Growing up, I’d say I always had a tendency towards pessimism – though I call it being realistic. Some may have called me “depressed,” but I was never officially diagnosed. In junior high, when my mom brought me to our doctor for an eating disorder, I remember the term depression being thrown around, and I also remember my mom saying she wanted me to “beat it naturally.” Whatever that means.
A couple months ago I seriously started thinking I might have some form of depression – more specifically, Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD). I noticed a pattern to my moods, and out of curiosity (and desperation) I decided to record these feelings. It reminded me of when I first got married, trying to track my fertility – the readings were all over the place because I have irregular cycles.
I was so upset. I just wanted an answer as to why I was feeling this way, wanted to fix it. Phil lost his job and we had no insurance, so I figured I would wait until my next OB-GYN appointment and hope we had coverage by then so I could talk it over with my doctor.
In the meantime, I decided to look into taking supplements. I already eat pretty healthily, though I know there are gaps – we rarely eat fish or red meat, for instance. I’ve always been skeptical about the idea of taking vitamins, and still wonder if I’m not just creating expensive pee. My grocery store had some buy one/get one free promotions, and I decided to get a vitamin B-complex and some cod liver oil. I’ve been taking them pretty consistently, although I do forget every now and then. Even sitting right in front of me at the kitchen table, I forget.
I often wonder how much of the depressive moods I feel is more a result of situational depression – I feel lonely because of Phil’s work schedule, the kids can be draining, keeping up with the housework can be tiring, yadda yadda. Even being stuck inside on a rainy day can get to me. Since the weather has been nicer, we’ve been getting outside, going to the playground, going to the zoo, having picnics in the yard, and I seriously think the sunshine and fresh air has its own medicinal qualities. Then I start ramping up towards my period, and my personality shifts…
Well, today was my annual appointment with my midwife. She was happy with my weight loss, told me how beautiful my children are and what a job I must be doing with them. The kiddos were very curious about the stirrups, and Gwen laughed when I told her what they were for – until she saw them in action. Hehe. I told her about my concerns involving PMDD, and while I didn’t get into as much detail as I would have liked, she assured me that I’m normal and don’t need a label for my symptoms – I just happen to have two kids who can be very aggravating at times, and things seems worse when I’m dealing with hormones on top of that. I have a very small window where I feel “normal,” positive – about one and a half to two weeks, until I ovulate – that’s when the hormones kick in, I start spotting, and my Other Self takes over.
She asked if I exercise. While I don’t specifically aim to exercise, I feel I get quite a bit – playing with the kids, cleaning the house, going up and down stairs, etc. She shakes her head, no – I need forty-five minutes a day, alone, to exercise (and cleaning the house doesn’t count). Arrrrgh. I do not want to add an exercise regime to my day! While I was somewhat encouraged by her feeling that I’m not a horrible monster, I still thought there would be a better explanation for what I’m going through. And exercise… that’s not something I wanted to hear.
On the way home, it occurred to me – even if I did have PMDD or depression or whatever, I don’t want to go on medication, so why not try exercise? If my mood improves and I lose some more weight, what’s to complain about? After I put the kids down for their naps, I got out one of my good ol’ Leslie Sansone DVDs – Walk Away the Pounds Express: Advanced Walk 3 Miles – and managed to finish despite interruptions from the non-napping Gwendolyn. I got a little out-of-breath, but it wasn’t very challenging, so I may stick with the 4 mile routine or her walk and jog.
We’ll see how this goes.