Friday, April 27, 2018

Living With PMDD

This post is a long time coming, as I've thought doing a thinkpiece/ documentation/ 'you're not alone'/ whatever the dippy-do you'd like to call it on this disorder for awhile, but I didn't know if it was too 'personal.' There's an odd sort of taboo that still goes on around periods & all that comes with them, including period related disorders. I think it’s amazing that endometriosis has been having its spotlight lately, as it should. The more we talk about these things, the less of a stigma there is. Living with an invisible illness can be a strange feeling, because it's invisible. If you don't already know the person has it, you won't know. 

I have PMDD. If ya didn't know, now ya do. Whew. 

So, what exactly is it?
Premenstrual Dyspohoric Disorder is as I describe it, PMS on steroids. You can have many of the symptoms of PMS, but heightened so much that it causes disruption in your daily life, & 3-8% of women deal with it. For women already dealing with a mental illness, the disorder can be extra dangerous. I've read many accounts of women who experience suicidal ideation and debilitating depression. 

I would consider myself on the mild end, but still empathize with women who experience the extreme side of it. For me I've noticed it targets my anxiety, and I realized the majority of my panic attacks occur during PMDD time. (after ovulation until a few days into your cycle)

Thought Piece | Living With PMDD

What are the symptoms? 
As mentioned, the symptoms of PMDD are mainly PMS symptoms. but on a larger scale. So headaches, cravings, mood swings, bloating, tenderness, etc. all may occur, but the following symptoms are what separate the two:

  • Sadness or hopelessness
  • Anxiety or tension
  • Extreme moodiness
  • Marked irritability or anger

For a long time I noticed that I felt AWFUL around my period, but just attributed it to PMS and the fact that I don't have great periods to begin with. (I was diagnosed with Dysmenorrhea back in eighth or ninth grade) It wasn't until maybe four years ago that I realized something was terribly off & went to the doctor. I had been on birth control in high school for the dysmenorrhea, but eventually got off because of side effects it gave me. But by the time I was diagnosed with PMDD, I was desperate, so I got on it again. Like any medication, sometimes it's a trial & error, but I am an advocate for BC as part of treatment, if that's your cup of tea. 

Anyway, as I explained everything about how I was feeling to my doctor (who is a lovely gem of a lady) & she gave a diagnosis, it all suddenly clicked. Because I'm a (google) researcher, I started reading women's stories that were eerily similar to mine and for the first time in ages I felt I wasn't alone in my feelings. 

How is it treated? 
There is a multitude of ways the symptoms can be managed, including birth control, lifestyle changes like cutting out caffeine (I do better sometimes than others) and leading a healthy & active lifestyle. For me, the LAST thing I wanna do when I’m hunkered down in bed, LC mascara tears running down my face at whatever show I’m watching is get up & work out, but I swear it helps. Even if it’s a five minute yoga practice, moving helps. Your best bet is talking to your doctor about ways best for you to combat the disorder, kind of like a mini therapy session. 

If you are un-diagnosed but have any of these symptoms and have a ‘something is wrong’ intuition, trust it. Make an appointment with your OB. & if you’re seasoned with this disorder, take this post as a formal reminder that you are not alone

It’s a long, hard knock road, but we got it. 


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