PMDD Three

Life with PMDD is a roller coaster. A never ending, cruel, evil roller coaster.

It’s been a while, so if you didn’t catch Part 1 (where I give a little history) and Part 2 (about diagnosing and treating my PMDD,) you might want to start there.

When I last left off, our treatment plan of taking birth control pills every single day was working. Unfortunately, that didn’t last. It wasn’t an easy journey that finally led me to treating pmdd naturally.

Around Memorial Day of last year I had a very busy week and I missed a few pills in a row. I had to stop (that threw me into a cycle) and then I waited for another cycle (to give my body a rest – and that took a while.) It was the end of the summer before I began taking the pills again — and this time they didn’t help. The pills that I had been itching to take because I felt crazy without them, were slowly but surely making feel wound tighter and tighter with each passing week. I found myself living in Crazy-Ville again.

After two months of feeling edgy and irritable, my husband suggested that I start taking the pills “the right way” again – 3 weeks on, and 1 week off – to give my body breaks. I agreed to try and the strangest thing happened. I felt better on the off weeks when I wasn’t taking pills–NOT crazier, like before. We tried that for three months and each month the result was the same. Meanwhile, I began to research other methods of treatment, and when I was supposed to start a new pack of pills at the beginning of January, I decided not to. I was done with that.

Now, I don’t normally recommend turning to the internet for medical advice, but I knew that I didn’t want to take the alternative option that my doctor gave me and begin taking Prozac. (Been there, done that with other anti-depressants before.) No, I really wanted to research some natural treatment options.

So, yeah, I turned to the internet. (Here’s a good article that sums up what I found about natural treatment for PMDD but do your own research – there is so much more to learn.) And since the recommended treatment is basically just being as healthy as I can, and taking some herbal supplements, then it’s not really going to hurt me anyway.

(More info here and here and here and here.)

Since Christmas my plan for treating PMDD naturally has looked like this:
– get enough sleep
– exercise
– significantly decrease (but not eliminate) caffeine
– almost eliminate sugar and junk food (I should try to cut it all out but this is hard for me.)
– take a good women’s multivitamin (one with a good amount of vitamin d, the b vitamins, calcium, magnesium)
– take good quality fish oil and evening primrose oil supplements
– eat other good brain and mood foods (coconut oil, avocados, greens, nuts, whole grains, etc.)
– double the primrose during PMS

And last but not least (and these are key:)
– Identify triggers and stressors to avoid, eliminate or reduce.
– Recognize when I’m getting overwhelmed and try to eliminate stress.

So has it worked?

Yes, I do think it helps. I am still susceptible but I’m better equipped to handle the hormones. I can definitely tell a difference when I miss a day or two of my supplements or start staying up too late and not getting enough sleep – I feel very scatterbrained and irritable. It’s not perfect, but it helps. Feeling tired or mentally foggy can lead to irritability under normal circumstances, and with PMDD that’s just amplified even more. With good sleep and nutrition, vitamins and minerals, and a little bit of caffeine and guarana, I can be alert and better prepared to handle the day. But too much caffeine or sugar can make me irritable, too, so there’s a balance. Evening Primrose has long been used for moodiness caused by PMS, and though its effectiveness isn’t accepted by the FDA, I believe it might also be helping and at the very least it contains gamma linolenic acid, an Omega-6 that is essential for good health. 

And as I said, recognizing that I’m overwhelmed is an important factor. That means recognizing things like when our schedule is too busy, or when I’m trying to plan too much into a day or a week, and then cutting something out (or better yet, trying not to over-schedule in the first place.) But that also means recognizing the ticking time bomb inside in the middle of one of THOSE moments (or days) – those times when everything comes at you all at once and your brain short circuits and trips a breaker? – and then WALKING AWAY.

If I’m overwhelmed with a difficult day and I’m on the brink, I might go run errands in town to get a breather, or change my plans to accommodate the hormones, or even go to bed early. Or I might literally walk away and go take a breath and say a prayer before re-entering the situation. And there’s no sense inviting trouble. I’m certainly not going to try to sit down and balance the check book on a day where I’m having trouble focusing and the kids are bouncing off the walls.

I do still get overwhelmed and break into tears because I can’t handle something, or feel irrationally irritable and lose my temper – but I don’t feel like that all the time anymore. Now those seem to mostly occur during normal PMS hours, just still worse than normal PMS, and that’s when I try to crank up the extra sleep and increase the Evening Primrose oil. And I also apologize and ask for forgiveness a lot. Again, it’s not perfect, but it’s better.

Now I have to be honest, I’m not really quite sure what a normal month looks like for me yet. It’s been almost five months since I stopped taking birth control pills, but I’ve only had three cycles. It took over fifty days for the first cycle, after coming off the pills – and actually I felt great for those fifty days until I got PMSy at the end. It took forty-something days for the next one, and I felt better at first but then I started feeling PMSy after about three and a half weeks and STAYED that way until I finally ended that cycle. That was a rough two weeks. This past month was not quite as bad, with only a slightly too long cycle and a manageable amount of PMS. I’m not sure how long it will take for everything to even out and I can see what “normal” looks like with natural treatment–but I have had promising results so far, except for the excessive PMS during the extended length of the cycles, and that part is only going to get better.

PMDD still affects my life. I feel cognitively affected by it, very “ADD” quite often, still having some trouble with forgetfulness and memory, etc. Some days I feel emotionally fragile and others I feel volatile, like I could wear a shirt that says “Contents Under Pressure.” But the difference is that I have a lot of GOOD days. I have energy, motivation, patience, and determination. And I wasn’t getting that after the BC pill stopped working. At all. And I wasn’t getting very many of those before I went on the pills the first time (when I wasn’t doing any sort of treatment at all.)

I like having good days.

Now this is the part where I tell you that I’m not a doctor, and I’m not sure if you’ll be able to treat your PMDD naturally or not. None of this is intended as medical advice. But I do want to encourage you to read up on various treatment options and talk to your doctor.

I said this at the beginning, and I’m going to finish with it now. Why am I sharing this? Because I’m not the only one. Maybe you have been trying to survive life with PMDD, too. Maybe it’s someone you know. Here and there I have “blogged in passing” about having bad days, or feeling overwhelmed, but I have never put it all in context and shared my journey. I want to encourage you and say you are not alone; you are not crazy. PMDD isn’t just all in your head. Yes, it’s mental and emotional and often mimics depression. But PMDD is physiological, too, and you’ll notice that it ebbs and flows throughout your month along with your hormones. And there are things you can do. Hopefully you’ll be able to find something that helps you cope with the symptoms of PMDD, too. 

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Hey, y’all! I’m Amber and I wear many hats. I drink a ton of coffee and I’m constantly sweeping crumbs off the floor. After 18 years of homeschooling, I’m getting close to graduating my third child and now we are starting over at preschool with our fourth, Lil Miss Mouse. She keeps us young and she’s the main reason for my excessive coffee consumption. Drink up!