The Hidden Injury of PMDD

“I wanted to quit because I was suffering. That is not a good enough reason.” – Ted Corbitt

I almost decided not to write about PMDD.  The thought of sharing what is considered a mental weakness leads to an automatic assumption that I am a little off my rocker.  No comments please…

No one intentionally judges someone with bi-polar disorder or depression.  It is a slight shrinking away from the unknown and the unstable.  PMDD is similar to being bi-polar.  The difference is the consistency.  PMDD will hit every two weeks like clockwork.  About every third cycle, in my case, it is so severe I have to talk myself out of suicide.  My muscles and joints hurt so bad I feel my bones will crumble if I move too fast. Typing hurts.  Rolling over hurts.  The sadness is so deep there is no hope, no joy, no future.  It is only darkness for days and days.  And right as the pain is going to consume my mind and body, my cycle begins and the world is turned upright again as if the previous two weeks never happened.

It is vicious.  It is destructive.  It is painful and it is never ending.

I am told by those around me I am outgoing, extroverted and can do anything I set my mind to to. That is until they see me fall and wonder what happened.

I’ve been just as confused until September 2011, when it became clear there was a pattern to the insanity.

My husband and I were in the middle of trying to start a photography and Real estate business when it became clear we were facing something much bigger than we could have ever imagined.   I would soon discover my ambitions would be pulled out from under me like a ugly, worn out rug.

Up until then, I had hope I would one day shake whatever it was that tripped me up so much.   We thought it was connected to the abuse from my childhood or maybe my walk with God was really weak or maybe I was just a weak person in general.  Maybe, just maybe, if I tried harder, or prayed harder or exercised harder or ate better or something!!!!!  There had to be something I was doing wrong.

After we narrowed the diagnosis, I began facing the fact, I couldn’t do everything I dreamed of doing….and that pain is another post entirely.

I knew something was wrong, but I had no idea the symptoms grew worse and worse as you get older.  It made sense though, as I was moving into my 40’s why the intensity was growing.

Friends only see me when I can leave the house. I venture out when I have energy and drive. This causes so much confusion when I meet new people.  I am vibrant and joyful at first and when I am pressured into social situations during the “luteal” phase, they see a quiet, sad often “sick” stranger they don’t recognize.

I can’t imagine how it is interpreted.

I cancel coffee dates, go two weeks without answering my phone, drop out of obligations I make during my good weeks.  I’ve since learned the crash will come and I have no business volunteering, working, serving or reaching out to anyone.

I’ve lost jobs, quit jobs, started and quit businesses, started and quit homeschooling over and over, lost friends, went on uncontrolled spending sprees, started arguments and walked away from relationships to save them from myself.

I wish at times, I had a physical ailment.  A limp, a scar, a broken bone or even cancer.  At least then, when someone met me they would have evidence of my disease.  They would be able empathize and process the injury in their own mind.

Instead, the injury is inside my mind.  It is not visible unless you live under the same roof.

It is hidden behind a mask I wear everywhere I go.  I can’t escape from the betrayal of my mind and body every month.  It is always taunting me…always waiting silently to paralyze me yet again and destroy everything I begin to build.

I’ve learned not to build anymore.  That is what hurts the most.

I will begin a journey to discover answers.

***Nothing has worked so far and in another post, I will share what I’ve tried and the results……

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Introduction: Husband

Living with the other half of PMDD.

I can tell you many things about the “other” side.  I imagine most men have run from the idea of dealing with the challenge and want to stop fighting the fight of PMDD.  I let those thoughts sneak into my head too from time to time, but I quickly denounce that logic and re-affirm my love to my bride.  In sickness and in health, till death do us part.

It is rough when you see your friends and fellow Soldiers get hurt or killed.  These are things that never leave you no matter how tough you are.  You constantly think about what you could have done, how it could have been different, or even… it should have been me.

PMDD is a lot like that and the only way to not live a life of what if’s and instead, live a life of I can’s and I will’s, is to love.

I will not give up on my wife.  It’s hard!  It hurts!  At times it seems hopeless, but faith hope and love are the good things He gave us and the greatest is love.

Love is not conditional.  There is no real criterion for reception of love and there should not be criteria for giving love either.

I hope to share the “other” half of PMDD with you as Laurie and I take this journey one step at a time.

I am a professional Soldier.  Often times my point of view will be analogous to military life.  I have done this almost half my life; therefore, it’s what I know.

Letter from Son: His point of view

My husband and children wrote a letter to the doctor so they can get their point of view:

This is what I see.  My mom is always sleeping.  She can never get up because she is in so much pain.

Her pmdd has a huge effect on other people.  She has a short fuse.

My sister and I have to do everything around the house.  We pretty much have to tip toe around the house because we are afraid she will get up and get mad at some small thing we did.

We do things wrong but she get like three times as mad as usual. It hurts me and my sister to see her in so much pain.

She can hardly get up to get her coffee and water or really anything she needs.

It’s hard when my dad’s not here.  He seems to keep us going on the right path when she’s in her thing.

Letter from my Husband to the doctor

I married Laura on August 21st 1997.  We have spent the last 15 years of our lives serving our country together.  Laura has spent all of our marriage battling bouts of depression.  We have been to numerous doctors across the military community over the years.

In 2005, Laura was diagnosed as Bi-polar and prescribed Lexapro and Abilify.  She took that medicine for three months and the result was disastrous.  She gained nearly 70 pounds and made an attempt to end our marriage.  I begged her to stop the depression medication and we would see if that was influencing her decision.  She did and we were able to work through it.  In 2010 Laura’s Bi-polar diagnosis was reversed.

In early 2011, Laura and I were struggling with her battles with depression.  I asked her to keep a journal and attempt to log her feelings as she had them and we would see if there was a pattern.  My goal was to eliminate the stress in her life in order to help her when she began to battle the depression.  We found a mobile device application that tracked her monthly menstrual cycle and allowed her to make notes on a daily basis.  Our findings with this application overwhelmingly trended a 10 day to two week depression every month before her cycle with near immediate relief once her menstrual cycle began.

For nearly 15 years Laura and I have prayed, dieted, exercised, gone to the Dr, and taken medicine to help combat the depression.  Pre-Menstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) is real.  It has a huge impact on our family.  Laurie has made several attempts through the years to do great and wonderful things.  She goes for the gusto then fades out, comes back to pick up the pieces then fades away gain.  It took us nearly 15 years to figure out what was going on, now we are trying to figure out how we are going to deal with this and end up on the winning side.

 

Letter from Daughter: Her point of view

My husband and children wrote a letter to the doctor so they can get their point of view:

I am the oldest child in this family. While my mom is in bed sick I am trying to maintain the household.

I am only 14 years old and that’s kind of a stressful job.

I know my mom on the days she is not affected and she is one of the most amazing people you’ll ever find in this world. Luckily mom knows how not to be grumpy, irritated and annoyed during the weeks she is sick.

Her solution is just to go to bed since her body hurts so bad anyway. Most kids get the experience of being with their parent, cooking, cleaning, hanging out, having fun. For half of the month I don’t even see her unless it’s time for dinner.

Lately, since I am older now she will drive me to the grocery store so I can get the groceries we need in our house. PMDD affects her so much she can’t even get out of her PJ’s.

My brother is 13 years old.  He and I do everything we can to help her, such as, clean, make dinner, try to stay quiet and do our school. There isn’t much else we can do.

A few days ago was her birthday. I think if it were up to her she would have just stayed in bed, but she didn’t. She got up and made herself go to the theatre and watch a movie and go shopping.

That might sound crazy, but it’s true. She had to make herself have fun. I really, really hate seeing her like that.

Letter to My Soldier

POSTED on a online support group I am a part of:

I wrote this to my husband today who is deployed to Afghanistan.  At the bottom, I said, I have no one to talk to about this…I realized I can share it with you…..

Hi.
It’s days like today that make me stop pursuing photography or real estate again. I woke up and for no reason, I couldn’t move until almost 3. I am just drinking coffee…but my body hurts and I could go back to bed. I just don’t want to lay down anymore. I would have felt guilty if you were home. You would come home from work with me in PJ’s…a headache and not in the best mood. Im not upset, just lethargic.
No P90X, no errands, no phone calls …I just cant.

Man, where do we go from here? Thankfully the kids have their online school and I am not trying to teach them anymore…
The side effect to knowing I can’t pursue my dreams, is wanting to give up on even daily tasks.

The purpose in my life is starting to become blurred and unnecessary.

I may be “necessary” in your eyes or the kids as far as being an important person in your life,

But I don’t contribute anything that helps the family around the house very much. I can’t concentrate most days long enough to even put a menu plan together.

If *Sarah doesn’t make the meals, they usually eat cereal.

My attention span, my drive, my motivation is non existent.

I am speaking of time even outside of PMDD now because I have so many days effected by PMDD…that I have lost hope and know not to be TOO happy on days I am not dealing with it. I mean, who wants to feel joy for 4 or 5 days and then have it snatched over and over again.

Who wants to feel strong and physically capable of doing anything just to have it all disappear in the 2 to 3 weeks it starts to decline.

Is all this PMDD talking? Of course. Because PMDD is who I am most of the time. It is who I am today whether I like it or not. It is who I am without my permission.

I dreamed of thick, long yellow and black snakes coming in our house over and over again all day. Finding them curled up on top of cabinets. Finding them as they slip silently through the glass door someone forgot to close all the way. They were coming up through the crawl space in the night. But they were there. Surrounding us all the time. You kept catching them with your bare hands and taking them outside, but they kept coming back. Always in the room. Always reminding us we were not alone and to never let our guard down. Never sleeping. That is what PMDD feels like for me.

I love you. I can’t share this with anyone else and I needed to talk.
I miss you so much.

Written September 16, 2012 —FOLLOW UP TO THE PREVIOUS POST:

Please: I’m ready to make whatever changes I have to…
I’m sorry I’ve not responded to my last post (the letter I wrote to my husband in Afghanistan) I still plan to. I just haven’t been able to break free from my prison of PMDD this week long enough to.

I’ve spent a week in bed, in pain. Exhausted. A few days away now from starting and I am of course losing my mind. Sadness is covering me like a heavy blanket. Irrational thoughts. Any hope of joy is gone now.

I HAVE to make a change. I can’t do this many more months.
It is getting progressively worse.

My world is collapsing from this earthquake inside that will not stop.
Friends are falling away and I am isolating myself more each month.

MY MAIN QUESTION: Anyone who has used anything-diet, Paleo, vitamins, acupuncture, faith…..(anything but drugs for now) Please comment.

I need you guys now.

*Daughter’s name changed