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Living with PMDD: My story

Female PoC in a purple t-shirt dress sitting on a pink bed leaning over with her head in her hands PMDD

Having PMS that makes you feel suicidal or makes you want to run away every month is not ‘just PMS’

 **Trigger Warning** This piece discusses suicidal ideation.

According to the ‘best quality data’ as cited by IAPMD, premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), shows a 5.5% prevalence in women and AFAB individuals of reproductive age.

Common PMDD symptoms can include anger, irritability, depression, and anxiety that are severe enough to cause distress or disrupt daily life. These symptoms happen during the 1-2 weeks before the period starts and are only present in that premenstrual window.  It’s important to also know that PMDD symptoms can be triggered at any time during the reproductive life cycle.

Here, Laura Murphy, Education & Awareness Independent Contractor at IAMPD, shares her personal story of experiencing and getting diagnosed with PMDD.

Laura’s PMDD story

“For a long time, I thought it was ‘normal’ to suffer from severe PMS. I thought I was weak for feeling suicidal every month. I would just go to bed for a few days as I could only face sleeping. I’d been to the GP time and time again over the years to get help with panic disorders and depression. Not once did anyone ever suggest that it could be related to my menstrual cycle. I also had bad reactions to different contraceptive pills over the years.

I remember in my 20’s when I was living with a partner. He told me that it was ‘like living with a different person for one week a month’. I would get chronically depressed and I wouldn’t be able to get out of bed for a few days each month. In the build-up to that, I would have panic attacks and big rages. There was a big knock-on effect. It made it difficult to hold down a job, so I always worked part-time or took on temp work.

In my 30’s, this got worse and I had the Mirena coil fitted to help my cycle. This, it turns out, is a big no-no for anyone with PMDD. Many of us have a bad reaction to Progesterone. In my case, I ended up signed off work for 18 months with severe anxiety and depression. I did some research and realised it may be down to the coil. Doctor’s, however, told me this was not possible. They advised that the coil only acts locally and no hormones travel into your system. In my experience, this turned out to not be the case. The day after I had it removed was the first day in years that I woke up without that buzzing anxiety feeling in my arms.

The ‘lightbulb’ moment

It was only when I got home from another GP appointment I thought to myself ‘this can’t be right’. I Googled ‘Severe PMS’ and up popped information about PMDD or Premenstrual dysphoric disorder . When I identified with the symptoms it was a life-changing moment. I joined a support group on Facebook (UK PMDD Support) and I finally started to piece together everything that had happened over the past 18 years.

Learning from others with PMDD & seeking medical help

Joining the support group was invaluable to me. There were SO many other people out there who had been through (and are still going through) the same as me. It was a revelation. I learnt about treatment plans and specialists from these supportive women in the group. They also gave reassurance that I wasn’t ‘broken’ or ‘useless’.

Although I had finally found support, unfortunately, my health kept getting worse. I was losing about three days on the descent into PMDD. It knocked me out for a week and then I needed a good few days to recover. The crunch point came when I got so low that I almost walked out in front of a lorry when I was with my boyfriend.

I can only liken it to feeling like I was going through a bereavement every month. It was exhausting. That incident scared me enough to go to my Doctor and tell them (not ask!) that I needed a referral to a specialist. My Doctor approved and I was finally referred to a specialist in London to create a treatment plan.”

Thanks to Laura for sharing her diagnosis story. If you have any concerns, please do reach out to your GP or Health Practitioner. For more information on PMDD, head to the IAMPD or Mind websites.

*Disclaimer: This blog is based on a personal experience. All comments are based on what Laura has personally gone through and what she has been told. The goal of this blog is to share a personal story with the aim to help others in the same situation and to raise awareness. Laura has no medical experience or qualifications and doesn’t pretend to be giving medical advice. If you are concerned about any of your period symptoms you should contact your GP for advice.

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