Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) changes you.
Not just who you think you are. It changes you.
For at least a week out of every month, it turns the mom who is grateful to be able to see and hug her kids into the mom who thinks she’s not good enough for them. It turns the calm problem solver into someone who thinks, “I can’t handle even one of your tiny issues.” It leaves you in bed, tears streaming down your face, hating yourself but convincing yourself that your life is worth living at the same damn time.
PMDD changes how your body reacts to hormonal changes and how your mind views the world. It leaves you feeling cursed without a cure. It turns normal into misery, hitting you out of nowhere and returning every single month—like it gets off on tearing you apart. It intensifies every negative feeling and turns the volume up on every terrible thought.
It drains you of all your energy, so you can accomplish nothing. And if you can get yourself up, it has you panicking and dizzy through the simplest of tasks. Your heart races in the shower and your mind fuels the fear until you can’t breathe and everything starts fading out, so you avoid even trying because, “Why should I make myself suffer even more?”
It turns, “I am capable” into “I completely suck,” and “I’m excited” into “I don’t care.” It makes you sick, physically—with migraines, nausea, and vomiting. The worst part is when the doctor says, “It’s just stress.” And if that’s not invalidating enough, another will tell you it’s just PMS. “It’s normal.”
Uh, no. This is PMS on steroids! This sh*t clearly is not normal when you look around and see women carrying on with their lives per usual and not having to “start over” on a monthly basis. And when you schedule an appointment with your gyneocologist and it’s not on the list of “reasons for your visit”—what is that?!
PMDD dramatically impacts my life for at least a week, and I spend the following week slowly picking myself back up just enough to enjoy one good week where I feel capable, lovable, and worthy.
I know it arrives every single month, but I thought that if I ignored it, it wouldn’t hit me this time. Wrong. Freshly naked and just stepped in the shower that I had hoped to relax in—and bam! Panic attack. I’d already been feeling very f*ck this, f*ck you, and f*ck that; the anger and stress had been so strong in my body. I’d found myself snapping and lashing out at people when I would normally be like “whatever” and move on.
But that’s PMDD. It’s an invisible monster that your own body creates and nearly no one believes exists. Think of a nasty Hulk busting through your wall instead of an innocent Aunt Flow letting herself into your house.
I need to constantly remind myself of what this condition does to me, of what it turns me into, so I don’t find myself believing what my body and mind tell me to be ultimate truth. I have to remind myself and my family to be forgiving and understanding of the fact that I have zero control over it but I can control what I do to relieve my symptoms.
We need to remember that it’ll pass—it always does—even though we feel hopeless and deeply dislike being this way. I’m not yet okay with being attacked by my own body, triggering the parts of me that are anything but positive. I’m not sure if I ever will be okay with it.
So, in the meantime, let’s start by accepting that at certain times of the month, self-care looks different. We have to let the tears flow so our bodies can release the calming chemicals that we need to lessen the intensity. We need to find balance in new ways.
May all of us who suffer the effects of PMDD find the ability know and learn how to love ourselves through it. And remember, “This too shall pass.”