The reality of finding help for PMDD

It was after a few emotional months of torture that I figured out that I suffer from PMDD. I had slowly started feeling worse every month after my daughter stopped breastfeeding, and I couldn’t figure out what was going on. Eventually my symptoms were so severe that I would be convinced that I was pregnant again. One month I was so sure that I ordered a shirt off Etsy to give to my husband, announcing the pregnancy. I tucked it away to give to him along with the positive pregnancy test that I was sure would happen any day. Instead, I got my period.

We weren’t trying to get pregnant, so there were no big letdowns for us to share. But every month I would get all the symptoms that used to warn me about a baby, and every month my mind would go from “I don’t want a baby right now,” to “Maybe this would be nice.” As soon as my mind went far enough to fantasize about that imaginary baby and get excited about it, that’s when the illusion would shatter. Wanting more kids or not, it was hell going through that roller coaster of emotions over and over again.

I finally talked to my husband about it and he agreed that something was definitely wrong. I started doing some research and I stumbled on a video online of a woman explaining her condition, that I’ve never heard of, called premenstrual dysphoric disorder. She mentioned 11 symptoms that someone may go through, and you need to check off at least 5 before a doctor would diagnose you. I watched the video through and mentally checked off every single thing she talked about. I was the perfect match for a condition that I had no clue existed.

pmdd01_amanda_excell_webSince then I’ve done a ton of research and spoken to my doctors about it, with no luck. My general practitioner, although a very nice woman, gave me antidepressants to treat my depression and didn’t seem to have any clue what I was talking about when i mentioned the thought of PMDD. I figured I’d try her meds since I was depressed anyway. And when those weren’t doing much, I moved on to my obgyn. He reluctantly admitted that I may be dealing with PMDD, and prescribed me birth control. It was horrible, and when I called to talk about it, he admitted that trying more and more bc pills may not be very helpful but if I wanted to, he’d be more than happy to give me a script for Prozac. He admitted that he didn’t know much about treating me, and suggested I look for a specialist.

After that conversation with my ob, I was working on my second antidepressant, so I gave that a bit more time and didn’t really notice that I was getting worse. After all the experimentation with new medications, I had gained 30 pounds on my small 5’2″ frame. Enough to put strain on my already weak back and make me feel worse. And my symptoms were still getting worse with every cycle I had. At this point, my boobs feel like they’ve been used as punching bags, the slightest look can make me burst out in tears, and the most minor annoyance can make me rage against the world as if I am SHE HULK. I’m not even gonna talk about how bad it gets during the last few days, because no one needs to worry about me that much.

So onto what I thought would be my best bet. I had finally found an obgyn claiming to be practiced in treating pmdd. His receptionist sounded less than enthusiastic on the phone, but he had good reviews and he was the only one who seemed to know anything about it after calling a dozen other doctors in my area.

To make a long, emotional story short, the receptionist was as bored and uncaring as she sounded on the phone, as were all the other women working in the office. The doctor himself, after making me wait way too long, batted his pretty eyes at me and apparently decided upon first contact not to take me seriously. I could see it in his eyes as soon as he smiled at me that he was gonna be no help. After asking why I was there, I told him about the PMDD and he goes on this long, textbook description of the difference between PMS and PMDD. You know, because since I came here for that specific purpose, I can’t possibly know what it is. Then he says, “It’s not a real diagnosis, it’s basically a small step up from PMS.” WANTING TO KILL MYSELF ONCE A MONTH IS A SMALL STEP UP FROM SOME MINOR CRAMPS? Tell me more about your unending wisdom!zooeydeschanelgrosssobbing

Luckily for him, I am currently in my vulnerable, crying all the time stage and I got so defeated that I could barely speak. He asked a few more questions, talked over me every time I tried to talk, and basically bullied me into scheduling an appointment for an IUD that I know nothing about. Which apparently was too much of an inconvenience to explain to me. So in the end, he listened to nothing I had to say, and assumed he knew everything about what I needed. He tried to tell me that all he could do was prescribe me Zoloft or Prozac because that’s the only sort of treatment that can be done. And after telling him that I’ve already tried Zoloft and Lexapro, he started telling me with the most unfeeling, judgmental voice I’ve ever heard that I have too many issues going on at once and he can’t help me. I need to find a psychiatrist so they can work with me to figure out what doses of medications I need. When I tried to ask about other options(that I’ve done research on and I know can help tremendously) he cut me off and said no, there’s nothing else that can be done. It’s Prozac or nothing.

I wanna be clear, I think that he honestly believes that the only way to treat this is to throw antidepressants at women and hope for the best. Too many doctors don’t have any knowledge of this condition since it’s a fairly new discovery. Previously, women were diagnosed with bipolar disorder because doctors couldn’t figure it out!

My issues with him run deeper than a lack of understanding. With him, it’s about advertising on his website that he has experience in a disorder he knows nothing about. It’s about his horrific bedside manner, talking over a patient who’s clearly about to burst into tears in front of him. It’s treating her like she’s crazy, like she’s an idiot who doesn’t understand anything about her own body. It’s the fact that he was completely uncaring and wanted nothing more than to get me out of his office.

So doc, if you ever read this. Thanks for making my day. I was in tears before I even got my kids in the car. By the time I got home, I was having a full blown panic attack. It took me hours to stop crying. Today I’ll be calling to cancel that IUD that you bullied me into trying. And if I’m lucky, I’m going to find somewhere to let other women know what kind of doctor you really are. The kind who doesn’t care very much. The kind who makes a woman in pain lose hope of finding the help she needs. So thanks for that! When I do finally find a psychiatrist, I’m sure we’ll have a nice, lengthy discussion about you.

3 thoughts on “The reality of finding help for PMDD

  1. This is fantastic. I’ve felt belittled and bullied so many times by doctors (psychiatrists and gynecologists for sure) and other specialists (or “specialists”), but I’ve rarely had the opportunity to laugh about it. Thank you.


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