I’d like to get a little Kanye-real with you, and tell you about something that has really affected my life for the past seven years. For a while, I didn’t know what it was and it got thrown a few different labels, all of which I reluctantly wore like I was at some awkward family reunion (..if my family actually had them).Depression seemed to be the most fitting, because it matched a majority of the criteria, and when you’re faced with no options, you cling to whatever a medical professional gives you. But there was always something off about it, and something that didn’t seem quite right, especially given the fact that I only experienced major down periods 10 days or more before each period. As obvious as it was, I never associated my depression with my hormones, or rather the link was never clearly established.
So I tried birth control as a means to an end, and it worked briefly and for a few months it seemed like I had a chance to the ‘stable, happy’ Maria, everyone liked the most. But it was short-lived, and as well as failing to really balance everything out, it took away a lot of emotion that always came naturally to me. I never believed in birth control as a personal choice, and it seemed like I was getting thrown a band-aid to temporarily mask something, that no one was willing to get to the bottom of.
I even more recently went to see an endocrinologist, a woman who specialised in hormones, only to get handed a box of birth control and sent on my way after 20 minutes. I can’t tell you how disheartening that was, especially when she dismissed the idea of what I thought I had based on my own research,
‘No it can’t be that, usually the depression stops as soon as your period starts and you says yours continues’, she said.
As though we all need to have the exact text-book prognonsis.
I’m not sure what baffled me more, the fact that I paid $350 for an appointment and birth control, or that as a woman herself, she didn’t emphasise enough to want to dig a little deeper. So much to the disapproval of my Mother, I turned to Dr Google and thank God I did, because it’s when I found this article. And please, actually read the article..
Ladies and perhaps a few Gentlemen, let me introduce you to PMDD. It’s like PMS but not something you ever want to joke about, and not something that can be trivialized in the form of a meme. To give you a brief summary, roughly 3-8% of women will get it, and it’s characterised by horrible physical and psychological symptoms that occur before a woman is about to get her period in the second half of her menstrual cycle.
My Doctor had diagnosed me with PMDD previously, but to be honest I was a bit of a juvenile asshole and didn’t take it all the seriously. Let’s all be real, if you hear PMDD ‘the cousin of PMS’, it seems like a harmless and somewhat unfortunate by-product of being a woman and something that one would just have to live with.
But the older I got, the worst it got as well, and this is where I would like to get very personal. I’ll preface what I’m about to write in saying that it could potentially be triggering, and what I’m talking about (as always) isn’t intended to get a reaction, it’s to get the conversation started. I have been so consumed in my own head and thoughts, as this disorder will do to you, that I have often thought about taking my life. A few months ago I wrote a letter, the first one I’ve ever written, and that’s when shit got very real for me.
This tunnel-vision that happens around this time, blocks off every positive experience I’ve ever had and makes me believe that my situation is indeed a hopeless one. At this particular moment, it seemed too much and frankly, I got tired of only being happy and feeling like ‘myself’ two weeks out of every month. That’s potentially 26 weeks that I’m missing out on, that I’m not experiencing fully, because of this damn thing.
There is also the binge eating, which as someone with a history of body dysmorphia and disordered eating, is absolutely crushing. It’s not just a matter of pre-period comfort eating, it’s shutting myself off in my room and ordering uber eats multiple times per day and stuffing my face. And yes my friends, if PMDD wasn’t already depressing enough, that little scenario definitely is. I’m a pretty health-conscious eater and regular exerciser, and going through those motions (although varied each month), really puts me back to square one and makes me feel like those previous efforts were for nothing.
It has ruined a lot of romantic relationships because I could never be decisive enough to let things flow naturally, or I was simply a moody bitch. And as I’ve discovered, there are very few guys will understand the whole hormonal thing, or at least be emotionally mature enough to explore it with you. I don’t blame them, because when you meet me you think you’re getting one thing and very soon it changes into something else and it’s a giant mind-fuck. Sometimes I really wonder if I will have a long-term relationship, or if I’ll get married and you better believe as sappy as it is, those are thing I very much want.
The brain fog is also a nice little addition to that list, and I can’t tell you how many things I’ve attempted or courses I’ve not been able to finish because I can’t concentrate long enough to get simple tasks done. In the process I make myself out to be one of those flaky people and despite what some of you may think, hard work is something I intrinsically, deeply value. Did I mention the whole cancelling plans, being anti-social and being a crappy friend, sister and daughter thing too?
If all of this sounds horrendous and like I’m painting a picture of my life as a living nightmare, then I’m sorry I can’t be more uplifting because this is the reality of PMDD. Unfortunately, as is the case for me, I didn’t know enough about it because it’s not spoken nearly enough about. And yet, there are women not only opting for hysterectomies but also on the verge of ending their life, and often following through because they can’t bear the thought of going through the motions next month. This seriously has to change.
What I want to stop doing, is victimizing myself and allowing this thing to take complete control of my life, even though it seems like there is little I can do to stop it. I know that if I can be hopeful, just as I was when I deleted the letter I wrote, I can find some kind of peace and balance within this whirlwind each month. I’ve joined online support groups, which I didn’t even know existed, and I’ve found a whole community of other women out there who also want to be given the chance to not only be helped, but also understood.
You better believe I’m exploring my options and I’m delving further into self-care than I ever have before. It’s not for the sake of feeding into my own neurosis either, which I know is embedded in me, it’s so I can be a better version of myself for people I want to be joyful around
I hope this will get better..
nahh scrap that.
This will get better.