As I think back on all the years of living with PMDD, these are what has helped me keep going, in no particular order.
right now I am taking Wellbutrin. My first antidepressant was Zoloft which was prescribed by my Obgyn for me when I was dealing with postpartum depression, twelve years ago. The side effects proved to be too difficult to live with and were hard on my marriage. I spent years trying out others. I also tried taking it only two weeks out of the month during my “bad” weeks, but the ups and downs still proved to be too severe. I’ve been on Wellbutrin for somewhere around seven years or so.
- Bio-identical Hormone Replacement Therapy—
I have now been on these for three or four years under the direction of my Nurse Practioner at http://vitaeheal.com/. I tried going off them for awhile and my PMDD symptoms came back in full force. I didn’t realize how much the bioidentical hormones were definitely taking the edge off! I immediately started taking them again. I initially took Etriol and Progesterone. My estriol levels improved so I am only taking Progesterone the second half of the cycle.
- Joining a support group for PMDD on FB—
This came as a result of reaching a place of desperation when I tried going off of the natural hormones I was taking. I so badly wanted to connect with people who understood the unique issues that come with PMDD. And how horrible it is. On one hand, being a part of these groups “normalized” what I was going through. On the other, it woke me up to the severity of the symptoms we deal with and how life threatening those symptoms can be!
- Giving up caffeine—
I discovered this one early on. I’m not even sure where I heard that it might be affecting things. After going off caffeine for awhile and attempting a half caff before being in a socially stressful situation that resulted in a panic attack, I realized that cup of coffee is not worth it! Don’t get me wrong, I still love coffee. I’ve just found that it doesn’t love me. It seriously makes me evil towards my family! If I have to choose between a cup of coffee and treating my family right, my family wins!
I wanted to head this one “giving up sugar” but that sounded too depressing and I’m sure you wouldn’t read it. I am a former sugar junkie. If I can give up sugar, anyone can. I seriously had a moment when I cried out to God and asked him to please help me because I loved sugar but it made me SO MEAN to my family. My moods are out of control when I am not careful and start consuming too much sugar. Shortly after my desperate plea for help, I heard about Trim Healthy Mama, or THM for short. Pearl and Serene are two down to earth moms that are changing the world one mom at a time. They taught me that while I needed to give up sugar, I didn’t need to give up sweets (Thank you, Lord!). There are so many women that have been helped by their way of eating and lost weight in the process. You can hear my THM testimony here.
- Hitting the “reset” button–
My counselor, Dori, once said to me,
“When you are in that moment of feeling depressed, do the exact opposite of what you feel like doing.”
This has proved to be incredibly helpful. It can be going for a walk instead of laying on the couch. Eat something healthy instead of that cheeseburger. Call a friend instead of isolating yourself. Go to bed and get sleep instead of coping with one more TV show that will make you more tired and a bear to deal with in the morning. I even heard on the FB group that sex can be a reset button. It makes sense since it is all about hormones that we are dealing with here. Take control and don’t let those hormones control you! I have found it to actually be helpful!
- Admitting how much PMDD has affected my life.
Seriously, this doesn’t sound that hard but living in denial and minimizing the havoc it wreaked seemed easier for some reason. Yet when I finally came to grips with it, I could then move forward with a more serious mentality.
- Using an app to track my cycle so I’m aware of when my bad days might be—
I use Ovuview, but there are many apps like this one out there. I like that I can track my mood as well as my period.
I started this back in college, maybe even high school. The amazing thing has been reading back over those journals and seeing how when I cried out to God, so often the next journal entry was telling of how, even if it was small, He lifted my spirits in some way. I noticed this pattern over and over and over again.
I can’t say enough about Jesus. He’s the reason I’m still alive! Knowing he has a purpose in all this is what keeps me going. Nothing is wasted that he allows us to walk through. He has been my greatest source of comfort. He is who I cry out to. I come to him with my mess (sometimes looking a mess with make-up running down my face, puffy eyes and a red nose) and know that I am completely accepted. I don’t have to explain anything to him or try to act like I’m okay. While my moods might be too much for me or my husband, they are not too much for Him. He hears me. He fights on my behalf.