When I had PND, my health nurse said to me, ‘make sure you look at her, give her eye contact, constantly, force yourself to smile, even though you don’t feel it’. I remember this advice vividly and sadly, nearly 6 years down the track, I’m sitting here doing that exact same thing. My beautiful baby is home from school today, maybe sick, maybe not sick enough to be home, but either way, she’s here and she wants to build Lego. As for me, I am sick and have been for the past 4 days. I can’t think straight, I can’t concentrate, I’m dizzy and light headed, I’m so sad that at some moments during the day, I wish I wasn’t here. Yesterday I was so agitated that I had a dissociative episode — not uncommon for me when I’m under pressure. My brain just couldn’t cope and it shut down. It’s the body’s way of keeping you going, keeping you alive, by just shutting down and shutting off. But that doesn’t make it any less frightening. So I’m faking it.
I’ve done school drop off, I’ve showered, I’ve done all my Mum jobs (apart from tidying the house) and now I’m just trying to get through the next couple of days. This will be gone as quickly as it came, once I get my period. Too much information? Who cares. This is my life and has been for a very long time. Every 23 days, pretty much without exception, I go from being a normal, happy, loving, kind human being to wishing I was dead and being completely unable to function. Getting out of bed is a monumental effort. The thought of making school lunches will set off panic attacks and having to leave the house? Fuck. Every 23 days, I sit and cry and then berate myself for feeling the way I do. You ungrateful bitch, you selfish, fat, ugly woman. You don’t deserve to be here, you don’t deserve your beautiful family or anything that you have. You are worthless, you are broken.
When I can tap into logic during these times, there are glimpses of reality that try to tell me that this will pass, that this is NOT my fault, that I am NOT being selfish, that I am worthy and that my beautiful children have a wonderful, loving mama. But those moments of logic and insights into reality are few and far between and these 5 or 6 days of living hell, feel like an eternity. Some months are worse than others, like this month for instance. Events of yesterday set off anger in me that usually I would deal with and respond to in a reasonably ‘Kate-like’ (perhaps not always reasonable) manner but on top of this hell, control is lost. I may still feel my anger is validated but the lack of control in how my body and mind responds, is frightening. Don’t get me wrong, I’d still be voicing my opinions but the feelings inside me wouldn’t be pushing me to the point of a tightening throat, a pounding heart, a sweating brow and feelings of dissociation.
I’m whinging and moaning and feeling sorry for myself because I’m going through this but if I’m honest, I’m not doing everything I possibly can to help improve things. Diet for one, is a huge factor in mental health and for months (many, many months) now, my diet has consisted of coffee in the day, with very little to no food, then maybe something to eat after dinner, which typically is never a good choice. Aren’t Cheerios a food group? I can’t stand to feel food in my stomach and so that in itself is another issue to deal with. I’m drinking too much coffee — but fuck me, I’ve got nothing else — I’m not putting any good things into my body and I’m not getting out and exercising like I should be but when I feel like I shouldn’t even be present on this earth, exercise and healthy eating are the last things on my mind.
So in a day or two, when this has passed, maybe I’ll try my best to make some positive changes, try to do ‘the right thing’ by my body and my mind. For today, however, I’m doing my very best. I’m faking my smiles and feigning enjoyment in life, when really, I want to be in bed, I want to be held and told that it will be okay. I want to know that I am not alone in this fucking hell of (probably) hormone related depression. At 2.30pm I will go to the doctor and I will ask her what my options are. I imagine she will be in agreement with my self-diagnosis of Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder and I’m sure medication can easily be dished out but I need to try all these other things before I go swallowing any more pills.
I’m so hesitant to write this, lest it be dismissed under the old ‘oh, she’s got PMS’ banner but this is beyond PMS, it is beyond over-eating chocolate and having a cry. This is a living fucking hell and I’ve had just about enough. So today, today will be the day that I will do my best to get by in the hope that when this again passes, I can put one foot in front of the other and take some positive steps forward.