How I've Handled My PMDD Symptoms
The mental and emotional roller coaster of PMDD can be debilitating, especially in conjunction with other life stressors. Here's how I've handled it.
About a week ago my luteal phase started, AKA Hell Week. This is when the symptoms of PMDD are present and they often drop on you like a bomb. No matter how happy you are, your mood can do a complete 180 and everything spirals from there.
I had to take 2 days off of work this past week. I couldn't think straight due to brain fog. I forgot how to turn my shower on. My body felt heavy, like I was going to melt into the ground beneath me. It was hard to move my head, speak, or keep my eyes open. My head felt like it was going to cave in at one point. I had no energy, no appetite, nausea came in waves, and I've barely slept. I cried, the guttural cries of someone who just wants it all to end or to end it all. I deactivated my Facebook account and took time away from Instagram - one of the symptoms is "losing your sense of control" which can lead to embarrassing outbursts on social media. I tend to cry for help, but then retract into my shell whenever anyone reaches out. It's hard to see the light through all the chaos sometimes.
The interesting thing I've realized about PMDD is that it can bring underlying issues to the forefront. When you peel back the layers of the intensified thoughts and feelings during a PMDD cycle, you can usually pinpoint the reason or event that has lead you to feel or act this way in the first place. I've made a few breakthroughs this past week that I'm very proud of. I've been able to narrow down negative thought patterns or responses to certain situations, what caused them, and now I know this is something I can work on as I continuously strive for self improvement. An even more interesting thing I've found is that sometimes deep in that chaos, I feel more like myself than ever. Inspired to create all the things I've dreamt about before. Kind of like that whole idea that madness breeds creativity...
I am not currently on any treatment for PMDD. I tried birth control, which made it worse and I would like to avoid any serious mood or hormone altering drugs for as long as possible. Some of the most common natural ways to help with symptoms include:
getting enough sleep
eating healthy and staying hydrated
taking herbal supplements or vitamins
These are things you should try to do regardless to live a healthy lifestyle. But if you're anything like me, PMDD makes it hard to follow these basic practices at times. A symptom of PMDD is insomnia, and no amount of regimented routine, like limiting caffeine and screen time before bed, or even taking melatonin, changes that for me. Eating a balanced diet can be hard on certain days because I have no appetite or feel nauseous. And exercising is hit or miss for me - sometimes I physically can't because of the pain.
So I've started to expand beyond these steps to more spiritual self-care practices. I'd go as far as saying this is my own way of holistic healing. Here are some of the things I do:
I'll be the first to admit that burning sage is completely new to me, though I am familiar with it because of the paranormal world. The practice of burning sage has been part of many cultures around the world for centuries, such as those of indigenous Americans, which is something I am actively educating myself on. Sage has many cleansing and healing properties, and so I've started doing my own rituals to help release some of the bad energy that I feel with PMDD.
Generally I will burn sage, sit on the floor, put headphones on, and listen to some of my favorite calming YouTube channels. Usually I will go with Shamanic drumming or rain stick from the Calm Whale channel to ground me. If I'm feeling a bit on the darker side, I will put on something from the Cryo Chamber channel. But the goal is still the same - clear my head and redirect my thoughts.
Not only do I listen to music while I sage, but I basically have music on from the moment I wake up until the moment I go to sleep. Music is therapy for me. I have about 45 playlists, and know all of the songs on them intimately. Music helps while I sage, meditate, write, cook, work, and do literally anything. It heals my pain, inspires, and makes me feel whole.
I'm not good at meditating. But as I've said, when I put on music and sage, or even just light some candles, I am able to ground myself, gain control of my thoughts, release what I cannot control, and focus on redirecting negativity to positivity.
I've always been a writer. I stumble through spoken word daily, but I can pour my soul onto a piece of paper without a second thought. After I sage and/or meditate, I have begun writing down positive affirmations relating to whatever I am struggling with at the time. So if I'm struggling with feeling sad, I will write down a few short, positive sentences about what makes me happy.
It is not easy to share my journey with PMDD because of how much it affects me. The chaos is so personal, and it's hard to explain unless you have dealt with it or are close to someone who has it. I am determined though, to continue to share my story and find ways to heal. Just know that if you are reading this, I appreciate you taking the time to understand this rare disorder.