Q: I am diagnosed with PMDD. It is a very debilitating hormonal-based mood disorder that causes me The family member I love with truly is amazing and he really is my rock… but recently he’s been saying things like “your stress is stressing me out and I can’t be happy.”
He does so much for me and in no way do I sound ungrateful.. but it hurts me so much when he says these things because I did not ask for the monthly debilitating suffering that comes with PMDD (premenstrual dysmorphic disorder). There is no cure. I have seen so many doctors. There is nothing left for me to try medically. I really don’t know how to handle this or what to say when he makes these comments. Like I’m the one literally living with next to constant suffering, but I am supposed to just deal, but it is okay for them to not be able to handle it. What about me? Any advice appreciated.
Thank you in advance
A: We’re so sorry to hear that you’re struggling with PMDD and your relationship, but we’re glad you reached out for help. It sounds like you and your significant other are both in need of support. It can be hard to support each other emotionally when you’re both feeling stressed, but here are some thoughts.
Ask for what you need from your partner. Instead of making hurtful comments, what could they do instead? In those moments when they’re feeling stressed to the point that they’re making comments that upset you, they could benefit from coping skills. Things you can both do to help manage your feelings and to find calmness are called coping skills. Coping skills can be anything from meditation to watching a movie you love, or taking a shower. What are some things you love to do? What does your significant other like to do? Encourage each other to take time together or separately for self-care. You should also talk to each other about how you’d like to be loved and supported. The Five Love Languages is a great tool for that.
More specific skills are those that have to do with your thoughts. When you’re experiencing symptoms of PMDD, are you telling yourself things that make you feel bad? For example, if you tell yourself, “I feel overwhelmed and alone” repeatedly, your body and brain are creating the habit of thinking those things, rather than finding new thoughts that challenge your old thoughts. You might try saying to yourself, “I feel really alone, but I know the feeling will pass. I feel really alone, but I do have some friends.” Finding the “gray area” to help prove that your thoughts and feelings are not always 100% facts can be really helpful.
You and your significant other can also try mindfulness, which is a type of present-moment awareness. Being aware of the things around you, like noticing clouds in the sky or trees outside can help center you and calm your nervous system because you are focusing on something besides your thoughts and feelings. Getting “out of your head” and grounded in your body can be really soothing.
We encourage you to reach out to your therapist and share these thoughts so that they can help you identify more solutions and coping skills. Or, if you aren’t currently working with a therapist, we can connect you with someone!
Emily Simonian, M.A., LMFT