A few months back, I found myself having a flashback to high school while I was at work one Saturday. I felt like I kept walking up to people talking about me, then I was bothered by a coworker asking another to join her for lunch the next day. I had to work open to close so hearing this normally wouldn’t bother me, yet that day it did. Other things happened that day that were just downright weird. On the evening of that emotional day, a one sentence google search: “PMS everyone hates me”. Inspired by a conversation I had with my Mother about one of her PMS symptoms being that she feels like everyone hates her. The search led me to a self-diagnosed Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder, or in my eyes, a self diagnosed disease and something that has been haunting me since puberty. I was FLOORED! I wasn’t crazy. I mean, I might be crazy but I wasn’t alone. Turns out, a lot of the things I experience during the week before my cycle are normal symptoms of PMDD. The dysphoria addition to the known PMS, to put it short. So what is PMDD?
I have a lot of insecurities but during this time, they’re louder than thunder and they overpower all logic and reason. I didn’t connect the dots between imagination and the normal ‘PMS’ symptom of irrational feelings, nor did it occur to me that it was temporary enough to not define myself by it. My whole life, I’ve thought these symptoms were horrible personality traits and I let them decide how I felt about myself at all times. After learning what PMDD was, it all made sense why about three days a month I genuinely believe everyone is talking badly about me, that no one likes me, or that I am annoying everyone. It’s also to blame for sometimes being sure the friends I have only pretend to be my friends. I am so hard on myself and legitimately think I cannot do anything right, my irritability would add to that thinking, so I would get irritated and on-edge. Unfortunately, sometimes it goes deeper than irritability and lack of confidence, this is when my most intense and anxious thoughts are constant. It is when I imagine my life without the people I love or I ask the horrific question: would I be missed if I was gone?
I struggle with physical self-confidence on a normal day, but one of the symptoms is not being able to think you’re pretty, like, at all. About three days a month, I couldn’t think of something nice to say about myself if you put a gun to my head. No matter how my makeup or hair looked, I would look in the mirror and think nothing less than “Wow, I am hideous”. But I always wondered why the exact ritual lead to “maybe I’m actually kind of pretty” just a few days before that. PMDD explained all of it!I cannot think my way out of, or talk myself down (and I have a mind over matter tattoo, oof) regardless of how weird off I know I am. My mind is so convinced of those things that it sends my anxiety into overdrive and I forget everything I know. I would make these discoveries in my thought process during PMDD and felt the need to make long-term changes, all to be met with “that really isn’t a big deal” just a few days later. Looking back, I was making long-term decisions based on the combination of irrational fears and imagination. Which.Is. Scary! Another reason to be thankful for finding this, as I have learned to stop making long-term decisions.This realization has made me want to cry both happy and sad tears. Sad, because I see it happening in my life on a monthly basis, and happy because I’m relieved to know how I feel falls into a category of known disabilities and that something could be done about it. If you Google PMDD, you see a lot of medical journals, research, symptoms, and treatments, which is great, but what I was looking for was a blog like this, written by a normal woman who could relate. Unfortunately, it was difficult to find.Awareness has been a stepping stone, but it has not been the cure. Since I knew to start observing how I act and think, I also learned that knowing has sometimes not made it better. This only reinforced that dysphoria is to blame for some of my thoughts. I now can see that even knowing I’m being –for lack of a better word– crazy, has not prevented me from acting crazy. The reality is, in the moment, everything I thought and felt was justified, no matter how irrational. I couldn’t say to myself “it’s because of PMDD” and it actually help in the moment. Something vital to know about this disorder: It is not until it’s over that I can see the actual dysphoria, even when you’re aware. YIKES!I learned approximately 15% of women with PMDD will make an attempt on their lives, due to lack of support or medical intervention; this is no small deal. So, I am sharing this vulnerable truth so that I can help my friends possibly learn something about themselves. This is not meant to replace a medical diagnosis, I simply want to spread the awareness that has helped me before I can see a doctor, I had literally NEVER heard of this before.I hope to write a second blog soon when I can share a diagnosis and the treatment plan for myself individually. In the mean time, writing down my symptoms and thoughts for several months in a journal really helped me come to this discovery and I’ve made many steps in the right direction simply by knowing this is a possibility. I encourage you to do your own research. Again this is not meant to replace medical intervention but rather knowing I am just a regular young woman, I am hoping will make you feel less alone (and “crazy” as we sometimes feel). You’ll likely find the same blogs and I did. Throughout your research, PLEASE be honest with yourself. You will also find there are a lot of tips to help combat this, but I think it’s important for women to have a personal story to read.If you think PMDD may be a reality for you, then I strongly encourage you to start writing things down; pay attention to when you notice symptoms and compare them to when you expect your period–usually it happens about a week before you start and is actually relieved with the onset of menstruation. Also, make sure you compare it to normal PMS symptoms. Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder is a more intense version of PMS, so careful not to confuse the two. Take care and please don’t hesitate to message me if you need to talk. Sometimes I am awkward and I don’t always know what to say, but I can speak from experience and share what has helped me. Us women need to stick together!