Living in Darkness with PMDD

When Melissa of Break Out of Bushwick offered to share her story about life with premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) for our Living in Darkness series, I was quite interested. We don’t hear a lot about it, but there are many women who suffer from this type of depression. Often they are treated like “silly little women” and not taken seriously. I appreciate her willingness to share her story and hope it will help others.

pmdd

It happens in a flash. One moment, I’m project-driven, loving, almost manic in how many amazing things I can get done in a day. I volunteer my time at a local group for children, cook with my kid, plan travels and race through the streets of New York. I’m imbued with a love for everyone I meet and a passion for every new place I visit. I am Super Mom and writer extraordinaire. I take my kid on adventures around the world and live life to the fullest. You can almost SEE the light shooting from my eyes. I’m on fire. And it’s beautiful… I’m beautiful.

Then, every month, like clockwork, the switch is thrown. It begins in my blood—I feel it race through my veins, my heart skips a beat, and I need to stop whatever I’m doing to close my eyes and rub my temples. By the time I open my eyes again, I’m changed. I look into the mirror and see someone vile, wicked and ugly. Terrible thoughts cloud my judgment. It might be sunny outside, but darkness descends. It’s bad enough in the comforts of my home back in Brooklyn, but at times when I’ve been on the road with nothing to ground me to my routine, it has felt catastrophic.

This folks, is premenstrual dysphoric disorder, otherwise known as PMDD. It transforms women living with it into two people—like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde—only without, you know, the murders.

pmdd

PMDD was thought for a long time to be a severe form of PMS because it follows a monthly, cyclic pattern, but in 2007, a genetic connection was made: women suffering from the disorder have variants in the estrogen receptor alpha gene. This variant is ONLY found in women with a variant in another gene (catechol-O-methyl transferase), which is vital in regulating the proper function of the prefrontal cortex, the area of the brain that controls our moods. Often, PMDD lowers serotonin levels, a neurotransmitter associated with mood, learning, and sleep.

In plain speak, this means that women like myself who have variants of these genes have quite real symptoms that, at least in severity, surpass those of psychosomatic PMS, and, if left untreated, can lead to real hardship. Some of these symptoms include:

  • Deep sadness, despair and/or suicidal thoughts
  • Uncontrollable anger
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Rapid or severe mood-swings; crying fits
  • Absolute loss of control
  • Sabotaging of relationships, jobs and opportunities
  • Self-destructive, erratic and/or wild behavior

I’ve suffered from all of the above symptoms. Looking back, they began around the age of 8, right around the time my body started slowly entering adolescence. For most of my life, I alternated between two states of being—elation and depression. Doctors were quick to say that I had manic depressive disorder. But something about their diagnosis didn’t ring true.  See, I didn’t always feel my debilitating symptoms. I just had them for about a week and a half to two weeks out of the month, in the luteal phase of my menstrual cycle, before I got my period.

Because many of the symptoms of PMDD are similar to those of manic depression or other depressive disorders, doctors often misdiagnose women with this cyclic disorder. Many women are put on selective serotonin reuptake inhibitators (SSRIs), which are most often to treat depression, when, in actuality, they are dealing with PMDD. Perhaps if I had been diagnosed earlier (this is a relatively “new” disorder, only being properly named in 1993), I might not have had risky behaviors in my youth and young adulthood, ran away from home, thought the world was against me, or ruined romantic relationships by acting, well, completely batsh*t crazy. I might’ve felt more confident and gone after my dreams far earlier in my life. Who knows? It’s best not to dwell on the would’ves, could’ves.

PMDD

It used to be that women who exhibited symptoms of depression, despite having cyclic symptoms, were diagnosed with already established depressive orders that focused on diagnoses and treatment for men (much in the way that heart disease had been diagnosed and treated, ignoring entirely the special set of symptoms that primarily women have). Treatment typically involved prescriptions of a set of drugs that affect mood.

Now with PMDD being a recognized disorder, women are being treated differently. SSRIs are still being prescribed, but in different dosages and durations. While previously these drugs weren’t found to be of great help, now they are highly effective. Some women are also being prescribed with hormonal birth control with varying degrees of success.

I learned about my PMDD in February 2012, just months before leaving for my first international travel with my daughter. While it felt great to be given a diagnosis, I didn’t yet know what to do about it. Indeed, I ignored it. As a result, I ended up having a difficult time while traveling that coming summer.

A couple of days before leaving for Iceland, I felt the “switch.” It really was as black and white as that. At the time, with PMDD, there was no gray. No in-between. I tried to shake the big, bad uglies, but preparing for two months on the road didn’t make things any easier, and ensuing jetlag certainly didn’t help. My daughter and I started our travels in Iceland. We were so busy that it was easy to keep the worst of my symptoms at bay, but by the time we flew onward to Paris, I was a wreck.

It should’ve been the time of our lives. We were in PARIS, after all, the CITY OF LIGHTS!! Yet one can look back at my blog and see that posts from last summer were few and far between. I’m only now beginning to fill in the blanks. When people ask my daughter about the best and worst of the trip last summer she says, hands down, that mountain climbing in various countries was awesome, but that our time in Paris was the worst.

Oh, we did things. I dragged my kid all over the city. But I was a dead woman walking. So tired. I have huge blanks in my memory. While I know that we visited Notre Dame, I only know I was there because of the photos I took. And when I saw the famous  ‘love-locks’ secured to one of the bridges over the Seine, for reasons still beyond me I wept. I barely talked to my lovely girl, and when I did, only had foul or sharp-tongued things to say. Our lovely little apartment in Saint Germain des Pres felt like a loony bin. I took long showers just to have a place to weep. My poor daughter, imprisoned by my moods, made the best of it, but my God, it couldn’t have been much fun. I withdrew from the world. While our ten days in Paris could’ve been filled with visiting old friends, we only got together with people a few times. I intentionally cut myself off, taking my girl along with me for the ride. I shiver now at the thought.

PMDD

Eventually, thankfully, I got my period. I always know when I’m about to get it, because just hours before, my mood miraculously lifts. I know it sounds nuts, but I can literally feel it in my blood. A calmness washes over me and relief, sweet relief, comes with the rebalancing of chemicals such as serotonin coursing through my body. Not to get too graphic, but I don’t think there’s another woman on this planet who looks forward to getting her period as much as me.

After returning from Europe, I started to aggressively look into treatments for my disorder. While there are fabulous, innovative Western doctors here in New York who specialize in PMDD, I wanted to first go a more holistic route. I visited an herbalist in Manhattan who suggested I take chaste tree berry. This plant has proven to influence levels of the hormones progesterone and estrogen by reducing the production of prolactin. Some studies of chaste berry have shown it affects the pituitary gland. Who knows? All I know is that, in conjunction with drinking copious quantities of red raspberry and red clover teas (as opposed to how I used to treat myself, with red wine!), my monthly symptoms started to if not disappear, become a little more manageable.

I also visited an acupuncturist who advised me on dietary changes, and treated me solely for PMDD. It helped, and I now follow my diet more closely and take vitamin B. All good stuff.

This summer, my daughter and I went to Peru for a month, and, as opposed to last summer, I didn’t turn into a basket case. I took my chaste berry religiously every morning and evening, and popped a vitamin B tablet once a day. More importantly, I reached out to people when I started to feel the doldrums and wrote on my blog every couple of days. Although I wasn’t writing about PMDD, staying connected with people made all the difference in the world. I didn’t feel so…alone.

In the last year, I’ve devoted two hours of every week to writing in a journal about my mood. Not my adventures, not my conversations, not the books I read, only my mood. I take these two hours to touch base with Mr. Hyde. If I find that two hours isn’t enough, I tack on another two hours. In this writing, I note every time I looked in the mirror and felt like a monster, and write down when and where I felt the ‘switch’ occur. This has become a vital part of my routine and is one that I can bring with me wherever I travel. Listening to oneself can and should happen regardless of location.

In sum, I would just say that PMDD isn’t just a disorder that affects a traveling lady like me. Just ask my kid, my family and friends, or anyone I’ve ever been romantically been involved with who has had to deal with me. I think it’s time to dismantle the stigma attached to women’s mental health disorders, and the only way is to talk about it. So, here goes, loud and clear: PMDD is real. It’s ugly, mean, and dark. But there are many paths to escaping from its grip.

Mr. Hyde, I’ve got your number. Next time I travel with my kid, you are NOT invited along.

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89 Comments

  1. When my wife and I first got together she had symptoms of this but I hadn’t heard of it at all and always viewed her as having a Jekyll & Hyde personality (it makes me feel better that as i read people challenges with this they use the same term). We didn’t get together in the best way but she is the most amazing person and I can’t imagine not having her in my life. Sadly her symptoms have been increasing everytime and for a while she realised it was an issue, talked to a doc, got on birth control, discussed (briefly) having a hysterctomy (we have a daughter together, and three in total). When she was taking that life was so much better, then monthly fights and accusations were so much less and we just got to live our lives. After a year or so she decided that the birth control was not helping her any, despite my disagreement, and stopped taking them. Ever since, every month gets worse and worse and not only do I feel helpless to stop her but I am always the brunt of her rage. I’m not the greatest guy in the world but i love her dearly and every month I get accused of cheating, threats of divorce and worse. I don’t see friends (most of them are now gone), I don’t participate in work functions, because if she can’t have her eyes on me I’m busy having an affair. If i drive a different route I get grilled about it. The paranoia is out of control and as terrible as it sounds, I would love to be living with a woman who has many of the challenges i’ve read about because then I might be able to help her, everything now is focused on me. Nothing I do is the right thing, i’m always lying, hiding something, making her crazy. I hate to admit it but I feel that we are almost to a breaking point. If she doesn’t leave me because of one of her rages I think I may have to just for my own sanity. Although the thought of trying to share custody with someone in that unfortunate state of mind is terrifying as well, and I just want us to be happy together. She’s my favourite person in the world and hates me 2-3 weeks every month.

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    • reading this comment really got to me. I have been with my girlfriend for a few months now and i am happy to say i have never loved anyone the way i love this girl.once she told me about PMDD I even to this day try my hardest to read up as much as I possibly can, (currently at work been reading since 8:30am now 11:30am) The feelings that i feel once this time on the month comes is completely and utterly heart breaking, all you want is a happy life with your partner but never knowing when you wake up in the morning that today might be the last day that you ever see this person, breaks my heart. i wish to learn as much as i can to help and support my partner and if anyone has any recommendations that would be amazing

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    • Not much help for guys like us. My wife told me she has this and is right. She refuses to do anything about it and says that if our son and I would be better people she could manage her symptoms better. It’s our fault she gets out of control. My son is grown now so I may just help her out and put the shotgun under my chin because I am so low from the constant berating and verbal assaults I want to die.

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  2. Thank you so much for all of your helpful posts. It is beyond relieving knowing I am not alone in this. The rage, lack of self confidence, deep sorrow and shame and guilt has completely rocked my life for as long as I can remember. I was recently diagnosed with pmdd. For the past ten years, I was self medicating through the pain with pills and alcohol, which only made things worse. I wish I would have had the education and these blogs 10 years ago! It would have saved so many missed opportunities, and ruined relationships

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  3. This is me! I just started using Zoloft for it today! I’m at a breaking point – I know who I am and I know that I have a good heart and postiive intentions, but I turn into a completely different person the week before my period. I become a dark, angry, confused, suicidal monster. I hate my loving partner, I become easily irritable with my loving, supportive family, the thought of showing up at work sends me into a panic, and I can’t believe for a second that it will get better in a few days – I can’t even imagine a few minutes into the future, let alone a few days. I want to claw my way out of body and disappear. I am praying for some relief!

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  4. Clearly, I’m not alone here but I’ve been treated for depression, bipolar disorder, migraines, rheumatism, IBS, lactose intolerance…. you name it. And none of it ever really felt right. I’ve been MISERABLE in relationships. Needy, cold, uncontrollably angry, hyper-sexual, not wanting to be touched… I’ve broken up with people out of the blue. Gone from being happy and normal one minute to not caring if I get hit by a bus and then I get my period. It’s getting worse too. I’m 42. It’s my wedding anniversary. I have 3 kids and I LOVE my family but 3 days ago, I told my wife I was tired of being married (I have no idea WHY, it’s NOT true) and then walked around in a complete fog, not remembering or understanding things, I couldn’t sleep, I’ve gained and lost 4 pounds in a matter of days… and today I GOT MY PERIOD. What I’m tired of is not being married, it’s trying so damn hard to be the same me all the time. When I’m not in a relationship, no one has to be there to see me break down. I can rage at the walls. I can cry alone. Since I’ve had my third child, I feel like I’m really going off the deep end. I feel so much better knowing there are other people who share my experience. Jekyll and Hyde describes me perfectly. I hope I find relief before menopause because I don’t want to be like this anymore! Thanks for sharing.

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  5. I feel like I’m reading my own life story! I’ve had symptoms of PMDD since I was about 12 years old. Initially, my behavior caused me to act like a raving b**** to my family. I would withdraw fro social situations, and push friends away throughout High School. But I was also the class secretary, and VP of French Club. My Mom has me put on Prozac; I felt like a zombie. The pattern continued throughout adulthood- VP of my sorority, but raving maniac during rush; string of failed relationships; severe postpartum depression. First marriage was rough. I divorced. Still refused to try any medications, after my experience with Prozac. Traumatic life events led me to marry again. Same story. Did start Pedal to, then Wellbutrin after the 2nd divorce. Symptoms better, but episodes continued. I’ve struggled with Suicidal ideation, Self-loathing after episodes where I felt completely out of control, and full of remorse. Felt I was weak for not being able to control my emotions, when others could. I’m now 43, & in my 3rd Rocky marriage (guess why?), because push everyone to the brink; and they have to handle me at my worst. Last week during the holiday, I morphed into a raving maniac again. My husband reacted poorly, which snowballed into a catastrophic mess. I started my period that night. For the first time I felt like my period could be related to all my symptoms. When I was younger my periods were irregular. But now as I’ve gotten older, my hormones are changing; my periods are finally regular, but my symptoms have become worse. I knew there must be an answer, and while doing online research A few days later, I ran across some blogs & personal accounts of PMDD. A light bulb went off in my brain! I am an RN, & I’d never heard of PMDD! I have found an immense sense of relief, but also a huge sadness, due to all the poor decisions I’ve made in my life. This has affected every relationship- as a mother, partner, daughter friend, & sister. I’m now asking myself if my life could’ve been different all these years?! I am a kind person by nature, but have done and said horrible things, then beat myself up later; felt like I must’ve been weaker than others, had transient thoughts of suicide, and basically hated myself. Professionally, you’d probably never know (although I see the behaviors now) but I held it better at work. My home life was a different story. I’ve now been researching treatments, while waiting to get in with my PCP. For once, I no longer feel crazy, and feel like there may be hope. I feel like if there was more awareness of PMDD, I would’ve arrived to this point MUCH earlier, instead of near menopause!

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    • I’m sorry it took so much for you to find what was going on with yourself. It does seem like there is very little information out there, including among professionals. I hope that changes.

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  6. As I’ve gotten older, my pmdd has gotten worse. Hell, I didn’t even know what I was dealing until about 8 or so years ago. But reading your post described me to the T!! I would tell myself over and over that I need to act right and be nice, and out of nowhere, the witch appeared like no the hell you won’t. And the day of my period, snow white angelic Belinda was back. Crazy. I still have family that thinks it is a hoax, and it’s just good to know that this isn’t all in my head.

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    • I cried when I read this!!!! I have been medicated for various mental illnesses for fifteen years.. one amd off meds..it wasn’t until a year ago I made the connection between my period and my mood. Mood isn’t the word. It really is like two different people. I cry for days, I kick my boyfriend out, I hate my coworkers, and I loathe my children. And these aren’t my normal feelings. I love my life. But right before my period, I can’t control the rage that boils deep inside me. All this comes with guilt and more tears and the day I start my period, I’m back to being me.

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  7. I’m suffering. I know what pmdd is far too personally.

    Is it possible to stop the suffering ? If so how ?

    I dont use drugs or drink and have tried medication. I’m 32 and slowly fading. On top of PTSD and child abuse I fight monthly to pass the battle but I’m weak and feel empty.

    I read this blog and the comments to follow. My heart sank as I seen so much more suffered but no answers.. No cures..

    Scared.

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  8. I stumbled across this post today whilst googling something like ‘severe PMT’ after yet another psychotic, unreasonable outburst & my utter desperation in finding the right help. Reading this post & about PMDD, I feel like I am reading my own thoughts so it is heartening to know that I am not the only one suffering from such severe lows every month. I am not wanting to go down the medication route as came off 15 years on the pill only 7 months ago & now have a copper IUD. I’ll continue trying to take the natural route to mental wellbeing during my cycle, for both myself & my (incredibly patient) husband.

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    • I have suffered with PMDD for about 15 years with absolutely no treatment at all. When i was first diagnosed i was given zoloft because this was said to be the best treatment. My experience with that was terrible! It made me feel high as a kite! I immediately got off of the medicine and went through terrible withdrawals after only 2 days of use. After that experience i felt that i dis not need ANY antidepressants
      because i was not DEPRESSED! I felt like i wasnt going to let any doctor prescribe me a mental medication just to make me crazy! So then i tried birth control to stop my ovulation. The birth control pills made me terribly sick. So i stopped that. I have suffered for YEARS! Going from doctor to doctor to get suggestions on some type of relief. Only to be sent away cause all they wanted to give me were zoloft prozac and birth control pills. The older that i have gotten the worse my pmdd has gotten for me. Just a few months ago i started seeing a new doctor because of an unrelated issue. I had a doctors appointment that day and i was really feeling completely down because of my pmdd and i asked him for his help. I cried to my doctor and told him i was so tired of going through this every month. He told me he was going to put me on celexa and see how it works for me. I went on to tell him how i did not approve of anantidepressants because they do not workfor me. He convinced me to give it a chance. Low and behold IT WORKED! I FEEL LIKE I HAVE FINALLY GOTTEN MY LIFE BACK! I only take it right before my period while i am ovulating. Once i get my period i stop the medication with no withdrawal symptoms… NOTHING! I feel like myself the entire month now. So to anyone suffering with pmdd i encourage u to keep trying different things. Dont suffer for 15 years like i did because not all antidepressants arw the same. Something will work

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    • I’ve been struggling with PMDD all my life. But doctors treated me for everything else BUT. Doing much more damage and suffering… Suffering.. Always.. Can it stop. Without meds? I’m at the end of my road. Its getting bad. My weight is at 82lbs my heart is screaming. This once a month episodes is ruining my life. I’m 32… Is their a way to stop suffering ?

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  9. I was treated for depression and manic/depression because of the symptoms of PMDD. By the time I heard about it, I had (thank God) gone through menopause and had ever after a stable, wonderful, chemical-change-free life. The symptoms that I struggled with the most: first, my mind went blank. From an above average intelligence studying for a Ph.D, I became a blank idiot. I had nightmares about big headed encephalic children surrounding me. I became depressed because I thought that is who I was as opposed to who I was before PMMD struck. Second, I would gain five lbs of water in a day; my skin would be tight as a drum and the bloat made my skin hyper-sexual. If a man brushed up against me, I was instantly aroused. Sex was fantastic during that time, but led to making the wrong decisions about my partners. The day my period started, I would pee every thirty minutes for a day, dropping the five lbs at the same time, instantly back to normal. Last, I’d fly into rages or explode into tears. I couldn’t reason, either.

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  10. I have felt so alone in this struggle of mine up until now. Thank you for sharing.

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    • I cryed my eyes out reading your story, its my life to,i feel if i didnt wake up it would be the best thing ever,people dont understand, as much as you try to fight it, you cant. thank you for sharing.

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  11. As a husband who’s wife is dealing with this. what can I do. I read a lot on it, I have read suggestions on what to do but no matter what when it is at it’s worst nothing helps.

    She says she doesn’t feel wanted even though nothing has changed and when I do things extra it still isn’t enough. I love my wife more than anything and I feel helpless when it comes to this

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    • Just tell her you love her and that ylu know it’s the hormones doing this, not actually HER. Give her soace if she nneds it during this time. Take the kids out lots to give her breathing room, if thats what she wants. Never leave her. Exolain tomthe kids (if you have any) that its hormones, not mommy, and she cant control them.

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    • Can you please tell me the amounts and frquency of the chaste tree berry, the teas you drink, and the vitamin B you take, and when in your cycle you tske them? Thank you!

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  12. For the first time in my life, i’m reaching out for help… Why did it take me till now at 36-years-old?! I’ve destroyed relationships across the board all my life. I’m in the middle of “the dark time” at this very moment. I had irrational thoughts just yesterday of leaving my husband and children behind for they would be in a better place without me. The only way I could find peace was to lie in my backyard under the sun with my dog curled up behind me. The following is how i felt last month when my mood switched back to sanity:

    It was just a bad dream. My eyes open to Lyla kissing me on the cheek. “Good morning mommy”. I love how her little precious voice sounds in the morning and I feel like the luckiest person on the planet to wake up to her beautiful face. I pull myself out of bed, which isn’t easy since Ralf seems to be plastered to my body like he’s one of my limbs. “I’ll be down in a minute and you can help me make some french toast.” This is her all time favorite breakfast and she feels bad to the bone because she can do it all herself with just a teeny bit of help from mom. I walk into the bathroom and see coffee splattered on the counter, walls, windows…everywhere. I close my eyes. It was just a dream. I go downstairs to start breakfast and can’t help but notice my stepdaughter seems a little off. She’s quiet, somewhat avoiding me and can’t seem to stop staring at me throughout the morning. I open the fridge. “Shit, i need to go to the store!” Sorry girls, looks like we’re having pop tarts until we go to the store today. Lyla seems perfectly ok with the alternative (she must be used to it). After breakfast, i head out to the yard to tend to my new found interest in gardening/landscaping. My lawn is overgrown, the weeds have taken over, and my new plants are so thirsty they’re barely alive. I’m so mad at myself for letting them get to this point for I worked SO hard on them. I open up my daily journal/calendar to see what errands, to-do’s, etc. needs to happen today. It’s blank. Fortunately, I don’t need this to know what to do. The house is a disaster…trash/food/dishes everywhere, not a clean towel or pair of panties to be found, and not enough food in the house to keep a starving child alive. Cleaning up isn’t always easy after “the dream”. How did this break? Is that wine on my kitchen wall? I miss Jon. I forgot what it was like to miss him. Ugh, when is he coming home?? I get that feeling of a little girl in love when I hear his car pull up in the driveway. He greets me with a smile and we hug. He goes upstairs to chill for a moment and change his cloths then comes down to play with the girls while I cook an awesome dinner for my awesome family. We sit out on the patio to enjoy the fresh air and the plants in pots that were still hardy enough to be alive. Jon cleans up after dinner while I get the girls in the tub. I have a light-hearted conversation with the girls about whatever ridiculous topic they want to talk about. Evie seems interested but not entirely at ease. I let her work out whatever might be going through her mind instead of badgering her. We put the girls in bed and Jon kisses the both goodnight. I squeeze Lyla and kiss her. I place my hand on Ev’s head and give her a smile, “Good Night”. “Why can’t you embrace her like you do Lyla?!” Would any child want to hug a monster? About a day later, I get my period.

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  13. I live in new York and was looking for a holistic practioner to see to help me with my pmdd symptoms as I do not want to keep taking medication. Could you advise me. Who you saw? Thank you

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  14. I also suffer from pmdd. Unfortunately as you get older it seems to worsen. I am 40 years old and these past few months have been unbearable. I have been having 2 periods each month, so unfortunately I have not been gettin much normalcy in my month… because almost as soon as my period ends, ovulation begins again.
    I never had this issue prior to having my son, it is like my entire hormonal balance changed.
    This has been such a hardship on my life and those around me for the past 14yrs…. more so the past 5yrs.
    Unfortunately for me after a multitude of birth control trials, anti depressants, anti anxiety meds and even good old fashioned healthy eating… nothing seems to work anymore. In 2 days I will have a hysterectomy. While there is no cure for pmdd… the one sure thing that has a chance of helping it or perhaps stopping it all together is to stop ovulating.
    Most women I know of that have resorted to a full hysterectomy due to pmdd have had tremendous success stories.
    I can only hope and pray to the God Lord above that this will be the case for me.

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      • Is there any way I can talk to you about this? I am in the midst of it all and feel so overwhelmed.

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    • I can relate almost exactly! I’m thinking of a total hysterectomy as well. Please let us know how it goes. Best wishes to you!

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    • I hope that works for you. I went through an early menopause, and maybe that was another symptom of PMDD. During my perimenopausal phase, I often had two periods during a month, and was even more emotionally unstable. I too was considering a hysterectomy. But the day the doctor tested my hormones and found I had PMDD, was the last period that I ever had. You might actually be going through peri-menopause. You won’t have any problems after, trust me.

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  15. Oh my god!!!
    Finally there’s a name for it!! I am 32 years of age and as i write this I am currently struggling to get out of bed, I have missed two days of work and was unable to get out of bed to bring my son to school! Tested for everything over the years since I was a teen it’s only the last few years I have taken notes of the time scale of the issues I suffer and like yourself I wait for the sweet release of the period when (for a short time) my body returns to normal 🙁

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    • Sharing in the nightmare…..but need to find someone else with another similarity….
      Ovulation is the WORST part of my PMDD. Psychotic feelings, rage, tingling, mind racing, uncontrollable crying…gets me every time….I rarely can “catch” it and remind myself what this is when it hits in efforts to “control ” myself….it’s like I just miss it before I realize it’s the PMDD.
      My bigger issue is that I can’t track it…..my cycle is definitely consistent, BUT when I ovulate is not…I am sure of it. Sometimes I ovulate on day 11, sometimes day 15, sometimes day 5 or 6. It’s VERY hard to “treat” when it’s so erratic. Taking Chasteberry, St. Johns Wort, Black Cohosh, B6, Maca Root, Evening Primrose.

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      • It happens with ovulation for me as well. I’m lucky if I get an entire week of feeling okay (not great, not good…just okay). “Okay” is a field day compared to the “black hole” that consumes me most other weeks before my period.

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  16. I am treading water with this. My doctor just put me on a birth control pill that may help (lovo I think is the name of it)
    I read this to my 13 year old son when he came home from school today… he kept interrupting me, ‘just go to sleep mom’. It’s scary for them ( I have 2 boys and a husband), scary for everyone.
    I am going to get some of that tea…

    Thanks for posting ♥️

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  17. Thank you so much for this blog post. I suffer terribly every month. My husband and son bare the brunt of it. I oftentimes feel like such a bad mother and wife. I can feel it happening too. It’s a daily fight in my head, an angel and devil of sorts. The worst part is people don’t understand how horrible it is. They just think it’s PMS and I should calm down or get over it. A rough rode.no doubt

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    • I’m glad her post was helpful. I can only imagine what it must be like to suffer from this.

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  18. Scary close to my story . Thank you for sharing.

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  19. Wow, I thought I was the only one..like this.

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  20. thank you for sharing… Many people have no idea what am talking about. They just think I need to snap out of it.

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    • Unfortunately, that is so applicable of so many mental health issues and some medical ones that cross over. Incredibly sad.

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  21. It’s torture.. 🙁

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  22. Thank you so much Melissa for sharing this. It lets me know that I’m not alone with this disorder, and not a complete basket case. I’m 27 years old, and I’ve known for about a year or so that I’ve suffered from PMDD. The week or so before my period starts is exactly how you quoted, like a “switch.” I feel the dark moods, the insane mood swings, the debilitating headaches etc. this cycle in particular is the worst that it’s ever been, and I know I need help asap. I feel so alone like no one understands, and I just want to get better. I don’t want to live like this. This month in particular I’ve become so withdrawn from my 2 small children, and the only time I engage in any form of interaction with them is when I’m screaming at them. It’s awful, and I don’t want my babies to see me like this anymore. It’s so funny to hear you say that you get excited when you know your period is about to begin, because you know the symptoms will begin to taper off and bring you back to your normal self. During the first half of the month I’m super Mom, I’m fun to be around, and all around unstoppable. Toward the end of the month, I don’t know who I am. I look in the mirror and feel so ugly, feel extremely alone, and just feel like disappearing. PMDD is real, and it’s ugly.. and nothing to take lightly. I’m so glad you spoke about this to let more women know that they’re not looney tunes, and that they’re not alone. Thank you…

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    • I’m not sure if I have PMDD when I brought it up to my doctor she didn’t know much about it. I started tracking my mood and I thought I was just insane ! Remember looking in the mirror and feeling so ugly, ashamed and confused. Feeling the surge just before the flood of emotions obsessive thinking, crying ,anger or deep sadness (I never knew what I was going to get maybe all or maybe just one or two.)

      I am taking an antidepressant everyday rather than only as needed. I too am peri menopausal pmdd symptoms became worse and more often.
      I take B and D 20mg Prozac daily. I meditate twice a day (at least ) . I was feeling egged for a solid year. I cry, but crying actually gives me relief.

      Please let me know the exact tests I
      Need to ask for in order to verify my condition.

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      • I meant to say I was feeling great ! For an
        Entire year, not egged Lol

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  23. Thank you, thank you, thank you, for helping me to see what I have been struggling with for so long. I found this post after a Google search for extreme PMS, hoping for some ray of light, and here you are. I could have written everything you wrote! It’s all there. I immediately sent this to my best friends, boyfriend and called my mother. What a remarkable thing. Thank you – my gratitude is overwhelming.

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  24. Hi I can really relate to this but I’m yet to be diagnosed. I spend about 7-10 days before my period feeling awful, depressed,angry as hell, snappy,serious mood swings, emotional, just want to crawl into bed and pull the covers over my head and stay there. Not to mention the physical side of it, tired, breastfeeding pain,bloating. I too also feel like a switch goes off and I turn into this evil mess about 10 days before my period. When my period comes it’s like an instant release and I’m back to my normal self. I’m seeing the gp next week and hoping they can help.
    Your blog has made me realise I’m not the only one going through this.

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    • This is one reason I was so happy Melissa shared about her experience. I’m so glad you found this article and hope it helps you further.

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  25. My girlfriend of three years suffers from PMDD. We don’t live together…yet. Every month she needs her space and hardly communicates, yet alone want to see me. In fact, it’s like she also falls out of love with me. It hurts so much and its like she doesn’t care. Then, usually the day before her period, she’s fully back. One time she felt it leaving her body. She becomes very loving and affectionate. But two to three weeks later, bam, she questions our relationship.
    Some months are worse than others. This is one of them. But through the LivingWithPMDD website, I have learned how to cope, leave her alone, and have the knowledge that it isn’t her. She will be back in a few days. But it still scares me every time.

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    • Oh my! My son goes thru this! I try to tell him that his wife suffers from this. She is so very evil to the point of kicking him in the back, horrible vile hurtful things……and it is ALWAYS the week before her cycle but sometimes continues thru it. I worry for their precious little baby…..

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  26. I had my A-ha moment about seven years ago and struggle with PMDD every month. Looking back, I believe it started when I was a teenager. I had severe depression as a teenager and developed an eating disorder. I have learned that women with PMDD tend to have addictive personalities.

    I have been to many forums and blogs about PMDD and do not recall anyone else writing about feeling it in their blood. That is exactly how I feel! I literally feel something moving through my blood and I know all hell is about to break loose.

    Something that is very agonizing to me is knowing that I have hurt so many people, mostly my dear husband, due to my anger and out-of-control emotions. I have humiliated myself in public, ruined career opportunities, and destroyed relationships. Sounds like someone with an alcohol or drug problem. Nope. Just a hormonal issued that is beyond my control.

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    • That’s the hardest part for me, too, PJ . .. . all the hurting . . . when I feel better then I see so clearly how horrible I’ve been and then I’m filled with regret. It’s excruciating.

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  27. I did not know very much about this — thank you for sharing, Melissa!

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  28. Hi,

    I just saw this when one of my friends on facebook posted it. I am very sure I suffer from this however, my female doctor very sarcastically told me ‘that her husband thinks she is a bit grumpy round about that time and that I should step away from stressful things at this time of the month’ after I told her I felt like putting people under the patio and that I see red in the climb up to my period!

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    • So many doctors turn such a blind eye to depression, especially when it comes to PMDD. I hope you can have a chance to see a practitioner who might take things more seriously.

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  29. I think I’m the only guy to post a comment here :/

    I’ve had my problems in the past and became seriously clinically depressed and it seems that PMDD as much as my own depression is something that needs to be spoken about and put into words. Talking for the sake of yourself and loved ones is imperative and a post like this even more so so that more people are aware of PMDD and that there’s help at hand.

    It’s important that many people read this so I’m going to share it as best as I can.

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    • I couldn’t agree more, Dale, which is precisely why I started this Living in Darkness series. The more we talk about it, the more the fog of mystery is lifted.

      BTW if you’re interested in being interviewed for the series, LMK.

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  30. Thank you for sharing such a personal side of yourself. It takes a tremendous amount of bravery. I’ve gotten to the point where I have to warn Bret that the dark days are coming. Your analogy of a switch is on point. I find that nice sweet me becomes uncharacteristically combative so much so that I try to avoid engaging people on emails and texts. If it’s this bad for me, I can’t imagine what it must be like for you. I’m so glad to learn that you’ve got a diagnoses and have been able to take positive steps to enjoy a full life. I think I may start taking some additional Vitamin-B.

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  31. ((HUG)) I’m so, SO glad you’ve finally found out the name of the monster and how to push back the darkness that comes with it. I have several friends who suffer with this and it’s horrible. Thanks for sharing, I love ya!

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    • It sure helps knowing that this is a “real” diagnosis and that I’m not crazy (well, maybe just a little). Thanks, and love you, too!

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  32. Melissa, I seriously applaud you for sharing this. I like the others, never even knew this existed. I shutter to think of all the women out there dealing with and they are either misdiagnosed or they just “live” with it. This is an issue that needs way more attention. Thank you so much for sharing your story.

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    • Thank you, Laurel. I have a feeling that there are a LOT of women out there just “dealing with it.” Yikes!

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  33. Its great that there are people out there writing about this and raising awareness of PMDD. I’ve struggled with severe PMT for years, but its never been taken seriously by any medical professional. After years, I feel like I’ve finally found my own way of coping, some months it more successful than others. I glad you’re find a way through too.

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    • Curious about the ways you’ve found to cope!! There are, by the way, some doctors who take such disorders seriously, but it’s up to us to be loud and clear about insisting on women’s health being taken seriously!

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  34. I’m glad that there is now an awareness of the complexity of biopsychological disorders and the differential in appropriateness of treatment. It wasn’t too far back that women (and men too, of course, but it used to be mostly women) were given a pill, Mother’s Little Helper as the Stones sang, and sent on their ways.

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    • Jennifer, I agree. What about heart disease?! It’s only in the last handful of years that doctors even discuss/recognize that women have different symptoms during heart attacks than men!!

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  35. Melanie, I think this is something A LOT of women struggle with, but because it’s not widely recognized by doctors, and often either misdiagnosed or ignored, we’re sometimes left in the dark. Best of luck- there are definitely resources out there!!

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  36. OK, I now have the shivers; seriously, I think you may have uncovered something I’ve been struggling with since my late childhood. Thanks for sharing this-I’m going to look into it a bit more and hopefully ease the symptoms.

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  37. Yep, definitely exists! Liana- looks like your blog is a great resource. I’ll be giving it more of my attention in the days to come. And yes, I feel more in control these days. It’s a pretty great feeling, and I’m sure the people around me appreciate it, too;)

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  38. Like Jessie, I’m shocked I’ve never heard of this. Thanks for sharing your story – I’m glad you’ve found a way to take control.

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  39. It exists, all right. Here’s a website/blog with more information for anyone interested. It’s called called Living on a Prayer, Living with PMDD http://livingonaprayerwithpmdd.blogspot.com/2010/05/living-with-pmdd-blog.html Nothing to sell, nothing to promote…just information on all aspects of PMDD, including relationships. Thank you Melissa, for helping to bring information on this disorder to light. All the best, and happy travels~ Liana at Livingwithpmdd.com

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