Going paddleboarding was about the absolute last thing I wanted to do, yet there I was, standing next to the river, Will getting the paddleboard in the water and ready for me to go. Sure, it sounds like he was forcing me to go, and in a way, he kind of was. But he also knew it was one of my bad days and that paddleboarding is one of my favorite things, and I’m sure he hoped that maybe it might turn the day around.
My premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) was flaring its ugly head again, and just like every month, we were doing our best to make it through the 2 “hell weeks” without too many tears or too many arguments.
Shortly after Bird was born, I knew something was off. At 9 months postpartum, I was started on an antidepressant for postpartum depression. At 1 year, the doctors added birth control. At 18 months, it was clear that things were not working. And at 21 months, thanks to my work as a medical copy editor, I found my diagnosis: PMDD. If I ever say my work saved my life and our marriage, I am not exaggerating.
Putting a name to what I had been dealing with for over a year and a half changed everything. And while I have considered revisiting a pharmaceutical approach to treatment (as the medications I tried previously were not the first choice for treating PMDD), so far I have opted for a dietary and lifestyle modification approach. Some months those modifications go better than others, and some months my PMDD symptoms are better than others.
We brace ourselves for 2 bad weeks per month, so anything less than that feels like a win. While this particular month was not necessarily terrible, the specific day was. And while I have learned how to navigate my symptoms, Will has also learned how to support me in the best possible way.
So, I got on the paddleboard.
The water was incredibly calm, the wind was light, it was the perfect day to be out.
And it helped.
Did it solve all the issues of the day? No. In fact, the day got exponentially worse after I returned, though it had nothing to do with my mood (as recounted here).
I did not break any records for distance paddled. I did not even get a great workout out of it. But I did sit still and quiet and take time to relax. I sat and prayed. I sat and simply listened to the squirrels chasing each other in the trees, the herons flying overhead, the fish jumping all around me. I connected with the world around me and also let my mind wander.
We do not get a ton of personal space or time living this lifestyle. On the one hand, that is exactly how we were both in tuned with and able to track my symptoms. We do not have the time or space to hide our moods or emotions from one another. I did not seek help for postpartum depression until Bird was 9 months old because I was able to deny to myself what was going on and Will was not around as much. But when we spent a solid 2 weeks together, it was evident to us both that I needed help. I know dealing with PMDD would have been similar.
On the other hand, there is very little opportunity to truly disengage from each other or Bird.
Except on the paddleboard.
And getting away from everyone and everything, without the lure of social media, work, or any of the other hundred things, is sometimes exactly what is needed.
So, no, I did not want to go paddleboarding. I would have preferred staying in bed, probably crying or losing my patience with everyone. But I needed to get away. And I am so grateful to have a husband who recognizes this and facilitates making it happen, because in the long run, it really does make everything better for us all.