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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at SOAS London chapter.

TW: This write-up contains mentions and descriptions of suicidal thoughts

Hopelessness, like an evil spirit, enters my body and lives inside it until I ask myself if life is genuinely worth living. My brain goes on to imagine all the possible worst case scenarios with respect to anything and everything that might or might not happen in the future. Meanwhile, the anxiety makes my right hand pull a bunch of untidy, curvy underlines on the pages of all the books I am supposed to finish before the weekend, thus forcing me to open their PDFs instead. “Don’t annoy me right now,” I manage to say to those who haven’t ever understood how difficult survival gets for me during days like these when my body and mind both know that I am about to get my period soon. 

Over the past few years, I have come to realise and accept the fact that I have premenstrual dysphoric disorder. The awareness of that, however, hasn’t really been of any help in terms of how suicidal and incompetent my hormones make me feel a few days before my period. In other words, I can’t really tell myself, “You aren’t who you think you are,” and shift my focus to other, urgent commitments. Thus, when I am PMSing (or rather, PMDDing), I know for certain that I just can not work or be productive in a capitalist sense. 

Sadly, that isn’t it, though — I don’t associate the worst moments of my life to incidents of sexual harassment or to breakups or to failing exams; I, instead, recall my PMDD days from 2020 and 2021 whenever someone asks me what “rock bottom”, for me, has been like. 

Sometime in the later half of 2020, I had a feeling I’d never, in the 20 years of my existence, had before — that I was, after all, capable of taking my own life. My premenstrual days weren’t just spent getting into arguments with my mother over my unwillingness to socialise due to insane academic commitments and emotional exhaustion, but also crying my eyes out at the slightest inconvenience. I’d had similar experiences when I was in school, as well. However, this time, my brain told me that things won’t go back to normal ever again; I felt broken in a permanent, unfixable sort of way. 

The PMDD got far worse by the summer of 2021. Even though I had a partner back then and believed love to be something that could help me deal with despair, nothing seemed to be working out for me. The breakdowns and crying spells were too extreme and prolonged to the point where I’d spend hours howling in the shower, not caring about who all would be able to hear me outside. I couldn’t explain what was bothering me to anyone, so I would just call my then partner at odd hours and cry. During that time, somehow, I could actually imagine myself falling from a great height, as if jumping from the balcony of our apartment on the thirteenth floor was the only way out for me. Thankfully, things got better soon — perhaps, when my partner and I parted ways — and have been that way ever since. Funny how the absence of people whom we were once head over heels in love with can actually change our perspective on life completely. 

A few days back, the melancholy, similar to what I had experienced in 2020 and 2021, returned. Once again, I was clueless about how to deal with it and decided to busy myself with my research and other commitments. Sadly, however, I — quite unknowingly, unthinkingly and coincidentally — ended up opening a folder saved on my Google Drive from the summer of 2021 and it all came back. Suddenly, I found myself having a horrible nervous breakdown just a few hours before a deadline I couldn’t afford to miss, at any cost. But, then, I knew I had to keep going and decided to finish my assignment anyhow. Just like that, very soon, it was all behind me. 

Based on my experiences, I am pretty sure there are a lot of people like me who find it almost impossible to survive, to continue living on certain days — either when they are about to get their period or when they’re facing some other challenge. I don’t have a piece of advice for anyone, but I do want to say that if you’re or have been in the same boat as me, don’t ever think you’re alone. Reach out to anyone you’re able to and if they are in the right frame of mind to talk and listen, communicate how you’re feeling or just discuss something else with them. 

Upasana Dandona

SOAS London '23

Upasana is a master's student at SOAS, University of London. After taking courses in ancient literature throughout her undergraduate years, she decided to get a degree in South Asian Area Studies, which goes on to show how difficult it is for her to stick to something. She currently shares her room in London with ten soft toys and tries really hard to add things to her happiness journal everyday.