Emotional Health/ FAMILY

Mental Illness, PMDD, & Seeking Treatment


I am so grateful for this community and your gracious response to my first post on mental illness.  You confirmed that it is something that needs to be talked about and I so appreciate your openness in the comments & your personal emails to me.

I found myself procrastinating again when writing this post.  It is hard to know where to start when it comes to an issue that is complicated and multifaceted.  I must start with what I know, and that would be my own personal story.

So here goes.

My anxiety disorder revealed itself fully, to the point that I could no longer ignore it, after the birth of my second child.  Specifically after I weaned her, which I find interesting, as my disorder has been very much connected to hormones and my female cycle. Double interesting is that my breast cancer was fed by hormones, which is a sign my hormone levels have been a mess for quite some time.

I clearly remember a conversation I had with my sister about moods and anxiety when my firstborn, Teagan, was not even one year old yet.  We were talking about parenting and how it could be taxing and hard, especially when there was a lack of sleep.  I vividly remember her asking if I had lost my temper or if I ever just got overwhelmed and grumpy.  I responded very honestly..”No.  It is bliss.  I just love being a Mom and it has been so very easy.”  I remember her being surprised with my answer, and I also remember that my answer was very truthful.

I remember struggling around that ‘time of month’, but nothing out of the ordinary, or what would be considered anything more PMS.  PMS was nothing new to me.  It was something I had with every cycle from my very first one.

Fast forward to the birth of my second child–sweet Colsie.  I was blessed with another easy baby, and was so enjoying being a young stay-at-home mom.  Teagan was 11/2 years old when she was born.  I weaned Colsie when she was about 9 months old.

My cycle became regular after weaning and my PMS returned, but it was so much more extreme than before.  I struggled.  I remember wondering why life seemed so hard and overwhelming.  I wondered if it was just the difference between having one child compared to two children, but that didn’t make much sense as my Colsie was such an easy, delightful baby.

I made it into a spiritual issue, and several voices in the church affirmed that in both the books I read and sermons I listened to.  “I just need to pray more, and have more regular devotional times.  This is a sin issue.”

I tried everything. Journaling, time in the Word, prayer and meditation, exercise (which seemed to help some) and herbal supplements.  I gave it my all but always felt like a failure as life was just so overwhelming.  I was so overreactive to the smallest things.  I especially noticed that noise bothered me.  I was always wanting things calm and quiet, and with 2 little ones that was obviously not possible.  My level of anger was way too high toward just normal kid things, like a 3-year-old getting out of bed over and over, or someone spilling their cheerios.  I couldn’t understand how my calm, patient husband could be so…calm and patient!  I would often look at him in disbelief that he didn’t feel the level of emotions and frustrations that I was feeling, and he would look at me back, I’m sure wondering why in the world was my reaction to life so over-the-top.

I did notice that my moods were pretty connected to my cycle.  It started with a week of PMS, but quickly grow to a good 2 weeks of extreme PMS, which left only 2 weeks of the month where I felt like a somewhat normal person.  Todd noticed the cycle, too.  I came to dread the bad times of the month, and watched the calendar with anxiety growing as the date drew near.

I had a good friend whom I really trusted and confided in, and when I told her just how desperate I was for change, encouraged me to seek some help and get medication if needed.  It was the first time someone gave me permission to even consider medication, as this was 12 years ago and there was still quite a stigma connected to mental illness and medication, at least in the circles I ran in.

It just so happened that conversation happened when I was due for my yearly female appointment, which meant my Colsie girl was about a year old. God seems to do that with me, as He promises–to work all things out for good and to lead when I am seeking answers. I went in and explained my symptoms to my gynecologist, and she gave me a pamphlet with PMDD on the front of it.  I opened it and it explained my symptoms to a T. Here was the part that stood out the most for me:

In PMDD, at least one of these emotional and behavioral symptoms stands out:

  • Sadness or hopelessness
  • Anxiety or tension
  • Extreme moodiness
  • Marked irritability or anger

I had the last 3 for sure, but not so much the sadness or hopelessness, unless Todd and I would fight, then I would feel extremely sad and hopeless.  But the anxiety, tension, moodiness, irritability and anger would seem to hang around for no reason, or was brought on by the smallest of things. It made no sense, yet would not go away.

PMDD also comes with physical symptoms, which stunk, but I’ve always been pretty tough with physical symptoms.  It was the emotional symptoms that got to me and made me hate myself. I was stuck in a cycle of acting in a way that brought on such shame and guilt.  I just didn’t get why it was so hard to respond appropriately & why I couldn’t will myself to just be the person I wanted to be.

Doctor suggested an anti-depressant.  I eagerly took it and was so very hopeful.

This is how I came to be on medication.  I have learned since that PMDD comes often with underlying anxiety or depression disorders.  I have never been formally evaluated, but I have gone to therapy and my therapist says for sure there is an anxiety disorder along with my PMDD, and also wondered if I was on the spectrum of the disorder of bi-polar, which could very well be as it runs in my genealogy  and I relate to many of the symptoms of bi-polar.

My story so does not end here, but I will stop here for now.  Stay tuned for more, I will tell you my experiences with medication & get more into how low the low’s got, and how I found freedom in listening to wise counsel, educating myself, prayer, and seeking treatment.


How about you?  Do you relate to any part of my story?  Do you have any questions for me that you would like me to answer in my upcoming posts on Mental Illness?

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  • Amy T.
    September 12, 2014 at 5:13 pm

    also, I was in the hospital four times total. ALL of these times were while I had PMS in my 30’s and I swear the pms or PMDD pushed me over the edge every time. I let it go on for too long and let things get too complicated and ended up overdosing once in a maxed out state of discomfort and another time was becoming a “cutter” who was too old for this and yet it was the only thing I found that would work. I later found medication and some treatment that helped but man, those dark days were DARK. If you need help at the hospital…get it. Don’t ever hurt yourself and if you find yourself hurting anyone you love around you or anyone in general, get help either inpatient or what you say you have as outpatient. I don’t want to see you fall down the “rabbit hole” to this illness or hurt your family.
    You might need to ask for your hubby or sister or friend to do some things to help you on the bad days.
    Anyways, good luck and def keep writing!!

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  • Kim L
    June 30, 2014 at 9:19 pm

    Love seeing this talked about openly. I hate knowing the stigma/judgment found within the church for those struggling with mental issues. There is no shame in being ill or imbalanced. I know you are reaching people who right now need to hear that it’s okay to seek out help from a doctor as well as from God.

    • AmyNewNostalgia
      July 1, 2014 at 10:06 am

      Thanks for your encouragement. I so agree with you!

  • Margaret
    June 27, 2014 at 9:05 am

    Amy thank you for putting yourself out there! God did not put us here to win a popularity contest. But, being with like minded folks is comforting. 🙂 Look forward to your sharing more. God bless you more!

  • Kendra
    June 26, 2014 at 11:21 pm

    Thanks for sharing! I dealt with anxiety after my second child as well. The book “Hope and Help for Your Nerves” by Claire Weekes helped me so much. My anxiety didn’t seem to be connected with hormones. Just too much stress over a long period of time.

    • AmyNewNostalgia
      July 1, 2014 at 10:12 am

      Hi Kendra!! So glad you added your comment. I know it will help others to know it is not always hormone related. I will look into that book for sure. PS just had a great comment on the oil cleaning method post you wrote for NN. 🙂

  • Tiera
    June 26, 2014 at 4:59 pm

    Please do write the next “chapter” on this. I’ve read your blog for a long time but this is the first time I’m commenting. I resonate with what you are saying and have felt many of the same feelings. I am on the depressive side of things and there are days that I just don’t understand why I feel the way I do when I’m so blessed in life. God Bless you and your family.

    • AmyNewNostalgia
      July 1, 2014 at 10:12 am

      I will keep writing…comments like yours spurs me on so thank you!

  • Donna Mccormack
    June 26, 2014 at 1:41 pm

    That’s breast cancer, not breastfeeding ( although I did that too)

  • Donna Mccormack
    June 26, 2014 at 1:39 pm

    I also have fought breast cancer, which was fed by hormones and struggled for years with pms. When you talked about having 2 good weeks a month, I thought about how often I used to say that. When cancer was found at age 47, a mastectomy and chemo followed. My periods stopped, but then returned post chemo, (I was told I would never have periods again). My hormones were very strong and my oncologist immediately arranged for surgery to get my ovaries removed. Then 10 years of Arimidex. What I noticed was that my emotional anxieties and physical problems related to pms stopped through all of this. I’ve had a few other issues; WOW, the hot flashes for 10 years, but with very low estrogen, much improvement of my emotional issues. And, much praise, almost 13 years since diagnosis of very aggressive breastfeeding cancer.

    • AmyNewNostalgia
      July 1, 2014 at 10:16 am

      Loved reading part of your story. I relate to so much of it. Mine only stopped briefly during chemo. Wow 10 years of Arimedex!! I am suffering quite a bit from the hot flashes and it definitely comes in the way of life at times. I, too, noticed my emotional issues getting better during chemo when cycle was light and even now emotional issues are super stable compared to past.

      I may try to get ahold of you to chat via email. We need to decide if I should get my ovaries removed. Right now I’m on shots that shut them down. I’m scared to do something permanent at age 38… so many other things related with no estrogen like bone loss and heart issues. I also don’t know if I could live with these hot flashes for years on end.

      Your 13 years is so encouraging. Love those big numbers!

  • Deborah
    June 26, 2014 at 9:28 am

    You just wrote about my life. Except it was my third child. I also had a lot of other issues. My anxiety came to a head after my mother died. I would have panic attacks. I have always been a sensitive person. I’d cry when others cried. I was “too emotional”. I still need to go to therapy of some kind. I was molested as a pre-pubescent and also married a pedophyle. He was the biological parent of all three of my children. And he molested them as well as his twin daughters by another wife. He hasn’t been prosecuted but needs to be. It had been over 10 years before I found out about the molestation. My oldest child blames me for it. She is angry a lot, and has been diagnosed as bi-polar.

    • AmyNewNostalgia
      July 1, 2014 at 10:21 am

      Deborah..thank you for posting. You have had much pain and suffering in your life…including now watching your child suffer. Yes, take time for yourself and get therapy–one of the best things I have ever done for myself. It is so worth it. Our children need healthy Mom’s to watch and learn from…even our grown up kids. Life can be so hard sometimes! My go-to for hope is the Bible & God. There would be no healing in my life without that. Prayers for you!

  • Annette
    June 26, 2014 at 8:53 am

    Wow… What a revelation! I have been struggling with three + of these things myself. My husband has been getting increasingly frustrated with my attitude of “jumping on him” and being defensive all the time, but I can’t seem to turn it off. I am constantly tense, angry and irritable. I’ve never paid much attention to it’s relationship to my cycles though. It sounds like it’s definitely something I need to discuss with my doctor! Thanks so much for your honesty and vulnerability!

    • AmyNewNostalgia
      July 1, 2014 at 10:25 am

      You are so welcome. Yes, be aware of cycle. Sometimes it is related, sometimes not. When a person desperately wants to change and just can’t seem to, it is time to discuss with doctor & look into the reasons behind it all. Keep in touch. My heart goes out to you…I know how hard it is to want to be a certain way and struggle so much to get there. There is hope!

  • Cassie
    June 26, 2014 at 7:00 am

    As a teen I would have anxiety attacks all the time. It was horrible. They kept telling me change my diet, exercise and sleep. But nothing seemed to work. However, I really didn’t want to be put on medication. I later caved in because there was nothing else that I could do that seemed to work. Once I took the medication things were completely different. I had wished I had not struggled so long with out it. About 4 years later I made some changes in my life that were really beneficial and decided to see if I could get off the medication. I have now been off the medication for about 4 years without any issues. I was very nervous that pregnancy would bring some of it back, but it has not. I am now praying that post pregnancy is the same way.

    Thank you so much for sharing about your story! So many people need to hear it and be okay with talking about it!

  • Gina
    June 25, 2014 at 7:17 pm

    Thank you for this and your previous post on this issue. I’ve been thinking for some time of writing a post on how antidepressants have changed my life. Maybe this will give me the courage to do it!

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