began, this month has been so easy. My symptoms have been getting better over the last two years. When I look back to how badly PMDD used to affect me (3 out of 4 weeks), chronically suicidal most months, I just can't believe how it is now...
Here is how I choose to live now compared to before.
Chose boyfriends who didn't understand, sympathise, and had their own crazy issues going on — boyfriends I chose, so I'd feel less F'd up and—ironically—more equal.
Had friends that took from me and drained me because PMDD makes it hard to create continuity of self and therefore friendships can be tricky. So when they took, drained, and crossed boundaries ... I rolled with it—thinking I should be grateful for their friendship.
Thought of myself as having this big secret from the world that I couldn't control and was ashamed of. I spent a fair amount of time thinking about what others would think, especially when I was ill.
Shut myself away for weeks on end to protect the life I had just spent weeks building again.
Tried hormonal medications, anti-depressants, and supplements, all of which gave me side effects and changed the flavour of the PMDD to the point of not being worth it.
Worked 9-5 in a high-powered job, with a boss with questionable ethics, which made me ill via the ethical distress and stress of my workload, while spending 4 weeks a month trying to be the same person every day.
Generally believed I couldn't make a change from any of these because it would be impossible. How could I maintain my relationships, jobs, family, etc. if I tried to change all the above?
I chose a partner with understanding, tolerance and, most importantly the willingness to co-manage my PMDD with me—what a difference that one makes!
I chose a partner who is as self-aware as I am when it comes to his own journey.
My attitude is : I am a good catch; if I get ill, I am ill, if my partner started to be unsupportive I would wait until I was in my good time, and then talk from a point of grounded logic, explaining that I need someone who can give me support and understanding and that's what I deserve and if that's not him, he can leave now.
I now offer Zero Tolerance to anyone who's going to risk making me ill by their own silliness.
I now only have friends who respect my boundaries; I phased out those that didn't. It wasn't easy but, wow, has it made a difference in my life and in my PMDD.
I no longer have a 'secret' but I don't choose to tell others unless we're close ... I tell them what PMDD is but don't go into details. I don't care what others think. I know what I have, I know it is real. I do not need to communicate it, or hear their acceptance to accept myself. I have worked hard on accepting myself as I am, PMDD and ADHD warts and all, using the Strong Notes app.
I am still careful about planning social occasions around my bad times. I don't feel badly about saying 'No' — it's what I have to do to be kind to myself. Unnecessary stress that you choose to opt out of, no matter what others may think, can reduce your PMDD symptoms.
I am on Methylphenidate for my ADHD, and so far taking a really low amount, but it works wonders with my ADHD and could be having an effect on my PMDD, too. I would love for others to try it and see how it quiets the inner thoughts and mind tumble dryers we all get stuck in during PMDD mode.
Using an app called Strong Notes, I send myself accepting/loving messages from my 'well self' to read on my bad days, feeding my strength back to myself on days I can't access it from within.
I have separated my 'well self' from my 'ill self' in my mind so I don't brand the 'true well me' with an ill tarnish. It helps to be sympathetic to my 'ill self' when well, and remember my 'well self' when ill.
This is so important : I now identify when ill that how I'm feeling is real and not just my imagination.
I quit my ego stroking 9-5, 4 weeks a month job to pursue another working model that allows me to be ill when ill and kick ass when well.
I sought help from a mental health charity that supports people trying to make life work for them while struggling with a mental health problem. Successfully got a government business loan to start a business. I was honest about the PMDD and it was never even brought up as an issue.
I now believe that I am worth drastically changing my life for. I don't put myself in situations where I am stressed, and in turn my PMDD is at rest rather than flared up. I still know it's there but it's controllable.
I've read and live by Eckhart Tolle's book The Power of Now.
I eat foods with high nutrients but also still eat crap (sugar, etc.) when I want to, and for me it makes no difference. Food diets aren't ever as impactful as emotional diets in my opinion.
Signed up for all business/mental health support organisations to have mentors to keep me on track and to keep reminding myself that I am worth the hassle.
This is all just one story but I thought I would share it with you in case any of you are feeling ready to go on an emotional diet, too, or should I call it a MIND DETOX. I stayed in bad situations, feeling like a victim, for too long. I missed out on my teens and twenties for sure, but I am no longer going to be a victim to society's views, or the acceptance of others.
I have PMDD. It means I must live accordingly. I choose to make my life better by taking the actions needed to protect and progress myself.
Love to you all. I know we know each other's darkness all too well. I hope some of this helps.