Saturday, 29 March 2014

Lindsay's Story *Guest Blog*

I was diagnosed with PMDD just over a year ago. Over the years, my periods worsened and so did the PMT. I started my periods when I was 9, which of course is ridiculously young. My Mum was an early starter too, so it was inevitable that I would be.

When I was 24, I noticed that something wasn't quite right. I was snappy and took offence at the slightest little thing. My bosses would have a go at me over my attitude, and all I could do was say sorry.

When I came home from working abroad, I saw the nurse as I had lost a tremendous amount of weight, and they were concerned about me. As it turned out, physically I was very well indeed, and I commented to the nurse that I felt there was something seriously wrong. She didn't listen, and instead made me feel like a silly little girl and that it was all in my head.

I told my Mum my concerns and whilst she could sympathise, there was little she could do. Having suffered depression in the past, I can recognise signs of depression, but, this was something that I could not comprehend.

Over the years, I went from being weepy (you know like when you cry because there are no cheese and onion crisps in the cupboard!) to becoming nasty and violent. When I was ovulating and three days before my period, I became a monster. I distinctly remember it was the Queens Diamond Jubilee, and I was watching it on tv crying my eyes out and being very angry.

I took two diazepam to calm me down (which I was actually given for symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome believe it or not) alas, they didn't help, and made me so spaced out I couldn't talk or walk.

Another time I was talking to my boyfriend on the phone whilst he was at work. I was sat at the top of the stairs telling him I wanted to kill myself and crying so hard I was retching. My boyfriend stayed with me and managed to calm me down, but, it took a long time.

There have been more occasions of this nature, however, I am sure you can see the pattern emerging. Most recently, my boyfriend has had to restrain me so I wouldn't pick the knife up that I was trying to grab, as I was so utterly in despair that I wanted to end it all.

When I turned 27, things were only getting worse. I was alienating my family and my poor boyfriend didn't have a clue what version of Lindsay he was going to encounter when he saw me. As you can see from the picture, I am a generally happy person, but this thing was robbing me of my life and my relationship.

In a last ditch attempt to get some help, I went to see my GP. He was brilliant, and recognised that I did indeed need help. He prescribed Citalopram to be taken from day 15 to day 28, as a trial to see if this helped and immediately diagnosed PMDD. I realise that not all GP's are as helpful as mine is, however, if you are know something is wrong, please tell them. 

I have been on these tablets for approximately eight months now and, there is a difference. I do still have bad days, but, it does seem to be getting better. I suppose the purpose of me telling you this story, is, I don't want anyone to feel the way I did.

There is help out there, and PMDD is recognized as an illness, and not just something to be brushed aside, and dismissed as PMT. Please don't feel like you have anything to be ashamed of, you don't. I refuse to let this ruin my life and my relationship, and I really hope my story brings comfort and more importantly help.

Lindsay, UK x

If you would like to share your story, please contact Cat.

Friday, 28 March 2014

Mood Charts and Tracking Symptoms

(The following has been revised and updated from my original mood charts post)
What do you do if you think you have PMDD?  What if you've spotted the symptoms and a pattern, but your doctor doesn't know about PMDD or has never mentioned it?
The only way to convince anyone you are suffering from cyclical symptoms is by filling in a mood chart.

I say convince, as a lot of the time, the fear is that no one is going to believe you.  If you have suffered for many years, and no medical professional has ever asked you if there is a pattern, then how do YOU know better than your doctor?  Well, you DO know better than your doctor when it comes to symptoms, but short of your doctore living with your for a month, you have to be able to prove what is going on.  If you see a pattern forming, then all you have to do is get a mood chart filled out over 3 months, so you can SHOW your GP how it comes and goes.
By noting your symptoms and severity, along with your menstrual cycle, it is easier to see patterns forming and for doctors to diagnose PMDD.  No one can deny a set of painstakingly filled in mood charts that over 3 months, show a definite connnection to your menstrual cycle.

You have to be strict with yourself and make sure you do this EVERYDAY, or at the very least the morning after, trying to be as accurate about how you felt as possible.  Make notes of the boxes don't explain it well enough, or keep an 'emotions' diary and actually write small notes about your day.  That way you can often find and connect any outside influence triggers that increase the PMDD symptoms.
 There are many free resources online, including printable mood charts. Printable worked for me as I filled it in in the evening and could keep it safe, or up on the kitchen cupboard door to remind me. It also means you automatically have something to show your doctor.

I used the chart in the book by Diana Dell - The PMDD Phenomenom, as it gave me the option to fill in how bad things were too (by colouring 1, 2 or 3 boxes), so rather than just a yes or no, I could monitor slightly off moods to more intense, severe moods.  This book was the first book I read about PMDD.  I think it is out of print, but you may be able to find a second hand copy).  It's a good book, although may be a little dated now.  Having said that, little has changed since it was published.
Dont be put off by charts that are called Bi-polar or depression mood charts. It's not the name that matters, but the information you track. Just find a chart that works for you.
You may want to try an online/interactive mood charts. Some require membership, but some are free. If you are at the computer a lot, then this might be a better way for you to record you moods each day. Obviously this means making sure you can print everything out to take to the doctors, and that you will always have access to a computer to keep it updated. I can't stress the importance of filling everything in EVERYDAY for at least 3 months. It's the best way for an outsider to know whats been going on up in there, and help you to diagnose your condition.

There is a very modern way of tracking your moods, if you happen to be the proud owner of an iPhone or Smartphone! Just search the app store for 'mood tracker', 'iPeriod' or 'period tracker' and take your pick! I have used Period Tracker (paid version), and it's very simple to use. It's hard to find a tracker that does all the things you want, but it worked pretty good for me. I now have an android phone and am using Womanlog Pro, but there are many others, such as Ovuview, Pink Pad and My period and Ovulation. Most have free downloads, I advise you trial the free version before you pay for one, just to make sure it works for you.
As a side note, my husband downloaded an app called The PMS Alert  I tell him my first day of my period and he taps it into his phone.  He now gets a phone alert when I am entering into my pre menstrual phase, and it's pretty accurate.  It gives him a heads up without me having to say anything.  What I really need now is for one that alerts him to ovulation time, as that can be a challenging time for me to, but all in all, the The PMS Alert app has really helped.
With so many options, we are spoilt for choice! There is definately no excuse NOT to be tracking your moods and symptoms.... so, Get tracking!  I have included a few links, but there are many many more out there.  I hope to include a printable chart from this site in the near future.
Printable

Online
Mood Tracker - Free
NAPS Interactive Mood Chart - Free, membership required.
My Monthly Cycles - Paid subscription for good resources, Limited free account.


PMDD Symptom List

PMDD Symptom list - Diagnosis criteria

To be diagnosed with PMDD , a woman must suffer from at least four of the following 11 symptoms:
  • markedly depressed mood
  • marked anxiety or tension
  • persistent irritability or anger
  • difficulty in concentrating
  • decreased interest in usual activities
  • noticeable lack of energy
  • marked change in appetite
  • insomnia or hypersomnia
  • sense of being overwhelmed or out of control
  • sudden sadness or depression
  • physical symptoms such as joint pains, headaches, breast tenderness or "bloating."
The symptoms must occur a week before a menstrual cycle begins and disappear a few days after the menstrual cycle starts. The symptoms must recur in at least two consecutive menstrual cycles and must also "markedly interfere" with work, basic functioning or social relationships.

(Information from NAPS)

These are the most common PMS symptoms featured on the NHS website.  Women with PMDD often suffer from more than one of the following on top of the PMDD symptoms.

Physical PMS symptoms

  • fluid retention and feeling bloated
  • pain and discomfort in your abdomen (tummy)
  • headaches 
  • changes to your skin and hair
  • backache
  • muscle and joint pain
  • breast tenderness
  • insomnia (trouble sleeping)
  • dizziness
  • tiredness
  • nausea
  • weight gain (up to 1kg)

Psychological PMS symptoms

  • mood swings
  • feeling upset or emotional
  • feeling irritable or angry
  • depressed mood
  • crying and tearfulness
  • anxiety 
  • difficulty concentrating
  • confusion and forgetfulness
  • restlessness
  • decreased self-esteem

Behavioural PMS symptoms

  • loss of libido (loss of interest in sex)
  • appetite changes or food cravings

Any chronic (long-term) illnesses, such as asthma or migraine, may get worse.  This is called Pre Menstrual Exacerbation, PME.
As depression is a common symptom of PMDD, it is possible that a woman with PMDD may have thoughts about suicide.
PMDD can be particularly difficult to deal with because it can have a negative effect on your daily life and relationships. See your GP if you are experiencing severe symptoms.
Read more about treating PMS and PMDD (link takes you to NHS website).





PMDDAUK Closing

It is with sadness that I have to tell you that the PMDD Awareness UK website will be closing.  Other commitments and developments in my life means I can no longer maintain this website along with my other projects.

All donated stories will be re-published here over the coming weeks.  Thank you to everyone who helped, shared stories and supported this venture.  Hopefully we will see change for PMDD sufferers in the future.

I will continue to accept stories and publish them here, so feel free to get in touch if you'd like to share something via this blog.

If there is anything good about having to close down the site it's that I no longer suffer in the same way as I used to.  I have got my life back.  I am not cured or mood free, but I am persuing goals I never thought would happen, I am enjoying life, and more often happy than not.

I hope this can at least give others hope that life isn't over if you have PMDD.  Things change and no matter how awful things are, it's always worth the fight to keep going.

Thank you again to all who have supported me and PMDDAUK.  It may not have worked out, or lasted very long, but I tried.  Life changes, things move on, and all we can do is move with it.

With lots of love

Cat

To keep up with all my new projects, please visit my art website, www.chaoticat.com or Artist Facebook Page. xx


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