Discovering Dysphoria

Part III of a three part journal of womanly parts.

Discovering Dysphoria

I started to appreciate my period as I grew more mature. It happened as a result of exploring alternative means of healing and meeting a bunch of pagans while I studied shamanism. The Wiccan women I encountered seemed to appreciate their cycles. They spoke of "moon times" and "flow"...words I'd never associated with what I only knew as "the curse" because the word "menstruation" was far too bulky to be useful in most circumstances. I didn't know it was connected to the moon or the three faces of the goddess (virgin, maiden, crone), or that my blood was actually magical.

I don't know how it happened exactly, but one day, I just started enjoying getting my period. It felt healthy to me. It felt powerful. It felt womanly. For a while, it seemed my periods always coincided with rituals and power journeys to sacred places, as if my body knew something I didn't understand.

I was now divorced to hubby #1, recovered thanks to my miracle polyp healing, and feeling strong and happy. However, there always seemed to be times when I didn't want to be around anyone I knew...like family...and days when I didn't feel like doing a damned thing or even if I did, couldn't. When I forced myself to try, I just ended up completely dysphoric.

It wasn't until many, many years later that I would make sense of these shifts. In fact, it was over 12 years later!

As the result of two of the most stressful years of my life along with the natural timing of peri-menopause, the strange symptoms I had been able to manage most of my life suddenly became quite unmanageable. I had undergone huge changes and overcame very difficult and frustrating challenges and found myself quite the basketcase. In a new country and new relationship, it seemed I was going crazy. I certainly felt that way.

My sister kept trying to diagnose me as Borderline or Bipolar. I KNEW I wasn't. And I cannot begin to describe how pissed off it made me feel when she would insist. I'd had enough of people telling me how I felt and who I was and what my problems were or weren't.

Somewhere in the back of my mind, I had always sensed a connection between my cycle and feeling out of sorts before my period. But no one in my world, including mentors I trusted, seemed to take my gut instinct seriously. I received numerous messages not to blame everything on PMS and that moodiness or other symptoms were just part of being human. In essence, buck up! "Don't believe yourself" is the message I heard over and over. So I didn't. I didn't even trust the fact that for years, I seemed to have 3 horrible months followed by 1 or 2 good ones, and then back again, despite actually living that experience, first-hand.

I'm not sure when the light suddenly went on...the day I actually realized that my symptoms being tied to my period might actually be more than a fantasy. I think my absolute desperation had something to do with it. Here, I'd done years of personal work and healed so much of my past only to find myself in the present spiraling out of control and unable to apply any of the tools I had learned with any success.

I wish I remembered that first moment when PMDD entered my consciousness. I don't. I only remember reading several pages on the internet and thinking, "Oh...my...God!" I think I knew instantly that I had finally, finally been given the key to my entire world and life experience. I started to track my symptoms right away. And lo and behold, I was a mess at certain times of my menstrual cycle and these messes were characterized by the symptoms of PMDD. I had not been imagining things my whole menstruating life! This shit was real!

Even more miraculous to me, there was an entire community of women, composed of several groups on Facebook that were going through the exact same thing!!!

If you experience debilitating moods every month every time your hormones shift within your cycle, marked by uncharacteristic thoughts and actions and a whole slew of other symptoms, you're not imagining things. PMDD, or Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder, is a real condition caused by a severe sensitivity to hormonal shifts. It isn't that you have a hormonal imbalance, it is that every time one hormone or another rises or falls–a natural occurrence throughout your cycle–your body reacts. You have to live it to understand it. You can learn all the currently known facts about PMDD on the Gia Allemand Foundation website.

Did you miss Parts I and II? Read them here and here.

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Cheeky Minx

Cheekyminx writes intimately about PMDD (Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder) and hosts the Facebook page PMDD Life Support, a place where women with PMDD can find information and inspiration to cope. Your contributions are appreciated!

See all posts by Cheeky Minx