A Twist in the Road | Abuse, Mental Health & Adoption
Abuse, mental health and adoption. That's packing a lot in one punch. And makes for a pretty daunting introduction. I made it a point to not carry myself as someone who was abused. It's not something that I feel I need to announce. Just like I don't feel like I have to announce that I am adopted as I enter spaces. Both come up in due time.
"I would have never guessed you were abused."
I was sitting with my store manger and regional director as we finished up a meeting. They had started asking me a bunch of questions to get to know me more. Which I was finding amusing because I had been working for this company for a close to two years at this point and had gone into labor with my first child while working at the store. But as I answered their questions I knew what was about to come. Amazement and wonder.
It never fails that when it does come up, my transparency about my experiences with both abuse and adoption leaves people a little in awe. They comment that I am so 'self-aware' and 'well adjusted." Cue a heavy sigh.
I don't mean to be flippant about it, but when you know what you are going through is traumatic and you are intentional about allowing people around you to help you navigate that experience, I do believe you can turn out to be a pretty damn decent human being. But it does catch up with you. When you personally think you have beat the odds and then an unexpected twist in the road appears that you have to reset your navigation for.
All I knew was fine until I knew I wasn't. And I struggled. Mentally, I was just exhausted. I felt like my life was always an overwhelming dramatic flurry of events and I was just SPENT. And I started to checkout of my interests, I would ghost my friends telling myself I just needed a break from people and social media. I was doing the bare minimum to keep my business running. I also noticed my introverted tendencies where turning more into social anxieties. Going to Target on a Saturday afternoon was a chore. And shopping at Target was never a chore for me.
Then I started getting panic attacks after driving. Minor drives would leave me on edge and needing to wind down, but not being able to. To ease these irritations I started finding routes to drive that would have less traffic. I would limit the number of times I would go to town alone. But being behind the wheel for long periods of time would send my emotions into a tailspin. I would fight of tears and shortness of breath for what seemed like no apparent reason.
My hubs soon started mentioning that I would disappear into myself. He, knowing my energy, adapted and rolled with it trying to do what he could to ease what ever had me trapped in my own head. Letting me fall asleep during movies and Netflix binges even though we only saw each other on weekends. Taking our boys out to run errands, or most importantly letting me put my ear buds in and vibe to music.
What was crazy is we just dealt with these dramatic shifts in my personality for close to four years. While the shifts were minor at first, as the years progressed they became worse. Once a month every month, I wanted to lock myself away from everyone and everything. I wanted become mute hermit during these times. Soon the up and down cycle was so intense it just became a way of life. I didn't understand what was happening, but I didn't want to hurt those I loved.
I have always been lax in seeking medical attention. Not only did I grow up not going to doctors, but I always feel crazy when I go to them with my problems or illnesses and always left with more questions than answers. But at my hub's insistence I made an appointment with a OBGYN address to the "disappearances" in my personality.
What I knew as I was exhausted. Exhausted by the up and down emotions. Exhausted from micromanaging every little aspect of my life so I could just deal and breathe. I was exhausted from not liking myself, I was exhausted from being irritated by everything (sounds, touch even taste at times). I was exhausted from worrying. I was exhausted from not being able to explain what was going on, but knowing something wasn't right.
So I went to the doctor. And I promised myself to use full disclosure. To be honest about what I was experiencing. Upon recounting my experiences and symptoms, I receive a pretty quick diagnosis. I have premenstrual dysphoric disorder or PMDD.
It’s a disorder I had heard about in passing. Now, I have been doing research about managing symptoms, drug related side affects, holistic remedies and most importantly and what makes this even happen. What I found was that my diagnosis has biological and environmental significance. What that means, is that I can't control this if I wanted to. Some research points to not only altered gene complex (Learn More Here and Here), but also that this disorder is most often linked to woman have experienced PTSD or were subject to trauma during their childhood or youth (learn more here). Well trauma was all I knew during those years.
And now that I am at this twist, it’s presented new challenges. It has forced me to examine what further treatment I may need no only to regulate my body's response to the changes in my hormone levels, but also when it comes to my mental health. But it’s challenging because I am reworking what I thought was normal.
Over the next few posts I am going to be departing a bit from my biographical style of writing to present a series on living with a mental health disorder as an adoptee. Bear with me as I navigate this. While I will be transparent with the information I give, this is very new. I am sure to look back on this series want to revise as I learn more and gain more experience in actively manage my mental health disorder from a new perspective. If you are an adoptee who has dealt with trauma and/or mental health disorders I would love to hear your input. If you have been diagnosed with PMDD I would love to hear from you too.