It is likely that the majority of you receiving this advice are men – the partners of the women who suffer with Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder, better known as PMDD. You are the people who know these women intimately, who are likely to experience the brunt of the worst symptoms of PMDD. I want you to know that you are not alone. I want you to know that I understand what you experience each month. And I want you to remember that you love her. She suffers with PMDD but this does not define her or your relationship. Open and honest communication can help prevent PMDD from destroying your relationship.
Heidi suffers from PMDD which for those who have never heard of it is a severe form of PMS. As with anything, there are variations amongst women and literature I have read indicates that on average it seems most women experience the worst PMDD symptoms 7-10 days before the beginning of their period. Heidi’s symptoms begin with ovulation and continue until a day or two after her period begins, which ends up being about 14 – 17 days a month. We’re not going to lie, it has caused a lot of disruption and pain in our relationship. But we have been very open and honest in our communication about our feelings and how to cope with this unwelcome intruder in our lives and for us it works very well.
Today for instance, I was teasing Heidi, which most days would not bother her at all. But we are in the last few days of her cycle which are usually the worst as far as PMDD symptoms go. This is when you never know when something is going to bother her to the point that she becomes incredibly sad and withdrawn or incredibly upset and angry or even worse – both. So today when I was teasing her she just said, “Honey, someone is going to trigger it. Don’t let it be you.” I appreciated the “warning”. It was honest and direct. I don’t want to be the one who causes her emotional distress and she doesn’t either. The teasing immediately stopped.
Talking is all we have most of the time given that she lives in Kansas and I live in Nova Scotia. Usually our communication is carefree which means teasing and sarcasm are allowed. So sometimes I forget that they are not always appreciated. About ten minutes after my “warning” I inadvertently fell back into our normal communication style and teased her again. All Heidi had to say this time was, “Don’t be a trigger”. And this is all she will have to say from now on.
NOTE: We plan to continue to write more about our experiences with PMDD here on Musings of a Mom so check back often. PMDD is not that well known and to be honest, unless people really know the person suffering with PMDD, they are likely to assume she is just being a major bitch. I beg all of you who are reading this to think about a woman you care for in your life who you know as usually upbeat, social, caring and fun to be around, and who suddenly seems to change into a person you would not normally befriend. If you do not understand why such a lovely person experiences such a prolonged and drastic change in her behavior, you should read more about PMDD. We will have more information here for you soon too.