Trusting God Through PMDD

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*Trigger warning: Suicide*

A couple of years after my youngest was born, I was diagnosed with PMDD.

In my case, PMDD at its worst means that for one to two weeks each month, I spiral into a deep depression. Every sensory issue I have is exacerbated. Each day is a fight that I’m not sure I will win. For two weeks, I feel like an unbearable burden to my family and for two weeks I attempt to pick up the pieces in preparation for the cycle to begin again.

A 2022 study showed that 72% of women with PMDD have experienced suicidal ideation and 34% attempted suicide during a PMDD episode. That last percentage is staggering—1 in 3 women with PMDD attempt to end this battle.

After trying four antidepressants (and experiencing 50 unfortunate pounds of side effects), my symptoms are fairly well managed. My doctor has explained that I don’t respond well to hormones. I had severe hyperemesis in pregnancy, postpartum anxiety, and now PMDD. This is a physical illness that requires physical treatment.

But, I’m not just a body.

In “The Neurodivergent Believer” I focused on the body side of our bipartite nature. We are body and soul and would “do well to remember [our] bodies in the journey of sanctification.” But, as I’ve focused on medical treatments for my PMDD, I can be tempted to forget my soul’s battle in this trial. I am a living creature with a living, eternal soul.

What does this mean for navigating PMDD?

Biblical Encouragement for Navigating PMDD

I prepare my soul during the good weeks.

These are the times for deep dives into Scripture and memorizing reminders about God’s faithful hand in my life.

“Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.”

Jude 24-25

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”

1 Peter 1:3-9

“And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.”

1 Peter 5:10-11

I rely on the Body during PMDD episodes.

My most common trigger during these weeks is the thought of being a burden. I do not want to burden others with my thoughts and struggles, yet the Church is commanded to bear each other’s struggles (Gal. 6:2). This means honestly asking for prayer when my thoughts overwhelm me, asking my husband to put the kids to bed so I can get extra sleep, and accepting the help that others offer.

I remember God’s sovereign hand through it all.

Talk of God’s sovereignty is easy when life is good, but it is through trials, especially ones that seem never-ending, when our faith is put to the test. Praise be to God that my faith comes from Him. He is greater than my greatest doubt. He is the One who firmly holds me in His hands.

“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written,

‘For your sake we are being killed all the day long;

we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.’

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Romans 8:31-39

If you are in the midst of a PMDD episode or going through any trial that makes you question God’s goodness, love for you, or plan for your life, please remember that your thoughts are the result of an illness – they are not truth. Fill your heart and home with Scripture so you can continually remind yourself of what is true. When you are physically unable to remember what is good, and right, and lovely, and true, ask others to remind you (Philippians 4:8). When you have no words to pray, remember that “the Spirit intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words” (Romans 8:26). As you hear your own groans and sobs, let them point you to an eternity when all will be made right. “For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling…” (2 Corinthians 5:2).

Finally, if your thoughts ever seem too much to bear, if you ever feel like you are too much of a burden, know that there are people who are not only available to help but they want to help. Dial 911 if you are in immediate danger, 988 to talk to someone specifically about suicidal thoughts, or call your pastor/a local pastor to talk about Biblical resources available in your area.

“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.”

Philippians 1:6-11

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