“Living with PMDD is almost like being two different people.”
Posted on December 16, 2017, 16:46 GMT
Hi, it’s me, Lara, the
girl with all the Vagina Problems. A few
weeks ago I asked people to share their stories of
what it’s really like living with PMDD, or premenstrual
For those of you who don’t know — PMDD,
according to the Gia
Allemand Foundation, is a hormone-based mood disorder
with symptoms arising several days before the menstrual cycle
and lasting until the period actually begins. The NIH and
Clinic define PMDD as a disabling, severe form/extension
While some of the symptoms of PMS and PMDD may overlap, PMDD
is a diagnosable psychiatric disorder and PMS is not.
Some common symptoms of PMDD can include:
* Feelings of extreme sadness or despair
* Feelings of tension or anxiety
* Panic attacks and/or mood swings
* Lasting irritability or anger that affects other people
* Lack of interest in daily activities and relationships
* Trouble thinking or focusing
* Tiredness or low-energy
* Trouble sleeping
* Feeling out of control
* Physical symptoms — such as bloating, breast tenderness,
headaches, and joint or muscle pain
As someone who lives
with this condition, I can say that there’s not a ton of
awareness or knowledge around it. I can also say that it
isn’t your average, run-of-the-mill PMS. Oh, and I can let
you know that it consistently makes my life more difficult
every month. In other words, IT’S A REAL BITCH TO DEAL
So, in an effort to get
more information out there and spread awareness about this
condition that affects around 5
million people in the US alone, I asked people who live
with it to tell me what it’s really like:
Charlotte Gomez / BuzzFeed
During the worst months, PMDD is like a dark cloud
hovering above me. I️ can survive the brutal physical
symptoms but the emotional piece is rough because I️ feel
like a different person entirely. It truly feels like I️
see less color in the world.
Then I️ get these awful, intrusive thoughts out of the
blue. I️ become cripplingly insecure about my body and
find social interaction anxiety-inducing. Then, within 7
to 10 days, I’ll get my period, it’ll end, and I️’ll find
myself dancing around the kitchen and realize I’m back.
Living with PMDD is almost like being two different people.
For a few weeks, I’m my happy self — proactive, and willing
to deal with people and stressful situations. Then, the week
or two before my period, the bad feelings start to creep in.
Being overwhelmed by EVERY. LITTLE. THING. I begin to feel
worthless and like a burden to everyone around me. I become
short-tempered and volatile. And all of those feelings are
rationalized by my mind, which has been taken over by PMDD.
I am usually a happy-go-lucky person, but my PMDD turns me
into an irritable, emotional, angry, and anxious person. PMDD
makes it so much harder to concentrate at work. Every little
thing sets me off into a crying frenzy.
I find myself getting irrationally angry to the point of
wanting to quit my job, fight with my husband over the
teeniest things, or end friendships that have gone on for 10
years. Then I get disappointed in myself for letting myself
get that angry, the depression and anxiety kick in, and I
feel like the most worthless human being ever. Medication has
helped some, but tracking my period has helped a lot because
if I know it’s coming, I can tell myself to chill out.
Charlotte Gomez / BuzzFeed
Living with PMDD is watching yourself turn into a
different person who is insane and irrational, and once
it settles, having to apologize for your erratic
The worst part about PMDD is the monthlong experience of
dissociation from reality. The most dangerous part is the
urge to make semi-major decisions, like confronting my
housemate about their mildly irritating behavior and
threatening to move out, to the more major prospect of
leaving my job or uprooting myself in some other way.
My periods are neither painful nor heavy, but the emotional
toll often leaves me feeling like there’s no way out and no
end to the mental unrest.
I was diagnosed with PMDD about eight years ago. Everything
made sense after that. I’d quit my jobs, start relationships,
end relationships, and all kinds of other destructive stuff.
Then I would get my period a few hours later and be left with
a new crazy situation to get myself out of. It’s still pretty
bad but knowing what’s going on really helps me to control my
I’m tired of being seen as a bitch or people thinking I have
control over it. I literally feel like a monster when it
My PMDD is a monster. In college, even on birth control, my
rage over everything around me would leave me buzzing and
unable to sit still. Suicidal thoughts became so routine that
I became apathetic. I would scream and cry and break things.
At its worst, I would have maybe a week to a week and a half
of normalcy before it started all over again.
The best way I can describe PMDD is two weeks of tremendous
emotional and mental pain every single month.
Charlotte Gomez / BuzzFeed
PMDD makes my life hell. It causes intense mood swings,
obsessive thoughts and rumination, and even suicidal
thoughts. Even extremely tiny things will cause me to
obsess. I question everything and usually end up in an
existential crisis. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy,
I feel totally out of control with my PMDD. I pick crazy
insane fights with my spouse, experience intense rage at work
(both always followed by extreme guilt that makes me break
down and cry), and at its worst there were times I considered
self-harm out of sheer frustration and depression. I feel
foggy and angry 24/7. I noticed a drastic improvement when I
got on NuvaRing and now I’m on Nexplanon which has been
amazing. Not only are my moods easier but I don’t even bleed
anymore (I do get other symptoms like bloating and regular
PMS mood stuff, but I’ve saved a fortune in tampons!!
When I have PMDD, I feel like I’m going completely insane. I
get so angry, cry at every little thing, and get lots of
suicidal thoughts. I call the doctor, and we set up an
appointment that always ends up being after my period has
started. By the time of my visit, I feel and seem normal
again and it’s really hard to explain my symptoms, so they’re
often dismissed as normal or “having a bad week.”
I began dealing with PMDD after the birth of my daughter. It
started out as postpartum depression and once the pregnancy
hormones changed it became a monthly battle for my life. The
day before my period was the worst — I would lie on my couch
crying for hours, feeling completely useless and drained. My
hormones were so out of whack that I would fall into a deep
hole mentally and emotionally in which I’d feel like nothing
could pull me out. I even began to have suicidal ideations
every single month. Luckily over the past two years I have
been able to manage the emotional side of my PMDD through
therapy and medication.
For me, my PMDD started after I had my second baby. Every
month I would feel self-loathing and question my choice to
have children. I’d regret so many of my life choices and
spend as much time in my bed as possible. Then my period
would start and I would feel AMAZING.
It’s hard to decide which is worse. There’s the week of
extreme sound sensitivity, uncontrollable rage, and a strong
desire to be left alone. But that’s followed by a week of
despair. Crying over nothing, not being able to do things
because you just don’t have the energy, losing all interest
in the things you love. And the last three days in
particular, you drop so low that you’re sure you can never
recover. All of a sudden you feel nothing, and you’d think it
would be a relief but it’s not — it feels worse.
Guilt and sadness all over again and then poof! Periods
starts and you’re a normal human. Congratulations: You’ve got
two weeks until it all happens again.
My mood flips like crazy. I don’t even know how to properly
describe it, but one moment I feel the urge to hurt someone
who slightly inconvenienced me, and a minute later I want to
walk up to them with tears in my eyes and apologize on my
hands and knees for my thoughts.
I used to think that’s just what PMS was — that I was
one of “those girls” who turned crazy before her period. I
cried in relief when I learned that PMDD was a thing. I get
severe mental breakdowns, worsening depression, and crazy
mood swings, and my suicidal thoughts return more horrible
than ever. It doesn’t let me function, and it has ruined
relationships in the past and more recently.
During the two weeks leading up to my period, everything
feels “off” and I don’t mean that I get moody, or weepy
(though that does happen). What I mean is that the whole
world physically and mentally looks and feels different. It’s
almost like being a different person, or being in an
alternate universe. Everything is familiar, but nothing feels
right. It’s all off a few clicks, and interacting with people
is a nightmare.
Besides the crazy mood swings and exaggerated PMS symptoms
like SEVERE bloating in the two weeks prior to my period, I
also get debilitating joint pain from the hormone
fluctuations. It can be so hard to manage symptoms and
balance work, family, and relationships.
But, for what it’s worth, what helps me the most is a solid
self-care routine. Managing PMDD is the hardest thing I have
ever been faced with, but at the end of the day I feel like
facing it and controlling it is my secret superpower. Because
every day that I live with PMDD and manage not to let my life
go up in flames is a huge accomplishment.
When my PMDD kicks in I feel nothing like myself. I’m
irrational, anxious, and sometimes so depressed that I either
become catatonic or have suicidal ideation. The worst is that
you know that none of that is very “you” at all, but you
can’t stop any of it. It affects my relationship, has
affected school and work, and friendships. It interferes with
every possible aspect of my life that it can.
Charlotte Gomez / BuzzFeed
It means I get to time my panic attacks. Every month,
like clockwork, a few days before my period, I quit being
able to breathe. I am a student and I have to plan when I
do assignments based on the days of the month I am able
My PMDD starts a week before my period. It usually consists
of extreme breast tenderness, severe depression and anxiety,
intense mood swings, nausea, and suicidal tendencies. Living
with PMDD has made it difficult to go to work, socialize with
friends, and even establish romantic relationships.
I️ had gone through therapy on and off for a year before
being diagnosed with PMDD. I️ never felt like depression fit
me as a diagnosis because it wasn’t all-consuming…except
for the 7 to 10 days before my period. PMDD is so scary and
powerful that it manipulates me into believing my happy
relationship needs to end or that I️ am worthless. These
things are not true, but when PMDD hits, I️ am blinded by a
smoke screen of doubt and insecurities.
I️ now strongly channel the work I’ve done in therapy into
reminding myself of the “why” behind my actions. The “why” is
PMDD and it’s not who I️ am.
Every month with PMDD is like having something in you that
“switches” and you can’t recognize yourself anymore. I start
behaving impulsively, I start to push important people out of
my life, and I get urges to hurt myself. It’s so twisted
because once my period starts, I realize every negative thing
I did while I was suffering for those two weeks, and then
have to pick up the pieces and deal with the aftermath.
Charlotte Gomez / BuzzFeed
It’s honestly the worst. It’s like I become the worst
version of myself every month. The depression will kick
in and I won’t feel like doing anything or talking to
anyone. I spend most of the time sleeping, praying I’ll
wake up feeling back to myself in the morning.
I will start by getting slightly more irritated, which I
shrug off as normal anxiety, until I wake up one morning with
so much pressure in my chest. And for no reason at all, I’m
not happy. I’m full of anxiety which turns into me becoming
incredibly irritable and I have absolutely no control over
it. It takes so much energy out of me, and I spend that
entire time trying to keep my emotions in check, because I
don’t want to hurt my family by being an emotionally charged
For me, PMDD brings with it — among other things — loads of
paranoia and irrational thinking (though at the time, it all
feels extremely real). It makes me question everything in my
life, especially the people in my life and my relationships
with them, and as a result I️ end up lashing out at them and
(attempting) to isolate myself.
Living with PMDD is like being sane for two weeks, loving
life, people, stopping to smell the roses, and enjoying
everything. Then it hits you. You wake up one morning and you
hate the world. You have this uncontrollable rage and you
snap at everyone and start fights. Mix that in with severe
anxiety that makes you believe everything is going to go
wrong, replaying in your head over and over all night long.
Then also add in some massive depression. You don’t want to
get out of bed or talk to anyone. There’s a little voice in
your head that follows you around all day telling you what a
horrible person you are and that nobody likes you and you
can’t do anything right. And that if you disappeared, nobody
would care. You cry constantly, yell all the time, and are
constantly tired and bloated. And then your period comes and
the world is beautiful again. And it starts all over. Again.
EVERY MONTH! Sounds fun doesn’t it?
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