Friday, February 20, 2009

Stop me if you've heard this one before.

Today's words are "Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)" and "perimenopause". Can you say "PMDD" and "suck it up, you're a hormonal mess"? I knew you could. I've complained on here before about my worsening PMS symptoms. The symptoms that have been severe enough to affect my work at my job. Last week and this week, I had two terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days at work. I was given two 'shape-up' talks by management -- about my number of sick days, about my lack of focus, etc, etc. I started crying in the meeting with my direct supervisor. Gads, I hate that. It's embarrassing and makes me angry. At least my supervisor said that the situation wasn't unsalvagable. I have a chance to turn it around.

After that rude wake-up call/slap in the face, I started thinking about my symptoms, google'ing, and looking at the calendar. "In PMDD, mood symptoms are more severe and often overshadow physical symptoms. The emotional disturbances are significant enough to cause problems with daily life." [emphasis mine] and "Emotional symptoms include feelings of sadness, hopelessness, anxiety, irritability and sensitivity, anger, being overwhelmed, and the need to withdraw from others."

I had recently told a friend that the emotional symptoms are very marked right before my period, then they go away. It's like a switch -- I wake up one morning, after days and days of looking at things through a haze of irritation, and the haze is gone. I know that my period will start later that same day.

While reading about PMDD, I came across references to worsening PMS or PMDD being associated with perimenopause. 'What is that' you may ask? It's the 10-15 years before menopause. Based on my mom's history, I had figured out that I would likely start perimenopause in my late 30's. I'm soon to be 37. Let's take a look at the symptoms of perimenopase, shall we?

» Hot flashes - check, night sweats
» Sleep disorders such as insomnia, difficulty falling asleep, waking up frequently, or restless sleep, leading to fatigue - check
» Mood swings, irritability, depression, anxiety, or nervousness - check
» Decreased libido
» Menstrual cycle changes, including heavier periods, uterine fibroids, spotting between periods, or skipped cycles, as well as worsening PMS (premenstrual syndrome) or PMDD (premenstrual dysphoric disorder) - check
» Fuzzy thinking, decreased or impaired memory and attention - check
» Increased food cravings, stubborn weight gain, insulin resistance, and difficulty controlling blood sugar
» Digestive problems, such as irritable bowel, bloating, or » acid reflux
» Heart arrhythmia, chest pain, palpitations
» Joint and muscle symptoms, including inflammation, stiffness or pain
» Dizziness, decreased balance,
» headaches or menstrual migraines - check

Well, shiiii-at. I may not be crazy after all. Well, that is to say, the hormones may be what are making me crazy. One website mentioned that the symptoms of fuzzy thinking and inability to multitask can be significant. I've just found out recently that I've missed some important details in meetings due to my brain fog. Those meetings? Yeah, they were in prime PMS time. Dude, I'm smart; I have advanced degrees. But these hormone shifts are kicking my mental butt. I've joked with DH about my 'hot flashes', but I just figured that they were just from the hormones of still breastfeeding (like feeling hot during pregnancy). Maybe they really have been bona-fide hot flashes.

Now I just need to get with my Doc and figure out how to get my hormones on an even keel. Any lurkers who have some experience or advice?


Rachel said...

oh, yuck. I'm sorry you're having such an awful time with it.

my partner, who's 9 years older than I am, is going through perimenopause now. she's found that it really comes and goes -- she'll have a bunch of hot flashes, and then it'll go away for a while.

as for what helps: GNC sells natural progesterone cream. google a bit about dosages, etc, but a lot of people have found it helpful. also, seriously, prozac. there's even a version sold specifically for PMDD, don't know if the dosage is different than normal prozac...

good luck dealing with the horrible hormone rollercoaster!

Paula said...

Hi there.....

My name is Paula and I live in Minneapolis, MN USA. It's 4:44 am and I am looking for articles to fax in with the last of my unemployment support documents to support my case. I was a terrific employee for a company for 2 years who came in on weekends, worked at night if need be, etc., etc. I developed periomenopause in March. I have been on 3 different forms of birth control, progressively stronger, which did nothing for me, just made me crazier. I begged for a surgery once I lost my job for too many sick days and so I could solve this problem within a time frame due to my Cobra insurance costing $600. It took about 5 appointments at a women's clinic for someone to tell me I have an extremely small uterus. I settled on an IUD (Minera) that only releases hormones into the uterus. For one week now I have been almost symptom free...hardly any bleeding and no hot flashes at all. Thanks for your article........

Avonlea said...

Hi, Paula,

I'm sorry to hear that you've been suffering the hormonal rollercoaster. I know firsthand how much it can affect you mentally, physically, and emotionally. I'm doing better on my birth control pill (though still not 100%); I still have monthly hormonal cycles with more irritation, even though the pill is controlling my cycle.

Good luck with your case.