Note: I’m about to get personal here. For anyone who may be uncomfortable with this level of disclosure, consider yourself warned.
Twitter has been abuzz lately from Rebecca’s review of Flow by Elissa Stein and Susan Kim. Yes, she *may* be having a giveaway for a copy of this book, but I have been thinking about sharing my story for a while now because of the fact that no one really talks about it. Considering that is exactly what Rebecca discusses, the timing is perfect.
See, I love being a woman. I love the shoes. I love wearing dresses. I love wearing jewelry and perfume. I love the fact that having larger breasts makes us special (because there is all sorts of irony there). I love the fact that we can grow life inside of us, the beauty and unconditional love that arises from the knowledge that my body nurtured that helpless infant. It is uniquely female, and I revel in every bit of it.
I even love getting my period. There. I said it. I do love it because it means that I am not pregnant (I had my two. I am satisfied.). It means that I am healthy. It also means that I can finally go back to being human again. You see, I have premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).
For one to two weeks out of every month, I don’t just have PMS. I become a barely-functioning member of society. I get tension headaches and become anxious. All of my old doubts and self-loathing come to the fore. I eat…constantly; sun-up to sun-down, I am eating something or listening to my stomach growl because I haven’t eaten in an hour. I become so depressed I can barely function. During these weeks, I want to either hide in my room/bed and never come out, or I dream about getting so ill that I have to go to the hospital to hide from society. I become so tired that I can barely keep my eyes open during the day. Yet, I also struggle with insomnia and find myself awake at odd hours, desperately wishing I could go back to sleep. I cannot concentrate on anything and find myself wandering during the day, trying to find something that will keep my interest/focus for longer than five minutes. I withdraw completely and utterly from my friends because I honestly cannot control my reactions to their words or actions. I alternate from being utterly depressed to so angry I cannot contain myself. When I started having fantasies about wanting to kill my husband for his failure to change the channel when I asked him to do so, I realized that this is probably not normal behavior. (Truly, I did not want to test out my theory that “the hormones made me do it” is not an adequate defense.)
I have suspected something was out of the ordinary a while ago. My body and I have had this love-hate relationship going when it comes to hormones. I blame my body on many of my childhood woes, since I started developing in fourth grade and got my first period by the age of nine (before The Talk). In high school, I would get such severe cramps that I would invariably have to miss school. There have been hints and signs that something was amiss with my hormone balance over the years. It wasn’t until the last year where I finally realized what type of damage I am doing to my family and my friends each month.
There is help available. My doctor actually has me on a low-dose anti-depressant. It is not a cure-all, and some months are much better than others. It will be something with which I struggle each and every month until I finally reach menopause. I write this because I always assumed that this was normal, that all women experienced something similar each month. It turns out that not every woman wants to kill their spouse each month. (Go figure.) For those of us who do experience this roller coaster of hormonal imbalance each month, it deserves to be discussed, so that others can seek the help they may need to prevent being a woman from affecting their daily lives and their relationships each month.
Yes. I still love being a woman, even with having to deal with PMDD. I am woman, hear me roar.
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