***TRIGGER WARNING*** I briefly mention self injury in this post. I don't go into detail, but if any mention of cutting or self injury is triggering for you, please do not continue reading. A few months ago when I first began seeing my therapist she tasked me with writing down my moods daily to get a better picture of what she was dealing with (I assume that was her purpose. For anonymity purposes (and because the woman really is a god sent)I I'm going to refer to her as "Angel". I see Angel about once a week and I first always give her a run down of my moods and how I'm doing for the week. That was that. I wrote down my moods--a few quick words to describe my day like "energetic", "anxious" or "okay". I never took the time to look back or observe what the moods were telling me. I never noticed a distinct pattern. I had a couple of stable weeks and a couple of really, f*cking hideous weeks. I figured that's just what happens when you have depression. Ups and downs right? Except my bad weeks included uncontrollable crying and feelings of what I can only describe as deep despair, erratic moods and behavior which often ended up in me storming out of the house and ending up at the CVS buying a package of razors with no idea how I even got there, and exhaustion that was so severe no matter how much I slept I still wanted more. Even though all of this sucked for me and for my wife who had to deal with it, I think we both assumed this was just another notch on my mental illness belt.... ( I'm sorry--that was a terrible analogy but it's late and my ability to articulate is slowly evaporating!)
But, leave it to my Angel to figure it out first. Two or three weeks ago, I stormed into her office clearly distressed, mascara running down my face from sobbing on the way there. I didn't know why. I couldn't control it, I just knew I felt off. Like someone flipped the "sadness" switch on in my brain and the tears came on like a flood, drowning out any bit of sanity I felt I had. I mentioned I was getting my period and I did tend to get emotional when I was PMSing, but when I began to describe my actions and all these feelings of hopelessness, Angel started looking back at her notes.
"It's like I get one person for two or three weeks, and then that last week, I get a completely different person. My notes for the past three months literally say 'hopeful' for two weeks, then hopeless and depressed for the last week or two of the month. I can't officially diagnose you, but I think you have PMDD" she said with confidence.
Premenstrual dysphoric disorder is basically PMS on steroids. It happens around the same time as PMS, but the symptoms. like mine, are debilitating and looking back, pretty identifiable. This past week I received my official diagnosis and treatment options (Birthcontrol or an SSRI antidepressant for the 2 weeks before my period.) I chose the latter option and started a couple of days ago. I'm going to monitor my moods to see if I can feel an improvement. Fingers and f*cking toes crossed on this one.
I'm not going to lie, I used to see those PMDD commercials and didn't necessarily believe this was a real condition. Everyone gets emotional when they PMS? Everyone gets a little moody--right? Sure. But PMDD over the past few months has made me feel like Dr.Jekyll and Mr Hyde- with no control over my emotions. I guess it's a relief to finally have an answer to what's been happening. A scientific explanation for at least part of what's going on. But, I know this isn't the sole cause of my depression and that I need to work on my thoughts and my actions.
Next stop on my journey was not/is not/ will not be/ necessarily a fun one (the whole experience is reminiscent of Girl Interrupted), but I'm hoping my soul will be better for it. Stay tuned, muffins.