7.30 am. I have to get up. But I can’t. My little munchkin is awake and says “Mama! Mama, get up! Mama!” Hubby is already in the bathroom and soon has to make his first call. „Yes, just a second.“ I whisper harshly. I know that he will not understand „a second“. And also that it won’t be any better anytime soon. Laying here for more minutes does not help. But I can’t. I do not have energy. I can watch though the skylight. Can see the tree branches swinging back and forth, warmly illuminated by the spring sun. The weather is nice. I’m lying in a big bed in a huge house. The fridge is stocked and my family is healthy. I have a lot of friends and no more financial problems. A loving husband and a wonderful child. I should and could be happy. „No, I’d have to be happy“, I think to myself. But everything feels so dark and heavy. And cold. I’m thinking of my family at home in Germany. I miss them. Terribly. But I don’t even feel the missing at the moment. I know how it feels I know it’s there. The sadness is there. But I don’t feel it right now. I don’t feel anything right now. “Another horrible day,” I think. And I don’t even know why. The munchkin screams again “Mamaaaaa! Please read to me!“ And then it happens. The emptiness fills with anger. From one second to another. I yell at him. Completely unjustified. Totally unnecessary. “Mom can’t! Not now! We are too late already! We have no time! Get dressed! ”I’m loud. Everything in me cramps. The muscles in my face tense. I bite my teeth until my jar hurts. I feel like breaking something. And throw a pillow because I know I need to get rid of the aggression without hurting anyone. A lot of thoughts run through my head: Why can’t he leave me alone ONCE? Why can’t he just play alone in his room and let me get up in peace? Why is it always “mom” and never “dad”? Why doesn’t the hubby get him dressed today? Doesn’t he see that I’m feeling bad? Why do I always have to do everything alone? Why can’t anyone help me here? Doesn’t anyone hear me? No one sees me. Doesn’t anyone understand me? I want to scream. I just wanna be alone. Just by me. Lock me up in a cabin far from civilization. Without pressure, without stress, without responsibility. Just lie there. Not having to get up. Not having to do anything. Just sleep. – It’s almost as if I can watch myself from the outside. I look scary. Strange. I don’t recognize myself. I look like my father when I was a kid and he got mad. And then I always felt terribly guilty and inadequate. Suddenly this feeling comes back. I cause the same harm to my own child. The munchkin is crying and screaming, too. Nothing works anymore. I need to get out. I leave the room and slam the door. I know I treated him terribly unfairly. I feel guilty. „I am a bad mother!“ I tell myself. „My child is scared of me. I left him. Left him alone in his bad feelings.“ I burst into tears, walk back and hug him. I am so sorry. I can barely control myself. The feelings are pouring down on me. Guilt, anger, sadness and despair fill my head and flood through my body like a downpour. I try to stay clear, take a deep breath. Breathe deeply in and out, five times. I kneel in front of him. Apologize and try to explain to him, the 3 yo, that “Mom is not doing so well today. Mom is sad.” Different feelings are fighting in my chest. I feel torn and empty at the same time. I just want to close my eyes and sleep. Only sleeping. Until the whole thing is over again.
Eight to twelve days of every female cycle looked like this or similar to me for the past few months. Almost half of my 26-day cycle was all about „surviving“. Just about the fact that the day may go by quickly and with as few tears and blowups as possible.
These struggles and fights with the munchkin and also with my husband then drag on more or less throughout the whole second phase of my cycle. And even music doesn’t help. It’s usually my therapy. No matter how I feel, music helps me to feel, process, and overcome emotions. Or to bring it back when I “can’t find it anymore”. When I feel like I have forgotten my deceased boyfriend or aunt. If I find it difficult to remember the grief, but don’t want to lose that connection, songs are usually enough to evoke the feelings again. The song of my aunt’s funeral. My boyfriend’s favorite song that he wanted me to sing at his funeral, but I just couldn’t. These songs are therapy and comfort. Just to really grieve for a moment, to cry, if needed. After that I feel better. Music also brings out positive emotions: with the song of my wedding, the Israeli music, music I heard being on vacations, songs that I associate with friends, or simply songs with lyrics and melodies that touch and move me. Love, hope, gratitude, happiness, joy, longing. For me, everything is in music. But that doesn’t work either. I turn on the music and nothing happens. I can’t reach the emotions. They are locked up. The music is on and I don’t even feel like dancing. Or Crying. Nothing. I can’t concentrate either. I’m tired. Stressed. I don’t get anything done. That feeds the pressure, the anxiety, the feeling of inferiority, the depression: “I’m not capable of anything. I can’t even pull off this one task. I just can’t do anything right. Everyone else is better. I’m not like I used to be. I am not funny anymore. Not positive anymore. Not committed and resilient. I don’t like myself.” Like a mantra – admittedly a very bad one – these thoughts fly through my head. Like advertising banners that are pulled behind an airplane, I see them pass by in my mind’s eye again and again.
PMDS. Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder. This is the name of the clinical picture from which epidemiological studies suffer from between 3 and 8 percent of all women of childbearing age. I became aware of this through a health podcast and recognized myself. Completely spellbound, I listened to the statements and explanations of the doctor from the gynecological psychosomatics at the University Hospital Bonn. Women from all over Germany come to see her for treatment. „This is me! She’s talking about me!” It struck me like a lightning.
A daily record of severity of problems helps to document and assess the symptoms before diagnosis and also during treatment. On the basis of this diary, the gynecologist and patient are able to decide on the best possible therapeutic approaches together and treatment success can be measured. I have documented six cycles so far and found a wonderful gynecologist who not only looks at my issues holistically, but also informs and educates himself beyond his already existing knowledge in order to give me the best treatment possible. Together we were able to achieve first significant successes already after a short time. I’m glad I found him and made this move.
Writing this text, putting the emotions into words, and to be in the right mood for it, clearly wasn’t easy. It took several weeks, but it is important to me to share the feelings, experiences and insights. And to describe them as tangible as possible so that those who do not have to experience these emotions can also get an impression of how powerful they are. How dramatic. How drastic to the life of those affected.
In addition, the taboo on talking about psychological stress or disorders is still far too great. Too many women and her medical condition are still only with „She’s just having her period“.
May is US Mental Health Awareness Month. So it’s time to break the taboo. Mental disorders should be recognized for what they are: medical disorders and diseases that require therapy and medical support. Just like back pain or other illnesses. And right now, in times of this pandemic, psychological issues are increasing. So many of us know them. Many suffer from it. Many live with them. I’m one of them.
If you would like to share your story or experience with me, I look forward to your comment or private email. #ifeelyou
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