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maccmann's avatar

How do you tell your spouse you think she may have PMDD?

Asked by maccmann (657 points ) February 10th, 2010

This is a tuffy. And I’m not joking around here people, this is serious so please, I am asking now: no joking around from you please either. I am in a serious situation here and I need quality, helpful, input.

My wife has been experiencing some serious emotional issues, especially anger, and depression which are exacerbated to extremes by what I believe to be PMDD. (If you don’t know what that is, Google it and come back here.) This has become very, very bad. To the point where about every month or couple of months for almost a year now she has lashed out at me with wild accusations and speculations about various bad things I have not done, she has gotten physical with me once, pushing me into the wall while screaming in my face. She flies into a rage and is quite scary.

This trend has been proven numerous times because I know when her periods are and they coincide with the hyper-moods she exhibits.

Things got worse for her one time when the stresses of several events got to be too much for her, and she got on a mild anti-anxiety drug and it helped, but this was only because she recognized it herself and voluntarily went to the doctor.

Also, after a time-usually a long time, like a month or so-she calms down and is as sweet as can be. But eventually it goes back to her being crazy angry and unmanageable again.

We have been on rocky ground because of this. What’s more is that she has developed a warped view of me and my behavior because of it as well. She constantly convinces herself that she is married to a bad husband, which I am not. A bad husband wouldn’t be sticking by her and trying to help.

So how the hell do I tell her she needs help? Because she does! And NOW! I can’t just tell her or she’ll think that I am trying to manipulate her (another growing problem) and then go into a rage and just plain lose it again. I’m stuck here for what to do. I wanted to get an “everyman” opinion before approaching any mental health pros, and actually am not even certain how to do that.

Any and all answers (EXCEPT for flippant ones) are appreciated!

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23 Answers

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

If she won’t go to the doctor on her own,then it looks like you might want to enlist the help of professionals.How long do you want to let it go on??

maccmann's avatar

@lucillelucillelucille well, obviously not any longer or I wouldn’t have asked! :) Enlist the help of pro’s how? By dragging her to them or them to her?

Cruiser's avatar

Time to get friends or family to pitch in here. Consult with her’s and or your own physician as to what they may suggest. She sounds in serious need of professional help and here is not the place to get more than ideas of which I feel most you have tried. Good luck!

Jeruba's avatar

Does anyone else see this behavior? Co-workers, for instance, or other family members?

mollypop51797's avatar

I agree with @lucillelucillelucille, I think that if you’re seen through different eyes to her, your opinion will mean something different to her, if anything, maybe nothing. I think that you should seek professionals to help her. She can’t get mad at those who she knows know more than she does. And, if you’re hesitating on ways that this idea can be enforced, try having your friends, or in laws to come in. Have a family dinner! Talk to them about it, and let them bring it up themselves. If she seems to agree, then she’ll be convinced into seeing the doctors. Of course, you can let the doctors become aware of this situation, and have them call her in. There are many people out there who are definitely there for you and your wife through this, time. Do you have kids? Are other people realizing this behavior? I wish you the best of luck!

marinelife's avatar

First, if you think she has PMDD, you should have her start with her doctor—not a mental health professional,which may make this an easier conversation to have with her.

You should talk to her about this at a specific time of the month when you know she will not flip out, and you should choose a neutral setting.

Remember to use I statements. That is: Do not say “You do this” and “You do that”.
Say instead, “When you say X or accuse me of why, I feel Z”. Also, ask her questions like “Do you notice that your emotions get out of control periodically?” What can I do to help you to resolve this problem?

If others in her family or among her friends have noticed her behavior, you could have them approach her as well.

You may need to separate from her to get her attention or to let her know that you are serious about doing something to resolve the problem.

Another thing you could do, is install a nanny cam, and play back for her her outbursts when she is not in her bad place.

Good luck.

Shae's avatar

Does she see a gynecologist yearly? If so you might want to have a talk with her doctor. He/she might be able to bring up the right questions in her next exam.

If you personally are going to talk to her I would try going with the physical symptoms of PMDD rather then the psychological symptoms. Let her know you are concerned about her physically rather than mentally.

Does she have some close girl friends? Have a private chat with them, see if they can help.

snowberry's avatar

Bringing in friends and family can go well, or it can go downhill really quickly. What I’m talking about is that she can see your efforts on her behalf as gossiping.

I had exactly the opposite problem. My husband was abusive, extremely so, and then he interpreted my “abnormal behavior” as something that needed to be treated with medication. He then took it to his friends, told them all about my “problem” (which he created), blah, blah, gossip, gossip, blah blah.

Well, for me, it took leaving me him for him to wake up. He now no longer treats me badly. Instead he treats me like a queen. (I told him there was no room for backsliding and he’d better not even think of trying it again.) We’ve been married now for 33 years.

I hope you get things sorted out.
Blessings

funkdaddy's avatar

I really like the idea of enlisting some help from someone she trusts. Of course you need to present it in a supportive manner, and you’ll need to be able to trust the individual as well.

You know your wife (and her friends) better than I do, but in your situation I’d present it as ”<wife> has had stressful couple of months with <stressful event> and <stressful event>. I’m a little worried about her. We haven’t been communicating very well so it’s really difficult for us to talk about, would you mind just checking on her and making sure she’s not feeling overwhelmed? If there’s anything I can do to help, would you let me know? Also, would you let her know I really do care about her.”

It needs to be someone she would share that information with anyway, if she has someone like that in her life.

Other than that, looking at treatment for PMDD, it seems a lot of the first steps are just living a healthy lifestyle. Does she take a multi-vitamin (some suggest B6, calcium, and magnesium may help), does she exercise? It looks like caffeine and alcohol can be contributors as well. Maybe you could both start incorporating those good habits without necessarily saying you’re doing them because you think she has a condition. We could all use a good excuse to take better care of ourselves.

I think the exercise is really huge and often overlooked. When my wife had a miscarriage she got all the troubles that come along with the hormonal changes after a pregnancy without the happiness of having the new little one. Setting a schedule for us both to get out of the house and exercise really helped I think. Since we were both doing it, it was a little easier on her as well. To start with, we just walked around the neighborhood and tried to get a little sun when it was available so it doesn’t have to be huge life changing events, just something.

I hope it goes well for you both.

nikipedia's avatar

If these moods are lasting for a month or so, I am wondering if PMDD is really the problem. I could speculate about what else is going on, but it sounds like she really needs to get to the doctor.

When she’s not being insane, does she regret her previous behavior? Is she remorseful? Does she recognize that there’s a problem?

If so, that seems like the time to talk to her about going to see her doctor.

If not, you have a much bigger problem.

YARNLADY's avatar

Perhaps you can actually convince her doctor to call her and make an appointment, or better yet, make a house call. I have read that some doctors are doing that now.

augustlan's avatar

Like @nikipedia, I have my doubts that this is PMDD. This behavior seems to be lasting a lot longer than PMDD should. Hormones can exacerbate other physical and mental disorders… so they could be worse during certain times, but not gone after those times. In any event, the best time to approach your wife about these issues is during a ‘sweet’ time, and having other friends/family members with you when you do so seems like a good idea. Think of it as an intervention of sorts. Try not to be confrontational about it, letting her know that you all love and care for her, and want only the best for her.

maccmann's avatar

@snowberry EXACTLY! What you mentioned there about it getting interpreted as bad is NOT what I want to happen. However, the timing on her outbursts and other things is pretty evidential that there is an issue. I understand that coincidence does not equal causality, but this is happening pretty regularly.

This is my quandary! If I step over that line will it make things worse?

But also if this is something that I am “reaching for” shouldn’t it be proven out? Trust me I wouldn’t mind being proven wrong here!

snowberry's avatar

Well, it would help if you could get witnesses when she’s off her rocker (a family member who knows her well would help). Then it won’t be “all your fault!” That’s a first priority, in my opinion.

This will take time, which is probably not what you want to hear. Nevertheless, the more public exposure this gets (where she goes off her nut in public), the better off you are (I hope).

I can suggest you start a VERY PRIVATE diary, documenting every episode. It is probably best not to have a written one she could find. Give dates, times, witnesses, everything. One secure way you can do this is to post e-mails to yourself on a private account. It also would not hurt for YOU to get into a counselor, not because you are worried for your own mental health, but it will further document the situation.

Here’s why I say this. My daughter in law is bi-polar. She went off her medication because she wanted to have a baby. Next thing you know, she went manic, and started having these bizarre psychotic episodes. She tried to stab my son with her car keys (only because she didn’t have a knife), and tried to stomp on his bare feet with stiletto heels. She broke into the neighbor’s house, and on and on. Then she called the police and told them HE was abusing HER!

They believed her, not him, which in the US, anyway, is to be expected.

That’s my concern for you. So in short, document, document, document. It can save your butt.

candide's avatar

you used more words telling people to go google it and come back than you would have if you had just written what the acronym was in the first place!

And to answer the question, NO!

maccmann's avatar

@candide: I refuse to enable lazy people :)

maccmann's avatar

@snowberry: All great answers! Thank you! My mom actually suggested that I start keeping a journal/diary for the same reasons. I sort of already have, but I believe that now I need to get serious about it.

The family is not going to do much. I have seen their complacency about issues before, and unfortunately for them it seems to be genetic. They’ll back her up all the way. I tried to get one of her sisters to talk to her once and she just went and told her what I said, which in turn got me into more trouble, because it got twisted into something it wasn’t along the way. Isn’t that super?

You last point is what concerns me the most because it actually happened to me as well. And it was due to a blow-up that I had over her doing something to me! Yeah. So I got kicked out of my house for something she did. Gotta love that.

I had to walk away from some really messed up paranoia from her this morning while on my way out the door to work. But it followed me via her continuing to try to find out whatever she belived I was doing thru blowing up my cellphone with texts. And I am keeping a record of all of that as well.

This is ruining our family. I already have kids who have special needs and they don’t need this. While we’re trying to deal with our issues, which are strongly her issues, my childrens’ issues are not being addressed. So it’s critical that I do something and soon.

snowberry's avatar

As long as you are viewed as the bad guy, whether or not you really are (been there, done that for almost 3 decades), even if there are witnesses, your behavior and your words will be interpreted in the worst possible light. That’s because they will talk about you behind your back and help each other believe the worst.

Document in every way you possibly can. If there is an emergency room visit, 911 call, or any sort of interaction with any governmental authority, get a copy of the incident. Check with your local police and see if you can legally carry a pocket tape recorder. The legality of this varies from state to state, so get it in writing, and make sure you know the law if you do this. (In Utah a few years ago, it was legal to record a conversation if at least one of the participants knew of it.) Also remember, as I am sure you already know, a tape recorder is an item that will not be well received if it is discovered.

Where you keep your hard copies must be secure. If you keep it at a safety deposit box and you are sent to jail (hey, it could happen), you will not be able to get into it without a court order. It might be well to keep a second copy of everything at the home of a friend you trust.

Some of these suggestions sound pretty far out, but I’ve been through the mill, and I either have done them, or I know people who have.

snowberry's avatar

Hmmm, it might throw her off the trail to tell her if she is so convinced you’re a nut-job, she should hire a private investigator. LOL

One more thing. When my SO was convinced I was mentally ill and wanted me to get a full mental evaluation, I told him, “What a great idea! I’m not all that sure of your mental state either! Let’s go together and see if we can get a two-fer!” I’m not sure why, but it shut him up.

funkdaddy's avatar

That all sounds like an effective way to end a relationship. If that’s the goal, then there are much less damaging ways to go about it.

If your goal is to help someone you love get through a hard time in their life then you’re both going to have to trust one another. Gathering evidence to portray them as unbalanced may help you “win” some arguments, but certainly isn’t going to build trust.

snowberry's avatar

@funkdaddy, LOL, yup. Been there, and up and down every rabbit trail there is on this one. There simply are no guarantees. If they are willing to let you earn their trust, sure. One day, after almost 30 years of this sort of nonsense, I told my husband “it’s divorce or counseling, you choose, but choose fast.” He chose counseling, and turned over a new leaf in the process.

But as I said, it does not always work that way. Especially if they don’t want to believe you. What I was saying is that it’s especially difficult if you are caught off guard, and I gave him some ways to minimize that possibility.

maccmann's avatar

@snowberry (on your last comment) Yeahhh…I WISH that when we had similar issues the first time, she had said this to me instead of bolting and kicking me out and just giving up. Those actions spoke to me of a lack of concern for anyone but herself. She basically made a unilateral decision to protect her own interests, disregarding mine and those of my children. This is NOT what you do in a relationship. You give the person a chance to do what is needed to make things better. Even if you have to push (if it’s possible to push at all) it’s better than just saying “screw this!” and giving up altogether.

There are alot of revisions to history and anger filters over everything here and it’s almost as if she self-sabotages when things are going good. Sort of like that Nickelback song “Somthin’s gotta go wrong cuz I’m feelin’ to way damn good.” Seriously, this is what happens. And I see it coming.

I saw a counselor yesterday about all of this and we made good progress already. He is of the opinion that I can’t change anything about her (yeah, I knew that) so I should concentrate on me and hope that I can do something to convince her that she should do the same. Not sure how. Using myself as an example isn’t going to work I’m sure. But we’re ramping up to something hopefully.

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