I remember it clearly. I was in 6th grade. By this time my parents had gone through a horrible divorce and my Dad had remarried. We were at my step mom’s parents house in Indiana.
I remember getting into an arguement with my Step-Mom (which was normal) but for the first time I really felt an anger that was uncontrollable. I had been super annoyed and probably more confrontational than i remember for the few days before the beginning of what at times feels like the end. Lets just say the 5 hour drive to Indiana had its fair share of teenage drama.
I remember being in the guest bedroom screaming at the top of my lungs. I don’t recall the exact issue or my exact words but I imagine it was something along the lines of “I hate my life. I hate living with you. You ruined my family. I hope I die.”
It was the first time I felt my emotions “boil” my blood. I felt out of control. I probably sat there screaming for a good 45 minutes. And then suddenly I felt “normal” again. Awhile later when I went to use the restroom, I noticed blood. I was shocked at first but quickly knew from sex ed in 4th grade that it was my period. The only problem was in order to get some pads I had to go talk to my Step-Mom. Now that was awkward.
Fast forward to today. I am 28 years old and a few years ago I was diagnosed with PMDD. Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) is a condition in which a woman has severe depression symptoms, irritability, and tension before menstruation. The symptoms of PMDD are more severe than those seen with premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
I decided to share such a gross subject so soon after reading an article on Facebook, Why is premenstrual syndrome still so badly understood? by Hannah Ewens. Like the article references, my freshman year of high school doctors explained my intense behavior every few weeks as bipolar disorder. This diagnosis was very common in the 90’s.
Instead of dealing with the actual problem I was put on a bunch medicines. I was on an antidepressant, a mood stabilizer- Trileptal, which is also used to treat seizures?!?, and an antipsychotic- Seroquel. I don’t know how I had a 4.75 GPA that year. I was literally a walking zombie.
Even though the Doctors had prescribed drugs, my life continued to spin out of control. I self mutilated for over a decade. I was suicidal numerous times and even attempted to take my own life. If you can imagine living in hell for half of every month you might understand how one can feel so desperate.
Sometimes I think about how all those pills affected my growing brain. I wonder what the last 14 years would have been like if the actual problem was addressed. While it could have been easier what is done is done. I can only keep going forward.
Fast forward back to today. I am currently on day 5 of a 21 day fitness challenge. I have worked out and I have been fueling my body with a very balanced, clean diet. I am in my “luteal phase” and so far I feel great which is VERY surprising. Normally at this point of the month I would be on the ground crying crippled with anxiety, depressed that again I felt hopeless.
I am excited to finally take control of my life. While Auntie Flow will be around for many more months, I can help lessen the symptoms by living a healthy lifestyle. My hope is that other young women read this and get inspired to make the lifestyle changes needed to help manage their PMS and PMDD.
ps. sorry boys!