New Year reflections – 11 months after a hysterectomy for PMDD
Happy New Year! If you are reading this and are struggling with PMDD, I hope that you find the strength to try to improve your situation / make changes this year.
Some reflections, 11 months after having a hysterectomy for PMDD, aged 35 at the time. I’ve tried to be as frank as possible. I think 2013 will be an important year of (further) change for me!
Balancing HRT is a doddle compared to living with PMDD! It’s a relief knowing that I have the six-monthly HRT injections (estrogen + testosterone), but I’m free to top up a little with HRT gels too. I’ve now been referred to a top menopause specialist (NHS) very near to my home, so I no longer need to travel to London to have my HRT reviewed.
I feel pretty certain that the hysterectomy, with removal of the ovaries, was the right thing to do, for me, considering the options available, and my situation/goals. I felt SO sane and stable on the Decapeptyl injections [+ estrogen and testosterone HRT, I refused progresterone] that I knew I couldn’t go back to the way I was before that. [As having suppression without progesterone in the long term can put you at risk of cancer, I knew it wasn’t an option.]
I’ve been reflecting on my choices of partner, since my 20s; and seeing a pattern of me staying in relationships far longer than I should have due to PMDD. I.e. with partners who were not unkind, but who were inappropriate for me as we didn’t have enough common interests. In hindsight, the one thing I could have tried before having the hysterectomy was trying life as a single person again – on Decapeptyl (ovaries shut down). THEN tried life without Decapeptyl or a partner, to see what the PMDD was like (because irritation with my partner could make my mood worse). I would be interested to see what kind of relationship I might chose next time, with my new state of mind/newer interests/no baby agenda. However, the reality for me pre-op was there was no way that I felt brave enough to elect to leave my partner/or even wanted to! I hope this makes sense.
I am thankful often that I don’t have the drudgery of motherhood to fill up my time. Sadly, I see few examples around me of fathers truly pulling their weight when it comes to their young children. In the UK, our society is not currently structured to encourage equality in parenting, I dread to think how long this will take to change. I was absolutely not prepared to be a single mother at any point, as this would mean a very hard life both emotionally and financially, possibly relying on the state. I feel angry for the women I know whose men have walked out of the family unit. Men often seem free to start afresh, often leaving the woman/children in dire financial straits, and with bleak career prospects for the woman. Plus the brutal truth is that I would not have wanted to parent a disabled child, and unless a woman is willing to take the risk of having a disabled child, or becoming a single mother at some point, I think she should remain childfree. I’m not on a crusade to put anyone else off parenthood, but I don’t think that the downsides of having children for a woman, are talked enough about. I’m aware that if my 20’s and early 30’s hadn’t been so chaotic, financially and emotionally difficult, due to PMDD, the outcome might have been different for me – but overall I feel enlightened and like I’ve narrowly had a lucky escape!
However, choosing life as a childfree woman means that I am in a very different place from most other women my age (I’m 36), which can be isolating due to my current location. So I need to seek out more new friends who have chosen a similar path, this probably means relocating. In my current location, I feel like I don’t have enough ambitious, hungry, creative people to socialise with.
I have occasional sad moods – BUT I can figure out the reason (sometimes it’s HRT-related), and think about what I need to change in my life, instead of feeling too mentally weak to make changes. Getting enough sleep is crucial to staying in a good mood, even more than it was pre-op, possibly. I don’t like having late nights these days, i.e. 2am, as I know I’ll pay for it with a dip in my mood. All alcohol seems to lower my mood, possibly even tiny amounts, i.e. half a glass of wine, so I’ve pretty much stopped drinking completely. The knock on effect of this is that I much prefer socialising in the daytime now, I don’t want to be in boozy environments.
Here’s a comment from another woman in her 30’s who also had a hysterectomy for PMDD in 2012, she sums up the way I feel too, particularly her last point:
On your other point, about whether the surgery will take all the craziness away…. I think most of us (maybe even all of us) on here would say that surgery has made a big and very positive difference to our lives. I can only speak for me, and in my case it certainly has. There are some big buts though. First, I only feel good if my hormones are right. Getting established on the right type and level of HRT has been and remains a learning curve for me. When it goes wrong I wobble, get anxiety, and feel low. But juggling HRT is many times preferable to living with PMDD, and the women on here (online support group) have been an amazing source of support. And at last I know I’m in control. Secondly, I am having to work on the fact that during my years with PMDD I developed some learned behaviours which are hard to shift. I have some relearning to do. The surgery has not been the answer to all my problems, but it has been the answer to the ones that stemmed from progesterone intolerance, if that makes sense?