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PMDD

There is hope.

I will start by saying that I have PMDD and my journey since discovering this has been long and very hard. I was misdiagnosed with Bipolar disorder for many years. I have learned a lot along the way but it has never been easy to deal with the ups and downs month after month. Feeling helpless, hopeless and alone. I survive one month wondering how I can keep doing this every single month. It has cost me many jobs with the realization that I am unable to work a full time job like most people. I happen to have a very strong and supportive husband but I have talked to people who have lost much more than I have.

Losing a job is only the beginning for some. PMDD can cause you to lose family, friends, spouses. In extreme cases, it can cost you your life. Please if you ever feel like you want to take your own life, please talk to someone or go to this website. 

I wanted to write this article to share some of my story but I really wanted to write it for anyone out there suffering who is looking for support. Recently, there have been more and more women coming forward and creating blogs, support groups etc. on this topic. I still feel like more accurate and helpful information as well as personal support is always helpful.

I felt like had to write something that would both help support and educate anyone who might also be searching, searching for answers, searching for support and just wanting to know that they are not alone and others out there understand. Maybe my words here can help shed some light on the subject for others and give hope to those who need it most.

Image courtesy of WARRIOR The official blog of me v PMDD

When doing some research for this article, I found sites that had tons of different info on PMDD but as with anything found on the internet some of it is not exactly a hundred percent true. For instance, any site that says PMDD and PMS are the same is not at all accurate. I am no expert but as someone who suffers from this condition month after month, I get somewhat upset when I hear people say “Oh that is just PMS, all women have it." You will get over it. It is no big deal. I am here to tell you that PMDD is a very big deal and it is NOT just PMS. I have once referred to PMDD as PMS on steroids when trying to describe it to a friend of mine who was concerned about me, and asked me what the difference is between the two.

There are similarities between PMDD and PMS, which can make it seem confusing as to what the difference really is. According to the mayoclinic.org:

“Although regular PMS and PMDD both have physical and emotional symptoms, PMDD causes extreme mood shifts that can disrupt your work and damage your relationships. In both PMDD and PMS, symptoms usually begin seven to 10 days before your period starts and continue for the first few days that you have your period. Both PMDD and PMS may also cause bloating, breast tenderness, fatigue, and changes in sleep and eating habits. In PMDD, however, at least one of these emotional and behavioral symptoms stands out: Sadness or hopelessness, Anxiety or tension, Extreme moodiness marked irritability or anger. “

While the mental symptoms are what make headlines when you have PMDD, there are physical symptoms as well. Depending upon where a woman is at in her menstrual cycle, most women report symptoms beginning around the week of ovulation and lasting until they start bleeding. Physical symptoms also can be disabling for many women. Joint and muscle pain as well as bloating and headaches to name a few. Read more here on Psych Central.

This photo courtesy of LDN Girl

Personally, I experience other physical symptoms that are not always mentioned when doing research. I have Irritable Bowel and GERD and PMDD wreaks havoc on my digestive system, causing nausea, heartburn and diarrhea. I have talked to other women in support groups that will tell you the same happens to them.

PMDD is real for all of us out there who experience it. Research continues on this debate amongst medical professionals. There is nothing like going to a medical professional for help only to be treated as if you are being absurd and that what you have is not real. I know because this has happened to me and it can be very difficult finding someone who will both believe you and help you figure out the best course of action to get through it. This can make a person feel alone and confused.

“It’s a real biological condition for which women seek treatment — and for which effective treatment is available,” says Jean Endicott, PhD, director of the premenstrual evaluation unit at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center. Some research suggests a link between depression and PMDD. Psychologist Shirley Ann Hartlage, of Rush Medical College in Chicago, who is a principal co-investigator on an epidemiological study of PMDD sponsored by the National Institute of Mental Health, and colleagues found that women with PMDD appear to be at greater risk for developing major depression (Journal of Clinical Psychology, Vol. 57, №12).

PMDD is also very hard for our social lives and our loved ones. If a woman has a family, she feels obligated to always be well and never show if she is feeling low. However, this is unfortunately not very possible with PMDD. We are hit with the symptoms whether we like it or not and having small children underfoot can really be difficult at this time. There is also the effect on relationships with loved ones. Husbands, boyfriends or significant others and even the BFF who does not have PMDD and does not fully understand what it is like.

The bright side is that while all of this is very overwhelming, there is always hope and help.Here are some of the many helpful groups you can find on Facebook: IAPMD, PMDD Moms, PMDD and Mental Health Support Group, and Committed PMDD Sisters. 

We are never alone no matter how we may feel every month when it all hits us like a ton of bricks. I did not say it would be easy, but there is hope and light at the end of the tunnel if we have adequate support and medical care. I have included some resources at the bottom of this article and I would like to state that I can be contacted for support anytime anyone needs it.

Support is the only way to get through the difficulties of PMDD and it is crucial that we seek out support when we feel like we are all alone. I would also like to encourage others to share their stories. Please, if you ever feel suicidal at any time day or night go HERE and they have qualified people who can and will help you. Remember— “Never make a permanent decision based on temporary feelings.”

Resources: