It's February 2019, and I'm looking around the beautiful kitchen that I will never use again and out the window that I have watched my dog, Sophie, chase bunnies and squirrels from in the backyard. I look over to the suitcases and bags stuffed with all my worthless belongings. I scan the house and am overcome with all of the memories I have made here. As the hot and heavy tears spill down my cheeks, I fall to my knees and release a gut-wrenching cry for help. I've hit rock bottom…again.
I had just experienced one of the worst PMDD episodes of my life (not knowing it was that just yet), where I broke up with my then-boyfriend for the fifth time in two years. This time, I served the blow while he was on a work trip, over the phone, right before he had an important meeting. He came home, and my rampage continued — with me storming out of the house in tears and refusing to answer his calls. When I did come home later that night; he was gone. I spent the entire weekend alone, spiralling out of control in a state of debilitating anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation. Then, my period started, and all I was left with was intense pain, guilt, shame, and remorse for what I had done.
So here I am back in the kitchen, on the ground, crying, and moving back in with my parents — because this time I was not going to be forgiven. So, I have no choice but to leave my boyfriend and dog behind. I am hit with the realization that I have been here before, seeing this pattern surfacing again. It was a few years ago, and I was leaving my husband and my dog, Maddie. That rock bottom came after a surgery to remove a benign cyst (the size of a lemon) and with it, my left ovary and fallopian tube. The pain, shame, and guilt of knowing I was repeating this same cycle was far too much to bear.
Overcome with grief, I looked out of the kitchen window and at that moment decided to surrender to the universe. The truth is that the universe had been sending me signals all my life, especially with my relationships and health. I just didn't listen, because I didn't know how. I saw the red flags, heard my inner voice telling me to leave, felt my intuition tingling, and chose to ignore them. The universe had to forcefully knock me down and bring me to my knees for me to wake up and start paying attention.
Following this break-up, I had a ping (a clear message from the universe) to research my symptoms. I had done this many times before, but this time was different. I stumbled upon the IAMPD website and took the self-screen quiz. I began tracking my symptoms for two cycles, which I then took to my family doctor. I was finally diagnosed with PMDD and dysmenorrhea (extremely painful periods) in 2019. The relief of actually knowing that this thing — that I had battled with since I got my period in grade 5 — was an actual medical disorder was indescribable.
Fast forward to about a year and a half later, and I have tried every medical and most holistic treatment options available. I have changed my diet; tried every kind of birth control and anti-depressant; started exercising; gave up alcohol, gluten, dairy, and sugar; bought every book; researched and read all the articles; and tried all the diets, supplements, and therapies. Most recently, I even went on chemical menopause, after much hesitation, which completely ruined my health and ravaged my body.
In August 2020, the universe has once again rock bottomed me. My health has deteriorated so badly that I cannot function. I have adrenal fatigue, migraines, severe joint pain, random allergic reactions, rashes, and feel uncomfortable, swollen, and tired most of the time. My PMDD and periods have become unbearable, and I'm left with about 5 days out of the month where I actually feel okay.
After all of these treatments, I am told that my only options are to either attempt to have a baby (as my family doctor says it might relieve some of my symptoms) or have a full hysterectomy and oophorectomy (removing my other ovary). After hearing this, I looked at my doctor in disbelief and explained that in this current state, I couldn't imagine caring for a child when I could barely take care of myself. As for the surgery, I continue to receive contradictory advice from gynaecologists about whether this surgery would be worth the risks and even effective, because I responded so poorly to chemical menopause.
So here I am today — completely frustrated, furious, exhausted, and having trouble accepting that trying to have a baby or removing all my lady parts at 34 are my only options. Most of all, I feel heartbroken for myself and for other women around the world who have reproductive health issues. I too have been subjected to continual gaslighting and was misdiagnosed by doctors for over 20 years. I have also been harassed and bullied by co-workers and employers, disregarded and hassled by insurance companies, and shamed and misunderstood by those closest to me.
Maybe if I had a more common or accepted medical disorder, such as diabetes, people would be more open and understanding. Why do I know more about this disorder than my doctors do? Why are women's health, reproductive issues, and periods so under-researched and neglected? Why are these issues so taboo and uncomfortable for people to talk about? So, I am once again surrendering to the universe and following the pings that I am receiving. This time, the universe is guiding me to a place of spiritual awakening, connecting with other women, and finding my voice as an advocate for women's health.