Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)

pmdd

So I came across an article by Rose George where she talks about the forbidden thing, a woman’s period or menstrual cycle. She discusses how hard it is having her period as a female professional athlete. She highlighted coaches who are now taking a women’s menstrual cycle into account when determining training.

As I read this article, I remember my history with “getting my period.” I was nine years old when I got my first cycle. It happened during the summer while I was at camp. I jokingly blame my mother because she had “the talk” with me before I left and made sure I had sanitary pads packed. Thanks Mom, good looking out!

I was the first girl to get my period in my elementary school and as it continued I started having severe symptoms. First off there were times when I was on my period for up to 14 days and I started having horrible cramps. I remember wishing I was a boy so I did not have to deal with it. In high school the pains got worse. School was important to me, so missing was not an option. Instead I trained my friends and teachers to  know when I was on my period. The code for my friends was me singing Monica’s song “It’s just one of those days.” That was code for leave me alone for the week or you are subject to get your feelings hurt. I spoke to my teachers about allowing me to be in the back of the room where I could stand or lay on the floor during class. I remember at one point my doctor’s placing me on a medication that cost $10 a pill to help with my symptoms. That only lasted one month because insurance did not cover it and we could not afford it.   My period was so heavy that I wore two pads at one time and had to change every two to three hours. When Always came out with their Ultra Thin line I was the happiest woman ever! And now their Infinity line is even better! I would do a commercial for free! LOL

Most of all I remember feeling alone with what I was experiencing. My mother was always there to talk, but she did not experience what I did so it was hard for her to relate. She was also dealing with her own issues going through…(another forbidden word) menopause. In the work that I do I have come across several cases of girls going through severe measures to hide that they have started their period. And who can blame them when we have movies like “Carrie.”

As I prepared for teaching my Introduction to Interviewing class this week, I was typing up questions to ask clients to assess for Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder or PMDD. I realized that this is the accurate diagnosis for me and what I experienced every month. The symptoms of PMDD must be present the week before to the week after a woman’s menstrual cycle. This diagnosis is characterized by having at least one of the first four symptoms and at least five or more of the eleven symptoms listed below:

  • Have mood swings where you suddenly feel sad or tearful or more sensitive to comments or criticisms of others?
  • Feel more irritable or angry or get into more arguments?
  • Feel depressed, hopeless, or self-critical?
  • Feel anxious, tense, keyed up, or on edge?
  • Feel less interested in your usual activities?
  • Have problems concentrating?
  • Feel very tired?
  • Overeat or have food cravings?
  • Have difficulty sleeping or sleep too much?
  • Feel overwhelmed or out of control emotionally?
  • Have breast tenderness or swelling?
  • Have joint or muscle pain?
  • Feel bloated?
  • Gain weight?

In addition, there has to be significant interference with multiple areas of your life, not be caused by another diagnosis, medical condition or medicine, and have occurred during at least two symptomatic cycles.

Now understand that PMDD is more severe than the normal PMS that everyone talks about. For me I was not able to function. As a young adult, my doctor finally placed me on birth control pills which helped a lot. I was upset because it had not been done before. She stated that she did not want to make the suggestion because of my age. My question was “But why make me suffer for so many years when there was a simple answer?” Taking birth control for a medical reason does not equal a desire to go out and start having sex. This worked for a few years, but when I was in my late twenties (No trying to figure out my age! LOL) I started having problems again. I started missing work. My doctor said she doesn’t see why I need to have a period every month and placed me on Seasonale where I only have a period every three months. This has been life changing for me to only deal with symptoms four times a year. And even when I do, my symptoms have decreased, but I still have some months that are hard.

There are other treatments besides taking birth control pills. There are supplements and herbal remedies that your doctor can suggest, and there are also diet and lifestyle changes you can make. If you feel like this is you, consult with your medical team to devise a plan. No one should have to suffer through this. And remember that you are responsible for the emotional fall out that occurs when experiencing symptoms. I purposefully stay to myself during this time because of my mood irritability. I would never want to hurt anyone around me. It is ok to talk about this and let others support you. Thank you Rose George for being a trail blazer!

Click here to read Rose George’s article:  http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jan/22/period-menstruation-heather-watson-taboo.

HOPE

As I sit closing out the celebration of Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday and the 50th Anniversary of the Selma march, I can only think of one word “HOPE.”

Last week I had the opportunity of facilitating my first cancer support group that was filled with men and women of all ages in various stages of their cancer fight and their caregivers. Our theme for that night was “HOPE.” I was inspired by their strength and moved by their individual stories. I was inspired by the group of people who wanted a place to belong, to share, cry, laugh, and learn. During that group I brought up the quote by the late Stuart Scott:

stuart scott

The members of this group were also inspired by his words and encouraged to keep going even as some faced upcoming medical procedures. I left that group feeling honored that they are allowing me to facilitate that group.

Throughout last week and this weekend their message of hope even facing life threatening and/or terminal illness has remained with me. This weekend has been filled with messages of hope as the country celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Selma March and the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. The people who marched 50th years ago with Dr. King did so on hope. Hope for a better future. Hope for equality. Dr. King stated:

MLK Hope

I would agree. Nothing can be accomplished without hope no matter the situation, circumstances, or person. We have to have hope that things will change. Hope that we will accomplish our goals. Hope that we will survive. This does not mean that we do not walk out principles and steps to do what needs to be done. Hope is an action. Having hope allows us to wake up every morning and get out of bed. Hope allows us to push through the obstacles that come our way. Hope allows us to respond with love when those around us and close to us hurt us. Hope allows us to continue mentoring and teaching even when it seems like no one is listening or paying attention.

Today I rest in this verse and pray this prayer over all who reads this blog:

Hope Romans 15.13

May we all continue to have hope as we move through the journey of life no matter what obstacles may come our way. Amen.

Happy 2015! #PassionPlanner

It has been a minute since I have posted. Last year one of my goals was to post at least every week and I did not meet that goal. The first part of the year was great! The second half of the year I ran into a lot of illness and found myself tired trying to manage everything. So of course this goal will remain for this year, but I have a new tool to assist me with this and all other areas of my life.

As 2014 closed out, I sat and wrote the following Facebook post: “As I sit in the last minutes of 2014, I contemplate how I am not where I wanted to be at but God continues to bless me and protect me. Then I looked up on my wall and I saw this saying.

2015 Motto

It reminds me that I have the power to change my circumstances. There will be things that are out of my control, but I have control over how I let them affect me. There are some things that I have allowed to hold me back. Things that I have allowed to make me fearful and think less of myself. I am taking back my power and control. I will conquer the things that I need to and I will continue to move forward and succeed. I will have a new testimony in 2015!” I am geared up and ready to take on 2015, which brings me to my new tool.

Passion Planner

Meet the Passion Planner! This is “An all-in-one weekly appointment calendar, journal, goal setting guide, to-do list, and gratitude log integrated in one planner” that was developed by young lady who was looking for a tool to assist her in accomplishing her goals. I found out about this tool from a post by one of my friends on Facebook. When I looked at the layout I fell in love! I literally carry a book with me that serves as a journal and place to write down anything I need. My schedule has been kept electronically and I did not have a specific place where I kept my goals. So to have one book that will include everything was mind blowing! My hard copy has not arrived yet, but the creator was kind enough to give access to the PDF version while waiting for the tangible item.

So today has been my 2015 planning day! I sat down and completed the Wish List and Passion Road Map for the first set of goals I want to accomplish. I then worked on revising my schedule to accommodate not only my daily activities, but also steps to reaching my goals. This year I will keep an electronic and paper copy of my schedule. Throughout the year I will post about using the Passion Planner and how it is assisting me in reaching my goals. You can find out more about the Passion Planner by visiting http://www.passionplanner.com/.