I’d be afraid to look at the calendar. I’d wonder, “Will it be bad this month?” I’d plan lunchdates around it… I’d try to cook days in advance… I’d even plan going to bed around 6:00 pm in hopes of being alive again by the time I needed to go to my 8:00am class. When PMDD week hit, I would start contemplating why I was alive. Emotionally, I was a mess. Physically, I was exhausted, but not in any type of pain.
One of my best friend would start getting cramps a week in advance. She’d cry over everything, want to break up with her boyfriend, would wear sweatpants to class. And through it all she’d tell me, “I just can’t wait to get my period!” Emotionally, she was weepy. Physically, she had uncomfortable cramps.
Yet another friend of mine had endometriosis. At this point in my life she was living in the suite across from me, and I swear, once a month it sounded like someone was performing Civil War era amputations in the room next door. The poor woman was in PAIN. Emotionally, she was fine. Physically, she was in excrutiating pain.
Where do you lie on the spectrum? Would you say you struggle more physically or emotionally when it’s time for Aunt Flo’s visit?
It was my senior year in college, and I had to make an emergency trip to the counseling center (not for the first time). I was panicked: “it” had happened again. I was missing weeks of classes because of the intense anxiety to leave my room. I couldn’t do my homework no matter how hard I tried. I had been training for a half marathon and running up to 8 miles daily, but suddenly I couldn’t make it one mile without my limbs quitting from exhaustion. Oh, and speaking of exhaustion- I was sleeping fourteen or more hours every night, and felt like I could sleep for fourteen more ( I know, I know, that’s more time than there is in a day. The day didn’t have enough hours for me to sleep- that’s bad people).
The dear sweet woman counselor was named Ashley. She was very young, and still uneducated enough that she had been given an internship with the overprivileged and underaged college students. I was shocked she wasn’t still in college. She wore flowery tops and brown flats that seemed to suggest she had a bit of hipster in her. But her short, shiny hair gave her away- I am pretty sure she was the type of girl who went home every night and cried for her patients. Her compassion seemed to ooze out of her as I told her how much I was struggling and how much I just wanted to quit everything and go home and sleep forever (which would only maybe be enough sleep).
This was when I first found out that I had PMDD.
Dear sweet Ashley opened a giant book the size of my thighs (the only proper analogy for large things) and began to list off a series of symptoms that I could only nod “yes” too.
Um, hi. Those are some terrible symptoms. I looked back over my life (well, at least my post-puberty life), and I could see the weeks that I suffered from PMDD like black spots in the middle of a happy life. Just about every month that I could remember, there had been a week where I had bailed on friends, started failing academically, slept 14+ hours a night, eaten embarrassing amounts of food, and found myself unable to read even the simplest book. It was overwhelming, thinking about all those A’s turned to C’s, all those friends turned to acquaintances, all that gym time wasted in a monthly carb-frenzy. There really wasn’t anything that I couldn’t pin on PMDD. But that just seems wrong… right?
I’m writing this blog because it is 2 years since my PMDD “diagnoses” (there really is no medical test to prove that you suffer from it), and I am still dealing with it in a very real way. I want to find a community of women– young, kinda young, and not young at all– who can talk about their PMS, their PMDD, their endometriosis or maybe just their bad cramps. We’ve got to start supporting each other and realizing- the impact that our hormones and our periods have on our lives in HUGE. But I think that the more we take that into account, the more was can learn to laugh at ourselves and at Aunt Flo and learn how to roll with the uterine punches.