Premenstrual dysphoric disorder – or PMDD – is a real thing. It affects nearly 8% of women in the USA. For me, it is a demon I’ve struggled with ever since my body was introduced to hormones as a teen.
I’ve tried to ignore it. I’ve tried treating it myself with diet and exercise. I’ve tried writing it off as “just PMS.” Since I am confident and happy most of the time, it is so easy to ignore those volatile 3-5 days a month.
What does PMDD feel like?
About three days before my period, I am unable to cope with normal stress. Sometimes it shows itself in anger over minute problems. Other months it appears as a heavy depression where I simply must cry and hide from the world that despises me. Looking back, I understand what I dealt with all these years. I remember how it always feels – my pulse quickens. My brain is crushed with “truths” I cannot disperse with logic. I am not lovable, I am not loved. If I was, they would not do this to me. No matter how I try to “talk” myself out of it, I cannot escape the heaviness of my heart. The hopelessness, the dark clouds the fog my brain and render me emotionally handicapped, unable to interact.
But really, those are the manageable thoughts. And some months are quite manageable, I can control them with diet and exercise and barely notice my PMDD. It is the bad ones that scare me. When my PMDD collides with a life I am unable to control. Deadlines, dirty house, family members – they all combine and I seek solace in peace and quiet of a television show. Then the children interrupt my show. I stare at the screen. My muscles tense up. I am not able to focus on the images in front of me. This is an emergency! If I feel one more hand on my back or hear one more question, all logic and calm will evaporate. As I respond in short commands to innocent questions from my kids, “No! Just go to Daddy, I need to be ALONE!” I am crushed with the guilt that accompanies my depression.
More lies fill my mind. Not good enough. They deserve better. I hate this.
And then, I get my period. And just like that, my mood lightens. Logic makes sense and my thoughts are crystal clear.
Until next month.
How are you treating your PMDD?
I used to work out. I tried eating super clean, super healthy. But after all this time I realize I need more. I’m working with my doctor to find a medical solution. I will also seek a psychiatrist that can help me even more.
I am doing this for my children. I want them to know it is better to seek help than to do it on your own. I want them to know that mental health is not something to be ashamed about, it is medical and ought to be treated like any medical condition.
I am not going to be ruled by this anymore. I will not let my PMDD define me. And I will not let this condition damage my relationships.
And I hope that if someone else is struggling with PMDD they read this and speak to their doctor. It is real and it can be treated.