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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Hey Doc, my brain is up here!

I am one of the lucky ones. I struggled with pmdd from 14 to 30, no idea what was wrong. It felt like a million things were always wrong. It came and went and I didn't really see the patterns. Then I had my son at age 30 and became a stay at home mom. With a little more routine, time and stability in my life I was able to see that the anger and anxiety always hit when I was ovulating and that the depression and physical symptoms followed that.  When my son was 2 and we were weaning my symptoms got really bad.

I made an appointment to see a Nurse Practitioner at a doctor's office to deal with some physical symptoms I was having. When she asked me about stress I broke down crying. I told her about the pattern I had recognized and she said, 'Oh, you obviously have pmdd. I will prescribe you some prozac, the lowest dose. Most women start to turn around quickly with it. They lose weight and feel better.' Her explanation of pmdd was basically it is a host of symptoms that occur between ovulation and the 4th day of your period. That was it. No description as to why or how. I was so relieved to think that I could have something fixable I decided to try the pills. Again, I am one of the lucky ones, they worked. They don't fix it, cure it or even help everything but they help enough to make life workable.

Most women bounce from doctor to doctor their whole adult lives and never get an accurate pmdd diagnosis. Or they spend their doctors appointments educating the doctor on what pmdd is and where to find the research. A lot of women have been misdiagnosed as bipolar, borderline personality disorder or other mental illnesses that are only close to a tiny part of what we deal with. Every misdiagnosis is just a step backwards, time wasted and more useless medications. I was so lucky to walk into that particular office, that particular day and have someone get it right. 

Of course there was no follow up care and no real understanding of what is required for treatment besides doling out SSRIs. Doctors don't know what to do with us, they send us to the gynecologist. The gynecologists can't find anything physically wrong so they send us to the psychiatrist. Round and round and round we go.

This is a condition caused by receptor issues in the brain and imbalance in the endocrine system. There is also some speculation that we could be somewhere on the autism spectrum, or similar, because of the sensitivity and sensory issues. What I know for sure is there is not one damn thing wrong with my uterus, ovaries, or any other part of my female anatomy. Never has been. So that is obviously not the root of the problem. Just because women are the only sufferers of pmdd does not mean the answer has to be found in the only parts of us men don't have. 

Trust me, I am not hiding any depression or anxiety in my vagina, so stop looking there. 


  1. On the flip side, I was mis-diagnosed with PMDD when I really had bipolar 2. My wonderful gynecologist wanted to help the sobbing woman in her office, and while I am gratefully for her reassurance and help, by putting my brain on an SSRI I began to rapid cycle and disturb my already sensitive brain chemistry. It would be years until I figured out what was really going on. Your blog is so great Michelle, and I am so proud of you. Education!!! Education!!! If any of your reader notice they have symptoms outside the defined PMDD window, look into bipolar 2. Both disorders are greatly impacted by our changing hormones and can greatly mimic each other. Prozac did make me feel better!! WAY better, but that "better" turned into hypo manic episodes and sent my brain chemistry reeling. All because no one talks about mental illness and the research takes SO LONG to trickle into the doctors office. And don't get me started on lack of health care!!!!! Keep it up Michelle. Love you!

    1. Thank you Tia! This information is very helpful. If you have any more info on the differences between pmdd and bipolar 2, a lot of my readers have expressed an interest. You are an inspiration to me! Love you too!