Saturday, 1 April 2017

It's the not knowing that sucks.

Image result for what makes you happy pic


ME: "What are some things that make you happy?"
WIFE: "Work definitely...and having some alone time...and the kids - they make me happy, too."

Not even an honorable mention...or an afterthought...I didn't even dent the radar of things that make her happy.

It was like a swift kick in the crotch with a steel toe boot.

My list, (which I explained during our grown up supper at a real restaurant without the kids) included the following: "cooking...just the wide eyed look of orgasmic delight when you walk in the house and smell the roasted garlic or spices, makes me happy; the boys...especially when they help out in the kitchen while cooking for mommy; music...which is no surprise..."

I thought about trailing off as I saw her anxiety level rise but I didn't, telling her that a lot of my happiness comes from the interaction and reactions I get from things I do beyond myself.

I ended the conversation with a simple statement: "I didn't even make your list." (then proceeded to finish my beer in awkward silence.)

Image result for not knowing sucksIt's the not knowing that sucks. Not knowing if it'll be a good day or a bad day. Not knowing if, with each passing hour, the mood will stay constant or change a weather pattern with a pending storm circling. The persistent threat of dark clouds unleashing their fury...for a hour...a week. Unlike meteorologists, those of us dealing with partners with PMDD cannot predict, from moment to moment, what moods the future holds.

It's not knowing if a simple request, comment, suggestion or statement will lead to a pleasant response or a result in heightened anxiety, a war of words, a cold shoulder or the silent treatment...

It's not knowing if she'll come upstairs to bed or if she'll stay downstairs, in front of the TV, playing games on her cellphone. It's not knowing whether she'll make it through the day at school. Yes, I think about how she's coping at work. How she's handling the stresses of the day. But then, I remember, work makes her happy.

It's not knowing if a simple request or question (could you take the laundry out of the dryer? Could you please start cutting the veggies for supper? Would you mind clearing the table for supper? What do the boys want for lunches at school tomorrow?) might set her off or heighten her anxiety or initiate a tailspin.

It's the not knowing if I'm doing enough, or if (in fact) I make her happy, if I'm keeping the wolves at bay, giving her the space and alone time she wants, needs, craves and requires. It's not knowing when she'll come out of her dark place. It's also the not knowing if she's doing enough for herself while she's hibernating in the basement or burrowed in the bedroom. It's the not knowing if, one day, I'll come home to a corpse.


So, what do I do?

Image result for poke the bear memeFirstly, I acknowledge there are outcomes I cannot control so I focus on those I can. As my wife says, I martyr myself. I err on the side of caution, believing that, if I cannot accurately predict a good day, it'll be a bad day. Therefore, I start the day accepting the multitude of tasks that need to be done - if she offers to help, 'great' - it's a good day. I have my list of things to do and it's become a routine (for the most part) in the morning (though, really, how many times must I tell the Dudes to 'put on their pants!').

I know many out there may be thinking "that's not fair to her" and that I should just ask for her help or give her set tasks to accomplish. But, seriously, why poke the bear? If I can do it, why not do it? Why rattle the cage of someone on the edge? Why look back in anger - at myself, at her - should the task not get done? Whether or not she appreciates it, whether or not she takes me for granted, is irrelevant - at least while she's embedded in internal chaos...but acknowledgement when she emerges from her hellish cocoon helps.

A friend said to me: do you think she's taking you for granted? is she using her PMDD to get out of doing stuff, knowing you'll do it instead? I had to stop and think. I wondered the same thing but, my hope and my faith is that she wouldn't do that to me - to us, her family. To quote Agent Scully: I want to believe.
Image result for not knowing sucks

(I'm in the process of writing a longer letter to our loved ones suffering with PMDD but, in the meantime, here's the beginning)

Dearest women, suffering from PMDD, 
       Letting us know that you see us doing stuff to help you and the family, (if, that is, you remember what we did to help or support), gives us the energy or life force to fight for you another day. I'm not talking grand gestures of gratitude...a hug, a thank you...hell, even a text expressing a sentiment of gratitude...something that makes us believe that our efforts for you are not in vain. 

      We are committed and determined to fight for you...will you fight for us?

As an aside, I find this song rather powerful, in expressing the sentiment many men have for their partners who suffer not just with PMDD but other disorders: War Paint by Madeline Merlo.


  1. Chef... yes. Every single word youve said including madelines song. I feel you brother. We are once again entering the 2-3 week eggshell walking. Yesterday was subtle, today her black fog has moved in and I have my (kind and loving) battle gear on, ready once again to take on just about all of the daily responsibilities we have.. with little to no acknowledgement expected. Sigh... Im ready but already exhausted. She is already frustrated about this month. F u pmdd, fu.

  2. You are amazing. That song alone is what so many of us with PMDD need to hear; that it’s okay to not be okay. I just want to respond to your short letter, though. I completely get where you are coming from. You thanklessly do it all and endure so much torment. It makes perfect sense that you would feel this way, but reading this takes me back to a really dark place. As I read this I realized in the worst years of PMDD, I can’t recall ever thanking my husband. He was mad. He was frustrated. I was sure any day he was going to say he had had enough of me and was going to leave or kick me out. He was doing everything to run the household, but not out of love and concern for me. He didn’t seem to care how I was doing or how I was feeling. He was just upset that I wasn’t doing my job as a stay at home mom. Saying thank you for doing something might have been the beginning of an argument about me not ever doing anything and the beginning of my downward spiral of never feeling good enough. Saying thank you for doing the dishes was impossible to say when I felt so much guilt that I didn’t do them myself. I knew I was the worst wife and mom ever. I really couldn’t even just do the dishes??
    During those few years, anniversaries and holidays would approach. I would spend an excessive amount of time looking for a card for my husband. I ended up not getting him anything at all because I knew if he didn’t get me a card, I would feel desperate. Giving my husband a card saying thank you and how much I love and appreciated him when I knew he was so upset with me made me feel worthless. It felt like I was begging him not to leave me.
    Hopefully this helps you or other men understand the “why” behind the thanklessness. For me, during an episode of PMDD, I am incapable of feeling anything good. I can’t feel happy. I can’t feel gratitude. If you are trying to be loving and supportive, you just have to know that you are treasured. Women with supportive partners know how lucky they are. They know you are one in a million. It’s just part of PMDD that instead of being grateful, we feel bad for you. We feel bad you have to deal with us and know you deserve better.