off topic

The Wolves are Burning: Living with PMDD

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There’s really no reason I’m writing this post -now- except that I was sitting at my laptop thinking about the fact that I haven’t blogged in a week or so.

For some background, to ground out this entry a little. I was diagnosed with Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) in 2005,  but there is strong indication that I had been showing symptoms as early as 1997 (roughly the start of puberty, in my case). This disorder, not to exaggerate, basically ran my life for a very long time and caused all sorts of, um, interesting situations develop throughout my life cycle.

It is hard to describe how PMDD differs from ‘normal’ PMS because you’re almost talking about two completely different things. Sometimes PMDD is framed in the media as ‘exceptionally bad’ PMS which I have honestly seen lead to women trying to self diagnose, or worse, downplay what those of us with PMDD go through on a monthly basis-well I cry and get annoyed and eat a lot of chocolate and bloat. I don’t require medication and other interventions.

There is such as  thing as severe PMS, and I am the first to admit that part of the issue is that we don’t talk about either reproductive or mental health with nearly the level of respect that we talk about other health conditions. But here’s the thing: women are sometimes pushed to the point of suicidal ideation with PMDD. This disorder destroys marriages, interferes with women’s ability to work, and drastically impacts quality of life. This is in large part due to the nature of the disorder itself: the easiest way to frame PMDD may be to view it as a hormonally triggered disorder more similar to bipolar than PMS. You really can’t relate this to PMS other than the fact that it hits each woman somewhere between ovulation and active menstruation each month. In order to get a diagnosis you need to experience symptoms to the level of life disruption for multiple cycles a year.

No woman will experience symptoms in the same way (I get the anger and anxiety issues, other women get intense energy shifts, other women have issues with food), or at the same point in the cycle the same way-I can actually tell when I’m heading into my flare point when I start obsessing about money. No joke. It’s almost a 100% success for me. No two cycles will hit the same way, and you can go multiple cycles with no symptoms and then hit a flare that almost shuts you down completely.

Symptoms shift over time and won’t necessarily show in every flare. Average symptoms include:

irritability ranging into anger control issues

depression

anxiety

extreme bloating

changes in interest in food

fatigue, including intense fatigue

changes in the sleep cycle

impulse control issues

A sense of a loss of control, both over self and over life events

Extreme mood swings

Physical symptoms connected to PMS such as breast tenderness

Again, this is not a full list and these symptoms have to range beyond what would normally experience with PMS, and need to reduce or end completely at menstruation [it is a very odd sensation to actually feel your hormones shift, because you can -feel your mental state change as it does-]. I also need to stress that this is not ‘hysteria’ or ‘overreacting’-while it took perhaps longer than necessary for PMDD to end up in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders V, it is in there as a recognized disorder. It is however fairly rare, with an estimate as high as 8% of women experiencing these types of disruptions-however, not to get into gender politics, but it might be a lot higher since women are so actively discouraged to talk about this aspect of their health.

So what does it feel like to actually live like this? It is an extreme study in balancing. There is still a lot of research going on to determine base causes, whether it’s a brain chemistry issue, if it’s a hormonal issue, if it’s something else entirely. It’s knowing that for two weeks a month  I can suddenly flare and basically fall apart. It’s fighting your brain all the time. It’s a constant search for what ‘works’ for treatment.

In terms of treatment I’ve tried a great deal and have finally found a working system. Often women are put on both hormones and SSRIs for symptom control (hormones to hold your levels steady since it seems to be the shifting that sets of symptoms, and SSRIs for the mental health symptoms). Some women experience symptoms intense enough to require surgical interventions. I can’t take either SSRIs or estrogen for medical reasons, so I have developed this balance for myself:

-Buddhist style Zen and mindfulness work

-Mantra work

-Exercise [a minimum of four miles walked a day for it to work]

-dietary changes including low carbs two weeks a month and low levels of red meat

-D3

-Magnesium

-B vitamins

-Passion flower extracts

-Cognitive behavioral therapy [CBT]

-Progesterone

So basically constant walking or dancing and at least five pills a day two weeks a month. The trade off is that I have maybe one ‘bad’ flare a year now-but that doesn’t mean that the rest of the year is awesome, it just means that I’m not waking up screaming into a panic attack or getting enraged suddenly.

[This is one of those disorders that impacts the people interact with the women flaring as much as it does the women themselves. I would love to get Mid to write or dictate his experiences, because he’s had to deal with some intense…shit. I have no other word for it, since being with me. He once described a time we went out in public during a flare in which I was pushed into a confrontation as ‘the time Katie rode in on a pack of burning wolves.’ It’s been called wolf week in my household ever since.]

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Our Fearless Blogger Turns 30

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My father apparently has a story that he doesn’t tell that often.

As in, my mother heard it for -the first time- last year.

Newfoundland gets the northern lights, but not with frequency (or so I’m told anyway). The night I was born he went outside and happened to look up.

I was born under a rare northern lights show.

It must not have impressed him that much. It took him 29 years to actually tell anyone.

I’ve decided that my 30s are going to the decade I do what I want. I don’t mean in the selfish, I’m going to turn into a brat sense. But if I want to buy a short sweater with 3 inches of lace on the bottom I’m going to do it (I did it this morning). If I want kona coffee, I’m getting kona. If I want to lose weight I’m going to. If I feel like blowing off a work out and watch Pure History, more power to me.

I am not who I am at 20. Some parts of me, I knew I would be there. Some parts would have blown my mind then (what do you mean, I’m going to make the decision to switch to modesty and cover my hair in public? Excuse me?), and some parts I just wouldn’t have ever seen coming. For that matter, I’m not who I was six months ago. I’m learning to be okay with that, and with okay with who I am. More importantly, I’m learning to be okay with who I was.

Hopefully, world, I’ll get to see you for another 30 years.

I am not my blog hop, I really love my eyebrows, and other rambles. Welcome to March.

We are finally through February and I am doing the happy dance. I am quite literally doing the happy dance. February and November are my least favorite months, I do not regret seeing either month end.

-Inspired Weekends will be back later this month

I’ve been enjoying the break from blog hops but I want to get that hop back up and running. My promise to myself, however, is to be more laid back about it. I am admittedly behind on getting stuff onto Pinterest, but I’m not going to take myself to task for the state of the hop. Part of the reason for the break was I needed some distance from the Internet popularity points that come from the process-it’s like Reddit karma; I got a little too caught up in playing fake and forced popularity games over the blog hop size.

-I really love my eyebrows, and other things I’ve noticed from my descent into the beauty underworld

It turns out I own a brow kit. I don’t know why. This is an item I should not have picked up at any other point of my beauty history. I would not have known how to use it prior to now. I don’t even know how to use it now, though I’m closer than I would have been prior. But I really love the shape of my brows though they’re getting slightly bushier than I would have liked.

I can’t keep up with skin hydration this month. I’ve resorted to carrying Nivea cream and BB cream everywhere I go. It’s right around my nose and nothing that I do can stop the flaking. Light moisturizers, heavy moisturizers, drinking twice more water, expensive foundation, cheap foundation-it doesn’t matter. It’s supposed to be in the 30s all week (!!!) so hopefully we’re in the tail end of ‘suck all the water of out of your skin’ season.

-I have managed to exercise for a full week

And it’s all Reddit’s fault. Both in the actual ‘I’m getting sick of being called a fattie, even if I’m not normally one to give into body shaming’ sense and the ‘I just like positive reinforcement’ sense. I talk about dancing on Reddit, we have a conversation, everyone’s happy. I think that part of the problem is that I love my social circle but it doesn’t matter what I do, the support is the same. Exercise? Great! Don’t exercise? Also great! Since the result’s the same either way there’s no incentive for me to actually do anything.

And my back’s happier, by the way. That’s pretty much the only reason I’m getting back into exercise. I’ve been pretty open about my stance on being whatever size you’re at right now, it’s all good-but I’m a little concerned I can’t get socks off of the floor without fear of my back going out for a week or more.

-General State of the Blog

As I said in my word of the year check in post earlier this week, I’m slowly coming out of my winter depression. I’m starting to write more, I’m starting to cook more, and I’m starting to work out my spring plans. I don’t think I’m going to do my monthly theme for March, but I am hoping to get more posts up. It should be obvious that my scope has opened up a little but I’m hoping to hold to my normal horror/not horror balance.

Beauty Babble-2/9/2105

Hey, well, you seem to like it when I talk beauty stuff.

I’m no beauty blogger though so I’ll just put it all in a ramblings style entry every so often.

-Swatches

Reddit has asked me to start doing swatches. If I can figure out how to take decent photos of them, I might.

-Weekly Purchases

Let’s see. I did -not- buy a Wet and Wild palette in Comfort Zone but I swear, I will some day. That palette will be mine.

-Rimmel BB Cream Natural Finish in light-I can’t find the actual name of it and I’m too lazy to go get the tube. Rimmel has three finishes in their BB cream now and I went with the one described as natural (as opposed to radiant or matte). I like it, but it’s not a perfect fit. It works better than my old ‘not amazing, not HG’ foundation. It leans a little yellow though, and and it’s a touch lighter than my Tarte Amazonian Clay which means it probably won’t work for summer.  I’ll either try a cream that has a light/medium option for summer or bounce up to just straight up medium (I don’t wear full foundation in the summer).

Not an optional photo but at least it's natural light. And I felt about as good as I looked, to be honest.

Not an optional photo but at least it’s natural light. And I felt about as good as I looked, to be honest.

-Wet and Wild Lipsticks-Silk Finish in blind date, ready to swoon, and sunset peach, Megalast in Cherry Bomb and Sugar Plum Fairy. I have a Wet and Wild lipstick problem going right now. So far I’m loving blind date and cherry bomb.

-NYC balm stick in Pink Lady

-Rite Aid brand nail polish remover-I don’t think this will be a repurchase. My cuticles are trashed now. But it doesn’t reek, so it has that going for it.

-ELF retractable lip brush-turns out I need one or I look like Twisty the Clown

-Sinful Colors Pumpkin Spice

Discoveries and Tips

Baby wipes, yo. I take my make up off with baby wipes now. They work just as well as the Almay ones and once you figure in the size of the package for the price they’re something like a tenth of the cost. Still not ‘green’ but again…I won’t wash my face at night otherwise.

Beauty Embarrassments

-I realized just how bad my drugstore foundation actually was yesterday morning. I don’t think drugstore foundation is inherently a bad thing. I think there’s a ton of solid options. This was not one of them. Your foundation should not start balling off of your skin like eraser dust (this is not the Rimmel, by the way. I got the Rimmel to replace this one). Yeah, not so much on the NYC foundations. I think I got it because it was on deep sale last year. I think I know why.

-It took me forever this week to figure out where my lip line actually is. There doesn’t seem to be a picture anywhere online that just points and says this is your lip line. I’m still not sure I know, my lipstick still looks off but now that I have a rough idea it looks a lot less like I’m playing dress up with my mom’s cast offs.

Christmas, New Year’s, and Blood Oranges-Ramblings

-I feel like I lost about three days of time out of my life. I know exactly what I was doing-I was surfing Reddit, getting into completely meaningless arguments (I do this sometimes) (I’ve never realized just how many people use bed frames of all things as a marker of maturity), and drinking kalimoxtos (red wine and Pepsi) (really good, really lethal). It hit about 11 pm last night and I realized I have nothing to show for this weekend.

-Because I have nothing to use for this weekend and I accidentally set last week’s Fall Into the Holidays to be open for the month…just keep using that one I guess. I -will- get the features out sometime this week. I know I promised it for last week, but last week was also Christmas and we know how promises on Christmas go.

-How did Christmas go? I discovered that if you leave your home in Buffalo before noon on Christmas, you find yourself in the middle of 28 Days Later, the part where he’s wandering London by himself. There’s all sorts of weirdness there-the ambulance that I kept following around, finding its hiding spot, and then it would move just to start the whole round over again, papers blowing across the street, no traffic. A random mound of the plastic trays that Pepsi gets delivered in. It was very odd.

-I’ve started walking again, off and on. We’re having, thus far anyway, a really, really warm winter-hence my wander through Buffalo’s post-apopcalyptic wasteland (I have no idea how you actually spell that word). I woke up on Christmas needing to walk. Things I learned: it really is just movie theaters, Chinese food recipes, and gas stations that are open on Christmas. Apparently I really never do leave my house on Christmas, I thought that the grocery store would have at least radically shortened hours.

-Wegmans has blood oranges again. Blood oranges are one of the things that makes winter tolerable. My plan for this year, now that I’m making slightly more money, is to get my hands on as many blood oranges I can. This batch will be split between eating and fermenting.

Confessions

I haven’t done a confessions post in…long enough that I’m going to subject you to one.

1. This week’s Fall Into the Holidays was borked. And it’s all my fault.

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I actually think it’s pretty funny now that I’m a few hours off of it. Mid works retail now, but he gets a lot of hours. He gets a lot of hours because he’s so willing to work and flexible with hours. He was called in to start at 730 yesterday morning. Keep in mind I don’t get home until close to midnight from my own second shift job.

I set up the blog hop, sent out the email…and nothing. Crickets. Me, frantic, trying to figure out what’s going on. Silence. Me, bordering on a temper tantrum on social media. Seriously, it wasn’t attractive.

…I kept thinking back to that email list.

Dear readers, if you’re going to try to set up an email list with less than five hours of sleep and no coffee-double check that you actually put people on the email list.

Yep. I take full responsibility for that one.

2. I’ve become that anti-social person

I’ve become that person who walks around with their earphones plugged into their phone. No one likes that person. I don’t like that person.

But I’d much rather deal with the Christmas Song, Ozzy Osborne, Fergie, and Meatloaf on my way to work than some of what I have to listen to on my bus rides in.

(I feel like I should have some screaming manifesto about not being your thinspiration, or lay off of the head wrap, or something. But, dude, seriously, if that’s what you can find to do with your time…I have enough going on in my life without tracking you down to tell you to get a hobby.)

(Also, yes, my headphones are taped together with penguin duct tape. Because I hadn’t gotten my sheep tape yet.)

(Further, what’s that thing on my head.)

earphones3. I skipped out on socializing to take photos of pretty leaves.

Yeah. That whole anti-social thing again. I prefer to think of it as my Baba Yaga training. We did tear down at the camp this weekend and Mid brought a friend along. Note, I did not socialize. There were trees to photograph.

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Deep Midnight

deep midnightI don’t have a lot of money to throw around, but assuming I have some overtime pay on my check I like to try out some of the other perfumeries that I come across.

One of the easiest ways to get me to try a product is to offer a decent sample program. If your samples are well priced and come in a wide enough range (with a decent note listing somewhere easily accessible) I’m more likely to bump you to the top of the list.

I’m a complete sucker for seasonal blends that come as samples. It’s almost a no thought situation-just click ‘log into Paypal’. It’s actually uncommon to find a perfumery that offers their seasonal oils in sample sizes-unless you want to sample the entire line or find someone running a decant circle.

Deep Midnight on Etsy hit all of my sales points. The majority of the notes for the blends are listed on the sample listing itself (though not all, but the ones I ordered that weren’t were easy enough to find) and the listings for samples go as low as 3 decants an order. And, you can get any oil listed on the site as a sample, not just the general catalog.

This will be a repeat company.

Shop link: Deep Midnight

 

Dark Winter’s Tale [This is fresh from mailbox]

Gingerbread, Vanilla, Molasses, Cardamom, Aniseed, Black pepper

This one is a rabbit hole. I love it, but it’s a rabbit hole. And unfortunately it’s still not what I want out of a gingerbread blend. I was hoping for a straighter gingerbread than this.

This starts out as a hybrid of BPAL’s Lick It and Lump of Coal, so something is reading as peppermint mocha. Then, no joke, it morphs into flat out gum drops. It’s finally settled into ginger and black licorice-the gingerbread and aniseed. I must amp her aniseed. If I smell deep enough I’m getting a vague sweetness like the molasses and a bite from the pepper. I get no vanilla from this at all.

I love it, it’s totally not what I was expecting. In fact it almost reads like pipe tobacco.

Wildwood

Pumpkin bread, incense and resins, acorns, dried apple and orange peels, and faint notes of a fading bonfire

I fear that I’m never going to find a really solid pumpkin blend now that Good Judy is no more. I do like this oil, it’s a lighter Samhain [my go-to oil from BPAL]. It’s a very light, clean apple and citrus backed by something resiny, grounded by…something. I’m not nearly familiar enough with this company to tell you what it is. The incense? The bonfire? I don’t know, but it keeps it from screaming into the masculine or body wash category that some of the resin blends will on my skin. I will say that there is something in the silage that smells like the ghost of pumpkin bread-sort of like how a kitchen smells a couple of hours after baking a pumpkin pie.

 Haunted Hayride

sweet pumpkins, roasted marshmallows, candycorn, soft notes of hay and leaves, sprinkled with warm spices, and tossed amongst base notes of rich vanilla and buttery Tunisian Frankincense

This starts out a blast of generic sweetness. Not really a bad thing, just sort of body spray like girly sweet things. Eventually it starts to warm up and those warm spices start pulling forward and the sweetness is grounded out by the vanilla. This is very foodie, and very sort of traditional main stream ‘fall’ body product. I do like it. It’s just one that if you like your oils closer to mainstream products, go for this over some of the BPAL Weenies. *This was the one I was worried about with the frankincense and the hay.