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15 Things to Say to a Woman With Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder

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I was diagnosed with premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) five years ago. It was right after the birth of my son. I felt off, not like myself and very irritable. It was hard for me to concentrate and take care of my new baby and my daughter. I was constantly trying to subdue my inner Joan Crawford. No more plastic hangers!

I went to my gynecologist and told him how I was feeling. He prescribed birth control pills and said I had PMDD. I said, “Yeah, you know me.”

I took the pills, and felt better within days. I have been taking them for five years now, but recently they have stopped working and my PMDD has become severe and debilitating. It is the worst thing I have ever been through, and I watched the movie version of “The Phantom of The Opera.”

I don’t think I would get through it without a little help from my husband, my doctors and of course my friends. (Beatles ear-worm starts now!)

I had never heard of PMDD before, and if I tell anyone about it they have no idea what it is either.

Johns Hopkins Medicine describes it as follows: “The exact cause of PMDD is not known. It may be an abnormal reaction to normal hormone changes that occur with each menstrual cycle. The hormone changes can cause a serotonin deficiency. Serotonin is a substance found naturally in the brain and intestines that narrows blood vessels and can affect mood and cause physical symptoms.”

I describe it as follows:

“When Moses begins the cycle of parting my Red Sea, I feel like I’m spinning out of control like the teacup ride at the carnival.”

I can personally tell you how serious and difficult PMDD is. It is like entering the Amityville Horror’s door to the pit of Hell — you want to get out, but you are stuck in a suburban type home on Long Island full of tears, fears and Tears for Fears music.

According to Harvard Health, about 15 percent of women with PMDD attempt suicide.

I can personally tell you I understand this.

If you know anyone with PMDD, or anyone you think may need support, here is a list of 15 things you can say to help:

1. “I believe you have a real illness called PMDD, and it is not your fault. Tell me more about it. I will sit with you on the bench of life just like Forrest Gump. I know life is not always a box of chocolates.”

2. “I still love you and will support you for as long as it takes to get the proper treatment. Even if it means decades until you reach menopause. Golden girls, here we come!”

3. “If you need some space I will give it to you, even if you tell me to go to another galaxy. Just let me know when you would like me to visit/call. I will always want you to live long and prosper.”

4. “If you need a friend, I will always be here. I’m not going anywhere, not even when your head spins around like Regan MacNeil in ‘The Exorcist.’”

5. “If you need a ride to the doctor’s office, I will take you in my bitchin’ Camaro. There may even be donuts on my lawn.”

6. “If you need someone to pick up your prescribed medication at the pharmacy, just call me and say, ‘Hello, it’s Xanax I’m looking for.’”

7. “If you need help doing some research or finding a proper specialist, I will help you. I know how overwhelmed you are. The FBI’s got nothin’ on me.”

8. “If you have to stay home often, I’ll join you and not feel like I’m missing out on anything, because you are what matters to me and that’s what friends and loved ones do. They show up. They’ll do a ‘Game of Thrones’ or ‘Godzilla’ marathon, watch ‘Terms of Endearment’ or ‘Star Wars: A New Hope’ for the 100th time. Whatever suits your mood.”

9. “If you have a panic attack, I will hold your hand and comfort you and help you breathe until it’s over. We will find balance together, and rock the chakra or the casbah.”

10. “I don’t like to see you suffer and I will do anything I can to help you ease the pain, even sit near you when your dogs are barking like Del Griffith from ‘Planes, Trains and Automobiles.’”

11. “Just let me know what you need, and I will do my best to help you. You don’t have to become a drifter and walk alone, no matter what Whitesnake says.”

12. “You can always count on me. I am not going anywhere. Like Bon Jovi says, ‘I’ll be there for you.’ We will live on a prayer… together.”

13. “I will not judge you and will always love you no matter what. (Unless you start listening to Justin Bieber or sport a mullet, then the deal’s off.)”

14. “I’m so proud of you for your strength and courage. You are doing a great job trying to fight this. I know you will eventually succeed (insert ‘Rocky’ theme song).”

15. “As Ted says, we are Thunder Buddies for life! I will help you through any storm. That’s what spouses and friends do, and that’s what I will always do!”

This blog marks the first time I have been able to find humor in my current situation. This illness is not humorous, though. If you need help please go see your doctor right away. A helpful closed Facebook support group is PMDD Moms.

I wish all of you that suffer strength, success, peace and much love.

Hang in there. You will eventually be OK. Don’t give up!

If you or someone you know needs help, see our suicide prevention resources.

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Editor’s note: Any medical information included is based on a personal experience. For questions or concerns regarding health, please consult a doctor or medical professional.

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Originally published: June 14, 2016
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