This post isn’t for all audiences. It’s mostly a rant.
Premenstrual dysphoric disorder is a real kick in the teeth. It’s a severe and chronic medical condition that fortunately doesn’t affect everyone, but unfortunately does affect me.
Dysphoria is such a good sounding word, but not a good thing. It means a generalized dissatisfaction with life. Isn’t that the worst?
I have a hypothesis. I have an autoimmune disorder wherein I’m allergic to progesterone, one of the hormones present in ovulation (and the primary hormone in birth control, as well as in hormone replacement therapy). I get rashes when I ovulate. It’s allegedly rare (I think it’s more common than rare, but that it is under-studied, because medicine doesn’t care about women), and far more rare is to have it flare all during pregnancy, which is what happens with my case. That’s not my hypothesis. My hypothesis is that because I have this autoimmune disorder, I also have PMDD, because the theory is that PMDD could be caused by abnormal reactions to the hormonal changes during the menstrual cycle. But really, who cares. It’s all connected, or it’s not, and it doesn’t matter.
I take medicine for PMDD, because I have to. Even with daily medication that I increase by 50% the 10 days before my period, I struggle. I linked above to a Johns Hopkins page on it (severe and chronic), which has a super handy and terrible table on the symptoms. It would be easier to list which symptoms I don’t get. I don’t get swelling, vomiting, or acne. That’s about it! The past week I’ve had a headache every day, and I have one now. I’ve been convinced I’m about to get fired. I can’t get to sleep, or stay asleep. I’m grinding my teeth right now. I can’t decide if I need to scream or cry. The room shifts around me, which is also a side effect of the medication I take. I’m a million degrees, I want to eat everything or maybe nothing, my heart keeps skipping a beat, and I can’t focus. All of this, for months out of the year, because of chemicals. Fucking chemicals, man. They can get the fuck bent.
I found out about this disorder in my late 30s when I couldn’t function from depression and anxiety. Based on my prior hypothesis, I wonder if the reason it’s so much worse for me now is because hormones are incremental lil fuckers, and well, a lot of time has passed. Maybe, who knows. Not medical science, since medicine doesn’t care about women’s health.
You know what’s really fucked up, though, is that I think things like “at least I have a good job with health care, so I can get diagnosed for stuff like this and get medicine prescribed.” That sort of thing shouldn’t be tied to having a job! It’s insane, absolutely insane, that people who need medical attention – by definition often the people least able to work – must have a job in order to get medical care. And not just any job! Let’s not talk about how restaurants just assume the public will subsidize their workers through tips. “It’s a service job” is not an argument – everyone who doesn’t believe their job is a service job is probably a terrible coworker. I am lucky to have a good job, with rewarding work, but access to health is a human right.
I’m so tired. And it’s exhausting to recognize that my personal agency on any of this is limited. I can’t get my own chemicals in order.
By some luck, the weather has been mild and sunny the last few days. I took a walk this afternoon in the sun, and that was really nice. It’s not everything, but it’s something. It’s going to sunny the next couple of days, and unseasonably warm (which makes me uneasy, but I’ll enjoy it for what it is), so I’m going to plan time outside every day, which is a gift to even contemplate in February. We’ll go from there.