40 Year old Female with PMS/ Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)
Something tells me this story may be a bit long winded and perhaps even too deep, however take what you like from it and more than anything I would like it to help others. I think writing this in itself will be a therapeutic journey.
This shall be my first time in 25 years writing about my journey….
Since I was about 15 I have been under a veil of nothingness,’ it’s the only way I can describe it’. I was a very happy child and my parents said I was always very confident and would light up a room when I entered. I do remember being very happy as a child but I was always very sensitive to other people and their problems and really I was too young to understand struggles and life’s up and downs. Things happened as they do, that I would describe as traumas in my life.
I didn’t know that then.
My parents broke up when I was 8 and my baby brother was only after being born, I had a 5 year old sister and an 11 year old sister. While my Mam was in hospital with severe post natal depression and couldn’t even hold her head up or speak, my Dad had an affair.
I won’t go into details but I knew the woman very well and she pretended she was my friend and helped look after me when Mam was in hospital and let me help out in her restaurant. I didn’t know then but when Mam got out of hospital she realised what was happening and because I was mature for my age and we were so close she spoke to me like an adult and friend and therefore made me aware of everything that was happening.
I don’t blame her she just needed someone to talk to but I was told many years after that my ears were too young to hear. To make a long story short they got back together. My word fell apart from there really.
My older sister met her boyfriend when she was 15 and he became part of the family. He was 6 years older than me, when I was 16 he I suppose the term these days is ‘groomed me’ and I didn’t know how to stop it happening and it continued for a couple of years (no need for details but let’s just say he did a lot of wrong things and nobody in my family knew (I blamed myself for letting it happen and to this day I find it hard to realise he took advantage of my youth and inexperience and my good nature).
It wasn’t until he started giving my younger sister attention and she thankfully came to me, that I told my Mam and Dad what was happening, I couldn’t bare the thoughts of her getting hurt and taken advantage of, I had the strength to speak up for her but not myself.
College started and I had trouble fitting in because I had an abortion the summer before I started (a local boyfriend) and another one 3 years later (a drunken night a man took advantage of me).
I drank way too much all through my college years and drink and drugs made me feel warm and loved. I always wanted to feel wanted and loved and I got it from relationships and one night stands.
Of course that was only damaging me even more and more because it didn’t fill the hole.
My Mam brought me to counsellors over the college years because I used to come home some weekends and just cry and cry. If I drank coming up to my periods I used to get really aggressive and I used to self harm to punish myself for everything I did and felt.
I didn’t make the connection between my PMS and my moods until I was in my 20’s. My Mam and Dad even started making the link. I would become a totally different person for the week before my period and yet again I would try and numb it with drink.
I was prescribed anti-depressants by my GP in my mid-20’s and tried lots of different ones but they only took some of the edge off and numbed all my senses and emotions. I met a psychologist every week for 2 full years when I was in my late 20’s and he was amazing. He helped me deal with everything that had happened up to that point and helped me understand what I had gone through and I felt for the first time I had dealt with the skeletons in my closet.
I thought that would fix me but time moved on and I continued to not be me, it’s so frightening and alien like to feel how I felt on and off for years to come. Everyone else was happy and I couldn’t feel anything. From the outside I was happy, confident and managed 6 years of college and had registered as a nurse. I was a people person and people found me warm and fun to be with and I was never short of a boyfriend or friends but I just wasn’t me deep inside. I was so confused and wanted to be normal.
I met my now husband when I was 29 and we got engaged and married within 2 years. I was very up and down and 10 days to 2 weeks before my period I was agitated and aggressive and depressed. After I had my first daughter my hormones hit rock bottom and I was miserable but I struggled on. At some stage after I had my 2nd daughter and hit rock bottom again I went on my GP’s advice to see a psychologist. He spent 2 hours taking my history and diagnosed me with dystimia and double depression and started me on 200mg of sertraline (around 8 years ago).
Since then I improved somewhat but as I got older my PMT continued to get worse and worse. I would wake up after being me to being depressed, agitated and aggressive and not me. My husband and I would fight and I would storm off in the car and imagine driving into something just to turn off the lights inside me. I would often be walking down the street and want to walk in front of a car just so I could take a break from living and go to hospital for a while, all sounds so ridiculous but that’s how I felt. I would walk and cry, walk and cry for days and then things would get better until the following month.
Before I met Dr. Magovern I had my ovaries shut down with an injection with a view to having a hysterectomy to see if it would help but when it came to it the side effects from the loss of ovary function frightened me away from proceeding with the surgery. I felt like I aged 10 years in 3 months, it wasn’t a nice feeling (hot sweats, dry skin, dry eyes, hair falling out, weight gain) to mention a few. Of course weight gain has been a constant struggle all my life due to comfort eating and sugar cravings for 2 weeks out of every month and then I would stop bleeding and eat healthily and exercise and feel great until the next cycle.
I did some of my own research in 2019 and came across Dr.Magovern’s clinic in Goatstown on the internet. I discussed it with my husband and parents and they agreed it was worth a try because they suffered along with me all over the years and wanted me to find an answer. I made my first appointment and my husband drove me to Drummartin Clinic in October 2019.
That initial consultation I spent hours with Dr. Magovern and for the first time ever somebody understood me and asked all the right questions. He really listened and allowed me say everything I needed to say no matter how strange or confusing it sounded. Each question led to another and I realised that what I had been experiencing was real and that there was a reason for it.
It started with an in-depth consultation and I came home with a number of investigations to be carried out prior to returning to the clinic including bloods, urine and saliva tests. On return to the clinic I had a number of specialist blood tests and received an intravenous nutrient therapy called Myers cocktail to kick start my treatment.
Once the clinic had received all my investigation results including hormone measurements I commenced supplements and hormone replacement therapy. Over the next 6 months my treatment was monitored and my symptoms and changes discussed in depth. Some supplements were added and hormones increased gradually.
My last consultation with Dr. Magovern was Friday 24th of July and my first words to him was “ I haven’t experienced any changes in mood or character for my last 2 periods” bleeding just started and I turned to my husband and said I’m bleeding and felt normal all month. Either my husband or I could believe it.
My relationship with my husband was affected in so many ways and for years he knew the day I started PMT like a light switch had been pressed. He could see the cloud over me, I couldn’t speak properly without mixing up my words, I got clumsy, forgetful, lost interest in hygiene, brushing my teeth was an effort, agitated, and aggressive I always felt like crying but the sertraline doesn’t allow me to cry much anymore, it dulls all emotions, good and bad. He saw it in me for 2 weeks out of every month. It wasn’t fair on him or my daughters. Between the anti-depressants and low moods I had no libido and had lost all interest.
Today I can honestly say for the first time ever that I am starting to feel level now for the whole month, there isn’t that constant roller coaster every month. I am more content and free. I am feeling things again and my sex drive is definitely returning. I can enjoy it again (it’s not an annoyance or chore, I can let myself relax and enjoy it like I did in my 20’s)
I know my treatment is still being tweaked and I still have some symptoms to deal with but most of them are physical symptoms now, like night sweats and heavy bleeding and even if I was told I had to live with them I would be more than happy to minus all the emotional and psychological torment I have suffered for the past 20 years. However Dr. Magovern is continuing to monitor my progress and is constantly reaching for the stars.
I would like to finish by referring to Vincent Van Gough’s Starry Night painting. It depicts the view from the east-facing window of his asylum. In the aftermath of his breakdown that resulted in the mutilation of his left ear Van Gough admitted himself to this lunatic asylum.
He could see this beautiful image after his torment and my own Starry Night is also emerging with all its beauty, emotion and colour. When that fog is there every month it’s impossible to see any stars but they are truly starting to shine now and I can identify with Dr.Magovern’s idea of “Reaching for the Stars”. The next step is weaning off my anti-depressants, don’t get me wrong there is a time and a place for them and I needed them but they weren’t the answer in the end.