I suffer from a condition called Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder or PMDD for short, its sometimes referred to as severe PMS although it is certainly way worse than PMS.  It has only recently (May 2019) been recognised by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as a unique condition meaning that PMDD will be considered a separate condition to severe PMS, should see more funding and research and allow doctors across the world to standardise their terms.  Hopefully leading to more diagnoses and better treatment and understanding.

The WHO defines PMDD as:

“a pattern of mood symptoms (depressed mood, irritability), somatic symptoms (lethargy, joint pain, overeating), or cognitive symptoms (concentration difficulties, forgetfulness) that begin several days before the onset of menses, start to improve within a few days after the onset of menses, and then become minimal or absent within approximately 1 week following the onset of menses.”[i]

PMDD is debilitating, it has caused women to commit suicide.  There are no specific treatments for it; for some women hormonal contraception works well, for other antidepressants, and for a handful of women only a full hysterectomy has helped.  Whatever the treatments, PMDD is different for different women – it affects us all differently.

PMDD and Me

For me PMDD is that girl in high school that was a bit two faced, smiles to your face when she needs you but when your back is turned pulled that ‘urgh’ face and rolls her eyes to her ‘real’ mates – you know the one I mean. 

She is never the same though, some months she can be quite mild and meek, maybe a bit of insomnia and overeating, sometimes a bit grumpy or irritable – kinda friendly but you know that there is a storm brewing.  Other months she is in full on Bitch Mode!  She makes me believe my husband is having an affair, she makes me eat ALL DAY, she tells me I’m no good, she makes me want to get in my car and drive as far away as possible.

And when you have this whilst running your own one-man band business it’s really bloody hard!  As a small business owner hand making you own products you already question yourself pretty much daily; is my stuff any good, why do people buy it, why aren’t people buying it, shall I just jack it in and go back to ‘real’ work full time?  So, add PMDD into the mix and I feel like I’m on a rollercoaster and I bloody hate rollercoasters!

With PMDD I get these amazing times of euphoria, exciting manic times where my creativity and enthusiasm are in overdrive and OMG these times are awesome.  I come up with some of my best work during this time, my marketing strategies all just seem to work, I love being around people and go out and network loads. 

But then I have to crash, and I kinda know I will but I never know how hard.  Sometimes I’ll just have a teary day, one where nothing goes right, I miss stamp literally everything and nothing I post on social media is interesting, so no one comments.  But sometimes this just lasts 1 day and I don’t even realise until my period starts that this day happened.  But other times I crash bad…  I just hate everyone and everything, my customer service goes out of the window as everyone is against me.  Why bother posting on social media as I can’t make it sound nice or enthusiastic.  I spend pretty much all day holding back the tears and my horrible attitude, I just want to stay in bed but I can’t sleep, I eat EVERYTHING in sight and I literally have to force myself to do even the most menial of tasks.

One of the very worst things about these really deep lows is that I don’t recognise myself, I am usually (for the other 2/3 weeks of the month) a really happy and enthusiastic person which is why I sometimes don’t even realise the manic days have happened until the low starts.  The lows that scare me are the ones where I don’t want to be around people, especially when you have a house to run with 2 small children and a husband and a part time job.  The ones where I just can’t seem to snap out of it, I know I’m in deep, I can’t stop myself saying some nasty things and snapping at those closest to me.  The lows where any orders I get don’t matter, they’ll probably just hate it when it arrives anyway so what’s the point making it at all.  Any messages I get I just can’t be arsed to reply as the questions are just so inane and pointless, or they’re just moaning at me for no reason – no your order that you placed 10 mins ago won’t be with you tomorrow as I have to HAND MAKE IT!  I have to stop myself replying with a message saying ‘won’t you just f*ck off already, you’ll get it when I decide you’re worthy enough to make my crappy handmade sh*t that you probably won’t like anyway and you won’t bother to leave me any feedback even if you do’ (that’s a whole other blog for another time!)

So why am I writing this blog now?

It is now December 2019 and I’ve been trying to write this since PMDD awareness month back in April 2019!  At the beginning of the month I had a plan to do some awesome posts about it, create some keyrings, maybe even raise some money.  Then it hits… why would anyone want to buy any of my keyrings, I’d be doing the cause a grave injustice in creating such shit products.  Believe me, the irony of this is not lost!  The irony of the negative thoughts is never lost once I come out the other side, and it’s this irony that delays me getting the help I need.  A few days passes and you convince yourself that it wasn’t so bad, it was just you feeling a bit blue for a day.  You get on with life, looking after the kids, bury yourself in work; the high is well and truly convincing you that you are absolutely fine and that next month won’t be so bad.  But then you notice the date, it’s a few days before you are due to ovulate and here we go again…

I went to my GP in May 2019 as the symptoms were not getting any better and asked to have the hormonal coil fitted again as it had helped me so much before I had my second baby.  It was fitted in June this year and I waited the 3 months to see if it would help, it unfortunately didn’t and in October I had one of my worst lows to date.  It was horrendous and I booked a GP appointment at 2am after being awake for nearly 48hrs, having eaten god knows how much food, drunk far too much wine and cried at every little thing I watched.  I saw my GP a couple of weeks later, obviously I was feeling much better but I am determined to get this thing sorted and she was amazing and we went through the options and I decided on trying oestrogen for the 2 weeks prior to my cycle.  I had to giggle to myself when reading the instructions; firstly because I have to rub 1 squirt of this gel into my thigh at the same time every day, and secondly because this is effectively HRT given to older ladies at the time of the change LOL!

Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like this is working for me, I’m 4 days before I am normally due on and the symptoms are back.  Definitely not as severe as the October crash but the feelings of annoyance, self-doubt and pointlessness of it all are here, my next step is perhaps anti-depressants, so I’ll book an appointment with the GP and see what the next steps are.

My battle with PMDD and keeping sane for my business continues, even as I write this I am questioning all my plans for 2020. I have/had some great ideas but that little well of anxiety is brewing up again and I’m thinking it’ll just be better/easier to scrap it all. I won’t though, I’ll step away from social media, take some time out for me (although with this comes the Mum Guilt fun) and give myself a good talking to that this will pass and next week I’ll be buzzing and posting non-stop and bugging everyone again! Until next month…

Thanks for reading,

Emma xx

For more information and guidance for PMDD please check out the MIND website here or IAPMD here, or feel free to drop me a message.

You can also download an app to track your symptoms here.

[i] https://iapmd.org/position-statements-1/2019/6/11/world-health-organization-adds-premenstrual-dysphoric-disorder-pmdd-into-the-icd-11

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