Before I finish Part II Brain Misconceptions Series, I just want to address a disorder that is true to me. It took me these past two weeks to complete the painting shown below. It is a 6 inch by 6-inch hardback canvas in oil paint. Although I had a more detailed project I was working on, the techniques and colors involved in the one below were basic. Technically it was a project which should’ve taken me two days max with paintings in between. But I couldn’t work. Couldn’t concentrate. My work was staggered with points of zoning out, staring at the wood grain on my desk to painting then to periods of severe anxiety then back to painting then to tearful crying as I did so.
Coupled with the marked decrease in sunlight, I am honestly, a wreck.
Although I have my moments, I consider myself a relatively calm, organized person; at least, until my menses. My paintings and my relationships are strained by Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder. Unmedicated I show symptoms of paranoia, severe anxiety, and depression, mood swings, severe anger decreased interest in everything, fatigue, inability to eat, severe joint pain, and zero concentration on anything. Medicated on an SSRI coupled with seasonal depression (since I was 16), I show symptoms of paranoia, depression, decreased attention and interest in my work, mood swings, and severe anxiety. Literally, everything I already had just on a smaller scale - but still takes a big enough chunk out of my time to prevent me from functioning in and outside of work. The first few days before my period I begin to feel severe fatigue. The first day before the panic attacks start, anger kicks up, and I essentially become a control-freak monster. The first full day of bleeding, I only have anxiety and some anger if I take a Xanax. By the second day, my period is in full swing, and I’m crying for no reason, yelling, and I can’t paint or eat. All I can do is cry and sleep. Kudos to Justin for holding it together as I fell apart this week.
My symptoms appeared when I was 18, during my freshman year of college. I would lay in bed for days before my period, only getting up to go to class. I didn’t know there was a diagnosis for it until I was 22 when I tried birth control upon birth control attempting any solution to my erratically sensitive hormones (message me for further details if you’re in the same boat in finding a good birth control). By summer 2017, I had exhausted all attempts to control my hormones and feel like myself on birth control. Even my doctor said my only option would be another low dose hormone IUD and hope my body accepted it (last time I had an IUD was Paragard - it was the WORST).
“You’re just on your period” never had a more significant meaning to me till I was diagnosed.
Now, it’s the last day of my menses. All symptoms have basically disappeared, and I feel more like myself with hints of anxiety. I’m going to start working out and paying more attention to my diet since medication is not an option, except for my daily SSRI and PCOS medication. But it’s trial and error. I want to be better, and not let my depression, both seasonal and premenstrual stop me from functioning and from being a good person.
Attached is a series of links to articles concerning PMS, PMDD and the serotonergic system: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9378691 https://europepmc.org/abstract/med/11041380 https://europepmc.org/abstract/med/11041378 https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0306453003000982 https://europepmc.org/abstract/med/9418742