Being Dr. Jekyll and Mama Hyde sucks — for everyone

The following is from  drawing hard.com (December 11, 2016.) The text and drawings so accurately describe what it’s like to have premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), I had to share it. Thank you to Joanie Oliver, the author and artist-extraordinaire, for giving me permission to repost. Enjoy, and be enlightened:

I’m not typically the kind of person who cries uncontrollably, yells or wishes they could cease to exist, but over the past couple of years a monster has grown in me. And, unfortunately, I’m not alone.

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Like clockwork, it takes control every month and drains your energy. The person you were yesterday, who could run a few miles, today can barely make it through the aisles of the grocery story. The woman who last week met up for drinks with friends is now on the verge of drowning in fear and sadness.

You fight the first tears that threaten, pray to you’ll find a way to keep them at bay.

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But still the dam bursts.

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The sadness pours out uncontrollably, until you are completely clouded in.

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Where once there was confidence and ambition in you, there now brews a dangerous stew of lethargy, self-loathing and rage. You swear you won’t let the feelings boil over and lash out. You resolve to keep calm and wade through it — but it’s only a matter of time until the monster wins.

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Only a matter of time until everything grates on you.

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Only a matter of time until there’s little left of the actual you.

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The cruel monster has taken over. It knows just where to poke.

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It beats you and berates you for days, refusing to let you rest. It wears you down until every bit of life pokes and jabs at your rawness.

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You’re not the kind of parent, wife or friend who’d ever scream and rage if you were standing on solid ground, but Hyde has disintegrated all the good in you. And you snap.

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But because that damn monster isn’t tangible, the rage lands elsewhere.

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Not long after the pressure has been released the monster begins to retreat. Your mind and the skies clear — just in time to see the wreckage you’ve caused.

You’ve screwed up again. Failed to beat the beast. Failed even at being a decent human being.

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That monster isn’t just evil though, it’s also smart. Smart enough to back off completely and let you feel normal again. You make amends, become strong enough and well enough to believe it somehow won’t all happen again next month.

Silly you. Silly me. Poor everybody.

This is what life with PMDD (Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder) feels like.

It’s not just PMS.

Too Big For My Britches

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Anyone want a cute pair of size 4’s?

Literally. I was going to a gift exchange party yesterday evening and decided to see if I could fit into a pair of burgundy corduroys I bought a couple of years ago. I knew I was bigger than I’d been when I bought them, but I love the fabric and vibrant color, so I deluded myself into…maybe? 

I told myself going in, I was not going to be upset or denigrating about my body if they didn’t fit. I’ve come a long way from attaching my self-worth to thinness. But old habits die hard, slow deaths and often require extra wacking with a shoe until their parts are disembodied all over the hardwood floor, much the same as those giant, flying Texas roaches.

In my closet, I pulled those soft, beautiful pants from their hanger and stepped into them. I couldn’t get them up over my hips/ass – not even close. I couldn’t even wrangle them up, pull the zipper up with a pair of pliers and pretend they fit. Getting those things up to my waist would have ended in second-degree corduroy skin burns and splitting seams. That’s cool; no big deal. I knew this might happen.

I hung the corduroys back up and opted for boring black leggings, but topped them with my favorite red velour top and colorful beads. The velour top was tighter around my hips and belly than I’d remembered. It’s all good. This is my body, and it is great, no matter it’s size fluctuations.

I felt droopy. I felt deflated and defeated and a little like crying. My body-positive messages were failing against other much less useful ones, like gaining weight is a failure and thin equals success. Here is where I habitually compound the negative messages by feeling guilty for letting them get in my head. So, then, on top of feeling a drop in self-worth, I also feel guilt, anger and confusion.

This time, I let the negative messages be. I told myself, Of course they’re there. They’ve been everywhere your whole life, and you wouldn’t be human if they didn’t get to you now and then. I acknowledged those thoughts, let them sit there and by this morning, they’ve gone away. Huh. How about that?

In retrospect, this wasn’t the best time of month to challenge my body positivity foundations. You have to know when you’re up for a challenge and when it’s better to lie low. This particular trying on of pants was an error in judgement on my part. But I learned something from it anyway. I learned the negative thoughts won’t kill me, and they’ll go away much quicker if I don’t layer shit on top of them. I learned I need to keep working toward improving my view of bodies, and I learned to leave challenges to another day when I’m not up to them. But, most of all, I learned…buy new pants.

Farm to Girl

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earth-friendly packaging

All-Natural. How many times do you read that on a package? Does it even have meaning anymore? Farm to Girl’s skin care products are natural, but it was the Women Helping Women on their labels that got my attention. Farm to Girl’s creams are actually what I’m looking for in a natural product; their ingredients come from small farms run by women who use traditional processes without harsh chemicals. The fact that Farm to Girl is a local Austin business is a bonus.

In a world where much has gotten irritatingly complicated, where I can’t pronounce the ingredients on the back of my “all natural” cleanser from the grocery store, Farm to Girl keeps it refreshingly simple with a handful of recognizable ingredients in each product. They even extend “simple and natural” to packaging; my order arrived in an eco-friendly box, with newspaper for padding. And the products’ jars allow me to use all of the creams, unlike some pumps or sprays. I was surprised at how small the containers were (one ounce) but as sparingly as I used them, they’ll last a while.

Okay, admirable backstory and simple ingredients and packaging aside, does it work? I tried three products, and here is what I found:

Organic Raw Coconut Lip Balm ($3.95)

It doesn’t get much simpler than this. Two ingredients: coconut oil and beeswax. It has a light, pleasant coconut scent and the creamy moisture felt great going onto my dry lips. On the downside, it didn’t stay put as long as I would have liked, and I had to reapply often; a little more beeswax in the formula might remedy this. Also, the small container can be hard to open.

Namibian Miracle Face & Skin Repair ($17.95)

This cream has a slight, pleasantly nutty scent. It’s not as thick as most face creams, but it goes on easily and feels light and refreshing. I followed Farm to Girl’s advice and kept it in the fridge, which thickened it up a bit. It is non-greasy but moisturizing. I like this as an all-purpose day cream, applied in the morning.

Fountain of Youth Face Cream ($17.95)

This one is the polar opposite of the Namibian Miracle as far as texture; it is thick, rich and creamy. I found that emulsifying it between my fingers before applying worked wonderfully. It has a subtle coconut scent, and is heavier than the Namibian Miracle but still not greasy – just very moisturizing. I like it as a night cream.

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Farm to Girl

Overall, I was pleased with my experience. Farm to Girl’s products, at affordable prices, work as well as or better than expensive creams I’ve ordered in the past. After several weeks of using the Namibian Miracle and Fountain of Youth creams, my skin’s moisture is more even, and I have noticeably fewer breakouts. When you throw in the fact that Farm to Girl is local, helping women in other countries and uses simple, healthy ingredients, it’s a no-brainer for me. I’m a fan.