PMDD, what is it?
by Danni, Founder of Mama Tribe
1 in 20 Women suffer with it, but have you ever heard of it?
I only found out about it a few months ago, but I now realise it’s something I’ve been living with since I was a teenager and my symptoms have worsened over time. Whilst I was trying to conceive, during pregnancy, post natal and through stressful life events.
l’ll take you back a bit and explain my story, how I came to find out about PMDD.
So a few years ago we tragically lost a very much loved member of our family that I had been helping to care for at his home. A few days after he passed away my partner suffered a mental breakdown and then another member of my family became critically ill and was rushed to hospital and was intensive care.
Within a week, I’d lost a very important person in my life, another was critically ill and my marriage looked like it was going to breakdown as I tried to get my husband help.
Fast forward a few months, things started to improve.
I launched Mama Tribe, woohoo!
But then a few months later my Dad was diagnosed with terminal cancer.
I hit my limit, I broke down, I was a mess.
I went to my doctor, explained everything that had happened over the last eight months and she put me on Fluoxetine to help me with anxiety. It did help. The anxiety i’d been suffering with was manageable and I felt like I was able to cope with everything going on.
After being on Fluoxetine for about 14 months, I decided to wean myself of it, as life had become more manageable.
I thought I was doing great!
Then I noticed a change!
My husband and I went through a terrible week, we were arguing loads. I know I was being unreasonable, but I couldn’t control myself. I had this awful feeling of rage, that I knew I’d felt before. It shocked me how strong this emotion was and I suddenly realised how many times I had felt this way before and I started to recall various incidences through my life.
I also started to feel really horribly depressed. So miserable, it was like I was under my own little black cloud! I was really tired and totally unmotivated. I felt like I couldn’t do anything and I wanted to quit everything. My brain went in to overdrive, in a negative downward spiral, I was rubbish, no one likes me, I was a bad Mum, I’m rubbish in business, I don’t like my husband and he doesn’t like me. Ugh, my anxiety was through the roof again, my brain wouldn’t switch off and was churning over old conversations, old scenarios, things that had happened in my past. I felt emotionally out of control and it seemed to come from nowhere.
Yet, I realised I had felt like this for years, but it wasn’t until i’d had a break from the rollercoaster of those emotions, whilst on Fluoxetine, that I was now able to see how bad I had been feeling, and how long I had been struggling. How depressed I was at certain times of the month, how anxious I was, how i’d go through phases of really low self esteem, despair, paranoia and become over sensitive to situations with family and friends. Which caused all sorts of trouble in my life. I had never really told anyone how low I was, i’d never realised myself how bad i’d got. It was quite upsetting to remember all of the emotions i’d struggled with for so long in silence.
Then my period started and it was like the clouds parted and the sun shone again and made everything bright and beautiful.
I looked back at the last week and felt so embarrassed by how I had and been with my family.
I was so confused, I didn’t understand why I had felt so low, I felt like i’d gone crazy for a week! But what could I do? So I ignored it and carried on. Everything was good.
Then a month later it happened again, all the symptoms, all the emotions. This time the rage was so intense I actually told my husband, because I was scaring myself! I said to him, “I need to come with a warning!” I was feeling #AllTheRage. I was so agitated, anxious and depressed again. I hated how I felt, but I couldn’t pull myself out of it.
The emotional feelings grew in intensity over the course of a week, it was exhausting!
Then it happened again, I realised that the dark clouds had parted and the sun came out as I started my period.
It was like a light-bulb moment, its my hormones. Its my menstrual cycle.
I literally was able to look back over the last 20 odd years of my life and see the pattern. Not only that, it all added up. I knew from going through IVF that my body is very sensitive to hormone level changes. I found out when I was trying to conceive that I suffer from *Mittelschmerz or ‘middle pain’, felt during ovulation. Everything started to make sense. I realised I was effected by my menstrual cycle and it was effecting my mental health.
I’d felt so much better when I’d been on the medication prescribed by my GP and only realised the pattern of symptoms I was getting monthly when I’d come off them. So I looked up exactly what Fluoxetine was used for, because it had almost removed any of my premenstrual symptoms. I came across severe PMS and that’s when I stumbled across PMDD on the Mind website. After researching it, I couldn’t believe that I hadn’t ever heard of PMDD before and I ticked the box for having nearly all of the symptoms.
So, what is PMDD?
Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) is a very severe form of premenstrual syndrome (PMS), which can cause many emotional and physical symptoms every month during the week or two before you start your period. It is sometimes referred to as ‘severe PMS’.
While many people who are able to have periods may experience some mild symptoms of PMS, if you have PMDD these symptoms are much worse and can have a serious impact on your life. Experiencing PMDD can make it difficult to work, socialise and have
healthy relationships. In some cases, it can also lead to suicidal thoughts.
Please take a look at this LINK, as it explains it way better than I ever could.
If you feel like you might be effected by PMDD, please go and talk to your GP. Its hard to get diagnosed and if you think you might have it, then starting to track your cycles can really help.
There is an app called Me v PMDD, that is specifically created to help you track mood swings. There are also lots of groups you can go to for support. I‘ll list some below.
After learning about PMDD and chatting to my GP again, I realised how little awareness there is of this mental health issue. So many Women I knew, could be suffering from PMDD and be totally unaware.
Struggling every month, confused by how they feel!
So I wanted to help raise awareness of PMDD and Menstrual Health.
When I heard that there was a planned PMDD awareness month in April, I knew I had to use my platforms across social media to help spread awareness.
I want to help make Menstrual Health a talking point.
We shouldn’t be ashamed of our periods! Period!
Lets make talking Menstrual Health #AllTheRage
I’ve created two products that can help create conversation and raise awareness, with £1 of every sale being donated to IAPMD
If you have a story to share about Menstrual health and how it has effected you, or if you offer services that can help those effected, then please send me an email, as i’d love to feature you. firstname.lastname@example.org