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Making the Most of Our "Periods of Misfortune"

Living Authentically with Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder

I recently shared a fabulous meme on Facebook that read:

What if periods of misfortune are meant to generate a level of discomfort so intense that we grow desperate enough to become who we really are?

It's a quote attributed to someone named Lacey Johnson.

Naturally, when I read "periods of misfortune", my mind went immediately to PMDD. If ever there were actual periods of misfortune! It's the perfect name for a support group or even a book title.

Beyond that, the message is such a good one. Think about it.

PMDD is like a magnifying glass. Every month, we get to see up close all the ways we sacrifice our truth, enable broken relationships, and betray ourselves with our thoughts.

If it wasn't so damn uncomfortable if it was "just PMS", would we be trying so damn hard to find relief? Would we be content to live with a little monthly discomfort, carrying on as always, instead of driven by absolute agony to find some answers somewhere?

The suffering associated with PMDD forces us to ask ourselves some very hard questions. We have no choice but to consider the answers if we want things to be different. We all have ways in which we betray ourselves, say things we don't really mean or believe, say yes to things we wanted to say no to, hang out with people we don't really like, continue in jobs we hate, and do things we know are hurting us in the long run. We have our reasons too, of course. But if it's our suffering that we want to mitigate, we are forced to actually look more closely at these self-betrayals, understand them, and grow through them.

What things tend to get in your face when you're experiencing symptoms? Which people in your life cause you more suffering? What habits do you have that may be contributing to symptom intensification? What kinds of thoughts make insistent appearances every month? More importantly, what do you have to change, do, or try to reduce the amount of suffering you go through? Or do you have to learn to accept something that you cannot change and learn to forgive yourself and those involved?

Sometimes, those answers remain elusive. Other times, we simply don't like the answers. But when answers appear, we need to take them seriously. We need to trust ourselves and then follow through. Whether that means we have to give up our addiction to substances or completely eliminate something from our diet, or whether it means we need to eliminate someone from our contact list, start an exercise program, demand time off, or give the medication that we've been avoiding a try.

But those examples are somewhat external. What about the internal changes we need to make? Do we need to stop allowing abusive thoughts in our head to prattle on without countering them with a kinder voice? Do we need to change how we relate to someone, maybe with less judgment so that they still want us in their lives? Do we need to give up old thoughts or ideas about life and our self-image in order to experience something new? Do we need to talk to a professional and start to work on some of our buried trauma?

We have to be willing to ask ourselves the really hard questions, even if the answers hurt. And we have to be willing to make the appropriate moves in light of our insights. It's kinda crazy, but maybe it is the fact that we suffer from PMDD that makes us willing to question ourselves and our situations so that we can improve them. I've written about it before -- that PMDD is a catalyst for our awakening as women. But the awakening must first happen on the individual level. We have to clean and clear all the ways that we pretend and try to live up to some false image, whether of our own design or someone else's. PMDD asks no less of us than to become completely authentic beings. And it asks us again and again...every month. It's that...or suffer more.

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