I fell asleep listening to Neil DeGrasse Tyson teaching me about astrophysics (for people in a hurry). I had dreams that everyone hated me. And I woke up on the verge of tears. I’ve already begun to cry a handful of times in the last hour, and this would confuse me except that it happens like clockwork every month.
I’ve talked about this before but it bears repeating because it repeats on me. Most women get PMS but a smaller proportion suffer from PMDD (Pre-menstrual Dysphoric Disorder). It basically means that I go absolutely crazy once a month, with episodes lasting a day to a week, depending on cosmic forces being kind to me, I guess. The loathsome aspect is that it often occurs at the least useful times, and then screws everything up. This is my last week of classes so of course, the universe says to me: let’s go nuts!!
I’ve already been dealing with odd paranoia for about a week, but now it’s turned into a mix between “I desperately need to talk to and be with people” and “Everyone hates me, I want to curl up in a ball and cry.” I start to feel very petulant. “This isn’t fair.” “Why me?” “Why won’t this just go away?” These are the moments that I’m very angry at mental illness because it’s so disruptive. Whenever I’m just trying to get shit done I have to worry about whether I’m falling into an episode or not, because then all bets are off. Everything becomes 1000 times more difficult. Studying becomes a massive struggle. Being with people is hard because I start to think everyone is against me and they’re just humoring me.
It may seem awkward to talk about PMDD, but it’s actually fairly common. PMS affects about 85% of women in their lifetime, but PMDD affects anywhere from 3-8%. Yes, this is a much smaller percentage, but if you think about the NUMBER of women that encompasses, it’s staggering. And aside from a close friend, I don’t personally know anyone else who talks about it.
I have always had trouble talking about bodily functions. I simply don’t like it. It makes me feel uncomfortable. But I think this is an important topic for me because it has had such a deep impact on my life. In my PMDD days, I have tried to commit suicide, overdosed, done too many drugs, cut myself, you name it. All of my worst inclinations bubble to the surface when I am vulnerable, and PMDD is a serious culprit.
Brain chemistry is such an incredible thing. Nothing is happening in my world that would inspire such massive changes in my mood. Nothing is out of the ordinary. Nothing has changed. Nothing except for the circuitry and neurotransmitters in my brain. Ironically, chemistry is what I have to study in this vulnerable week and my final is on Thursday. This was a condensed course (a semester in 6 weeks!), so I learned a lot but am also very confused about lots of things. I managed to get a few hours of work done yesterday but I hit a wall, and I know that I’m not operating at max capacity. This is ultra minimum capacity. The class is only pass/fail so I only have to worry about passing, but still I’d like to feel like I really learned these things. Today I need to do the practice exams but I’m very worried that nothing will make sense.
I can’t stop crying. It’s not sobbing, and it’s not even a consistent stream. It’s just that whenever I afford myself a pause to think, the tears well up. UGH. It’s so infuriating.
I have made some friends on #Twitter who are very supportive and many of them suffer from mental health issues. It’s so nice to find community when I feel low. I often abandon these communities when I feel well, but my goal is to continue writing and communicating regardless of my mood. Good or bad, I’m in this. It’s worth it just for others to see that mental health is versatile: sometimes it’s balanced and just fine, and sometimes it’s off-kilter and needs some support. Today I’m in the latter category but I know I’ll come out of it soon. This is the difference between the old me and the post-ECT, well-medicated me: I can tell myself it will pass, and I believe it. It’s simply frustrating in the meantime.
An aside, if anyone suffers from PMDD and would like to share a story, I’d love to put together a post with peoples’ experiences to shed more light on how this affects our mental health. Leave a comment or send me an e-mail at ExcessivelyMe25@gmail.com.