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In keeping with one of my more popular posts, What We Need to Hear: Friends & Family Guide to PMDD, it only goes to follow that there are some things that friends and family who want to be supportive of a woman with PMDD should NEVER say, first out of compassion, and secondly out of self-preservation!
No doubt many of you may feel that it doesn’t matter what you say; it’s going to be wrong. Sure enough, a couple of women surveyed responded to our question about what not to say by affirming that everything ticks them off at certain times of the month, so for some of you, your feelings may be justified. Hopefully, however, our last post about helpful things to say alleviated the catch-22. None of the things on this “Things Never to Say” list appear on the What We Need to Hear List, so at least there’s no confusion there!
Still, certain words can be hurtful, or even triggering, for a woman grappling with PMDD, whether or not she’s having symptoms. We don’t want to be stigmatized when we’re feeling good nor punched when we’re already down. While it is true that ultimately, our responses to any comments are our responsibility, not yours, those of you wanting to be more understanding towards us might want to abstain from the following phrases.
I asked women on various PMDD forums for their input. Many of them reported very similar comments as annoying, offensive or triggering. They've been analyzed and categorized to show the types of comments that are counterproductive; there could be many more variations under each heading. Statements in parentheses represent the internal thoughts shared by women on the forums. Depending on how these comments are delivered (and the level of your frustration when delivering them!), they can simply be insensitive or invalidating or downright cruel and abusive. Do any of these sound like you sometimes?
“Is your PMDD here again?” or “Are you on your period?” (as if that explains away legitimate complaints)
“Is it that time again?”
“You must be: bi-polar, borderline, psycho, sick…” or “You need: professional help/to be committed.”
“Oh!!! You got your period then??”
“You are: crazy, mental, nuts…”
“Did you take your tablets today?” or “Have you taken your meds? Maybe you should take 2!”
Just Get Over It
“Calm down!” or “Just control it!” or “Relax.”
“You'r being dramatic; it’s not that big of a deal,” or “You’re overreacting,” or “You’re just PMS-ing.”
“You’re so problematic… Why don’t you control yourself?”
“You’re being ridiculous! Are you mad?”
“Be rational. It doesn’t make sense to get so upset over something so small.”
“Stop bitching,” or “Stop being a bitch,” or “Just stop!”
“It will pass.” (Yes, I know. But right now, I need understanding. I feel like shit!)
Here We Go Again
“What is wrong with you now?” or “What’s wrong now?”
“You were fine a few minutes ago,” or “Suddenly you’re in a bad mood?”
“Christ, here we go again!”
Please Explain the Inexplicable “Why are you: depressed, sad, angry, mad…?”
“Is everything okay?”
“Why can’t you explain what’s wrong?”
“Are you mad at me?” (if only it was as simple as being “mad at you”)
Harsh & Critical
“Same old excuse!”
“PMDD isn’t legitimate.”
“You are possessed!”
“You’re just lazy.”
“I can’t stand to be around you,” or “I can’t stand you when you’re like this.” (Great, that makes two of us!)
You may very well be thinking such things and feeling them as well, especially if you feel poorly treated yourself! I'd be the last person to tell you to "buck up!" for obvious reasons. You are entitled to feel what you feel and free to think what you want, of course. But saying these things aloud isn't going to help you or the woman in your life with PMDD.
As I’ve said before, each of us is unique, so use this list to start a conversation with your partner/friend/sibling/daughter/girlfriend/wife during the good days. This way, when the bad days roll around, everyone is prepared…well, as prepared as possible anyway.
In summary, please don’t tell us to “calm down”, “get over it”, or “cheer up”. You’ll only be asking for a fight. If we could just calm down and get over it, we’d already be calmed down and over it. Please do not call us “mental” or “crazy” or any other derogatory term related to our mental health. And for God’s sake, do not go around diagnosing us with mental disorders we don’t have. We may very well be acting like we’re nuts, but believe me, we are aware of this and DON’T need the reminder. Finally, remember that we’re still human. And like all humans, we still get angry and have a full range of emotions even when we don’t have PMDD. So please don’t blame everything on PMDD. We can’t. You shouldn’t be allowed to either. And, since it sucks to always be told what you can’t/shouldn’t do/say, remember, we already wrote a post about the things we need to hear. So, what do you think? Have we got it covered or is there something you would like to say?