"D" for Dysphoric
What it's like to live with PMDD.
Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) is a condition associated with disabling mental and emotional symptoms brought on by hormonal shifts occurring within the menstrual cycle. The following is an account of what it can be like to live with the disorder.
This morning, I wake up after intense dreams, still tired, a leaden cloud hanging over my head. It doesn't take long for the latest deplorable world news to enter my field of consciousness. I shouldn't have opened my eyes. I should have kept the computer turned off. But before I can stop myself, I am sucked in, and that leaden cloud lets loose in a torrential downpour of depressive thoughts and feelings as I scroll through Facebook.
Then one thing after another takes place...a client cancels, my name is misspelled on a document...and with my perception centered in a dark place, I interpret each little let down, each little disappointment as a nail in the coffin of my self-worth. Ordinarily, on a good day that is, I wouldn't ascribe such a ruthless meaning to a few random and inconsequential events. But today? Today, there is no hope.
The downpour has now hit my cheeks, my eyelids unable to stem the tide. Is my life truly this miserable? I hear a small little voice ask the question. Another thunderous voice begins collecting all the evidence to prove it so.
I hear my husband rummaging downstairs. He's the last person I want to see. I feel no love, but rather, a desperate urge to be free of him and all of the things he does that makes my life more difficult. I stay upstairs, praying we won't have any need to communicate. At the same time, I am disgusted with myself for feeling this way. How can I be so uncaring? So completely devoid of all feeling...with the exception of contempt?
I force myself to message a friend to let her know how I feel. She she just woke up. "I'm bothering her", I think to myself. She says she just needs half an hour, but that half hour passes and I don't message back. This is partially avoidant, because I feel ashamed and humiliated, and partially passive-aggressive, because she wasn't awake enough to be there for me the very moment I needed her. I know I'm being a dope. I can't seem to help myself.
Everything in my vision makes me sick. I just want to close my eyes and all of my senses. I'm sick of breathing, perceiving, existing. I remember I have an appointment today. I'm going to have to put on clothes, brush my hair, pretend to be fully-functional. No worries. I've mastered the art of "acting as if". The clock speeds toward the time I have to leave as I drag the imaginary threads of time in the opposite direction, to no avail. I consider my options: blow it off? No, I'd only have to face it another day. And this might actually be one of the best in awhile. It is hard to know.
So I go. And believe it or not, "acting as if" perks me up a bit. Pretending to be normal makes me feel somewhat normal, and it helps...if only slightly. As long as nothing goes wrong, I'll be okay. Fortunately, nothing does. I recognize and gratefully receive the grace.
When I return home, I enter a house that wraps around me like a dull gray flannel. It's even stormy out. Figures, doesn't it? There's no natural light in the house to brighten my mood. I have nothing to do (except for things I don't feel like doing). There is no one to talk to (mostly because no one is safe enough). There's no where to go (though I was only just complaining earlier about having to go anywhere). I am not even motivated to create. None of it matters. And then the little thought "I don't matter" is seen pedaling in the slipstream of the first thought. It soon takes the lead without having expended the slightest effort.
The only thing left to do is either eat or watch Netflix, the two trusty companions of the this numbness, except I only want to eat junk, and I know I haven't eaten well in a few days as it is, and despite the number of offerings on Netflix, none of them appeal. "Boring, stupid, stupid, lame, seen it, boring, seen it, old,..."
Now, I stop. I feel the cramps in my womb. I look at the calendar. It dawns on me. I am shifting into the next part of my cycle. That's what this is. That's why I can't muster an ounce of gratitude for anything. That's why I can't bear to look at, be seen, or speak to anyone. It's why the whole effing world has turned into an ugly, perturbing whirlpool.
And knowing that, I relax a little, but only a little. There's nothing else I can do. I'm going to have to roll with it. It will pass...eventually...leaving me to pick up the pieces once more.
To learn more about Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD), please visit the Gia Allemand Foundation.