Carpe Diem is Not a Disability Part 4

Last week I was summonsed to participate in a PMS workshop held by the Centre for Reproductive Mental Health at the BC Women's Hospital. This three hour workshop was mandatory in order for me to go to the next level - an appointment with a psychiatrist (hopefully as helpful as the one at the UBC Mood Disorder Clinic - not). I had no idea what this workshop was other than that my doctor had signed me up for it. Really, what can one expect from a PMS workshop? A group of ladies sitting around bitching about their periods? A group of ladies crying over ASPCA adverts? A group of comrades brave enough to acknowledge their 'Jekyl and Hyde' behaviour? Sixteen were registered, eight showed up. Of those eight, four broke down in tears. At 42, me and one other woman were the oldest ones there. I felt like Merlin.

It was a heart wrenching experience. I felt so bad for these gals. They'd only just begun the bullsh*t. I tell ya, the older you get, the more intense it gets. But what is it (insert Faith No More Epic chorus)? (Oh, if you're just joining this conversation, my doctor and I are exploring the 'possibility' that I may have 'possible' bipolar disorder, 'possible' ADHD, 'possible' anxiety disorder, and/or 'possible' PMDD). There was a young woman in the group who had just immigrated to Vancouver from Mainland China. She could barely speak English. She was in the group because after her second child she developed postpartum depression. She said she felt very ashamed and couldn't take time for herself because she'd let her family down. This seemed very cultural to me. How do women deal with PMS in China? Is there even such a thing? Well, it turns out a study was done with Chinese females in Hong Kong in 2005. 

The fact that such a considerable proportion of undergraduate females [Chinese] reported a large number of premenstrual symptoms calls for concern....Much work is needed in this area, especially now that we have documented that premenstrual symptoms are prevalent among Chinese women and deserves attention from clinicians and researchers alike. Read more.

What got me thinking was that women from Mainland China have not been inundated by Western society and globalization for as long as Hong Kong and therefore when they immigrate to the West and a 'syndrome', hence mental illness, that is so common place to Westerners, suddenly becomes a diagnosis for them how do they react to this? Do they all feel ashamed like the young woman in my group? Like the paper stated, this is a call for concern, particularly in a city like Vancouver with such a large population of new immigrants from Mainland China.

However, I digress. The workshop was based on the manual, “A positive approach: Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)”, and facilitated by a clinical counselor and nutritionist. I was a little turned off by the counselor's touchy feely West Coast namaste approach and I seriously think it was that tone of hers that made the women cry. Before the session I promised myself I wouldn't be that person in adult ed class that doesn't shut up. No one else would answer the questions though! What was I supposed to do, sit there and watch the facilitator get uncomfortable? So, after three hours the thing was over. I walked away with some poorly photocopied positive living pamphlets and a chart that I'm supposed to fill out before I see the doctor on July 10th. What's with health care and pamphlets anyway? 'Here, take this and go away.' Did I mention I was a touch disappointed that light refreshments weren't provided at the workshop?

Yesterday I had an appointment to meet with an ADHD doctor, the first of two appointments. I showed up ten minutes early, as to not make a bad first impression - even though they probably expected me to be late. You'll never believe this - the doctor didn't have my appointment in her calendar. Now, who is supposed to be seeing whom for ADHD support?

Here I am, oh for three. Not for my lack of trying. Think of those people that don't have a strong support system of their own! All the more reason for us to talk openly about mental illness - so we can be there for each other -  our health care system sure isn't.

To be continued...

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