My PMDD is Under Control

For the uninitiated and new readers amongst you, PMDD is an extreme version of PMS/PMT. It can cause cyclical feelings of anxiety, depression, anger and even suicidal thoughts, as well as the physical symptoms typically associated with the menstrual cycle.

It’s been over a year since I last talked about my PMDD. When I lost wrote, I confessed that I felt like I’d become consumed by this disorder – the one thing I’d hoped to avoid above all else. However, after a rocky year or so of trials and tribulations, I finally feel like I have my PMDD under control (for the most part). Since that blog post, I have tried:

Tracking and Not Tracking Cycles

I became worried that my compulsive tracking — counting ahead based on a typical cycle and shading in the calendar when I expected to be sad or angry — was putting me on edge. I worried that I was expecting to be angry, or sad, or paranoid on X day and thus causing a self-fulfilling prophecy. I stopped tracking altogether but then ended up waking up with anxiety, or full of rage, and being unable to figure out why which just made me feel crazy (until I remembered).

I seem to have found a happy medium whereby I track my cycle start time each month and extreme symptoms in an app, but don’t cross-reference or look ahead to see where I expect to be in my cycle. This gives me a point of reference but no doom-mongering.

Consistent, Varied Exercise

I’m usually active in one way or another but I have found that I have my best months when I am both consistent in my workouts and do more than one activity, e.g. lifting and running in the same month. Months where I’ve run the furthest I find my cycle the most bearable, but then I have always found my mental health directly correlates to the amount of cardio based exercise I do.

During February and early April when I was not able to do as much as I would like (half term and Easter holidays respectively) it didn’t take long for the activity gap to hit me.

Vitamin Supplementation

I read a guest post by Beckie Takacs via the Gia Allemand Foundation (PMDD charity) in October 2017 about the supposed benefits of potassium supplementation in the treatment of PMDD. The piece struck a cord, and given my history of hyperemesis during pregnancies and probably execessive alcohol use, it wasn’t that unlikely that I had a low-level potassium deficiency. However, I got in touch with the author of the post and although mostly common sense stuff, the detailed protocol she sent me made reference to the “potential health hazards of wireless devices and smart meters” which immediately put me off; I’ve no interest in tinfoil hat science.

Nevertheless, my sister started a lower dose potassium supplement schedule and mentioned some relief of some of her pre-menstrual symptoms, so I started taking 300mg (half Takacs’ recommended dose) on an every-other-day basis, as well as magnesium, which also reportedly improves PMS. (Magnesium is also recommended for runners and those taking part in regular exercise.) My temper and anxiety/paranoia symptoms have improved since starting supplementation.

Sobriety

Last, but definitely not least: I gave up alcohol again.

After my brother’s suicide last year put me in a downwards spiral with my drinking, despite my best efforts to “be chill about it“, it wasn’t long before the casual on-off drinking became multiple triple vodka shots on a Friday night “just because”. I hit rock bottom again in mid-December and crushed by the weight of my own mental health I knew I had two choices: give in to the paranoia and anxiety and voices that told me I was shit and stupid and useless and fat and unloveable and just throw myself off a building, OR stop being a whiny dick and make the sensible decision to stop drinking.

Obviously choice A was no choice at all, so giving up it was. Just like the first time I stopped, this had an almost immediate affect on my anxiety-related symptoms.

And so here I am. I am not miraculously cured of all ills, & I can’t be sure that this isn’t all some massive coincidence, but each subsequent step against this debilitating disorder has given me back a piece of myself and some semblance of control. That’s better than nothing.

Lead photo by Hoàng Duy Lê

Going Nuud

I happened to casually mention to my brother via facebook messenger recently that I get quite sweaty. (There is context, something about exercise, I didn’t just randomly tell him I’m sweaty as that would be weird.) Some short time afterwards I saw an ad’ for Nuud deodorant on facebook itself. Ignoring the slightly creepy-stalker aspect of this — let’s pretend it was a total coincidence — my curiosity was piqued.

Nuud is marketed as a “carefree” deodorant: harmless, sustainable and revolutionary. I didn’t care for the marketing BS, but I was genuinely interested in the claim that this little deodorant was both effective for several days and actively prevented odour. Any sweaty bird will tell you that despite the supposed long-lasting effects of all commercial deodorants, they generally coat you in a sticky gunk which mask smells for a few hours, but move so much as an inch and you’re on your own. I shower daily but am usually a hot mess fairly early on.

Now that I’ve filled you all with the mental image of me dripping with my own filth…

I ordered a tube of Nuud at a cost of over £11, which is quite possibly the most expensive deodorant I’ve ever bought by more than double, and it arrived a few days later. It was a hell of a lot smaller than I expected, but more about that in a sec. I didn’t hesitate to test it to the max straight away, with a double session of taekwon-do first up and then Ironbridge Half Marathon the following day.

Nuud is not like any other deodorant I’ve tried. It’s a silver-beige coloured paste that you squeeeeeeeze out a tiny pea-sized amount of and then apply directly to the armpits. It spreads easily and is not sticky or difficult to apply. However, with it being such a tiny tube, not only have I been incredibly precious about the amount I’m applying but on the one occasion I accidentally squeezed too hard I was distraught that I’d wasted a couple of days worth in one go. It’s not normal, and probably not healthy, to be upset over deodorant.

Nonetheless, application mishaps aside, I have been genuinely surprised at the effectiveness of the deodorant. Taekwon-do, a half marathon, various gym sessions and general day to day life have put it through its paces and it has significantly decreased odour, to the point where even after 13.1 miles on a clear warm day Gaz mentioned a “barely perceptible smell”. Sexy.

In addition to the rigorous exercise test, it didn’t seem to matter whether I had shaved or not, with the first week of my self-imposed two week trial sporting a full armpit… bush? (Is there an equivalent slang term for armpit hair? Anyway…) This is a massive improvement on the vast majority of roll on and sticks that I’ve tried previously which just seem to coat the hair and do sod all for the actual armpit. As someone with a very relaxed attitude to society’s idea of what’s “attractive” when it comes to the removal of body hair, this is a problem more often than not.

I’m not surprised, however, that it definitely isn’t effective for more than one day (despite the marketing claims to the contrary). There is absolutely no way I’d get 3-7 days out of it as advertised even if I spent those days in bed (sleeping, you perv). If I worked out my usual amount over the course of 7 days on one application of deodorant I’d be a walking bug repellent by the end of the week. I prefer a thorough wash each morning and re-application, but the cost implication of this with >£11 deodorant is clearly huge.

tl;dr nuud works. It’s effective against odour by tackling the bacteria rather than just coating your skin in goop. It’s not left any marks on any of my clothes and I feel better fresher for wearing it. However, it’s fucking expensive for what you get and I’m not sure I can financially justify it with the amount I go through.

Back to being a sweaty bird I guess.

Nuud product shot taken from their website.

Walking Malarkey

So, as the doctor prescribed I’ve been taking a brisk walk every day. Except, I have a confession… I’ve discovered that I am that bloody unfit that I am struggling to keep it brisk for over 5 minutes, let alone 15. I can only try and guess at how the hell I used to do my running in school!

I hereby declare war on exercise!