I am going to get real personal here. Vulnerable af.
Disclaimers: I am going to talk about hormones, brain function, suicidal ideation, self-harm, and other crappy things. I am not a medical professional. I am not a mental health professional. I highly recommend talking to your doctor, or another professional, if you are feeling any of these terrible things, and continue that discourse as you work through it.
This blog doesn't have anything directly to do with my photography, BUT the contents sometimes affect my abilities as a business person.
Right before I lost my health insurance, I was loosely diagnosed with PMDD. I chose not to try SSRIs, which are recommended, because I like to try to manage things with a toolkit of things before I resort to medication. That's not always the safest, especially since I currently do not have a professional monitoring my progress.
I know myself, though. I have faith in my strength and intelligence to work through this. I also have an amazing community of support from many angles (photography pun intended).
Let me paint a picture.
It is the most beautiful summer day, sun shining, birds chirping, all that wonderful bullshit. I am on a golf course, playing with some of my favorite guys, currently kicking ass at an outing.
As my partners are hitting their second shots, I am sitting in the golf cart, just smiling about how perfect the day is.
Then the thought runs through: you should go home and end it now because what an amazing day to go out on.
What. The. Fuck.
Now my executive functioning takes over (which is rare for someone with ADHD), and calms that thought. But I am still mortified with myself. Where did that intrusive thought come from? Why does it exist? What in the ever living hell does it even mean?
I want you to know, I do not want to die. I do not want to hurt myself. I do not want to be so overwhelmed that I want to give up and just go crawl into the woods in a ball.
I also don't want cramps that are so bad I see stars. I don't want to flinch and feel nauseous for a whole day once a month.
For any dudes reading this who didn't pay attention in health class in high school, let me give you a brief super non-sciencey rundown of women's cycles:
Day 1: we start bleeding. This can last 2-7 days, according to all the different averages (which I will base all other dates on)
Day 5: no bleeding, no ovulating, just existing, while your uterine lining is thickening
Day 14: your ovaries kick an egg out into your fallopian tubes and down into your uterus - if sperm are present in this general date range, they can implant into the egg, which falls into the uterus
Days 17-27: either the egg is implanted with sperm and starting to go through all the stages of becoming a human AND the uterine lining is a cozy, happy place so it can find a home OR
Day 28: ANGRY UTERUS because you did not give it a baby, so it makes us start to cramp to refresh...
...repeat ad nauseam until menopause.
Here is the fun additive for me: from ovulation day (which I can tell you is happening because my hormone surge is so intense I legit feel myself feeling a feeling way and look at my tracker app and am like "oh yeah, there we are again," through the first day of bleeding, I am absolutely irrational, irritable, and emotionally unhinged.
***cue all my besties who are mental health professionals cringing at my non-P.C. language here***
If someone asks me to do one more mental task, I snap.
If someone looks at me wrong, or I interpret something incorrectly, I feel rejected.
If someone sends me a pretty video, I cry.
This is not normal PMS/mood swings.
On day 28, I am in so much pain that I cannot see straight sometimes.
This is NOT normal. Periods should NOT be that painful.
This is PMDD. To sum it up, PMDD is PMS gone wild. I get headaches, cramps, nerve pain, body aches, uncontrollable fatigue...which is paired with a heavy dose of irritability, irrationality, feelings of lack of control, confusion, trouble sleeping, and anxiety. That is the little tip of the PMDD iceberg. Peep below for the John Hopkin's page for PMDD, a great basic resource.
The best part? From the research I have done, PMDD makes you deficient in the same chemicals that people with ADHD are deficient in. So double whammy (some research shows comorbidity of the two are high).
For 19 out of 28 days, I am either in pain physically or out of my mind, emotionally.
However, I have made significant progress.
My boyfriend and I used to fight once a month and break up.
Solution: I now communicate when I am in the "bad days" with him so he is at least aware that I am going through "it" again. This is not a carte blanche for me. I am still accountable for my actions and emotions and behaviors. BUT it gives us language to talk about it.
I used to snap on people when I was out in public.
Solution: when I am in the "bad days," I have learned that my fuck around and find out meter is extremely sensitive, so I intentionally avoid social interaction as much as possible to let my social battery recharge.
Irritability and irrationality used to overwhelm me.
Solution: I nap. I get a lot of sleep. This helps my brain have time to rest and recharge.
There are so many more things that I have to do and be cognizant of: my ADHD behaviors are off the charts from days 20-28, so I need to be kind with myself to schedule tasks. Being physical helps SO. MUCH. so I load physical labor tasks in that time.
I wish I had a really good conclusion to this blog post. As a writer it is driving me nuts that I don't. I think, more than anything, this was to bring awareness to PMDD because so many people don't know it exists. If you think you may have it, the best thing you can do is track it. Keep a journal. Use an app. Track data so you can have a chat with your doctor to find the best option for you. This is not a physical diagnosis (no blood test, swab, etc.) - it will be an anecdotal diagnosis, so you need qualitative data to back it up.
If you need help, and don't know where to start, call your doctor and talk to them about what you are feeling. It may not be PMDD - it could be a plethora of other things. The point is that the only way I started feeling balance in my life, even if it is chaotic balance sometimes, was to say something.
Cheers to the uterus and the endocrine system for being gloriously amazing and so freaking annoying, all at the same time.