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.
var linkwithin_site_id = 125794;
See? Being a woman can be great! I'm still a jeans-wearing, converse/Vans loving kind of girl. But I love to wear heels and dresses and make-up. The beauty about being a woman is that we can enjoy all of that without being considered less than a woman!
That was so open and honest, hunni. I loved it.
I was always a bit of a tomboy growing up (I have two brothers) and was always the first one to play in the street or have a game of touch rugby with the boys. Even as I got older, I've never really worn dresses or skirts. I've always been a jeans-wearing, converse/Vans loving kind of girl.
In the last couple of weeks I don't know what's happened to me – I've suddenly turned into a bit of a girly girl. I'm gasping over high-heeled shoes (even though I know they're impossible for me to wear – I have flat feet!). I love looking at skirts and dresses. I'm wanting to dress more feminine. I take more care with my make-up. I even dyed my hair a more feminine red mahogony colour today! I love being a woman! <3
My recent post May’s Book Loot
Jodie – It is a bit ridiculous that we have allowed men and comedy sketches to make us feel this way about our bodies. When I read The Red Tent, I was fascinated by the closeness of the women, who were united because of the fact that they got their periods and were women. While I am not condoning the idea of staying in a tent for several days throughout the month (because that has connotations too), I do think we should come together more often to discuss such issues.
Wow. That does suck. Does this mean that you will be through menopause before you are 30 or are you going to be experiencing these symptoms for the next 20-30 years?
Good luck to you too!
They may definitely be.
I had to start wearing a training bra in 2nd grade! LOL. I used to try to get away with not wearing one and never understood how my mom could tell when I wasn't wearing it, he.
I got the impression that at least girls are looking forward to getting breasts. Me? I was mortified by the fact I had to wear a training bra in fourth grade. Maybe it gets more enticing as you get older?
It definitely has… but are they really proud of it now? Fourth grade for me was around '92 and at that time too it was sooo embarassing. When my friend found out, I about died, lol.
Please let me know if you have any questions about any of it! I hope this does help!
Jenny – Unfortunately, PMDD does not have a cure. I can only hope to control the symptoms.
Getting your period in fourth grade does suck, doesn't it? And in 1985, it was not something about which you could brag. Isn't it funny how times have changed?
Thanks, Vishy! The book sounds amazing.
Oh, you poor thing! I get the severe lower back pain too but am able to control it with painkillers. Mine has always been difficult but have changed with each pregnancy too. Debillitating cramps before kids to migraines to PMDD.
I do think more people need to discuss this subject. We should not have to suffer or think that these types of symptoms are normal.
Thanks, Florinda! I went to the doctor out of pure desperation. It isn't perfect, but there have been a few months where I got relief.
See? Proof that it is something I have never discussed. I've been dealing with it on my own, with Jim's help, for the past six months. I just figured it was one of those things I should not or could not discuss!
Thanks, Eva! It's all in the spirit of getting people to talk about this. I cannot be the only person who experiences this. And you are correct. Chronic medical conditions are difficult. If one person gets some help because of this post, then I have done my job.
Lenore – I have always been regular. Unfortunately, they have come at a tough price. The pill helped a bit, but the last time I was on it, I got severe migraines. I'm so glad that you were able to find something that works!
interesting post that's going to send me off to do some research as much of what you say rings a bell. Thank you
Wow, Michelle.. I'm really sorry you have to go through that every month. That sounds very difficult. =(____I, too, got my period in 4th grade prior to "the talk", but I was 10. That was rough! Is the PMDD something that might ever get better?
"I do love it because it means that I am not pregnant." You just summed up my own feelings, right there. (Well, some of them, anyway.)
I'm sorry you struggle with PMDD, but am glad that you've been able to identify it and get some help in dealing with it.
I love your honesty, Michelle! Always enjoy reading your musings!
I never knew that about you! So sorry to hear that.
My recent post Looky-Looky! New Booky!