One thing is guaranteed to piss me off is when feminists declare that PMDD doesn’t exist, that is a plot by pharmaceutical companies to pathologise women’s normal hormonal changes, it pisses me off so much I actually finished writing a fucking post, and while I have published this on my tumblr because it is an actual written post and I haven’t done one of those since September, I’m also posting it here. Because here is where I am supposed to put my written posts as opposed to reblogging funny memes.
I saw this here:
Here are some pieces about the controversy around the diagnosis/existence of PMDD. The issue exists around whether or not PMDD should be classified as a psychiatric disorder requiring medication used for mental illness (like Prozac for depression). The fact that some women experience moodiness that coincides with their menstrual cycles is not in dispute (at least not by me).
The point I was making in that post was about how the medical industrial complex makes money off of marketing drugs towards women for conditions which may or may not exist, or have been studied extensively— a medicalization of normal human behaviors and experiences.
Similar issues exist around things like “Viagra for women” or surgical implants to produce female orgasm. A good resource on this issue is film “Orgasm Inc.”
In the end, I guess it depends on what you think determines that a medical condition is “fraudulent.” Does the fact that drug manufacturers took a set of existing symptoms in some women and labeled in a disorder make it a fraud? Or are they merely making a buck off the treatment of something that was once considered just a burden to bear? Hard to say.
If I had seen this a week and a half ago I would have flown off the handle, and that’s when I’m ON medication. I have PMDD, it is not mere ‘moodiness’ just before I get my period. Only someone who does not have PMDD could so casually dismiss it as such. My behaviour and my experiences are not anywhere near normal thank you very bloody muchly.
Without medication for two weeks out of each month I am a wreck, I experience mood swings, one moment I am so anxious I will shake, then I’ll be so angry I’ll yell and scream – it is not annoyance or irritability, I rage in a very frightening way. I don’t like myself in such a state, I find myself scary. As a teenager I became expert at repairing the holes I would punch in walls. Every major argument I have ever had in my life has occurred within two days before I got my period. When I am in that state, part of me watches in horror at what I do and say. I become overwhelmed and weepy, I can’t concentrate. Without the cognitive behavioural therapy I received when my diagnosis was anxiety I would probably still have panic attacks.
I’m sorry but I doubt the majority of people who menstruate normally experience suicidal ideation right before their period, and feel so fucking worthless and useless that they want to drive their car into a tree. I doubt that most people experience bloating so severe their weight will go up six kilos overnight.
Pharmaceutical companies are assholes I do not deny that but there is a big difference between PMT and PMDD. PMT is normal- PMDD is not.
I spent 15 years being misdiagnosed- with anxiety, with depression (both chronic and situational) because I would call to make a Dr’s appointment when I was feeling my worst, ie right before my period. I would then go to the Dr who would “fill in this mood chart for the next two weeks”, which of course were the two weeks where I was feeling fine apart from having to deal with the results of whatever havoc I had wrecked in the preceding two. I’d go back to my doctor, just to fall apart again in a matter of days, not understanding what was wrong because I had been told there was nothing wrong with me.
I studied psych at uni, I even wrote an essay using feminist analysis about how PMDD was bullshit… On the advice of one doctor I kept a mood chart for three months, the chart clearly showed the cycle, but he diagnosed me with depression because PMDD was ‘made up’. I was told the feeling of lifted mood and increased happiness when I got my period was just ‘relief at not being pregnant’. I accepted that because having written that fucking essay I was happy to have a doctor who was not easily lead astray by the EVUL pharmaceutical companies, and I have a very deep distrust of Doctors who suggest drugs as the answer to everything.
The doctor who finally diagnosed me freely admitted she had been more than usually rigourous- months of mood charts and consulting with my psychologist. I was on fluoxetine (prozac) already at this time, and it relieves my symptoms it does not eradicate them, I still have months, including the last one where I fall down in a hole and all I want to do is be dead. Months where I have have to remind myself sometimes every single minute that what I feel is just my hormones, that as soon as the cramps start my brain will feel like its been washed and cleansed and all will be right with the world.
When my doctor and I discussed what treatment options were, she explained that prozac is not subsidised by the PBS for PMDD, so I’m prescribed prozac for the depression that comes from dealing with PMDD if I don’t take prozac… Yes there are other drugs I could take but the side effects of those drugs, mean I chose to continue with fluoxetine despite its side effects including constant vague nausea.
I have not been sucked in by marketing, I don’t want to take medication, but I have learnt to my detriment that all the other strategies I use to cope, exercise, affirmations, positive self-talk, yaddah yaddah yaddah, doing all of that of that is not enough for me to function normally without medication.
Don’t suggest to me that my experience is fraudulent, don’t suggest my experience is not disordered when it very clearly is. Feminist analysis did not relieve my symptoms, prozac did.