“What does your PMDD look like?”
I was asked this question recently and I thought it might be helpful if I described what I feel like when I experience PMDD, or Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder. It occurs one or two days out of the month around my cycle. (Sometimes it is more days but it can occur from a week after ovulation until the end of my period.)
Upon waking, I will sometimes already feel a cloud over me. My eyes open to a world tinted gray and I see everything through that lens. My heart is heavy. Hopeless thoughts join me as I eat my breakfast or take a shower. So many thoughts swarm to the point of overwhelming me. Thoughts like:
“I am a terrible mom.”
“This situation is hopeless…that situation is helpless.”
I have suddenly lost all motivation to work out or to accomplish something that I was excited about just yesterday. Only negativity comes out of my mouth. It is anger and meanness, geared towards the people I love the most in the whole world. I seriously feel bad for my family as I can snap without a moment’s notice. Suddenly, everything they do is wrong, wrong, wrong and you let them verbally have it! You feel completely justified in the moment but when the PMDD wears off, you feel incredibly guilty, “What kind of person are you?!” you ask yourself. Oh, that you could escape YOU!
Sometimes it is just an overwhelming urge to cry. I realized this past winter that this crying business definitely has a physical aspect to it. Having healed and worked through so much emotional stuff, I found it strange that one day the urge to cry overwhelmed me but I had no reason to cry. But the feeling kept growing until I retreated to my bedroom and had a big, ugly cry and all was better.
Sometimes it is extreme anxiety. I am agitated and my stomach is all in knots over something. This often takes place at night when I’m trying to go to sleep. I can’t fall asleep because I am so bothered and upset and it ends up affecting sleep, both mine and Jim’s. These are the nights I am most susceptible to suicidal thoughts. This often has been the case the night before my period would start. It’s like the anxiety builds and builds to where I go to bed in tears and in the morning, like the sun rising after a night storm, I am better and my period has arrived. The clouds have cleared away and the sun in shining again.
It is a change in the tone of my voice. My voice reflects how I feel– flat, lifeless–and my mom now knows when I have PMDD because she can hear the difference over the phone!
Sometimes I feel glued to the couch. It is no energy to do anything. Small things take great effort. It is easier to sit on the couch staring, doing nothing. It is watching TV or eating, coping just to get through the day. Wishing this day would end and trying not to entertain thoughts of wishing my life would end.
It is feeling numb when the storm you created finally settles. It is like you have to recover from yourself!
It is hitting the bottom of a pit, month after month after month, year after year and wondering how long you can hold on.
It is also kneeling beside my bed trying to pray.
It is opening my Bible, reading it out of desperation.
It is tears cried out to Jesus asking for help.
It is dependence, in the purest sense of the word, in the God who has loved me all along.
It is faith that He hears me, He’s near me, and somehow He’s working all this suffering for something greater than I can see.