(PMDD Writing Contest Winner) The Long Road
I’m writing this in a hospital room whilst my wife is somewhere nearby, down the maze of clinical corridors, having a hysterectomy. She is a natural, powerful, and unstoppable mother. She last ovulated on Mother’s Day and her period started this morning. She is 35.
I can cry now because she’s gone, and just for a quiet moment, I don’t need to be strong for her. (Don’t worry about me, I’ll be fine in a bit.)
This operation is at the end of a very, very long road. A road full of disillusionment, discovery, and disappointment, not to mention the fear, the suffering, the sadness, and of course the tearing and overwhelming anxiety. PMDD has been a miscarriage of life.
She’s always suffered from it, but only realised exactly what it was a year or so ago. I was searching for anything I could find that might give us hope or provide an answer, and came across a PMDD website. Instantly we knew it was right. Over the last 20 years, she’s been told every story you can think of, from doctors saying she’s got ‘hostile womb syndrome’ to others who haven’t even heard of PMDD.
She’s tried every possible thing she could think of to make things better. Every one. She’s followed each tiny light and narrow path that said: “this might be the answer...” Except they never were the answer. From herbs and tinctures to mood-altering antidepressants; from pills to coils ripped out in frustration in the depths of night. Everything tried. Nothing worked. Repeat. The tiny light got smaller and smaller until she found herself at the end of that tunnel where there’s only one option left.
And the fear and anxiety that decision brings! The recovery! HRT! Instantly going into the menopause! What a choice to have to make - to either remove the very thing that makes you a mother or to bring up children who instinctively know when they need to leave their mum alone. Oh yeah, and the guilt. The neverending guilt. The voice of failure. The groundhog day. I never did get that t-shirt made that said “I’M NEVER GOING TO LEAVE YOU” on it. I know it’s not your fault and I know you don’t mean it. I also know that even though I’ve said it a thousand times, I’ll say it again and again and again, because I mean it. And I’m stronger than PMDD because I know how love works (because you showed me).
In the middle of this and lost in all the noise and carnage is the brightest light I've ever known. The life and soul of my life and soul. The most immense fun you can have. All of the love, she's all of the things, and I know she's going to win. This is it then, a break in the story. A break in the pattern. And whatever happens next, we all need a break.
For all our years, when she’s been (for want of better words) ‘emotionally challenging’, I’ve told myself “She doesn’t know what she’s doing; she’s not in control.” Wherever today goes and whatever challenges tomorrow holds, for now, she knows exactly what she’s doing, and for once, she’s in control of her future.
Oh, and to the PMDD - you can go f*** yourself.
James Vyner is the Founder and Creative Director of Creative Listening Limited in the UK where he and his wife Jody (a therapist) live with their two children.
This April, the International Association for Premenstrual Disorders (IAPMD) kicked off the first-ever “PMDD Writing Contest” and we received amazing stories, poems, and essays from individuals around the world about the impact of PMDD on the lives of those it touches. While we were moved by the honesty and creativity in many of your submissions, our judges from IAPMD, Vicious Cycle, and Me v PMDD had to choose one winner.
Our winner this year wrote a story that ‘shines a light’ on the themes of hope, support, and recovery in the experience of PMDD from a unique perspective that warmed our hearts to read.
It is our pleasure to announce that this year’s winner is James Vyner, with his story “The Long Road”.
You can read James’ winning essay above in its entirety.
James has won:
A Period Self Care box valued at $50
One registration to IAPMD’s 2020 PMDD Conference
Recognition on the IAPMD website, emails, and social media
Thank you to everyone who shared their stories with honesty and creativity. The IAPMD community is made better by all of you.