Living with PMDD

In the 7-10 days leading up to my period every month, I have severe mood swings and get extremely depressed, anxious, and irritable. During this period of time, I turn into someone who doesn’t feel like me, someone who is disinterested in everything, feels like a failure at everything they do, and worries constantly. Then, my period comes and the cloud that absorbs everything happy and my ability to function disappears and I feel okay again.

I self diagnosed this as PMDD (Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder) about 6 months ago, after I talked to my sister about how horrible I felt about myself and my life every month before my period and she told me these symptoms weren’t really normal for typical PMS. I started looking up the symptoms and came across PMDD definitions and testimonials from women who had it. Everything others were feeling really spoke to me and I saw myself in each of the effects. I started keeping track of these feelings and the timing of them and brought it up with my doctor, who confirmed that this was PMDD but didn’t have any advice on what to do. Having a name to put on this switch in my personality and abilities added some relief because it made me feel like I wasn’t going crazy.

It’s difficult because I know every month for a week or more I’m almost out of commission. It’s frustrating knowing that it is coming every month and I feel powerless because even though I know what is happening I can’t help, prevent, or avoid how I feel.

 School and work are much harder and I don’t feel smart enough to do anything. These symptoms have also hurt relationships and friendships of mine. I stop being able to put in effort, I get easily annoyed, and I just feel like giving up on every relationship. The hard part is that these feelings feel extremely real so I’m not sure when what I’m feeling is valid or amplified by the particular time of the month.

Since finding out that I have this, I have tried to make more of an effort to communicate it to people close to me so they know my feelings and reactions do not have anything to do with them. In the week before my period I also look up more about PMDD so that I can recognize again that these symptoms are because of the disorder, not from anything else; it allows me to validate that I am not actually acting like myself during that time.

If symptoms like mood swings, depression, intense anger, anxiety, irritability, difficulty in concentrating, sleep problems, change in appetite, and severe cramps pop up for you in the week before your period you may have PMDD. Start keeping track of your symptoms and when you have them to show to a doctor. Sometimes it can be caused by a particular birth control method or can be helped with medication. The key to dealing with this is communicating with the people around you, talking to a doctor, and recognizing that it is not your fault.