Coping With PMDD
Last updated: August 2022
Can you relate to those moments when you don't even know who you are? Do you feel like you can't control your reactions or thoughts, want to make rash decisions, and feel like something or someone has taken over your body?
If so, you are not alone.
I have always suffered intense PMS symptoms since I began my menstrual cycle. But this feeling of anger and becoming someone else that I am talking about was more than just your typical PMS symptoms.
It all made much more sense when I learned about premenstrual dysphoric disorder.
What is PMDD?
Premenstrual dysphoric disorder, or PMDD, is a much more intense form of PMS. It can cause depression, anxiety, and severe irritability.
These symptoms typically show themselves a week or two before your period and diminish a few days after it begins. It isn't sure what causes PMDD, but it makes sense that hormone changes throughout your cycle can play a huge role.
Just like with everything else, many symptoms can come about. There can be physical symptoms like cramping and bloating. But there are also symptoms like thoughts of suicide, sadness, lack of interest in daily activities or life, low energy, and trouble focusing.
Unfortunately, it can be hard to diagnose.
For many years, doctors told me I needed to see a therapist because they believed I was suffering from depression and was bipolar. As I bounced around from therapist to therapist, I came across one who fully believed, without a doubt, that what was going on with me was more than what the doctors were saying.
She truly had believed it was hormonal-related.
Because there is no physical test, like blood work, to diagnose PMDD, I kept a journal to track my symptoms, especially around the time of my period.
To be considered suffering from PMDD, you must have at least five symptoms, including at least one mood-related one.
I had 11 symptoms. Eleven symptoms that proved the way I was acting weren't all my fault. Something wasn't right inside of my body.
Life with PMDD
Living with PMDD is not easy. If you are dealing with PMDD, then you understand. When I was younger, I did have many suicidal thoughts and attempted it many times.
Remembering that still makes me shudder at the thought. Medical professionals ignored my signs for help and chalked it up as someone seeking attention instead of someone who honestly had something going on and needed help.
Two weeks before my menstrual cycle, I turn into someone I don't even know. From anger outbursts, fatigue, loss of interest in doing anything, especially the things I love to do, loss of patience, roller-coaster emotions, and sometimes, those lingering "I don't want to be here" thoughts wash over me.
During these weeks, I argue more with my significant other because I can't control my anger. How I feel gets so bad sometimes that I can't even stand myself.
Especially those days, endometriosis decides to act up as well. They both genuinely take a toll on my mental health.
It becomes a war between who I am and what these illnesses try to make me become.
Most months, I just wait it out. For years, I took birth control, but if I am honest, it did not help me with my PMDD.
Sometimes I felt it just intensified it. I know that for many others, birth control can be helpful with PMDD management.
When I decided to stop the pill, I reached for other types of options like meditation, yoga, watching my diet so I don't trigger other symptoms, finding someone I can talk to, practicing self-love and self-care, writing in my journal, and also, being gentle with myself and giving myself grace when I turn into that hormonal version of myself.
These may not help stop my symptoms from happening, but they are ways to help get me through those two long weeks leading up to my period.
My message to those with PMDD is that they are doing their best. Know that what you are dealing with is not your fault.
You are not a horrible person. You are a strong warrior who has just been dealt with a hard deck of cards.
PMDD is no joke. But it also does not define who you are. Never forget that.
Know I am here if you ever need to talk. You are not alone in this fight.
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