So last week I said Relationships Begin With You, and that is true. The most important thing of all for a PMDD woman is to have a good relationship with yourself. Obviously I have a good relationship with myself, or I wouldn’t be here, boldly putting myself out there for all the world to read about. I like myself, I enjoy my own company. I’ve learned how to listen to myself, in good times and bad.
One of the best things I’ve learned along the way was that “What you think of me is none of my business.” It’s what I think of me that matters, and as long as I am happy with me, as long as I like and respect myself, that’s what counts.
Surprisingly, adopting this belief didn’t turn me into some self-centered egomaniac. I think that was always my greatest fear…if I put myself first, won't I turn into some kind of monster who doesn’t care about anyone else? Then everybody will really hate me. (Because we all know that PMDD women regularly think everybody hates us.)
I think that’s why I put it off for so long. As women, we’re raised and socialized to put everybody else first. Love means doing for others. It’s how we get love, how we show love, how we determine our worth in the world.
Or at least that’s what we’re raised to believe. But the Bible says to love your neighbor as yourself. Here is a link to an excellent blog post on the subject, one that includes eight specific quotes from the Bible that say to love your neighbor as yourself. I am a woman of faith, but my purpose here is not to preach, so I’ll leave that to others....
But to me, to love my neighbor as myself means to love others as much as I love myself.
Not more, not less.
So to do that, I have to love myself first.
Loving yourself is hard when you’re a PMDD woman. You do and say things you regret all the time. We’re conditioned to beat ourselves up when we make mistakes. I’m not sure why this is, because it makes for a lot of miserable people in the world, but the bottom line truth is everybody makes mistakes, not just women with PMDD.
Think about all that energy wasted in beating ourselves up. Think about all the good and positive things we could be doing with our time and energy instead. Think about how much happier your life would be if you simply acknowledged your mistakes, did what you could to make amends, accepted that you'd done your best with the information you had at the time, and then got on with your life.
Just think about it for a minute. Can you imagine how different your life would be?
So the first step to loving yourself, is to accept yourself as you are, right here and now. Are you in the middle of a bad episode, or are you doing well today? Is your day just so-so? That’s fine, too. Start right where you are. If you’re having a bad day, what can you do right now to make your day a little better? Take a nap? Call a friend? Eat some chocolate? Read a book? Watch a movie? Make a cup of tea and just sit there feeling miserable for a while? Then go ahead and DO it.
Nobody says you have to be happy all the time. There is nobody on this planet who is happy all the time. And there’s nothing wrong with giving yourself a little down time, a little pampering, to help you get back on your feet again.
I have a real dislike for taking drugs. Any kind of drug. I’m all about natural health and healing. I’m especially against the unnecessary use of pain pills and anti-depressants. But a friend once explained it to me this way: When you’re in constant pain, when your body has gone haywire and is sending an uninterrupted stream of “I hurt” and “I feel miserable” signals to your brain, then what is the harm in taking an occasional pill to chemically interrupt that endless loop of biochemical messages running through your body? What's wrong with giving your body a little period of pain-free space to figuratively take a deep breath and have a chance to recover itself from that endless stream of pain messages circulating through your system?
Along those same lines, if your pain is mental, as well as physical, then what is the harm in briefly taking an anti-depressant to stop the endless loop of negative thoughts running through your brain? Just long enough to get you back on your feet again.
In the case of a PMDD woman, certain anti-depressants have been clinically proven to provide relief within hours in 60% of the women who take them during an episode of PMDD. But you only need to take them while you’re having an episode. (That’s the part the drug companies don’t tell you.) For some reason, even though anti-depressants usually take several weeks to kick in for the truly depressed, these same anti-depressants can act quickly in the case of a woman simply having an episode of PMDD (although there’s nothing simple about an episode of PMDD).
So, in the case of chronic physical pain, taking a pain pill can give you small break in your constant misery. Just enough time for you to catch your breath and remember what it feels like to feel good again, and marshal your resources for the next wave of pain.
In the case of mental pain, if you’re one of the 60%, a SSRI anti-depressant can give you a quick break from that endless loop of negative thoughts in your head.
In the case of emotional pain, talking to someone, or pampering yourself in some way—listening to music, stroking a pet, reading a book, taking a walk, making a cup of tea—can give you that same little space between the endless loop of emotional pain you are feeling.
Spiritual pain—read a book, watch a program, listen to a tape, or go to a place of worship and spend some time in silent contemplation. Just you and your maker. Quiet time with the spirit that lives inside you.
That’s what’s known as being good to yourself. Whichever of these areas is calling out to you the loudest, start there. Baby steps. Take time out to get a handle on your pain, be it physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual. If you don’t do it, nobody’s going to do it for you.
Because you’re the only person who knows what is going on inside you. You’re the only person who knows just how hard it is to be you.
Especially on the days when you are not feeling like you.
So loving yourself comes from taking care of yourself. From listening to yourself and attending to your own needs. The more you do this, surprisingly enough, the less selfish you will become, because along the way, you manage to develop empathy, and realize you’re not as alone in your pain as you thought you were.
That’s when friends come in, and that’s what I’ll talk about next week. Finding supportive friends, being it on line or in your own neighborhood.
Until then, be blessed, and find just one way each day to be good to yourself. You’d do it for a friend or loved one. Why not for yourself?