Overcoming Addiction and PMMD with J.Morgan Saifer
J. Morgan Saifer is a passionate animal communicator, psychic medium, and Reiki Master. I stumbled across her website after looking into energy healers in my region and was immediately drawn to her work. I booked Morgan for Reiki healing and an animal reading session with my dog, Sophie. Morgan is the first woman I have ever met who also has Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder. After our initial conversation, I learned that Morgan overcame addiction and had found a successful treatment for her PMDD. I knew I wanted to interview her to learn more about her inspiring journey and share it with all of you. In our conversation below, Morgan shares her harrowing struggles with drug addiction, body dysmorphia, mental illness, and PMDD.
KK — Can you tell me about your childhood and how your health issues developed?
JMS — I had a really great childhood, and my parents are wonderful people. My dad and I had our fair share of issues, but all in all, I never questioned whether he loved me or not. I had a typical suburban upbringing. Despite all of this, I was born with depression. My parents started taking me to see psychiatrists at the age of 5. The first experience that I had with suicidal thoughts was when I was 9 years-old after my parent's cat died. I distinctly remember that I wanted to kill myself because I was so distraught. When I was 14, I got my period, and my mental health continued to deteriorate.
KK — Do you remember how you felt during that time — having to deal with the pressures of adolescence and then these health issues?
JMS — I spent most of my teenage years feeling super unhappy and like I had this darkness around me. I started to gain weight (or thought I did) and developed severe body image issues and body dysmorphia. By the time I was in the 12th grade, I started having these mood swings or just significant lows. It wasn't, you know, a bipolar thing where I would be ecstatic and then low — it was just a deep low. So, I was just an unhappy person, because I was in high school, and I thought I was fat. I think a lot of us go through that sort of thing. However, I still graduated with honours in English and went on to university.
During my time at university, I was still super dark and so miserable. I started to take uppers to work out because they were metabolic enhancers. In my mind, at the time, I figured that people would like me better if I was thinner. I had a great group of friends, but for some reason, I was just miserable inside, because I thought I was fat and ugly. I thought if I worked out, then maybe I’d feel better. I became obsessed with losing weight and took Ephedrine and Hydroxycut — all those things that gave me lots of energy but then turned me into a raging bitch. I decided to drop out of university because I wanted to experience life instead of reading about it.
I got a job at a call centre, and that's when I started taking other drugs. I ended up hanging out with this group of kids at work, and they were really into ecstasy. So, I started taking ecstasy, and that's when my mind sort of opened. During this time, I started to tune into my strong intuition. Some people take ecstasy and dance, but we all sat around, talked, and philosophized. It was so enlightening, and that’s when I started becoming more conscious. After that, I started getting into heavier stuff, like crystal meth, and just really loved being high. I started taking it to lose weight, because when you take crystal meth— you don't eat.
KK — I recall feeling the same way in high school. My self-worth was so low, and even though I had a good group of friends, I still felt out of place and like a stranger in my skin. How did you get clean?
JMS — I was dating a guy at the time, and he moved in with me to help me get clean. When I was 24, he took me to see my parents and they wanted to help. I told them that I didn't need rehab; I just needed a cat. So, my dad and I went to the Humane Society, and I walked out with a 3-month old black kitten who I named Pink (Floyd). When I held her for the first time, she fulfilled this hole in my heart, and I felt this deep sense of love for her. That's when I knew I never needed to touch drugs again, because I had that love that I had been missing. I knew then that my calling was to work with animals, because I've never experienced something so beautiful in my entire life.
KK — Wow, that is so special; you saved each other. How were you handling your other health issues at this time?
JMS — As I got older and into my 30s, my mood swings and lows got progressively worse. I never had a regular period, so my cycles were always 6-10 weeks. I couldn't take birth control pills, because I was too sensitive. For 6-8 weeks out of the 10, I would wake up at 5 in the morning and couldn't get out of bed. I was so low and would cry uncontrollably for 3 hours. Then, I would finally force myself to get out of bed, cake on the make-up to hide the fact that I had been crying for hours, and forced myself to the gym for 8:30 a.m. I was living with my parents because I was working and travelling so much, and it was embarrassing. They would hear me crying and would ask me what was wrong, and I didn't know what to tell them. I would say that I felt like I wanted to die. I told them not to worry. After all, I wouldn't hurt myself because I had Pinkie. It was weird because once I got up, and went to the gym, I would be fine. I loved being there, and the people, and would feel so much better after my workout.
I also relied heavily on my aunt during this time. I would call her every time I felt like hurting myself, and she would talk me through it. I was also self-harming, because I was so frustrated and angry. I couldn’t understand why this was happening. I had such a good childhood, my family's amazing, and I've never struggled for money. I've never struggled for anything in my entire life except for this deep, dark low. I was also always afraid to enter into relationships, because I didn't want them to see that part of me. I didn’t even know what it was, so it was hard for me to try to explain what was happening to someone that I was dating. All I knew was that I had really bad PMS and my period pain kept intensifying as I grew older. Towards the end of my 30s, my pain was so debilitating that I was unable to work or function at all. I also had to self medicate, because, as you know, regular pain medication wouldn't do anything. So, I had to take stronger things.
KK — Yes, that’s what I’m experiencing now. Since entering my 30s, my PMDD and periods have become so unbearable. I’m also experimenting with various alternative medications. How did you finally get diagnosed and treated for PMDD?
JMS — Well, it all started after Pink died. My aunt was so worried that I might have a mood swing, and I wouldn't make it out alive. So, she encouraged me to go to the doctor and enquire about early menopause. I knew I didn't want to have kids, so I went to my family doctor and asked her about it. I tried to explain to her what was going on with the mood swings and everything, and she prescribed me antidepressants. I was like, it's not depression; it's rage. She kept insisting that maybe I wasn't taking the right dose, but I knew that I couldn't continue channelling and doing my job if I was on this medication. After several appointments of me insisting, she finally wrote me a referral to see a gynaecologist.
KK — I went through the same dynamic with my doctor — many women with reproductive issues have to fight with their doctors to be heard and understood. How was your experience with the specialist?
JMS — I know, I ended up having to say to my doctor, "I'm not asking you; I'm telling you. I need a referral to a gynaecologist." My experience with the specialist was wonderful. She hugged me as soon as I walked in. You see, I had been preparing this big speech in my head of what I was going to say to her, because I was only 39 and was so used to being dismissed and misunderstood. I only got two lines in and she stopped me. She said, I understand that you have some terrible menstrual symptoms and then told me I had PMDD. I had no clue what it was, but she assured me that dozens of women have this condition, even people younger than me. She then went over 3 treatment options: I could take the pills, get an injection, or take the nasal spray. I chose the nasal spray, because it was the least invasive and accommodated my travelling schedule. Most importantly, I knew that if it didn't agree with me, then it would only take 2-3 days to leave my system. So, I opted for the nasal spray and experienced no side effects at all, except for the menopause. But, nothing from the medication itself.
KK — That’s amazing! So, how long did you have to take the nasal spray medication and did it stop your period entirely?
JMS — I continued taking it for a few months and then checked in with my body and knew about a month ago, that I didn’t need it anymore. So now I’m done, and I haven’t had a period or any PMDD symptoms for 11 months. I don’t have any mood swings anymore, which is kind of a weird transition for me, because I had them for over 30 years.
KK — I’m so happy for you! I can understand that it would be hard to adjust after so many years of suffering. Do you have any tips for other PMDD warriors?
JMS — Yes, absolutely! The biggest one is to stay away from processed sugar. I also don’t eat meat or dairy and try to eat healthy as much as possible. Other than that, I really do believe that exercise saved my butt. Doing cardio seriously helped to raise my vibration, elevate my mood, and helped with the severity of my PMDD symptoms. Also, the endorphins from working out helps to promote an overall sense of well-being.
KK — Thank you for being so brave and honest and for sharing your inspiring story. I think it’s so essential for us to talk about these things openly and help support other women who are suffering from mental health or reproductive issues.
JMS — Yes, I agree. It's tough being a spiritual healer and having PMDD. People have this expectation of healers that they can't have problems or that they should have worked through all their issues. But, we are all human, and these experiences make us stronger. I think the more honest that I can be with my students; the more that I can relate and help them.
*Stay tuned for part 2 of my interview with J. Morgan, where we dive deep into her work as an animal communicator, Reiki Master, and psychic medium.