Tuesday 5 March 2019

When your brain threatens your marriage

Last month I was convinced that my marriage was in serious danger.
I spent all night crying, having terribly dark thoughts about separation, having to start over, and losing my best friend.
I was so worried that I actually contacted a counsellor to make an appointment for marriage counselling.

Had one of us cheated on the other?
Had we fallen out of love?
Had something bad happened?

No, nothing like that.
What set me off was something small and common in our life: my husband wanting to buy another horse. We live on a farm with lots of different animals, and buying and selling livestock is no big deal. Usually.
But this time it sent me into a huge tailspin. I was suddenly convinced that my husband's hobby was endangering our marriage, and that if he didn't stop, we would surely end up destitute.
I felt like I could finally clearly see what I had been missing in the entire 16 years we have been together: that Rich needed to change, or our marriage wouldn't survive.

As I'm sitting here, reliving the emotions and thoughts I had last month I can barely believe that I was convinced that they were true. I know with every fibre of my being that our marriage is solid. Not only is the love we share deep and true, but we are also best friends and confidantes. Rich is a rock, steady and calm in an emergency, always keeping a cool head and able to weather any storm. He is fun and loving and dependable, and he taught me more about how to appreciate and enjoy life than anyone else.
I know this to be true.
So what happened last month?

Something that's been happening to me for years. It's a huge and powerful force that blazes its way through my life, making me question my own sanity and threatening to destroy my happily-ever-after.
The force has a name: PMDD, Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder.

The word dysphoria describes a profound state of unease or dissatisfaction. It perfectly explains the hell I go through every month.
I experience most of the symptoms associated with PMDD: mood swings, depression, intense anger (almost always directed at my husband), anxiety and irritability, fatigue, change in appetite (I eat like a bear getting ready for hibernation before my period), cramps and bloating, feeling out of control. I cry easily and often feel hopeless. I question my life choices and think everything I've ever done was a mistake. I look at myself in the mirror and barely recognize myself. I feel ugly.

The worst of it lasts only a day or two, but that's a long time when you live through it, and even longer for the people who have to live with you. 
I have several strategies that I use to cope, but the most important one is this: I have to remember that my brain is lying to me. 
That's why I decided to have a necklace made that would remind me of the fact that I have depression, but that I'm a warrior and stronger than it. 

oNecklace reached out to me last month and asked if I would be interested in getting one of their beautiful jewellery custom-made, and those two words were the first thing that popped into my mind. I need to remember during the dark days every month that I can't trust my brain. The thoughts it's generating aren't mine, but my disease's thoughts, and they are lying to me. Wearing that necklace is a reminder that PMDD is in the driver's seat for a short time every month, and that I can't trust anything it's telling me during that time.  

The other reason why I choose to wear my condition around my neck is that I want to make mental illness more visible. It's so important for other people struggling with it to know that they are not alone, and it's important for my own well-being to not be afraid of it. I'll be damned to cower in the face of PMDD and depression! I won't hide them like a dirty little secret.
While I certainly wouldn't have chosen them if I had a choice, I know that I'm very lucky. 
Most of the time I'm doing really well, and my anti-depressants (I take Citalopram) are keeping the demons in check nicely. 

For the worst of the PMDD, here are some things I do that help:
The worst day for me is always a week before the first day of my period. On days 8, 7 and 6 before my period I double up my dose of anti-depressants from 20 to 40 mg. To remember I write a little DD (=double-dose) in my calendar so I don't forget. 
I'm always very low energy on the worst day, so I like to crawl into bed with a book or Grey's Anatomy, my comfort show. I drink hot tea and eat chocolate and tell myself that tomorrow will be better. 
The sun helps, as do dog kisses and stroking a purring cat on my lap. 

But most importantly, I remind myself over and over that my thoughts are not telling the truth. I try not to make any decisions during that time of  the month, because they would be based on the lies PMDD is telling me. 

That's why I never followed up on the marriage counselling. Once the fog lifted it was clear as day that we don't need marriage counselling. Our marriage is solid. 
And I'm grateful for that every single day. 


Thanks to oNecklace for the beautiful necklace! I absolutely love it.



  1. Miriam, I so appreciate you're sharing this story with us. "Depression lies" is something I have to remind myself of frequently. It's so easy to believe that my husband is the source of my discontent (substitute my kids, my job, my house, my town, etc.) or that things will never be okay. It's so difficult to believe that it isn't true- it feels true all the way down to my core. And yet when I look back after my depression has lifted, I can't imagine what all the fuss was about. Your words are powerful, your message is wise, and you are making a difference!

    1. It's so crazy, isn't it? How our mind can betray us and make us believe all these horrible things, even though we should know that they're not true?
      I've tried to explain it to my husband, but he has a hard time wrapping his mind around it, and I don't blame him.

      I didn't know of PMDD until about a year ago when a friend told me about it, and it was such a relief to have a more precise name for it than depression. I'm sure there are still many women who don't know that their monthly "craziness" has a cause and a name, and is not just us being bitchy.

      Awareness is the first step, and a cure would be an amazing next one - but until that happens, I feel better knowing that I'm not alone!

      Thank you so much for your kind words and sharing your story, I really appreciate it! ❤

  2. Wonderful! Thanks for sharing. Really appreciate the transparency!

    1. I'm glad, thank you!! I hope it will help others ❤

  3. It takes a lot of courage to write a post about your feelings and emotions.
    Thank you for sharing your story. You are beautiful and strong, keep up the good attitude.

    1. Thank you Lucia! My goal is to normalize mental illness and PMDD so nobody feels ashamed to openly talk about it. Feeling guilt about being ill makes these terrible conditions even harder.

      I have experienced the freedom about owning my depression and I hope by sharing my story other people get to experience it too!


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