Tag Archives: pms

Three Faces

Sometimes I feel like I have two faces – the one that I wear on the outside and the one that I hide on the inside.  Or maybe it’s more like three.

There’s the one that everyone sees, on a regular basis.  That’s the Badass Victoria.  The girl who gets her hands dirty, who doesn’t give up, who fights for… well… everything that she feels like she needs, who bends the world to her will.  That one is very well known.  That one has made friends, she’s lost friends, she’s won great gains and lost great losses, but she still stands because at the end of the day, she is a survivor.  That one everyone knows really, really well.  And, maybe, that’s the one that people come to most often because they know that, no matter what they throw at her, she’ll be able to take it.

Underneath that, is a softer Victoria.  A more compassionate Victoria.  Some people get to meet her… a very few, select people whom she deems worthy for whatever reason or another (or maybe it’s just because they need her to be that way at the time and she (actually) doesn’t like to see people suffer).  This is the girl who takes in friends who are homeless, who sits beside them, unwavering, when they’re at the Emergency Room for hours on end.  This is the girl who lovingly ships packages full of snacks and super glue and plastic bags (yes, plastic bags) to Afghanistan and doesn’t ask for anything in return.  This is the girl who leaves her ringtones up at full volume all night so that, if someone needs her, they can reach her no matter the hour.  She’s the girl that drops everything to fly a thousand miles when she gets an intuition that she is needed.  And because of this, she’s tired a lot.  She’s often worn down by the problems that other people bring her.  But she does, in fact, give a shit (which surprises the hell out of people who have only ever seen the Badass side of her). This is the girl that, despite the badassery, can love, and who loves deeply when she chooses to.  This is the girl who is loyal to a fault, who does not lie, who does not cheat, and who, often, gets taken advantage of because (despite the badassery) she’s been known to put her trust in the wrong individuals.  The badassery gives her a bandaid to seal her many wounds, and the two keep walking together.

The two of those parts?  They coexist really well.  Because when she needs to be compassionate, she can be compassionate.  But when that compassion needs to turn into strength to pull her friends and the people she cares about out of very dark places, the badass part steps in and does it – the compassion keeps the badass in check.  The badass makes sure the compassion does not overwhelm her so that she is rendered useless.

About three weeks out of every single month of my life?  These two things exist harmoniously.  I can move mountains.  And I have (figurative ones).  I don’t know, sometimes, where that reserve of strength comes from, any more than I know where the compassion comes from.  But believe me, as a survivor of many things, I’m glad I have the ability to be both simultaneously.

There is, however, something else.  It’s a part of me that I don’t let people see very often… even less-so than the compassion.  I’ve been fighting with myself over whether I wanted to write about this right now or not, but since it’s relevant to what I’m doing right now, and as it’ll be relevant to the narrative later on, I think it’s necessary.

I suffer from PMDD (yes, this is an official diagnosis), which stands for Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder. I jokingly say it’s like having PMS on crack.  And I guess, in some ways, this is a fair assumption.  This is something that only a small fraction of the female population suffer from – and physically, it’s an exacerbation of the normal PMS symptoms.  My cramps are bad when I have them.  I have headaches.  I am tired, literally, all the time post ovulation until my period starts.  Since this is something that manifests about two weeks before my period, I literally have it pinpointed to two phases.  During phase one, the headaches start.  The vision changes start (seriously, my vision – already bad – gets worse… no one could explain it until I started tracking it).  The fatigue sets in and you’ll find me taking naps after work.  Concentration is laughable and I take a lot of mental breaks because trying to focus on one little thing becomes impossible.  Oh, and then there’s work.  I’m not really a fan of most of my coworkers… they’re a lot like teenagers, except they are all masquerading as adults.  But the balls hitting my office, the yelling, the loudness outside my door, that gets to me more during that first week than at any other time.  I put on relaxing music and I try to get through my day.  The first week isn’t that bad.

The second week?  Oh my god.  See, the headaches subside.  I can concentrate a little bit better than I could the first week.  Most of the symptoms from the first week are long gone.  The second week is when my demons start to talk to me again.  They say that PMDD is most prevalent in women that have suffered (or that do suffer) from a depressive disorder.  I am not depressed these days, but I used to be.  This makes me more susceptible to the PMDD.  And it’s not that I get particularly depressed during this time.  No, my problems stem from anxiety.  Really, really, really BAD anxiety.

It’s like “fight or flight” all the time.  They have drugs for this.  And I take them.  When I need them.  My OBGYN wants to put me on an SSRI, but I respectfully decline as I do not want to be a robot, and writing is kind of what I do.  I opt for Xanax instead, which makes them shut up most of the time, but it’s really ridiculously difficult for it to shut them down all of the time.  I am not a hazard to myself, and I never really was.  I’m not suicidal.  But before I knew what was going on, I was incredibly self destructive.  My relationships suffered.  My decision making abilities went out the window.  And when the anxiety takes hold, I can’t even read the tarot, because my mood comes through in the cards, making it impossible for me to read them accurately.  I can’t trust my own intuition – and you have to understand, when it’s your intuition that normally gets you through the day, you feel kind of naked without it.

Now that I know what it is, and when it’s going to hit me, I’ve learned to combat it a little.  I’ve learned to put off any major decision making until this subsides (and it will… it always does).  I’ve learned that, whatever is going in my head at that very moment, that 90 percent of it is garbage and I’d do better to ignore it.  That helps to a degree.  But it doesn’t shut it up.  I still have to listen to it.  I just don’t do anything about it.  That’s free will.  That’s the exercising of free will.

It begins a countdown, of sorts, because I know that it will get worse before it gets better.

That said, when it hits, and when you’re sitting in the middle of it (like I am now), it doesn’t matter how many support forums you read or how many pills you take, or how many days you have until you don’t have to deal with it anymore… every day seems like a hundred years.  You want to feel normal again, and you put on that “normal” face so that no one knows that underneath you’re this ridiculously stressed out, anxiety ridden chick (the kind you really hate), you pop a Xanax, and you go for a run, because, really, what else is there to do except wait it out?  It’ll go away eventually.  I’ll get three weeks or so of normalcy, and then, maybe, the next time around it won’t be that bad… because it ebbs and flows, depending on the cycle.

 

More information:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0004461/

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/premenstrual-syndrome/expert-answers/pmdd/faq-20058315

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Premenstrual_dysphoric_disorder

http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/premenstrual-dysphoric-disorder

http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2013/11/23/pmdd-is-not-just-normal-moodiness/

Crazy

There are voices in my head that tell me things.  They tell me what to do, they tell me what is, what was, and sometimes what is coming.  I’ll begin this entry with that, and also the affirmation that I am not crazy.  Not entirely.  Most of the time I trust the voices.  When they are at their peak, they have never steered me wrong.  They fuel my perceptions.  Together we are spot on.

There is one week out of the month, however, that I do not trust the voices.  I call it PMS week.  And during this week, they will say anything, ANYTHING, it seems to make me sabotage anything good that I may have going for me.  They will do ANYTHING to keep me on edge so that I lash out and yell at someone who is laughing a little too loudly.  During this week I am a mess of nerves, panic, anxiety, depression.  The conversations going on in my head are so ridiculous that I’m ashamed even to verbalize them and yet, what we make true in our minds becomes true whether we want it to or not.  And so it is a monthly battle to keep those demons at bay.  I certainly do not want to bring them out into the open.

I can’t really tell if it’s demons that take up residence in there for a week or if the voices just go on some kind of monthly hiatus and come back all amped up from their vacation, ready to wreak havoc on their usual digs.  I used to lose my temper a lot during PMS week.  My previous marriage, if it taught me anything, taught me to control my temper – at least better than I used to.  That’s not to say I do not get on edge.  When people laugh a little too loudly or when noises filter into my training office while I am working (and while it seems no one else is), I have to remind myself to stay calm and resist the urge to go out onto the floor and start screaming at the offender.  I keep my temper because I don’t like feeling guilty about things I would say or do at the height of it all.  That is enough motivation not to lose it.  My coworker’s laughter isn’t the only thing that gets me on edge, but it’s minor.  It’s a good example of how very extreme it can get.

But it manifests itself in different ways, too.  I am generally not an insecure person.  I’m not arrogant.  At least not most of the time.  But I am confident.  I model.  I write.  I do calligraphy fairly well.  I’m smart.  And I have a startup business.  I’m proud of all of these things, and I have every reason to be.  PMS week comes, though, and it doesn’t matter – none of these things, no matter how well I do them, are done well enough.  Last week I shelved the book I’d been writing for the last five years.  I did it because ultimately I had decided that going back and reliving the past, even fictionally, was more of a detriment to the person I was trying to become than I’d wanted to admit.  Like I said before, you can’t move forward if you have one foot stuck in the past.  I picked up the pen again and took up a completely different project – one based on fantasy, totally fiction, no basis in reality whatsoever.  (Because magical dwarves, demons, gargoyles, and gods/goddesses, and dragons don’t actually exist  – and people don’t travel on wooden ships either.)  I started writing it, the first few paragraphs… and then the voices started up.  They didn’t criticize the story.  They never criticize my writing (unless it’s warranted and in those cases, no matter what week it is, they are usually right). 

They got critical of other things.  Things I really can’t even be critical about because I do not know the whole story or have a full picture of the circumstances.  Logically I can’t make a judgment, but try telling them to be logical.  If they could jump around and laugh maniacally, they would do it.  Because for awhile, they were winning.  I got moody, depressed, insecure, anxious.  I panicked.  I stressed.  I hate the way that feels.

Worst of all, though, it fucks with my perceptions.  I felt distant this weekend.  Moreso than I have in months.  I don’t know if it’s perception or if it’s real.  The voices say it’s real.  If it were any other time of the month I would trust the voices.  And since I habitually trust the voices most of the time, it is difficult to tell them to shut up right this second.  I’m used to having perception.  I am used to being spot on about shit.  When I can’t be, I grasp for it because I can’t stand for it not to be there.  Without it, it’s almost like being naked in public (though probably worse for me, since I sort of enjoy being naked).

That’s why this weekend, particularly, was a struggle.  When less than favorable news came on Saturday, the voices went mad.  I tried to compensate for their madness.  I over-reached, and between their incessant screaming and my overcompensation for the fact that my instincts were way off, I did some damage.  I don’t know how much damage.  I’m not even sure if the damage I did was perceptible.  I hope it was not… damage that is imperceptible is much easier to fix than damage that is evident.  Irreversibly, though, things are different and once again, I’m in the dark.  I do not know if the difference is in my perception or if the difference is in the actual circumstance.  Logic and reason and the small tiny voices that are still in there that still have any kind of sense tell me to give it time, be patient, wait it out.  The ones in the forefront that seem to have taken speed or something over the last week want it NOW, NOW, NOW!!!  And when they don’t get it NOW they start pulling similarities between what is and what was – and what was is not a factor here.  I cannot, and I will not, apply the past to the present, even though they tell me that this is exactly what this is.  I think they lie.

It’s a waiting game.  I’m sitting here, because I called in to work today – I needed a mental health day, a day to get my shit together, a day to figure out what is and what is not.  I am taking steps to get this under control, once and for all.  I made some calls, things are getting done, but that will also take time.  Everything takes time and it is never my own time.  I sit, I wait, I observe.  I trust that sense will eventually be made – things will become clearer, because they always have before.  And whatever it is I blew out of proportion is probably not even remotely as bad as what I made it out to be. 

Patience is not one of my virtues.  It never has been.  I want what I want, when I want it.  My supply of patience has been anorexically thin most of my life – though it’s been gaining some weight lately out of necessity.  It becomes critically thin during this week of the month.  I’ve been doing better with it lately.  I slipped a little this weekend, but I am attempting to get a handle on it.  And praying that I didn’t fuck things up to irreparably.

Someone who read my blog once said that the reason they liked it was because it was honest, I take what is wrong with me, I identify it, and then I fix it.  Life is a learning experience, there is a learning curve here, though many times I have broken that learning curve, lost everything, had to start over.  I wonder sometimes how many second chances I’m going to be given.  And how many times I will take those second chances, do really well with them for awhile, then tear them to shreds and laugh at them while I watch them burn, only to look regretfully at their ashes once they are gone.  And then I realize that the only person who has any control over that is me.  And I laugh… not maniacally, but I laugh.  Because I am a doer.  I may not be able to have what I want right this second… the time for that may not be right now, though I cannot fathom why.  I can’t control the circumstances, but I can control how I react to them.  I may need some help this time, but even that is up to me.  So I’m making my calls, I’m getting this under control, and like everything else, I’m making it mine.

And, of course, praying that the voices will win this stupid mental battle sooner than later because I miss my Tarot cards.