A Day in the Life of PMDD
Adventures through Pre-Menstrual Dysphoric Disorder, & Depression.
It’s 6pm, Dec 28.
I’m still in pajamas.
I’ve been in pajamas all week basically.
It’s been kind of...a relief. To just be able to rest for real.
During this holiday week, I took full advantage of being able to completely rest my mind and body.
So I’ve been trying to get all my resting done in this one week, knowing that in a few days, it’s full speed ahead, back to the busy game of life, until there’s another week or few days to rest in...April? Maybe February.
My body feels so heavy.
Life is beautiful but there’s some glitch in the system preventing me from participating today.
My period is due, and every month we go through this nose dive into the layers of Dante’s inferno.
It’s called “PMDD” and it means my body is extra sensitive, or “allergic” to my own PMS hormones.
Nobody fully understands it quite yet. There have been five times more studies on erectile dysfunction than on PMS.
5-10% of women experience PMDD.
Symptoms are so severe that women are severely debilitated during the two weeks leading up to their periods.
Up to 30% of women will attempt suicide as a result of their condition.
My symptoms are migraine, severely debilitating fatigue, brain fog, anxiety, depression, severe bloating, leg cramps, food cravings, and crying...a lot of crying.
At least it gets better every month. For a bit. Then back to this.
I try a lot of things.
I try medication. I try herbs. I try positive thoughts. I try moving.
What really helps is just resting.
Yin yoga & restorative yoga work miracles when I’m in my “hell week.” I am so lucky I’m able to teach restorative yoga every week.
It helps me heal, it helps me feel better, and it helps me understand what others need to heal their stress.
As for PMDD, I don’t know what causes it, but a few months ago, my mom said: “oh yah, I was like that” when I mentioned to her what I go through every month.
Maybe my cells are just extra smart and don’t like all these hormones floating around all the time.
Part of me wonders if it’s all caused by trauma.
With so much past trauma, I would love to really be able to heal my nervous system with somatic therapy. Re-wire all those neurons so triggers didn’t create such an acute stress response in my system so many times a day.
But...just for now...in this moment...
Today...I try writing.
A healer told me: “don’t say you have depression. Instead, say you have ‘expression.’ “
She’s very right.
I notice the feeling lift when I’m free to speak my own truth. Whatever that is.
And...when there is someone who hears that truth without judging it, or judging me, I feel there’s hope in the world.
My wish for the world is that everyone can speak their truth, feel seen, feel validated, and feel loved.
Depression feels like a full stop. It feels like trying to lift an anvil with a feather.
In the middle of it, it’s hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel, because the tunnel is too long.
I’ve searched for some answers, and I’m sure the nervous system, and trauma, are what cause my depression.
The stress of trauma is passed down through the generations, both physiologically and interpersonally.
One grandma had a leaflet about depression, I was 10 when I saw it. Nobody spoke about it with me. It was hush hush, and unacknowledged, and not really dealt with.
Another used to give me a quarter every so often, from her stash of quarters in the closet. She kept them all in old prescription lithium bottles from the 1970s. She was a fighter, but still struggled.
Everyone said she was annoying.
But to me she was the most loving.
I am living the consequences of the generations and centuries of trauma and violence against women.
It’s showing up, right now, here, in my body.
Modern heroes like Gabor Mate, Bessel van Der Kolk, Peter Levine, Alice Miller, Robert Sapolsky, Stephen Porges and so many others have given us the science of why we feel like crap, as they have discovered and written about the science of what stress and trauma do to our physiology.
We know the science of how unkind words affect bodies. We know how it affects growing brains and nervous systems.
Still, we are blind to it, not even knowing it’s something we need to pay attention to.
So...here I am. Trying and fighting and crying. Failing at life? Or, living in truth.
The feeling of sadness is compounded by the fact that I’m “incapable” or a “failure” for being this way.
Depression can mean isolation...either self imposed, or otherwise.
Nobody wants to deal with that shit. And the fact is depression makes maneuvering through daily activities quite difficult.
This knowledge creates stress, and then more depression, (because depression is one of the body’s ways of dealing with a stress response that has been on for too long) as I get afraid every month trying to hide it, failing to hide it, etc...
I’ve spent the past year reading and learning and trying to understand, to get answers for some real hope.
I’ve spoken to people who are in therapy for 28 years and still struggling...
I’d love to do somatic therapy. Someday, when my budget allows.
Whenever my period comes, I will feel better and will lift from this wrought iron place, to a better place.
In the midst of feeling bad, it’s too easy to forget that there is anything about me that is in fact, very, very good.
So today, in pajamas, I can try to remember that a little darkness means my light can shine brighter when the time is right.