Regina is a 33-year-old stay-at home mom. She home-schools her three children, takes care of animals (2 dogs, 4 guinea pigs, 5 chickens), and has been married for 13 years.
What was your first sign that something was wrong? What symptoms did you experience?
I first knew that I wasn't feeling myself about four years ago, after the birth of our third child. I had a hard time making decisions and always felt a little disoriented and confused. I would also occasionally wake up with anxiety attacks, and felt emotional and bloated most of the month.
While we were trying to get pregnant with the kids, I always kept a daily chart of my cycles and moods. I continued this chart, and began to notice a discernible monthly pattern to my moods. Two or three days after the ending of my cycle, I would feel progressively worse until the onset of my next cycle. It seemed I only had a few good days a month when I would feel in control and normal. Over the past four years, the symptoms grew worse, and so did my fears.
Since I didn’t understand what was happening, I was afraid to tell my friends and family, which only worsened my anxiety. I was also afraid to discuss these symptoms with my OB/GYN, because I was afraid he would prescribe an anti-depressant, and I didn't want to go on medication.
What was the diagnosis experience like?
I saw my OB/GYN doctor first—I brought it up during my yearly routine exam. I was pleased that he was very sympathetic and a good listener, and quick to check my thyroid first for imbalances. But after the tests came back normal, my fears were realized when his next course of action was to prescribe Sarafem (another form of Prozac) for my symptoms. I took it for two weeks, but wasn't happy taking it. I felt there had to be other options I could try before resorting to medication.
What was your initial and then longer-term reaction to the diagnosi s?
At first, I was not sure the diagnosis was correct, since we had not discussed other aspects of my medical history. However, after doing my own research, I eventually agreed that the diagnosis of PMS seemed accurate. I felt great relief in finding some kind of name for this emotional and physical roller coaster, and realizing I had choices.
How do you manage your condition?
At this time I take good care of myself and carefully monitor how I'm feeling and what affects me at different times. I read about PMS and some of the herbs that help. I educate myself about new treatments and foods that help diminish some of the symptoms. While not all of my symptoms are alleviated, I feel they