PMDD: my monthly living hell

PMDD: my monthly living hell

According to the Mayo Clinic Website: “Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) is a severe, sometimes disabling extension of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Although regular PMS and PMDD both have physical and emotional symptoms, PMDD causes extreme mood shifts that can disrupt your work and damage your relationships.

In both PMDD and PMS, symptoms usually begin seven to 10 days before your period starts and continue for the first few days that you have your period. Both PMDD and PMS may also cause bloating, breast tenderness, fatigue, and changes in sleep and eating habits. In PMDD, however, at least one of these emotional and behavioral symptoms stands out:

Sadness or hopelessness

Anxiety or tension

Extreme moodiness

Marked irritability or anger

The cause of PMDD isn’t clear. Underlying depression and anxiety are common in both PMS and PMDD, so it’s possible that the hormonal changes that trigger a menstrual period worsen the symptoms of mood disorders.”

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I live with PMDD. In fact, I’m currently going through the monthly hell that completely derails my life for days each month. It leaves me not being able to know what my moods will be like from moment to moment, I feel out of control, overwhelmed by everything in my life and my anxiety and depression seriously increase. 

PMDD is something I’m just now learning about and learning to deal with. I was diagnosed last summer but have had the severe form of PMS since my very first period. 

I had developed such a deep hate for myself because every month I couldn’t handle what I thought was PMS and was what normal women went through. I felt so inadequate for not being able to control these symptoms. I felt so weak and useless. Every month it would take over and I would find myself self-harming and drinking heavily to cope with the symptoms.

Then last July I was in the middle of my monthly hell and I was speaking to my healthcare coordinator and I just poured out everything I was feeling and going through. That’s when she dropped this bombshell in my lap and something clicked in my head- This was the thing that I had been experiencing for years. It had a name and a treatment.

 I sat down and started tracking my symptoms and started to see the pattern in front of me in my planner and when I took it to my doctor, my diagnosis was confirmed. I was started on medication to help with the symptoms and mood swings. And I started to do research.

I was shocked to learn that 8-10% of women who are of age to experience PMS have PMDD. That’s so many women but before last summer I was completely oblivious to this condition. It’s sad that women’s health issues are so wildly unknown. I keep thinking that if I had known about this sooner maybe I wouldn’t have been in hell for so long and thought I was so weak and less than.   

I wasn’t weak- I was sick. For all those years, I had a medical condition that caused me so much shame and pain but I hadn’t said a word because I thought it was just PMS. That’s why awareness is so important and that’s why I am so open about my struggle every month. I don’t want another girl to ever feel less than or to not know that this exists.

It’s one of the last days of my PMDD cycle this month. I started my period a few hours ago, which means the symptoms will gradually wind down and I will get to feeling like myself by tomorrow morning. I can’t wait until my thoughts feel like my own again and I’m not overwhelmed by everything in life.
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A Letter To The New Governor About HB2

A Letter To The New Governor About HB2

Dear Governor Roy Cooper,You were sworn into office as the 75th governor of North Carolina this past Sunday. First off, congratulations on your new office. I pray that you do the people of our state proud and serve the people of the great state of North Carolina to the best of your abilities.

I was born and raised in Fayetteville and I have been so proud to be a tar heel my entire life until the last year or so. Now, I’m embarrassed to say I’m a lifelong NC resident. Frankly I don’t think the last administration could pull their heads out of their asses long enough to realize the damage that their decisions and bull shit could do and has done.

I am absolutely appalled that House Bill 2 could be passed in our state and allowed to stand as long as has. As a resident of North Carolina, I am ashamed. As an openly gay woman, I am afraid for the future. 

This “bathroom bill” is nonsense and you know it.

Transgendered women are using the restroom that they feel comfortable with because that is who they are. They aren’t a threat to the women in there. They are just other women who need to pee. They are who we will compliment on their hair and makeup. We will ask her where she got her shoes or bag. If she’s sick, we will hold her hair and make sure she’s okay.

And it’s just fueling hate. Last summer, I was at my local Walmart and I stopped in at the bathroom to pee before going to check out. I was approached by two women who accused me of being a man in a dress. I was assaulted verbally and physically before I was able to get out of the bathroom and to safety. You are putting countless transwomen in that situation DAILY for needing to relieve themselves in public. I was terrified to go to a public bathroom for weeks afterwards so can you imagine how these women feel who are already struggling for acceptance and now they are afraid to go to the bathroom? 

If you won’t look at the HB2 is hurting the people, look at how it’s hurting the revenue for the state.

The NCAA has pulled the NCAA men’s basketball tournament games for 2016-2017, we lost the 2017 NBA All-Star game, at least 13 conventions have been cancelled in Charlotte, Bruce Springsteen has cancelled concerts, along with Pearl Jam, Cirque du Soleil, Ringo Starr, Boston, Cyndi Lauper, Mumford and Sons, Duran Duran. Lionsgate moved production of the show “Crushed” from Charlotte to Canada. Composer Stephen Schwartz said he will no longer allow his musicals, which include “Wicked,” to be performed in North Carolina. Children’s book authors like John Green, Maureen Johnson, Veronica Roth, Rick Riordan, Sarah Dessen and Jeff Kinney signed onto a letter in the School Library Journal saying they’d have to consider whether to attend conferences and festivals in North Carolina in the future. Author Sherman Alexie has already canceled all events in the state. The NCAA is talking about starting a boycott.

The NCAA tournament games are worth MILLONS alone. But if you add in the NBA All-Star game, the conventions, all the cancelled concerts and shows, the production companies taking their filming elsewhere, plus possible boycotts- its astronomical. Hotels, Restaurants, Gas Stations, Shopping, memorabilia- its all money that isn’t getting spent here. And money not getting spent here means that businesses are either going to slow hiring or worse yet, lay people off. 

I know that bi partisan support is there for the repeal of this bill. Do the right thing for the people of North Carolina. Allow us to live freely again. Allow business to return to North Carolina. Repeal the bill.

 

-a concerned spooniecorn

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2016: the roller coaster year and the 3 life lessons it taught me

2016: the roller coaster year and the 3 life lessons it taught me

Across every single social media platform, I have friends saying they are done with 2016 – It’s just been that kinda year. This year has been quite a ride for so many of us and we are almost at the end of it. And the end of things bring times of reflection. And the end of 2016 is no different. 
Thinking about my roller coaster ride that was 2016, I am reminded of something my mom says, “you learn the most when you are challenged the most by life.” Since life decided to challenge me a good deal in 2016, there’s got to be some good lessons in there. I sat down looked back at my year and found 3 really good things that 2016 taught me. 

Lesson #1: Taking time for myself isn’t selfish and it’s not something to feel guilty about. 

I recently took a break from my writing and it was a guilt free experience because of this lesson. I’m not only a spoonie but I’m a caretaker for another spoonie- my mom. 
As a caretaker and a spoonie, it takes a toll on me to not only try to take care of the things my mom needs when she isn’t able to handle things and household stuff but also my own health, writing and personal tasks so I needed to learn how to take time out to recharge my batteries to persevere my sanity without guilt or I wasn’t gonna be any use to my mom or myself. 

I finally realized this when my mom was hospitalized earlier this year and I was at the hospital trying to coordinate with her doctor, the nurses and trying to advocate for her while in one of the worst endometriosis flares I had this year. I was pushing myself beyond my limits and I was ignoring people telling me to go home and rest. 

I collapsed later that night and ended up in the emergency room with an IV and people crowded around me. 

It reminded me of that tumblr and Instagram quote you see a lot: you can’t pour from an empty cup. Take care of yourself first. 

Lesson #2: Sometimes you need to ask for help. 

My dislike for mental health treatment is a well known thing. I carry the scars from the psychiatrists and nurses who didn’t believe me or didn’t listen and who prescribed treatments that hurt more than they helped. So it was incredibly difficult for me to have to actively seek out psychiatric treatment this year. 

I started loosing control this spring and I could see my life slipping out of my grasp and I knew I had to do something. Taking that first step and saying that I needed to get help was that hardest thing. It was a long process to get a psychiatrist because in my town there isn’t a lot of available doctors for my insurance. 

But in November I started seeing a psychiatrist and therapist and I’m on medication again. Now I’m happy to say I’m improving. I’m gaining control of my mental illness again and that feels so good. 

Lesson #3: Choosing sobriety was the greatest gift I could’ve ever given myself. 

I recently celebrated 4 months clean and sober. I didn’t start talking about my sobriety until the 4 month anniversary. A lot of people didn’t even know that I had a problem with alcohol. I was what some people call a “functioning alcoholic” but I wasn’t functional at all. 

I was predisposed for addiction problems and I saw how much I was drinking and when I couldn’t function without alcohol, I knew I had a problem. 

Getting sober was a step towards taking my life back. It was one of the hardest things and one of the best things I’ve done. 

I never thought I would wake up and not reach for a drink but I still have those days where I want to. But I know I will have times like that and i remember to take it one day at a time. 

2016 taught me a lot but I’m ready for it to be over with and for 2017 to start. I’ve got a lot of exciting things going on in the new year that I’m looking forward to sharing with y’all! 

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Invisible Illness Awareness Week 2016

Invisible Illness Awareness Week 2016

My name is Rachel and I the owner  an invisible illness. Actually a few of them. 

Since this week (Sept 26th – Oct 2nd) is invisible illness awareness week I thought what better topic for my blog than explaining this term to y’all? 

First off, What is an invisible illness? Well if you google “define invisible illness” you will get a link  to a really long winded answer on a Wikipedia page and it will read similar to this: Chronic illnesses and conditions that significantly impair normal activities of daily living. In the United States, 96% of people with chronic medical conditions show no outward signs of their illness, and 10% experience symptoms that are considered disabling. 

It goes on for a while and throws some statics and stuff in there and gets so super complicated and boring that I nearly fell asleep. I don’t know who wrote that but I bookmarked it for the next time I have insomnia. Sheesh. I don’t know who wrote it but the certinanly weren’t doing the community any favors! 

An easy definition that isn’t so complicated that I use on a regular basis is an invisible illness is when I look like I am healthy but I actually have a disease or disorder that effects my everyday life.

Now these disorders can be psychological or emotional, physical,  a pain condition, autoimmune or other various types of chronic disorders. 

The easiest way to think of an invisible illness is that we are really good at dress up. Our clothes, hair and some make up work wonders to hide what we are going through. 

We are also excellent performers. We will often fake being well to not worry our loved ones or to not draw attention to ourselves and suffer in silence. Why? Because we don’t want our loved ones to see our pain. We don’t want the public to see our suffering. We want so badly to grasp a normal day and hold it close and never let it go that we will push ourselves past our limits for just a small taste of what it’s like to experience what normal people our age do. 

I often wear my favorite lipstick and dress my best when I feel my worst. I’m often in the most pain and feeling the most symptoms. 

You know that saying, looks can be deceiving? It was written with us in mind. ….Okay it really wasn’t but you get my point right? 
The thing I’ve found that is harder than the disorders themselves is facing ableism or the discrimination in favor of able-bodied people. This is still an ongoing, largely widespread issue. I cannot count the times I have had people tell me that my use of a cane or the in- store wheelchair was because I am fat and lazy. I have even been assaulted because of my use of that in store wheelchair and the woman’s assessment of my need for it. 

Unfortunately this is NOT uncommon. I have heard the stories of people accusing service dogs of being fake, handicap parking placard users being harassed because they look like they aren’t disabled etc etc etc.

But the simple fact is you don’t know someone’s situation by just looking at them. Believe me if the disability aids were not needed we would NOT use them. Why would we? They aren’t glamorous. They aren’t a fashion statement. We are just trying to make our lives a bit easier and accomplish whatever task it is that we need to do. 

The lesson for this week: no matter what someone looks like, you don’t know what struggle they are facing. 

Have a magical week and as always I’m on Instagram as @spooniecorn 

Frequently sick but frequently happy

Frequently sick but frequently happy

I’m a spoonie. That means my life is largely based around my multiple chronic illnesses and their treatments. And while this can be a complete drag on so many levels, I’ve found a way to carve some happiness out of this life. 

I’ve been sick in some sorta way since childhood but when I hit my mid 20s my health took a nosedive. I battled some really dark depression during that time and the very typical “why me?” Questions. It just didn’t seem fair.  

I had just finished college and now I was stuck in bed, sick and in pain. I didn’t have any clue how to pull myself out of that really dark place I was in and I started looking for something meaningful that I could do to make a change in my thinking and in turn to make my life better. 

I basically started looking for happiness. 

I started small. One small simple thing every day that made me happy. Looking back over my Instagram, somedays it was a cup of coffee. A favorite song. My dog. Something that I ate. A pretty picture in a magazine or online. It was little things but it was important to find something each day to be genuinely happy about. 

I soon began collecting all the things that made me happy and started decorating with them. Quotes. greeting cards. snapshots. Strings of beads. Seashells. It all seems so random but it all has a story and it all invokes such happiness in me every time I walk into my room. I stared with one wall and now my entire room is filled with happy things. 
For instance on my bedside table I have a small stuffed bunny that my dad gave me when I was in the hospital, a Cindy Lou Who mug that my God Mom gave me that I am currently using for pens, my planner, a lamp, and then I have a plastic bin that is full of pen pal letters, greeting cards, and photos. 
I also found happiness in my daily interactions online with people through my Instagram and Facebook accounts. I was able to build friendships with people who I would have never been able to meet otherwise. I’m an introvert and interacting online is, in my opinion, an easy way to build friendships with others and has given me something that I deeply value. 
Now I’m not saying I don’t ever get in a funk about my health or get sick and tired of being sick and tired because after all I’m human and when put under stress and strain I can only take so much but when I do it’s short lived and I soon pull myself out of whatever funk I was in. 

As for why I am sick- Who knows? I’m not really sure why but as someone really wise I knew once said- “we are all dealt a hand of cards in life. It’s up to us if we want to try to win with them or not.” 

Maybe I’m sick because it’s meant to see if I can play with this hand of cards or not. I don’t know but I believe that everything happens for a reason but that it’s not always clear to us. 

All these small little bits of happiness and my certain views on life aren’t widely discussed on my social media and i thought sharing this would be a good way to mark my splash back into the blogging world. If you have any questions or comments feel free to comment here or contact me on my Instagram- @spooniecorn 

Have a magical day!