She’s baaaack! And I’m not talking about me, writing this blog post. I’m talking about The Alien, or my PMDD self. After several months of relatively mild episodes, suddenly I’m hit with a humdinger. You know from my previous post, A Perfect Storm of PMDD, that I am one of the unfortunate many who have atypical PMDD, in that it occurs both before and after I menstruate. Kind of like a hurricane, with menstruation in the middle, serving as the eye of the storm, where I might feel lousy physically, but I’m clear-headed and things are relatively calm.
So, about ten days ago, I could feel a storm blowing in. I notice I’m starting to get agitated about things that don’t usually faze me. I realize I am emotionally looking for a fight, anywhere I can find it. I check the calendar, confirm it’s about that time of the month, and warn those closest to me that it may be a rocky few days. I back away from conversations and situations I know will set me off, and postpone any important decisions or discussions for a few days.
The storm came and went, no major incidents, other than a couple of afternoon naps due to extreme sleepiness. Menstruation started, and life was good again, aside from the physical discomforts of having a period. Usually, the second half of my PMDD begins on Day 3 of my period. So when Day 3 came and went with no trouble, I thought I was in the clear, home free, another PMDD episode averted. Kudos to me once again for not letting my PMDD get the better of me and wreaking all sorts of havoc in my life and personal relationships.
But this was not my usual period. This one lasted six days instead of three. Not a problem. I’m okay. Life is still good.
But then yesterday morning, I started noticing things. Like I tried to address an envelope, and my handwriting was all jumpy and spiky. My hand couldn’t control the pen the way it usually does. My typing was off, too. Kept hitting the wrong keys.
No matter. I’m just in a hurry.
Then I went to a funeral, at a church I had never been to before. I got lost. Suddenly I’m feeling anxious, confused, and my thoughts are scattered.
No biggie, it can happen to anyone.
At the funeral, all I wanted to do was weep.
Not a problem. People are supposed to be sad at funerals.
I came home, fixed myself something to eat. I work at home (in part due to my PMDD), so I started to work in my sun-drenched living room.
Suddenly I couldn’t keep my eyes open any longer.
Nothing unusual there, I told myself. The room was warm and I had just eaten.
Never mind that the room is equally warm and sunny most days, and I eat lunch every day about the same time and don’t get sleepy.
Finally I give in and take a nap, unable to concentrate or stay awake. It still hasn’t dawned on me, what is happening.
I wake up, totally ravenous, and wanting nothing but CHOCOLATE.
Still haven’t caught on. Or if I have, I’m in denial. I don’t have time for this nonsense. I have work to do.
A friend calls. We’re supposed to meet later on, go to Qigong class together. I want to know how soon “later on” is. Is it 4:30, 5:30, 6:30? If it’s sooner rather than later, I’ll wait to eat with my friend. If it’s later, I’ll eat now. No big deal either way, I just want to know, so I can plan my evening accordingly.
Somehow that simple conversation goes totally awry, and I end up in tears.
Bingo. The Alien has struck again. Now I know what’s going on. My PMDD has returned for round two. My head hurts, my eyes hurt, all I want to do is cry, and go back to sleep. But I’m too agitated and upset to go back to sleep, and I’m so effing hungry I want to scream. But I just ate a full meal a couple of hours ago. There’s no logical reason to be so hungry.
My friend calls back to see if I’m all right. How do I explain that everything is fine…but it’s not? How do I explain PMDD? This isn’t the type of conversation you want to have over the phone. It’s best that the other person can see the glassiness in your eyes, the exhaustion on your face, the lack of energy and slump of your body.
I fix something to eat (healthy carbs!) and work on a small project that only needs minimal concentration for an hour or so.
My friend arrives, and I try to explain what happened. He asks, “What can I do to help?”
The only answer I can come up with is, “Just be nice to me. I’m fragile today. Oh, and you might need to run interference for me at class. I’m not feeling very social right now.”
We go to class, and all goes well. I manage to muddle through the social aspects of class. The Qigong exercises get the blood circulating, produce the necessary boost in endorphins and serotonin. By the end of class, which was the absolute last thing I wanted to go to—I’d much rather have crawled back into bed and tried to sleep away my exhaustion—I was feeling 100% again, and had bought myself a couple of PMDD-free hours.
Because in my PMDD-induced confusion and misery I had forgotten what I could do to help myself. Light aerobic exercise. When I’m in the throes of a PMDD episode, and the last thing I want to do is get up and move, that’s the very thing I need to do. A simple walk is all it takes. After about 30 minutes, I start to feel better. By 45, I’m back on an even keel. An hour of any kind of light cardio activity and all symptoms are gone…
For about two hours.
So by the time I got home, I was back to being myself again. A totally different person. I was able to make it through the rest of the evening without incident.
But as soon as I opened my eyes this morning, I felt that heavy wet blanket of depression closing in on me again. The iron band around my head, the irritated eyes, like I’ve been crying (but I haven’t), the mental fuzziness, the sense of exhaustion even before I get out of bed.
There’s no denying it this time. It’s going to be another PMDD day.