Trust And Believe
For me, PMDD was like an unknown evil entity that haunted my life. I was considered a kid with a lot of potentials, above average in intelligence, and someone who often made people laugh. Then there was the darkness that would come out of its hiding place, attempting to destroy all that I was trying to accomplish. One day, I'd be bright and loveable, and the next day would be confusion, mental stress, frustration, out-of-control behavior, and an inability to follow rules. This darkness was standing between me and the best that I could be.
Starting in my pre-teen years, most of my troubles were the result of behavioral issues. Puberty and menstruation exacerbated those problems, sending me spiraling downward in fits of anger and acting out. I couldn't control myself, and that caused even more anger and frustration. Looking back, I can see how it wasn't coincidental that all the tragedies and troubles I was experiencing then were largely the result of PMS.
Medication was recommended to my mother and me, but she always refused on my behalf. When I was finally diagnosed with PMDD and could share that with my mother, it was a total moment of clarity for her. She braced herself every month with the onset of my periods, knowing that extreme acting out and severe mood changes would accompany them. It never occurred to either of us that it could be a clinical disorder and one that could be treated. Remembering the intense symptoms of my past, it seems like a bad dream, and one that could have been dealt with had we known what we were dealing with.
After becoming an adult and being out on my own, I sought out a doctor, who diagnosed me with something unrelated to PMDD. I knew something was wrong inside me, so I went along with the diagnosis until it became evident that it was wrong. I had intense highs and lows, which the medication was supposed to help. It didn't. After some years, as my symptoms grew much stronger, I learned about premenstrual dysphoric disorder. What I read seemed like my autobiography. PMDD is a disorder that is hard to pin down. Only three to eight percent of women have it, so unfortunately, many women like me go undiagnosed or wrongly diagnosed and put on medications that won't help.
When I was officially identified as having PMDD, I spent some time looking back with sadness for all the things I'd gone through. Not every trouble I had was the fault of having PMDD, but most of the suffering I experienced was the result of having it, and not being treated. I burned bridges and lashed out at people. There was much heartbreak and many lost friendships. In more recent times, I found myself going from energetic and lively to finding myself isolating. The symptoms are painful and exhausting. PMDD still has me in its grip, but maturity and a proper diagnosis, along with a treatment plan, my life is no longer unsteady, tumultuous, and full of trauma.
Now, I can take back control of my life, and do the things I want to do, being active, resourceful, and regaining my power. There are many difficult days, but I keep pushing through with the understanding that this is treatable, and I don't have to let it or anything stand in my way of fulfilling my purpose in life.
Recently, I declined an invitation to hang out with a friend because I was having severe symptoms again. I was met with “It's all in your mind. You're fine.” At first, I was angry with her response, but I realized she can't understand what she doesn't experience. Most people I meet seem to find it impossible to believe in PMDD. They don't seem to see the severity of the symptoms, nor are able to acknowledge the reality of the pain and horror it can cause women. Negative, intrusive visions and thoughts take over your mind, to say the least. It requires an intense commitment not to give into those thoughts, even while on medication.
A lot of women living with PMDD live in deep despair. We face surreal challenges, and have to show up in the world everyday living and working, all the while battling this monster inside them. There are so many symptoms that make PMDD the nightmare that it is. Some women I've spoken with have had to get hysterectomies in order to exist in peace, and some of them are quite young. I've found that online support groups give me a sense of comfort; being able to share with other that also experience PMDD. The disorder often feels like the end of the world, but we who have it continue to live each day, persevering and striving.
Unlike most of the difficult things I have inherited in my life, I have yet to find the silver lining in having PMDD. It would be nice to have a sense of why I have this disorder, and how it can help me grow. All I know is that with a good treatment plan, living will get better and better. After failed treatments, I started to think “Why, God? Why me? Haven't I had enough problems in my life??” PMDD was the largest obstacle in my path, and it is still the most difficult thing that I deal with on a daily basis. It’s almost always overwhelmingly present and I’m always fighting to take control. Being informed, however, I have a better sense of things and am on my way to enjoying my accomplishments and my life.
I hold onto that knowledge and hope for the best. My message to women and girls with PMDD is the same I say to myself: Life is still and will always be worthwhile. The pain and difficulties of living with this disorder don't have to overshadow the divine and unique purpose in your life. You don't deserve this disorder, but you do deserve to be able to live well despite it. It takes more courage and strength to lay your burdens down than it does to carry them because we aren't superhuman. We're told to be superhuman, by society and other influences, but I have learned that to be human is to be vulnerable. Remember your purpose and always have compassion for yourself. Trust and believe in your ability to rise and overcome. Don’t give up.