gettin’ funky


This blog title is deceptively fun-sounding. I’m actually referring to the funk I’ve found myself in the last few days.

It seems to be going around, like some kind of bug or virus, right now. I know I’m not the only one feeling this way, and that’s actually part of what prompted me to start writing about it. Let me try and explain:

I’ve noticed that my Yaz pills have slowly stopped working their magic. This may not seem to have a lot to do with that first paragraph, but stay with me.

I know they have a heightened risk for all sorts of complications, due to the synthetic hormone that they add to the pill, but I’ve needed something to curb my PMS for years, basically since I started my cycle. So Yaz it was. I was on the pill for 2-3 years I believe, and then went off it in favour of another brand in 2010, as a friend of mine developed ovarian cysts due in part to taking that pill.

It scared the bejeesus out of me, so I switched my prescription as well. In hindsight, that may not have been the best idea.

When I moved back to Edmonton in spring 2011, I went to see my doctor here and she recommended that I go back on Yaz, because I was describing the severe emotional PMS symptoms that I was having as a teenager before I went on the pill in the first place. I asked her about the increased risk of complications, and she reminded me that those risks are inherent to birth control pills in general, and it’s just a slight increase in this particular brand. Complications really could happen to anyone, and I’m a relatively healthy individual. So I shouldn’t worry.

So back on them I went, and the pills were working their magic again, dealing with my symptoms (which I’ll describe in a minute). But lately they’ve seemed to do less and less to help me. Over the last few months those symptoms have gotten worse and worse, and last longer and longer. This is not good. I don’t enjoy experiencing this, and especially when I’m on something that’s supposed to help me.

Some backstory at this point is necessary: I moved to Calgary to attend university, and basically uprooted my entire life in the process. I had no friends, very little family (read: one cousin that I hadn’t seen in years), no knowledge of the city, and decided to plunk myself right into the middle of all that. It’s something I wouldn’t change for anything now, but at the time it was very lonely and isolating. I was also in the middle of an awful back and forth with an ex-boyfriend, and he broke my heart.

Between all those factors, I became depressed. And I have no hesitation in using the word “depressed,” because it was diagnosed as such when I finally went to see a counselor at school (since I figured that not wanting to get out of bed and crying all day were not normal things).  It took a lot of courage to go into that office, and more to hear the diagnosis without losing it.

I slowly came out of that black haze that I was in, and the next year at school I became involved with the residence program. I now *had* to meet people and be social, and I can’t even describe in words how much that saved me. I pulled through my depression without any pills or extended therapy, and I’m so thankful for that.

Back to the “symptoms” I was describing earlier: to put it in no uncertain terms, I’m fairly sure that I have PMDD, and Yaz is one thing that’s supposed to help me deal with that.

As I said, it was working great for years, but it’s starting to wane. Within the last six months, I would get down, blue, bummed out, for the first few days of the PMS/PMDD part of my month. Then, it would subside and I could pull through it. Realizing that it’s just the hormones in my body makes it a little easier to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

But in the last few months, it’s getting harder and harder to not use the word “depressed,” because that’s exactly how I feel. I’m right back to that 19-year-old sitting in the counselors’ office, not wanting to get out of bed. Knowing that the end is in sight does not make it any easier to deal with the symptoms. Knowing that the cause is beyond my control and not at all related to my environment does not make it any easier.

I have other symptoms relating to PMDD as well (forgetfulness, stomach issues, easy crying, difficulty concentrating, oversensitivity, irritability, increased appetite, off the top of my head) but the depression is the one that I’m having the most difficulty dealing with. I don’t like going back to that dark place once a month and it’s starting to scare me that it just seems to keep getting worse.

I’m seriously considering looking at and talking to my doctor about antidepressants, because I’d rather be taking a small dose of those throughout the month to lessen the impact of those few days.

And this doesn’t seem to be unheard of in my family. My mom tells me that my grandmother would have horrible, horrendous cycles, where she was almost incapable of dealing with the day to day for that week. Ditto for my mother. But for both of those women, it was the physical more than the emotional; I seem to be the lucky one saddled with that. My mom actually had a hysterectomy when I was 11 (and she was 39!) because she was done having children and so tired of the physical agony that came once a month. It was debilitating, and it needed to stop. So she stopped it — permanently.

Clearly I do not have that option right now — 23 is way, WAY too young for such radical measures. But I just want this all to stop. Someone please just make it stop!

I’m just starting to come out of that dark place again. The worst part about it is the isolation; you don’t feel comfortable in talking to anyone about what’s happening to you, because in the back of your head you know it’s irrational and ridiculous and something that will go away in a few days. But the reality is that I’m depressed for an increasing amount of time every month. This last month was the worst and as I said, what prompted me to start writing about all of this.

Apologies to any of the men who read my blog and found out way more than they ever wanted to know about my time of the month. But for the record, do not ask women if they’re “on the rag” when they’re being crazy and irrational. It’s probably true, but it’s also a great way to lose an eye. Just saying.

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5 thoughts on “gettin’ funky

  1. Thank you for being so open about this issue <3 I had a similar experience in my first year where I completely displaced myself, horrible break-up, etc. I had a continuous cycle for 6 weeks, no desire to get out of bed, depression, and I gained thirty pounds (yikes). It's nice to see an open discussion because people either a) feel really awkward about it or b) ignore it completely. To raise awareness about pmdd and pms is important because too often people feel like they are crazy and the only one experiencing it.

    I was on Marvelon 21 and actually was diagnosed with ovarian cysts in my first year of university. Since then I've been very cautious and aware of what contraceptive I'm using. Maybe TMI, but I have a hormonal imbalance where if I'm not on birth control I don't get a regular cycle…and that isn't good either.

    Tons of love to you dear, and once again THANK YOU for being open about the issue. It's certainly one that people don't address, and no one should ever feel crazy for symptoms that are common among women, more often than not.

  2. I know the feeling of thinking you're the only one in the world going through this, and it's gotta stop! One of the many joys of womanhood =P

    I'm so glad you found it useful and a good read. Thanks as always for reading <3

  3. I used to have similar symptoms….I went on antidepressants (did you know that we live in the anti-d prescription capital of canada???) ..nothing helped. then I changed my diet.and the clouds parted. depression-gone. ZERO menstrual cramps. ZERO. my hormones stabilized, my mood improved and I feel happy form the inside out. I had switched to a vegan diet. i am now RAW vegan and better than ever. I noticed that you talk about eating meat often and other unhealthy foods. Most people are like that- would rather keep living in ignorance and doing unhealthy things and just shove a pill at it. and then more pills for the side effects of those pills. lather rinse repeat. good luck to you.

  4. With how little sunlight Edmonton gets in the winter, I'd be inclined to believe that we're the antidepressant capital for sure. The SAD cases alone must be through the roof!

    I'm glad that switching to a raw vegan diet helped to clear up so much for you! I was a pseudo-vegetarian for a little over a year (read the entry here: http://kayjer.com/2012/02/back-on-the-meat-train/) and while I found some benefit to it, I ultimately was not able to get enough B12 and protein into my diet from alternative sources to keep my energy levels up so I decided to eat meat again. I also don't believe in “shoving pills” at problems to make them go away, but legitimate mental chemical imbalances do need some supplemental neurochemicals to help “make someone better.” I don't believe I'm “living in ignorance and doing unhealthy things,” though. I'm physically active, I have hobbies, and I try to eat balanced meals. I'm not sure what you're talking about with saying that I “talk about eating meat often and other unhealthy foods” etc, as I don't blog much about food.

    Thanks for your insights, though.

  5. Hi, I have blogged about this today too. I am veggie so can't use the meat reason, have been for 5 years almost and when I was a child till my late teens – when I already had depression. I am convinced now I'm suffering from PMDD and am due back with my dr in a week.
    I was interested in your stomach issues – I've been having issues with stomach ache, bloating and cramping and issues I won't go into lol. TMI and all that.
    Anyway, I wondered if it was linked? do you find it's certain foods? or just in general?
    Hope you manage to get some help – I do believe there is a role for anti-depressants also. I'm a psychology student and my mind has very much been re-educated in assuming dr's were wrong for 'throwing' pills at people. Mild depression can be treated through counselling alone but biological levels of serotonin need to be 'right' before that counselling will help. I knew a counsellor (end of life counsellor) who was my first college tutor and she totally re-educated me. I am not on anti-D's yet, but I do expect them after trying the B6 and to be honest I'd welcome them if they help!

    Good luck. x

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