Monday, February 15, 2010

The stigma of mental illness.

PMDD. I never thought it would happen to me.

I live with a man who is very ANTI-drug, anti-psychiatry, anti-'tell your problems to someone else and expect a prescription to make it all better'. I used to be that way. I had a rough childhood that very few people know about. As a child, hearing the same negative phrases repeated to you over and over about becoming nothing in life, you begin to believe it. So as an adult, I had alot... ALOT... and in case you didn't get that... ALOT of issues to work through. I believe I have indeed worked through them, but it wasn't easy. I still have to catch myself every now and then. Nearly 6 years ago, around the time I turned 30, something started happening to me. Every few weeks I would get irritated over little things. Then I would start crying for no reason, then get raging mad, then suddenly feel like I was in a deep dark pit of sadness that would just overwhelm me. It was like a bad dream that would last for days at a time. I would keep my office door closed all day, never answer the phone, I would email only because the thought of actually talking to someone disgusted me. I would wear all black to work, go straight home from the office, take a shower and get in bed. Yes. It was THAT bad. This would last up until my *monthly visitor* showed up and the day after that I would be fine. Smiling, laughing, chatting, things were fine. It was freaky. I really hate to use the 'Jekyll & Hyde' cliche' but it was exactly like that.

So I mentioned this to my doctor during a visit about a sinus issue. She said it sounded like I had a classic case of 'hormonal imbalance'... and gave me a little something to take everyday. And the only way I can describe how that 'little something' made me feel everyday? NUTS. I thought I was losing my damn mind. So back to the doctor I went again. And again. And again. Then got referred to a specialist, then a shrink, then I started doing my own research online and keeping a journal of what days felt like hell and what days didn't. And I found a doctor. A real doctor who listened to me, talked to me about other patients who had my same symptoms, and started a treatment plan to make sure that I stayed level the entire month.

I struggle with using the phrase 'treatment for mental illness' for myself because if I had a quarter for everytime I heard 'you just need to exercise!' or 'if you take some blue treetrunk oil caplets and 3 jingleberries (or insert whatever supplement here) each day, you'll be fine!' or 'oh, its JUST pms, women in the olden days ran entire households, washed the car, mowed the lawn, changed the oil in their cars AND managed to breast feed back then! You don't have ANY of that stress, so you should be able to handle it!' I'd be one filthy rich Green.Eyed.Bitch. But I know none of that is true for me. I know that 2 weeks out of the month if I don't do as my doctor tells me to, I am a Jekyll.and.Hyde. PMDD = PMS on steroids. And yet, compared to someone that has bi.polar.dis.order or anxiety so severe they can't leave their house, PMDD seems relatively easy, simple, not so serious. Compared to those with chemical imbalances in their brains, PMDD seems like 'mental illness light' instead of heavy. The stigma that society envelopes around mental illness really saddens me. And moreso, the fact that I used to be one of those people - putting all crazy people in one group, a group that couldn't solve their own problems and were just wimps and couldn't buck up to handle business. I guess it takes something happening to you or someone close to you to change your mind.
Seeking help is not a bad thing. Getting help is not a bad thing. Taking meds your doctor recommends to help you through a difficult time or to help you back to happiness is damn sure not a bad thing.


  1. Stop talking about me like I'm not here! /Shelby, Steel Magnolias

    I'd like some jingleberries, please.

    And also, great post!

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