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Since writing this, I found a healing modality called RTT that has helped significantly with PMDD symptoms. I originally wrote the post to illustrate how comorbities are common and can affect bipolar disorder

Heres the old post:

It's been a rough few weeks ya'll. After I was diagnosed with Bipolar 2 disorder I found out that my condition was worsened by premenstrual dysfunction called PME (pre-menstrual exacerbation) or PMDD (pre-menstrual dysphoric disorder.) I wrote about my PMDD experience in my journal, and thought that I would share it in on this blog.

It started when I was fourteen, and by "it" I mean my period. I was in the 8th grade and my parents were on vacation in Hawaii. I remember my back cramping up so bad I had to hide my tears from the other students. I called my aunt to come pick me up from school and felt incredibly embarrassed.

I told her that I had started my period for the first time and my back hurt so much I could hardly stand it. She asked if I had taken an Ibuprofen. I had never been taught about anti-inflammatories helping with menstrual cramps, so I thought she was misinformed and told her I didn't need one.

I definitely needed one. When I stepped into my parents empty home and curled up all alone on their giant king sized bed, I started sobbing and begged God to please take the pain away. I had never felt that much physical pain in my life. Not even after breaking my collar bone and smacking my head on a rock from being thrown off a horse. Luckily after about an hr I had reprieve before the next wave of cramps (uterus contractions) and heavy bleeding started again.

When my parents returned home, my mom assured me it was okay to take medicine for the cramping. My mom seemed fine taking medicine for everything. My dad by stark contrast, never took medicine for anything, even severe headaches. I admired his ability to "tough things out" and wanted to be like him, but when I discovered how much the medicine helped, I saw no reason to try and tough it out like that ever again, if I didn't have to.

To go along with the horrible physical and emotional pain, it was an added bonus to get cystic break outs on my chin and retain at least 5 lbs of water weight around my mid-section every time I started my period. It was like a cruel joke played on someone who was already suffering.

The intense mood swings started that very first time, but an even crueler joke would be played when I developed the first symptoms of bipolar 2 disorder at sixteen years old. I fell into a deep depressive episode that lasted for months. I would get short reprieves, or bursts of boundless energy but no one really understood what was going on. My mom took me to the Doctor and we found out I had mono. All of my symptoms were then blamed on that. To this day I'm not quite sure how I managed to graduate high school. I rarely made it to classes and hardly ever turned in my homework. I had to make up several failing grades with packets at a different school. My parents were severely disappointed in me, but they had no clue I was dealing with a psychiatric disorder. I felt like such a disappointment and failure. I didn't know I was sick at that time. I just thought I was broken; weak; and unable to measure up.

My periods were unpredictable, just like my moods. In a text book world, a woman has a period every 28 days. My cycles ranged anywhere from fourteen days to eighty days! At this point in my life they have finally settled into around a 35-40 day cycle. I still get the bloating, cramps, and hormonal acne, but those symptoms are less severe now that I'm older. The only symptom that remains just as bad or even worse, are the mood swings.

I've tried hormonal birth control to help eliminate this affect, but the one approved for this purpose by the FDA (YAZ) actually makes it a LOT worse for me. Studies show it helps about 50% of women who have PMDD and makes it much worse for the other 50%. Too bad I'm in the latter category. I feel like a guinea pig always testing things out to see which category I fall under. I also tried an IUD for two years but it's unclear if that helped because I wasn't yet being properly treated for the bipolar.

Now that I'm on lithium and the bipolar symptoms are very well managed, I'm back on a search for hormonal balancing. I'm having blood work drawn up and will be trying bio-identical hormones first, then perhaps the pellets under my skin, then perhaps experimenting with other types of birth-control that are a first line of defense for PMDD. Considerations are depo shots, or a new brand IUD with very minimal hormone dosing. Pregnancy isn't my concern. Premenstrual dysfunction brought with it infertility issues. My purpose in trying birth control is strictly mood management, knowing it could make it even worse, and that's not pretty, ya'll. But it's worth the risk. After the last three weeks I spent in hormonal hell, it is absolutely worth the risk.

I'll keep you posted.

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