I have Pre Menstrual Dysphoric Disorder, and it makes me very hard to find love. Probably one week out of the month I feel "normal," then the symptoms start all over again. Three-quarters of all women experience some form of premenstrual syndrome, but what I experience is entirely different.
I've often thought I was going crazy with the food cravings, cramps, tender breasts, moodiness, or fatigue. My symptoms interfere with my life in such a way that I was finding it hard to function. It is debilitating and interferes with my work, social life, and relationships. Most doctors think it may be an abnormal reaction to hormone changes related to my menstrual cycle. An abnormal response to my own body? I'm often left bewildered and confused and have the unrelenting feeling that my own body has betrayed me.
So, I have gone through the motions of this disorder. I made the mistake of going on dates when I am not feeling well, and have been met with opposition when I did not want to walk around a park, and just wanted to sit in a dark movie theatre and overeat on popcorn. It's not very ladylike and never gave us the opportunity to talk. But I didn't even care. The fatigue was overwhelming and needless to say, that date was a flop.
Doctors have explained to me that PMDD is caused by low levels of serotonin, a chemical in your brain that helps transmit nerve signals. Specific brain cells that use serotonin also control mood, attention, sleep, and pain. Hormonal changes cause a decrease in serotonin, leading to PMDD symptoms. I pretty much fell into all of the categories. Was I losing my mind? Why did I react so hostilely when my one date told me I looked beautiful, but he prefers my hair up. You mean so I can show off my bloated round face? My mother has even told me a time or two that I "take things wrong." You've got to be kidding me. My conflict with those I love is tearing me apart, and it's increasingly creating a wedge in prospering new relationships.
Still, here I am writing about all of these seemingly womanly curses, and everyone seems to be talking about me as if I have somehow lost my sanity. I can not explain the waves of depression, mood swings, intense anger, and fatigue all consuming me. I can't tell why I no longer find satisfaction and peace in things I once loved to do. I begin a project, start reading a novel, or begin a craft only to leave it half completed and in the corner of my house. I will get to it one day. One day when the fatigue does not consume me, or when my concentration comes back. One day when I feel less out of control, and I can find the badass woman I used to be. Is she there somewhere? Or have I become a shell of a woman?
My only inspiration seems to come when most of the world is fast asleep at 2 am, and I am left lying in my bed with rambling thoughts and worry that I need to wake up in 3 hours for work. But wait, I have to write down my ten different ideas, so I don't forget them! I worry myself to sleep. I know if I don't sleep I will have an enormous headache by the afternoon, and the only way to combat this is to rotate with my usual cocktail of red bulls and coffee. Only to end up in the same place the next night, and the cycle repeats itself until the weekend when I could sleep for 48 hours straight. What is happening to my life?
So Pre Menstrual Dysphoric Disorder controls most of my life. My doctors have made sure that emotional problems, such as depression or panic disorder, are not what’s causing my symptoms. Other medical or gynecological conditions, such as endometriosis, fibroids, menopause, and hormone problems also have been ruled out. It's a grueling process to figure out but to have a name for this disorder is worth its weight in gold.
I am now faced with the reality that I need to DO something about my uncontrollable bitchy self. I have started seeing a therapist, and pop my antidepressant and birth control pills every morning with a high protein smoothie. Water pills and over the counter pain relievers have also helped fight fluid retention and bloating. Do I see the light at the end of the tunnel here?
PMDD will be a lifelong struggle for me, but my first step was accepting this is who I am. This is the body I was given, and one day I will find the right man to love me, even with all of my challenges. I will not give up, and I will keep fighting my way to peace and understanding.