PMDD & The Love/Hate Switch
Getting to the Heart of What's Real
This morning, my husband made the mistake of asking, "How are you feeling?" Funny how he continues to ask that question, like a damn robot, no matter how many times I tell him I hate that question! He only asks it because he wants to know if he's "safe" after several days of my increasing moodiness and withdrawal. However, it is delivered with very little actual concern or curiosity, let alone presence. It comes out like a tape-recorded message. I didn't want to answer, but ignoring him would just cause a different problem.
I grumbled something in reply that really meant, "Why the f*&# are you still asking me that?" but also meant, "I'd be just fine if you'd stop asking me that stupid unanswerable question!"
He left the kitchen predictably miffed, and I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. The left side of my face was frozen in a sneer of disgust! It said, "I f*&#ing hate this sh*$!" Was that really my face? Yikes!
A couple of days ago, my switch flipped. I know those of you who have PMDD (and those of you who are partners of those with PMDD) will know what I'm talking about. I've given up trying to understand how I can enjoy my husband's company, laugh at his jokes, be charmed by him, and love him to bits one moment and in the next, wish he would move to a different country and stop with the tired, old jokes already. Suddenly, I deplore his manipulative ways and am completely fed up with his unaddressed issues and all the ways they impact my life.
I continue to search for answers to this craziness. Am I, despite my full-body resistance to it, actually borderline? I know that the love/hate thing is a big part of borderline personality disorder, but I don't fit any other part of that profile. Is it just PMDD? It could be, but since I entered peri-menopause, it is a lot harder to predict and therefore tie my symptoms to my cycle. Is it peri-menopause related? Do I have some as of yet unrecognized disorder? Do I actually hate him? What's real? When I love him or when I detest him? There are no easy answers.
I read what I can about love and hate and learn how closely related they are. I discover the insular, a part of the brain that registers the intensity of our emotions and draws associations based on our perceptions. Could I have a misfiring insular? Does my brain go haywire from emotional arousal? If it does, what is causing it?
I try to think of what triggered this flip-switching. Was there a trigger? It happened on a day we had to deal with a big administrative issue. He was tense and repressing it. I started to think of all the ways I tried to make it easier for him—collecting paperwork, helping him organize, even going with him to his appointment. Thinking about it all just made me angrier and angrier. But I was angry even before that. I actually woke up angry after a night of slightly needling dreams. Were the dreams the trigger? Was his inability to express his emotions the trigger? There's no question that remains a problem between us, but was it the trigger? Was I just pissed that everything I had done to help and be supportive of him was so "apparently" inadequate? Was I pissed at him for making everything so much harder than it had to be or did I blame him for having such a difficult time with things I happen to think all adults should be able to master?
The more questions I ask, the more questions appear. The answers, though, remain illusive or, at best, inconclusive. Still, I ask them because I know that whatever this is, it is a dysfunctional and life-destroying state of being. And even if I truly cannot control it, I have the responsibility to at least be present with it and really, truly look at it. I have no choice but to accept it as my experience.
I am doing my best in this state, not to avoid my husband, but to keep clear of him. We both need space. It does rather make it necessary to put off dealing with certain things as conversations have to wait and certain tasks have to be postponed. That doesn't help my anxiety, though, I must say, as things start to pile up. Those with PMDD will understand that one too! But surely the dust will settle in a few days and all will become easier, won't it? History proves it so. But there are times I wonder if I'll ever make it back to the other side.
That leads me back to my relationship. I've often wondered if staying with my husband is bad for both of us... knowing I can turn on and off like this... for whatever reasons. I worry about the toll on both of us. Would we be better off without each other? I don't know the answer to that either, but I ask it regularly, too. Then I remember than neither of us is perfect. This isn't all about me and how I treat him. It is also about him and how he treats himself... and me. Besides, if people had to be perfect to be together, there would be no couples anywhere. Learning to deal with this, to dance this dance, is part of our work together for as long as we choose to be together.
For today, I am in the confusion of it all. I have to accept that. I have to accept there are no answers to so many questions, no matter how much I want them.
And how are you feeling today?