Dark title, right? I’d love to say “Just kidding!” But I’m not. Over the past few months I have learned that I have something called Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD). Under normal circumstances the majority of women do experience some sort of PMS (Premenstrual syndrom) every month before or during menstruation; your standard mood swings, bloating, sugar cravings etc. PMDD is not to be mistaken with PMS. For me and a lot of other women out there, we struggle with a lotworse. Before we get into it, What is PMDD?
Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) is a severe form of premenstrual syndrome that includes physical and behavioral symptoms that usually resolve with the onset of menstruation.
PMDD causes extreme mood shifts that can disrupt work and damage relationships. Symptoms include extreme sadness, hopelessness, irritability, or anger, plus common premenstrual syndrome symptoms such as breast tenderness and bloating.
The average age of onset for PMDD is 26, but the condition can emerge at any time during a woman’s reproductive years.
- Lasting irritability or anger that may affect other people
- Feelings of sadness or despair, or even thoughts of suicide
- Feelings of tension or anxiety
- Panic attacks
- Mood swings or crying often
- Lack of interest in daily activities and relationships
- Trouble thinking or focusing
- Tiredness or low energy
- Food cravings or binge eating
- Trouble sleeping
- Feeling out of control
- Physical symptoms, such as cramps, bloating, breast tenderness, headaches, and joint or muscle pain
What is it like?
First I’ll start off by saying I don’t think I’ve always suffered from it or if I have, then I just didn’t realize. After I had my third child, that’s when I really started to notice some changes.
When it hits me, it’s like this thick fog creeps over me and for the next week or so I cannot see clearly. A constant cloud over my head makes it hard to want to engage in normal activities. It starts about 10 days before I’m due my period and it lasts up until the first day of my period. All I feel like doing is closing my eyes and ignoring the world. My energy levels drop, my interest in talking to people disappears and the most crippling depression sets in. My need to go unseen or unheard is paramount. Usually around this time I’ll deactivate my social media for a couple of days so that nobody speaks to me. I don’t want to be seen at all. I literally want the world to forget my entire existence. I’ll ignore texts and phone calls. I can’t bring myself round to getting into in depth conversations. You get the point, right? Just need to be alone.
When I go to the barn to feed my horse or walk into a store and I’m just praying that nobody will look at me or talk to me. Of course, people can usually tell when I’m not myself so when they ask me what’s wrong (Which makes me feel worse). I have to lie and tell them I’m coming down with a cold or something similar. I’m extremely sensitive and one wrong comment from someone can set me off. If somebody tries to interfere with something I’m doing or question me, I snap at them. I mean, I already have a problem with being told what to do. That’s my usual personality. It’s just worse during PMDD time. I wish I could walk around with a warning sign on my shirt telling people to keep their distance.
I don’t want to say that PMDD has been the cause of any failed relationships in the past but I won’t rule out the fact that it could have contributed to some issues. My instinct is to push everyone away. I have little to no emotion for anybody during that time. I have nothing of myself to give to people which then leads me to spend the next few days or weeks feeling guilty. I’ll ask myself; “What is wrong with me?” “Will I ever be normal.” “Am I going to be alone forever because of this?” I convince myself that I need to be alone. I don’t want to make an effort. I just want to be in my own world until I feel okay again.
It’s horrible really, knowing you’re capable of completely destroying something because your hormones are out of whack for one week out of a month. How do you explain that to guys? How do you explain that to anyone really? Unless they are going through the same thing (Which is impossible for men) then they really can’t understand, so you become the enemy, or at least you feel like the enemy. I beat myself up a lot.
When the depression sets in, I don’t even recognize myself. I say bad things to myself. I’m not kind to myself. I obsess over the fact that my hormones can control me and make me feel suicidal (Please note that I will never act on it… I’m very strong!) I know that deep down I don’t actually want to die but in that moment that’s just how I feel; hopeless. I go to the darkest place I could possibly go and I feel like disappearing could be my only option. I’m stressed, anxious, sad. And then just like magic I snap back to being me again. It’s confusing. I begin to question who I actually am. Am I the happy girl or the sad girl who can’t control her emotions?
As far as physical changes go, my bloat is more apparent than a lot of other women’s. Sometimes I’m so bloated it hurts. I look about six months pregnant. Or maybe that’s my brain playing tricks on me? Either way, if any of my friends want to see me during this time, they can think again. I’m in hiding at home with a pint of ice cream, wallowing in self-pity. *Super attractive*
I self-sabotage and binge eat. This week I bought vegan cheesecake four times and each time I ate them all. Yeah…… that happened! Judge me all you want, I have zero regrets!
I shouldn’t touch sugar though because it’s apparently bad for PMDD (Makes sense). So is caffeine (Also makes sense). At the time I don’t care, I just want to punish myself. Sugar, caffeine, CARBS! Bring it on, My skin is a wreck as of lately too. My entire chin are breaks out like a hormonal teenager. I have worse skin now than I did in high school. My skin looks pale, I have bags under my eyes and my hair thins out for a few weeks. You get the point, I don’t look or feel very attractive. LUCKILY that doesn’t last more than a few days!
The worst part of it all is that I don’t feel like a good mother during these times. I don’t take it out on the kids. That’s something I focus on. I just won’t. They don’t deserve to be on the receiving end of this bullshit, but I do often go hide in my bedroom and cry when I get a moment to. I know I’m a good mum but beating myself up is my favourite passtime.
The day I get my period, it’s as if nothing ever happened. I’m fine. Back to normal. Feeling positive. Back to being Laura. I don’t even recognize the person I was the day before.
My reason for writing this post today is to try to raise more awareness on this disorder because so far there isn’t enough. Many women don’t know that they suffer from PMDD. I couldn’t bring myself to talk about it much up until now. I was scared that I’d be slapped with the “Crazy” label. Being a single Mum too, you already feel as if everyone is judging you. You don’t want to look like you’re incapable of functioning like a normal person.
Over the next few months I’m going to write about my life with PMDD and my journey to better health; both physically and mentally. Just because I have it doesn’t mean it can control my life. I refuse to let it.
If you’re a woman who thinks she’s suffering from PMDD, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me either on here or via my Instagram. Or even if you know more about this disorder than I do. I’d love to learn more about it. Any advice is greatly appreciated. I recently joined a support group for women who struggle with PMDD and I have found it to be quite helpful. Just knowing that I’m not alone with it has helped a lot. I know I’m not weird and there’s nothing to be ashamed of. So please, if you’re struggling, open up to somebody. Talk to your doctor, talk to other women. Let’s help each other.
Thank you for reading.
Keep on fighting!