cn/w for talk about: premenstrual dysphoric disorder (pmdd), challenging behaviours around food, and frank, honest, reflections about suicidality and suicide ideation.
i have been trying to write and post about this for the longest time but it is scary. it is also important. i don’t think enough people who have periods know this is a thing and i honestly know very little but i think the little i know is worth sharing.
last year i experienced two really hard life events within a three day span. i was out of commission/grief stricken for months. eventually it became apparent with the help of judie (my therapist) and pals that i was stuck. i would feel and experience little glimpses of relief and healing and then be sucked back into deep grief and despair– all while recognizing healing and recovery is linear– but i just really couldn’t catch a solid break.
i really thought that after years of pushing away the idea of needing medication to help manage a variety of things that often impact my quality of life that i was finally needing to seriously consider it. because of trauma things and being terrified of accessing doctors i tried a lot of low risk, natural remedies to try to help myself first: melatonin, bach flower rescue remedy, saint john’s wort, essential oils, etc. these things helped a little but it became increasingly apparent they didnt help enough. i would feel like i was coping and managing okay and then it would all go to hell for what seemed like no apparent reason.
i’ve dealt with passive, chronic suicide ideation since i can remember (ie. seeing myself walk in front of cars, during times of hyperarousal with my cptsd thinking there would be some relief from it if i just wasn’t around, etc.) but this was much different and really scary. i would think a lot about accessing alcohol and other substances to cope with pain (i have been sober my whole life [not a moral statement just a fact and taking note of unusual behaviour in myself]), i was making plans (my death party and will are on my google drive now). unlike the passive ideation where i could usually access resources i’ve cultivated to work through these thoughts, nothing worked. i spent a lot of time at home, in bed, staying safe, because i was scaring myself. during this time i was also managing some physical illness. i was feeling shakey and nauseous a lot. i felt like i was coming down with the flu often. i chalked this all up to how i was living grief. when i first experienced those two hard events eating became extremely challenging and continued to be for months. i thought my body was finally saying enough to how poorly i was taking care of it.
i live my life really disconnected from my body and so it took a while but i eventually noticed that my feelings of the flu, nausea, and shakiness were happening leading up to my period. i thought this was just a normal change in things, a part of inching closer to thirty in a body that gets periods, etc. i got tested for things like low iron and diabetes. it took more time but i also eventually noticed that getting sucked back into deep despair was happening leading up to my period and that i would finally get relief from it on day two or three of my cycle. i knew someone who had mentioned to me in passing they had a pal who dealt with pmdd. i looked it up and everything clicked. that was me. it’s not a thing a lot of people know or talk about. it’s not on the radar of a lot of doctor’s. it’s obviously dismissed often and invalidated because it has to do with reproductive and sexual health. i have not found much of a community or that many resources about it save for some youtube videos that are helpful but also very cis-y.
it took me a while to name this with judie. it took a while longer for us to hatch a plan for me to get help with this. seeing a doctor about a reproductive and sexual health thing brought up a lot of BIG feelings. i needed a lot of support from pals and was very activated leading up to, during, and after my appointment. i dissociated. i also made it through. i found out a lot of people go on a hormonal birth control to even things out to help them. a lot of people take their packs of bc consecutively to lose their period all together (apparently this is very okay but i still feel skeptical about it!). some people take lithium leading up to their period starting and some folks go on an antidepressant all the time. right now i am taking birth control continuously. i dont get my period at all although i have some other things happening which are annoying. i am not being inundated by these hard, scary feelings as frequently as i used to be. i have to be real though and name that sometimes i feel things sneak up on me, a cramp or a sense of dread and i become fearful that i am going to get sucked back down again. i have been assured that six months in to taking bc the hormones are still settling but i can’t help but get scared that this option i’ve found that works for me for the most part might stop. at the same time, right now, i am safer than i was before and that is important.
talking about this is hard. there’s a lot of shame and a desire not to name things. there’s so much talk about being open and ending stigma but a lot of convos around death, suicide, suicidality and ideation aren’t holding in the ways i desire them to be. in leah lakshmi piepzna-samarasinha’s book, ‘care work’ they talk about femme suicide. they talk about the trickiness of naming if you are dealing with ideation or suicidality and all the complications it can bring. they wonder if this was nomalized, *really* normalized, if these complications might creep away. and maybe if they did we could understand ideation better and care for each other better instead of repeating empty platitudes (175). i also think of this piece that came out recently that is some of the realest, most normalizing shit i’ve ever read in regards to suicidality and ideation. (a sample quote: “…what makes it (being a person who deals with suicidality) harder is being unable to talk about it freely: the weightiness of the confession, the impossibility of explaining that it both is and isn’t as serious as it sounds. I don’t always want to be alive. Yes, I mean it. No, you shouldn’t be afraid for me. No, I’m not in danger of killing myself right now. Yes, I really mean it.”)
i dont really know how to finish this in a way that feels ok. i just hope naming that pmdd is a thing is helpful. i would love to connect with folks that might also experience it. i would also love to have access to more resources about it if people know of any.