Everyone is pretty much aware of PMS. You may feel a little down in the dumps, suffer from bloating and experience some breast tenderness and so on… But what is not talked about as often is PMDD (Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder).
The way I describe PMDD is like PMS on steroids. It’s much more serious and crippling because it causes severe anxiety, depression, paranoia and even suicidal thoughts 1-2 weeks before your period starts. In fact, it makes it nearly impossible to function.
But PMS & PMDD is NOT The Same…
What makes it harder is the fact that women are on a mission to justify period leave in the workplace – And are still struggling. Now try imagine trying to get time off work BEFORE your period with PMDD, imagine the laughter on people’s faces while making this suggestion. You’ll be called lazy, entitled and an array of degrading and derogatory names and accusations.
If women are struggling to make period leave happen, it’s going to be a lot harder to raise awareness of PMDD. Because many people (including doctors in my experience) mistake it for everyday mild PMS symptoms that you can shrug off, when in reality it’s much more serious. Because losing all hope, being bed bound for days, suffering from crippling fatigue, anxiety and suicidal feelings every month with 1-2 weeks break is draining and INCREDIBLY HARD. You cannot function and can barely survive.
But something enlightening happened on the BBC news a few days ago, they actually spoke about PMDD in one of the main headlines. Plus, I’ve noticed a lot more women speaking up about in the online community. This inspired me to do the same so other women don’t feel alone.
Now, I know that this is a long intro, but I thought I’d mention some things first after researching many PMDD forums – I can only talk from my experience and PMDD symptoms differ from person to person due to the complexity of this condition. But even if a few PMDD sufferers can relate, I’ve done my job.
1. PMDD Puts You in a Near Catatonic State & Makes you Lose ALL Hope
Hoping to get a new job? Hopeful about any goals in mind? During hell week you can forget it. Because all hope and self awareness goes out of the window. And you don’t see any point in doing anything and don’t see anything working out in your favour.
So you feel like if you do nothing, the outcome will still be the same. You also feel like there’s no way out with PMDD and feel stuck in a black hole. But PMDD is the biggest liar and deceiver, because once your period starts, everything seems bright and as right as rain again.
2. Extreme Fatigue Prevents you From Doing Anything
PMDD makes the simplest of tasks complicated. So simply doing some washing up or small everyday errands seems like climbing Mount Everest. It’s like you don’t have the mental capacity to do anything and PMDD limits your mental and physical capacity to function.
Also, it’s not the type of tiredness that coffee can fix. You can even have 10-16 hours sleep and feel like you haven’t slept. I have also fallen asleep on the spot numerous time due to PMDD.
The good news is that if you experience this, you’re not alone in this! And if you can achieve even the smallest tasks, always remember to give yourself a pat on the back!
3. Everyone Becomes Your Enemy & Extreme Paranoia Kicks in
You feel like everybody is your enemy and are out to get you. People could innocently make suggestions and speak to you, yet you’ll see a sinister meaning behind everything what people say. So you overanalyse everything and constantly feel like people are offending you or are being condescending or patronising.
If you have existing trust issues, PMDD makes it worse.
4. PMDD Rips Skeletons Out The Closet & Exacerbates PTSD
Boyfriend did something to piss you off?
Did you fall out with your best friend years ago?
Well PMDD will drag that to the surface along with many more skeletons out the closet. So something that’s not usually on your mind out of hell week will suddenly come back to haunt you with a vengeance. Plus, you’ll even find yourself pissed off and brewing over something your ex did or some rude remark that someone made years ago.
I even found a particular pattern with traumatic events and PMDD. It’s much harder to deal with trauma and traumatic memories during that time.
5. You Get Sensory Overload & Cannot Focus or Concentrate
This is particularly true when it comes to doing any brain-taxing work like writing. So this is an absolute MIRACLE as to how I’m writing this during hell week (Day 23 of my cycle to be exact!)
I’ve also noticed a lot of short term memory loss and really, really bad brain fog! Plus, I get this strange sensitivity to light and loud noises, it’s like my brain cannot handle and absorb the sensory information around me.
Most of the time you’ll just have to warn people and ask them not to ask you anything because your brain is frazzled… If you remember to do so!
6. It Makes Body Image Issues Worse
I believe that insecurities and body image issues work hand in hand with PMDD. Plus, I believe that it is co-morbid with conditions like Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD).
PMDD is also characterised by bloating which worsens the situation. I also have to mention that blood sugar levels are interconnected with hormones, so diets and cutting down are OUT during hell week. And believe me, I’ve been there and regretted it.
It’s always best to avoid blood sugar crashes during that time, despite these body confidence issues that overlap!
But It’s Not All Doom & Gloom
Because people are speaking out. And when people speak out, the hope for changes take place.
But if you can relate to these symptoms, first of all – I feel you! And I’m incredibly sorry.
Secondly, you must remember this: You’re MUCH stronger than you know for having to endure this every month. And if you can face PMDD every month, you can face and achieve anything.
Finally, PMDD makes you appreciate the good days where you can function and live. Most of all, you can use it to motivate you to be as productive as possible during the good times and achieve GREAT things!
Please keep a lookout for my future posts. Because I plan to share some ways on how to deal with PMDD and to stop women from feeling alone in this psychological war.