Learning to be raw

I’ve been thinking about creating a blog for quite some time now. I’ve obviously hesitated, due to concerns of what others may think of me if I were to actually express what is truly on my mind and heart.  However, due to life’s recent stresses and set backs, I have decided to finally share my thoughts and feelings in hopes that my words would encourage and empower other people.  I hope that my own experiences and raw emotions and thoughts help you to know you are never alone in what you feel and experience in life. Above all, I pray that my posts will glorify God, that you will see the beauty of His grace through my messy life, and that you would begin to pursue freedom and deliverance—because it is for everyone.

I never knew what PMDD stood for until 3 years ago. I began to realize how much my tendency to fall into emotional turmoil intensified, especially during certain times of the month.  PMDD stands for Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder which can be described as a severe case of PMS, or premenstrual symptoms.  It is not just your typical menstrual cramps, occasional mood swing, or food craving.  Web MD puts it like this:

“…premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) is different. It causes emotional and physical symptoms, like PMS, but women with PMDD find their symptoms debilitating, and they often interfere with their daily lives, including work, school, social life, and relationships”.

I realized that I suffered from this disorder when I linked my sudden intensified mood swings, lack of motivation, and fatigue to the days and even weeks leading up to my menstrual cycle each month.  I have always been a sensitive and emotional person, however, these emotions were normally tied to certain events that would cause the negative emotions in the first place.  However, what I was experiencing was not necessarily tied to an event that took place but was rather irrational and sporadic.  I noticed that during these periods, my relationship with my boyfriend at the time was severely affected.  School-work seemed impossible; my ability to focus plummeted because of my overwhelming fatigue and emotions.  I would experience sudden feelings of hopelessness and even think of no longer living.  I had never really talked about that part, the suicidal thoughts, but I want to be as raw as possible.  The thought of life’s even smallest demands caused intense anxiety and prevented me from sleeping much at night.  Going to class, spending time with friends and family, doing homework, working, and simply just living became impossible to do without experiencing these overwhelming and debilitating symptoms.

When you consistently feel this debilitated, you begin to feel like a failure in almost every aspect of life. You feel like you cannot do anything successfully, not one thing.  This past semester, I failed a class for the first time ever and it was humiliating. I struggled through the majority of my classes which are quite frankly not difficult to pass.  However, even the simplest of things seem far too challenging to complete when you are overwhelmed with grief, irritability, insecurity, paranoia, anxiety, fatigue…the list truly can go on forever.

It’s gotten so bad that when I am approaching my cycle, I can become so numb. Much of my energy is stolen from me and getting myself in the shower is an accomplishment.  Feeding myself and even buying what I need seems like an impossible and exhausting task.  I once went without groceries for weeks simply because completing the task was just too much.  The overwhelming loneliness and irrational irritation I would experience walking through the grocery store by myself was not worth it to me. I would rather have a growling stomach then have to deal with those exhausting ranges of emotions.

I’m posting this because right now, this mood disorder is kicking my butt.  I feel incredibly alone, starving for affection and for someone to just understand. For someone not to invalidate what I’m going through or make me feel like I am simply exaggerating. I especially do not need someone to tell me that I “need more faith”. Maybe this is spiritual, but right now I just want to know that I am loved. That someone is proud of me and believes in me, because I am struggling so much to believe in myself. I especially want other people to understand and be educated about this disorder because nobody really talks about it. There is so much shame that is associated with a woman’s menstrual cycle to begin with, that talking about a mood disorder that exists because of it is quite intimidating.

However, I feel like the Lord wants me to begin to share these experiences with you all.  So many Christians and people in general preach about living authentically, of being open and honest but I don’t see or hear many of these people talking about things like this.  The things that nobody really wants to ever share…ever. This fake authenticity genuinely angers me because it forces people who are dying to be free to remain in their captivity. These passionate feelings are what inspire me to post this. I don’t just want to write about the “acceptable” problems many of us have (i.e. relationship issues, low self-esteem, etc.) but rather those we are too terrified or embarrassed to talk about openly. Please do not think I am belittling the common issues that people have. I just want to emphasize the importance of talking about the deep stuff.

Many Christians wonder why people fall away from their faith, do not heal, or do not come to faith in the first place. I would dare to say that a big reason for each of these tragic things is due to the fact that so many Christians are not allowing people to expose the ugly and painful things that plague them—their actual problems.  I have always desired to be as open as possible until recently, as shame has forced me to compromise my natural tendency to be vulnerable.  However, I feel convicted to begin talking about my own [actual] problems openly and to begin the process of ridding myself of this shame that cripples so many of us. I want to talk about the real stuff.

Christianity does not mean that you are exempt from mental health issues.  I know God loves me, but right now I feel so incapable and debilitated that I fear I will never be able to live a successful or happy life because of this.  I know that that is not true, however my feelings are not entirely rational as you probably have already gathered.  You can know something to be true while feeling many other emotions that do not reflect that truth.

The point is, He never undermines our sufferings.  Jesus validates our feelings and comprehends exactly what takes place in our minds, bodies, hearts and spirits. These times of suffering and what seems to be defeat are times where we are able to draw nearer to the greatest comforter of all time.  He wants us to be open and confess the ugly things inside of us so that He can heal us of them. James 5:16 says, “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results”.  When we open up about our brokenness to others, we create room for healing and transformation; we don’t have to stay broken.  Jesus came to restore us, but we have to trust Him and take the first steps of admitting that we need restoring and what exactly we need restoring of.

I very recently began taking a mood stabilizer for this disorder and am waiting to see if it will help over the next few months. I am also in therapy and pursuing healing. I know that there are people who care about me that will read this and I do not want you to be worried! I just wanted to share this raw moment with you all and hope that it encourages someone. Feel free to ask any questions or make suggestions of things you would like me to write about in in the future! Love y’all, and I’m here for you in your sufferings.  Remember, there is no shame here.