I have struggled with this debilitating imbalance since my early teens. Every month like clockwork, my hormones swing out of whack. I couldn't make sense of it at first, but I quickly learned that PMDD is becoming more and more common in childbearing age women, affecting 1 in 20 or roughly 5 % of women. Discussing health is a way we can propel it, get the right resources in people’s hands, and provide support for those that have been THROUGH it. Let’s dive in.
What is PMDD & Its Impact
Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) is a physical, psychological and emotional disorder similar to PMS. PMDD is experienced up to two weeks before your period and can last up to three days after your period ends.
The symptoms are nearly identical to those cited as PMS, but are amplified and are experienced all at the same time; simultaneously affecting women's mental, emotional, and physical health. Needless to say, this is disruptive and often debilitating on a monthly basis.
The onset of PMDD brings with it:
Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder is PMS on STEROIDS. Symptoms start 7-10 days before your period and typically stop once bleeding starts. PMDD can also cause changes in the adrenals, in turn causing multiple disruptions in sleep patterns, energy levels, eating habits, and overall immunity.
This is also accompanied by extreme bloating, physical tenderness and painful cramps. Holistic Practitioners have suggested that PMDD is really due to too high levels of estrogen versus too low levels of progesterone, but the tricky thing with this diagnosis is that some women aren’t hormonally out of balance when we look at their labs. For this reason some people side with the conclusion that PMDD is idiopathic: without known, absolute cause.
It can be difficult to tell PMS and PMDD apart, but you and those around you will notice that with PMDD there are VERY noticeable and heightened emotional behavioural changes. This results in mood swings affecting not only the person with PMDD, but those nearest and dearest and everything in-between.
My Life With PMDD
I experience sadness, irrational thoughts, depression, irritability, and I find things I otherwise enjoy become exhausting and draining. I am naturally ambitious, energetic, athletic and an active participant in my community. In other words, all of the qualities that help me live a happy life and run a successful company escape me overnight.
There are times when I have no choice but to shut out the world. I turn off my phone and go dark for days at a time. I feel SO alone and I am often convinced that everyone is against me. I have had to close my business on a whim because I couldn’t help but breakdown if a customer or friend asked the simple question, “How are you?”.
I’ve talked to numerous doctors, and I have tried therapy to help me gain control of my life during the seven days of each month where I feel completely vulnerable and helpless. I was told time and time again it was PMS, that there was nothing wrong with me, and I was sent home to face this alone.
I remember this one time while I was in university, I was walking down the street crying in the midst of my menstrual cycle. A friend of mine drove by, had seen me, and later that day wrote me a beautiful text asking me if I was okay. They asked what was wrong, and for the life of me, I could not answer. That scared me. I didn't know what was wrong with me. No one, myself included, could understand what was happening to me and that made me feel so alone and powerless.
Discovering I have PMDD
Discovering I have PMDD has empowered me. It has given me the strength to change and enhance my diet, exercise habits, and make better choices in life.
Although eating well, prioritizing sleep, and getting exercise are effective when working towards building a more balanced life, you can’t always get the support you need with those lifestyle choices alone. PMDD is an extreme hormonal imbalance that can lead to severe mental health illness. I asked for help in the holistic realm. My journey to diagnosing wasn't easy: filling out and taking tests, tracking my cycle, being honest about what I was experiencing, PLUS being supported by amazing hormone practitioners such as Holistic Nutritionist Ashleigh Norris from The Soulful Sprout, Naturopath Miranda Poppen, and hormone specialists at Bay Centre for Birth Control.
What do I recommend if you think you have PMDD? Start tracking your period, write it all down, and seek support. And hey, if you ever need someone to speak to or have any questions PLEASE message me. I am happy to share my experience, knowledge, and resources to get your PMDD journey started…Just don't contact me between 25th and 30th of each month 🤭.