PMDD and me
Posted Wednesday 21 December 2011
Cat writes about the struggle she went through to get a diagnosis of pre menstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), and how she uses her creativity as an outlet.
Combine the stigma of mental illness with the taboo subject of menstruation and what do you get? - pre menstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).
Only 3-8% of women suffer from this chronic condition which affects every aspect of their lives.
I have had it since I was 13. Every month, without fail I go through a whole cycle of symptoms.
I have days of feeling amazing, happy, positive and loving life! I can think clearly, cope, achieve things and laugh. I remember to pay the bills and am confident enough to leave the house.
A week before my period, I enter a darkness. I can experience any number of the following symptoms; forgetfulness, clumsiness, irritability, panic attacks, anxiety, lethargy, insomnia, dysphoria, breast tenderness, cramps, back pain and tiredness...
I get angry, depressed and frustrated, which can lead to self harm and suicidal thoughts. I cancel social activities and hide away from friends.
I find myself sitting for hours unable to figure out what I should be doing, even the basic tasks can cause frustration and tears. I'm a good mother, but I feel like a failure.
Getting diagnosed aged 27 was the beginning of a long and arduous journey through the health service. Doctors either haven't heard of it, or will tell you it doesn't exist.
Some prefer to call it extreme PMS, and almost all of them will not have a clue about what it is like to suffer or the best way to treat it.
The Psychiatrist says it's hormonal, see a Gynaecologist. The Gynaecologist says it's a mental health issue, go back to the Psychiatrist.
My GP has been supportive and happy to follow up any line of treatment I have requested, but after all these years, there are still no answers or successful treatments, not for me anyway.
Find out more from NAPS and two excellent PDF guides can be found at womensmentalhealth.org and at the British Columbia Reproductive Mental Health Program.
I have lost two thirds of my life to my menstrual cycle. I feel the changes at ovulation and menstruation and experience negative symptoms during both phases. If I'm lucky, I get ten really good 'normal' days a month.
I don't really have a social life. I have to plan my life around my moods and cycle to ensure I can get through each month.
I run a Facebook support group, and talking to other sufferers has really changed how I cope. It feels good to not be alone, the internet is amazing for that.
It is a real struggle to keep on explaining to people around me about my disorder. But the more I speak out and the more I talk openly about something others will avoid, the more awareness others will have of this disorder. It's time for women to stop suffering in silence.
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