Friday, 14 January 2011

Be a strong woman...

The Goddess Durga
 
"I know God will not give me anything I can't handle. I just wish that He didn't trust me so much." ~ Mother Teresa

"Pick the day. Enjoy it - to the hilt. The day as it comes. People as they come... The past, I think, has helped me appreciate the present - and I don't want to spoil any of it by fretting about the future." ~ Audrey Hepburn

 "When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us." ~ Helen Keller

"You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, 'I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.' You must do the thing you think you cannot do." ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

"You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it." ~ Maya Angelou


My personal favourite

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us most. We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and famous?' Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that people won't feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in all of us. And when we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others." ~ Marianne Williamson, popular spiritual activist, author, lecturer.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

PMDD Crisis Guide - The Physical Realm of PMDD

You can find the intro to this guide HERE.

This is an easy 'realm' to understand. It's the one we are most aware of.
This is where PMDD is manifesting in most cases. There are many theories, from an imbalance or sensitivity to hormones, to a bug that lives in your system called H-Pylori. One thing that is common, is that it is hormonal, cyclical and very hard to treat. Treatment is different for all women, and many have to try various medications and treatments before they find one that works.

Physical symptoms of PMDD are much like that of PMS. Bloating, painful breasts, cramps, heavy bleeding, back ache, digestive problems and insomnia, to name a few. Tiredness and lethargy is also a big problem, some days, it is hard to even get out of bed.
Weight problems can occur due to the imbalance in hormones, sporadic eating habits and lack of exercise. Acne is another troublesome physical symptom. I for one get new spots every time I ovulate or menstruate. These spots are hard, painful and more like boils. They take ages to clear up and often leave scars.

To start treating the physical symptoms (and in turn, improving your general well being) a plan of action should be devised. In it's most simple form, you should have a check-list that covers your body's basic needs. Maybe you can see it as a tool kit.

Exercise

We can actually take charge of this aspect quite easily. We can change what we eat and how much exercise we do. We have control over that. It is well known that exercise helps to relieve stress, keep the body healthy and can relieve cramps. It is easy to feel out of control when you suffer from PMDD, so by taking control over this aspect of your health, you can feel more in control of yourself in general. Sometimes, leaving the house before you blow is a good option. A brisk walk round the block will help you calm down, think, and work off some of that pent up energy. I'm sure most PMDD women go around like a coiled spring, just waiting to ping. This is energy waiting to come out. You could use it in a healthy way, or you can wait for the volcano to blow, inevitably hurting those around you with words or your own actions. Punching pillows helps... although in my house, (and I'm not proud of it) I am chief door slammer. It's the pent up energy that turns into rage. If you don't release this energy you will feel anger, you will feel rage, you will feel like fighting.
Try and incorporate some form of exercise into your daily routine. Getting outside really helps, maybe for a walk or bike ride. Join a Yoga class. This is the best way to learn to relax too, and become more sensitive to your body and what it's telling you. If nothing else, stick on your favourite album and dance and sing round the living room!

Stress

A special mention here goes to Stress. We underestimate how much stress can affect our body. Stress is not just in your head, stress affects every cell of your body. When we get stressed, our body reacts, putting a strain on our adrenal glands. In genuine situations, this reaction (known as fight or flight) can save our lives. When we are constantly stressing ourselves sick over our illness, weight, money, kids... we are abusing those reactions and leaving our bodies exhausted. Stress puts added pressure onto our hearts and can tie our stomach up in knots leading to erratic eating habits and IBS. You can overwork your adrenal glands, so they become so tired they don't function properly. This is when you health will really suffer and you will more than likely hit rock bottom. Your immune system will be lower, your 'feel good' hormones (serotonin), will be depleted and you will feel lethargic and depressed. Physical activity has been proven to help relieve stress, and should be a regular part of your tool kit.

Food and water.

The next simple tool to keeping our moods stable is eating, and drinking water. If I feel myself spiralling out of control, or I've just screamed at the kids for leaving a toy in the wrong place, I have to immediately check whether I have eaten that day. Our moods get worse if we don't eat. Obviously, try and make healthy choices, but it's better to eat than not, so if all you can manage is a piece of toast with jam, then do it. The aim is to try and keep yourself topped up with energy. Little and often is good, and will help keep your blood sugar levels stable.
Dehydration is another problem. If we aren't remembering to eat, we probably aren't drinking enough either. Tea and coffee and alcohol all dehydrates the body. Dehydration leads to mood swings, headaches and fatigue. This in turn can lead to more digestive issues such as constipation.
If we try and run on empty all day, we are setting ourselves up for a screaming rage at teatime, or a sobbing wreck at bedtime. We don't even expect our cars to go far with no fuel in the tank, but are quite happy to do it to our own bodies.

Sleep and rest.

Rest and relaxation should be the next tool in the tool kit. PMDD sufferers can have irregular sleeping patterns. Depending on what part of your cycle you are in, you may feel overwhelmed with tiredness and want to sleep all day, when at other times you cant sleep at all.
Getting plenty of sleep is essential to maintaining a stable mood. If you go to bed at 2am, and are then up for work or the school run at 7am you are going to be tired, whether you have PMDD or not, but add PMDD into that mix and you will have one very grumpy lady. You are more likely to snap, rant, cry, blow your top or worse, if you are tired. If you cant sleep, it is still important to rest your body. Try a long hot bath, meditation, or just lie down and watch a film or listen to music.
Maybe you like to read, or sew, or paint. Taking time for yourself and indulging in your favourite past time will help you relax. It is easy to deny yourself these little things, to write them off as unimportant, and say, 'how can I possibly deserve to sit here and enjoy myself when I'm such an awful person' or ' I cant take time out for myself, what about the washing up.. cooking tea... etc' If you like.. I'll give you permission! In fact, even better... I'll prescribe it!

Light.

Get out into natural light. The winter brings S.A.D. Seasonal Affective Disorder. If you are already sensitive to hormones, stress etc, you may find the winter becomes a hard time of the year. Low levels of light takes it's toll on energy levels and you may find yourself more depressed in the winter. If it's really severe, on top of the PMDD, you may find it hard to get up, stay awake in the daytime, or your depression and anxiety can worsen. Light boxes work well, but if you can't afford one, just make sure you get out in any sunshine (when we get it), put lights on in the house, and be kind to yourself. It is easy to assume your PMDD is getting worse in the winter, but it's more likely to be the added darkness of S.A.D.

Writing.

OK, so why would this be on the list? Because it's a physical activity. It anchors thoughts down on paper. Thoughts are like air, they flit and change. Writing things down, gets things out of you head and into the physical world. Keeping a diary, writing lists or post it notes helps you to keep track of your mind. Sometimes, making a plan on paper, is the difference to a day saved, or a day lost. Making lists will help you organise. Crossing off stuff on the list will give you a feeling of achievement. EVEN IF that list is nothing more than..
  • brush teeth
  • take kids to school
  • wash up dishes
  • go for a walk
  • EAT
  • have a shower
You will find you get more done by having a reminder list.
It is good to write out your feelings. If you feel weird about other people reading them, then keep a diary for yourself. If you feel you can share with other sufferers, even if it's under a false name, you should think about setting up a blog. Writing get things out of our system. The physical activity of sitting and focussing, helps us to become calmer.

Self destruction

If you suffer with PMDD you will know all about self destruction. My ability to cope with symptoms fluctuates. When I hit a low, and get ill, I forget about all the things I 'should' do. I spiral out of control and turn inwards. I become self-hating, self-destructing and down right cruel and hard on myself. Sometimes, holding onto sanity becomes too much in itself, and I let go. I free fall, I become some caught up in myself, I cant think about others. I can get really depressed and suicidal. I don't eat. I survive. I pass every hour in the day, waiting for bed, so I can try and start a fresh the next day. If I really want to hurt myself, I'll drink. Alcohol is not my friend, but I'll drink, because I hate myself, everyone must hate me, I want to hurt myself, I don't want this life, everything is wrong, why am I like this? I hate you.. and you.. why did I have kids? I'm a rubbish mother, I don't deserve them... Sound familiar? It will if you have PMDD.

Self destructive behaviour helps no-one. It's the thoughts in your head that create this spiral. I will talk about the mental/thinking realm in my next post.
Physical self destruction is something you can control. If you know you will drink yourself silly, then stay away from the bottle. If you are suicidal, then stay away from dangers, risks.. like driving for instance.
Remember that not eating or drinking, not looking after yourself, not allowing yourself rest time can all lead to a worsening of PMDD symptoms. You are in control of that. You must look after yourself. Don't allow yourself to self destruct. There is always tomorrow, the feelings will pass, and you will need your body to be there for you.

If you are feeling suicidal and have no-one to talk to, there is always the Samaritans here in UK on 08457 909090 or in the US call 1-800-SUICIDE. Or if you are a member of my Facebook group, there will always be someone around to help you through the bad days..

Next post... The Mental realm of thoughts and PMDD.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

PMDD Support on Facebook

I now run a PMDD Support group on Facebook.  Lots of people have Facebook, for all it's sins... but it can provide a real time space for support and friendship.

If you would like to join in the conversation, meet other suffers, and get support when you need it, feel free to request membership.

As with all forums, especially one that contains lots of women with PMDD, it can get heated, or things can erupt from nothing.  I simply ask that we all treat each other with respect, observe our cultural differences, and try and stay calm.  Coming on with a rant about your life and the outside world is one thing, but outbursts towards other members is not allowed.  None of us are experts, but we all have a personal story to tell, and we all have a common goal, to live a relatively full life while battling with PMDD.

As sufferers we can relate and understand.  As some of us slip into the black cloud, there will be others online who are standing there with lights helping us through.  Then when their time comes to feel the pressure, we can be there for them.

You have to be logged into Facebook to see the page, and as it is a private group, you will need to request membership.  This will be granted within 24 hours.  The group also has a chat facility, which is an excellent way to get help or just chat the evening away.
 
You can find the group HERE.

Friday, 7 January 2011

A PMDD Crisis Guide

Recently, I have been feeling much better. This is a real turnaround after many years of feeling like a pendulum swinging back and forth. I feel I have more control. I am coping with my bad days more effectively and achieving more on my good days... AND it's winter!
Up until now, it has been hard to write without getting too emotionally involved, and that's no good if you are trying to help others in an emotional state. I finally feel that I can share some practical advice, and I really hope it helps other women cope with PMDD.

Firstly, here's a little about what I have learned and coped with over the years. I'm not a Doctor, but I am an Aromatherapist, and have researched many therapies and theories over the years. I have also had PMDD for 20 years... since I was 13. I have lived with this disorder all my adult life. I don't remember a time when I wasn't feeling crazy and out of control on a regular basis. I used to believe I was really mentally ill. I just wanted to be taken away and put in a padded cell.
When I look back at this, the desire to be taken away, away from my kids and life, stemmed from the overwhelming feeling of being unable to cope. A week or month in a psychiatric ward looked more like a holiday. A break from the pressure, the relentless cycle of life, bills, kids, shopping, etc.

That never happened. They never took me away. I was a single mum with a 3 year old. No family or friends as I'd just moved to a new area after separating from my adulterous husband and being homeless. I would hit crisis every month. Crisis at this time in my life was volatile... I had been through so much emotional trauma by this time that I was reacting to everything, and was feeling more and more suicidal.

Screaming, frustration, anger, rage and shouting. Throwing things, kicking things, punching, scratching my arms with my own nails, drinking, sobbing, weeping, and suicidal feelings.
I would lose all control over myself. An ex-boyfriend said once that I made no sense while I was having an episode. Words would come out, but he couldn't understand me. I figured I was a raving lunatic. I feared for my daughter. I thought I was an inadequate mother. I felt she should be taken away from me. I digress.... I know that ladies reading this who have PMDD can relate to my story, and those people who don't suffer, will never be able to truly understand how it feels.

The point to my story is that I have been in crisis more times than I care to remember. It's taken me years to understand, years to develop ways of coping, years of trying different meds... I grieve the years I have lost to PMDD, the opportunities lost and the events I've missed.

In everything I study, there are different realms... We live in physical, mental, emotional and spiritual realms. In holistic therapy, we can become unwell or suffer dis-ease in any of the realms. I believe in the theory that everything is interconnected. An illness in the mind can become an illness in the body, and PMDD is a disorder in the body that causes a disorder in the mind.

PMDD is an invisible disorder. Women that suffer look no different to women that don't (unless you count the extra grey hairs and bags under the eyes!). PMDD dis-ables women. It robs them of approximately two thirds of their life, every month, without fail.

PMDD often gets misdiagnosed as Bi-Polar. I asked my Psychiatrist what the difference between the two is, and he said 'Bi-polar sufferers will have periods of time (weeks, sometimes months) when they function normally. Life is relatively normal. Then they will swing, either up or down, again for a longer period of time, and the cycle continues. PMDD works on a much faster cycle. The ups and the downs can be weekly, sometimes even daily, and there is no long period of normal, functioning time.' PMDD sufferers may get a few days in a row of feeling OK, and believe me, there is MUCH to do during those days... sort out problems, fill in forms, do the shopping, clean the house, catch up on work. It all too quickly deteriorates and jobs end up having to wait again till the turmoil is over.

If you can get to the point when you know you're about to explode, when you can recognise the feelings building, when you are aware of your actions, then you have half a chance of diverting disaster. In my next few posts, I will be looking at each 'realm' in turn, and how PMDD affects you on different levels.

This is my interpretation, my opinions, theories and my experiences. One thing is for sure.. although there are a lot of commonalities between PMDD sufferers, what works as a treatment, what helps you get through and survive is usually very different. There is no one way to treat PMDD. I am just sharing my way, in the hope I might be able to help others find their own path through PMDD.

My next post.... PMDD and the physical realm: Looking after the body to look after the mind.

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Happy New Year

Christmas was actually pretty good.  Simple, quiet and over quickly!
The girls had a great time, and I am just relieved it came and went without any upset or trauma.

Life has become very busy recently, so apologies for not getting here as often as I'd like.  I've also fallen prey to the dreaded lurgy... I'm hoping to start feeling better soon!

I have a couple of guides I am writing, which I will share with you soon.  I had a flash of inspiration over Christmas and have an urge to write, so the next thing is finding the time.

The energies of the New moon eclipse (Jan 4th)  this week have been pretty heavy.  I've felt things shift since yesterday.  My head is clearer and I feel like I have a bit more energy.  I'm still focused on 2011's goals, and nothing, but nothing, is gonna stop me from getting where I'm going!

 
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