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I’ve been meaning to write this post on medication for some time, but wanted to write it after I had gone through my PMDD cycle. Now that it’s over I feel well enough to concentrate and finally get it done.
My Last Cycle
PMDD causes what we sufferers call “brain fog.” Brain fog is the inability to focus or concentrate on anything; things you normally get done with ease are suddenly tasking on your mind and you’re just not able to function as you normally would.
I was on vacation from work because the kids were out of school and I had quite the list of things to get done at home as well. I had to schedule this vacation at this particular time but the end result was less than productive.
I didn’t do my #realstrongstart workout challenge exercises and I stopped drinking my 3 liters of water a day. I didn’t fix up my room which has all new furniture. I didn’t de-clutter my closet or clean my house, and I didn’t do any of the work I wanted to do for my 9-5 (which is not really 9-5).
The only thing I did was purchase the kids’ school supplies. The rest of the time I laid on my couch watching tv and that’s all I could muster. I will pay the price for not getting anything done in the coming days, but that’s a typical occurrence now in my life.
This past cycle was not as bad as previous ones. I did spent a few days in that PMDD “brain fog.” Fatigue, another symptom of PMDD, got the best of me; but there was one very noticeable difference, this time, there was no rage.
Now don’t get me wrong, there was plenty of anger to go around. But in the PMDD world, anger and rage are not nearly the same thing. PMDD rage is basically me losing my sh*t for any little thing and screaming at the top of my lungs. To that, you can also add the occasional tantrum, and for good measure, we can also include the throwing around of objects.
I admit it’s been some time since I’ve been in such a rage that it has caused me to throw things around. But the fact that I didn’t do any yelling this time, is a huge, huge improvement for which I am truly thankful.
Nothing feels worst than yelling at someone like a crazy person because they don’t know where the remote control is or because they didn’t turn off a light when they leave a room. This means that something I’m doing is finally working.
PMDD gets treated with a whole host of different medications, from anti depressants, natural supplements, anti-psychotic drugs to birth control. Part of this has to do with the fact that the Disorder often gets misdiagnosed as bipolar disorder.
The other part is that every woman is different and will therefore react differently to medication. I have been on 3 different medications since being diagnosed with PMDD; Prozac, Zoloft and currently Cymbalta.
Prozac was the first medication I was put on for PMDD and it did nothing to alleviate my symptoms. What’s more, I gained about 20 lbs on it.
I was on it for about a year and got off it cold turkey out of desperation; something you are NOT supposed to do. I knew this, and still stopped taking it because I could not stand the fact that I was not feeling any better and I had gained so much weight.
When you stop taking an antidepressant without weaning yourself off first, you run the risk of exacerbating the original symptoms, which is exactly what happened to me. I’ve never felt more afraid in my life. I had no control of my emotions. I was a wreck and was having panick attacks a couple of times a week.
Once the weaning period was over, I went back to my doctor and explained what happened. He of course admonished me for not taking the meds and for not clearing it with him first. I knew that if I told him he would suggest I wean myself, and I didn’t want to do that. I just wanted it out of my system immediately.
I said goodbye to Prozac forever and the second medication my doctor put me on was Zoloft. I also gained weight with Zoloft but it worked. Finally, I felt better. In fact, I felt better than I could ever remember feeling. I was happy all the time and always in the mood to go out and do things. It was the best 3 months of my life.
YES, the joy only lasted 3 months. After that, it was back to feeling depressed, anxious, angry and full of rage. I didn’t understand what had happened; why the medication worked so well at first and suddenly stopped working.
I was angry. I wasn’t just angry due to the PMDD. I was angry at the medication for not working. For giving me that small taste of happiness for those 3 months and then taking it away. For letting me down. For leaving me trapped in the hell of this Disorder. For making me gain another 20 lbs. and leaving me to fix that mess all by myself.
I stayed on Zoloft for 2 years hoping the original effect would come back. I went up and up and up in dosages to no avail.
A New Psychiatrist
In the midst of all that, I had the pleasant task of looking for a new psychiatrist. I was without one for about a year and getting my medication from my primary doctor during this time. But that is not advised, as regular visits with a psychiatrist are best practice.
I finally found a doctor that was convenient for me to get to. (But that’s not the reason why I stopped seeing my original doctor. That story will be told in different post).
I explained to this new doctor all my issues, including, but not limited to, PMDD, prior history of depression and the recent and unexpected death of my dear father.
We came up with a plan which included regular, weekly, then bi-weekly visits as well as a new medication for anxiety. We would also start raising the Zoloft dosage to check for improvement; none was made.
After Zoloft failed to do its job at the dose of 100mg., my doctor and I decided to try something new. I was desperate and told her that I had done the research and had decided that I was going to have a hysterectomy. She looked at me as if I had lost my mind, but I had not.
I had been researching hysterectomies for well over a year and had come to the conclusion that if Zoloft didn’t work, I would go through with the surgery.
I had discussed it with my Gynecologist and I knew he would approve it. A hysterectomy would end PMDD but would throw me right into menopause which my psychiatrist did not like.
She disagreed with my choice because of all of the symptoms caused by menopause. She feared that if I went through with the surgery, I would end up in the same boat. She urged me to try one last thing; Cymbalta.
I agreed and told her that this would be the last medication I would take. That if this one didn’t work, I was going through with the surgery. Fair enough.
She started to wean me off of Zoloft and put me on Cymbalta. The process was smooth. I started Cymbalta at 20mg., 30., 50., and now I’m at 60mg. Sadly, no weight loss. I gained a little more weight but I have also been eating more carbs than anyone really should, so I can’t really blame all of the weight gain on the pills.
Progress Report and Alternative Methods
Overall, Cymbalta has worked better than Prozac and Zoloft. While the depression is still present, the rage is not, and this is a very important factor. I no longer feel like a crazy person; like a lunatic ready to go bat-sh*t-crazy at any little thing.
The search for wellbeing continues. In my next post, I will speak about what other methods I’m seeking to aid me in my struggle with this condition.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this. If you like what you read, please hit the “like” button and if you want to keep reading posts like this, please “join me.”
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If you or anyone you know is suffering or suspects they are suffering from PMDD, please see your health care physician