Let me first start by telling you what PMDD is for those that don’t know. Premenstural Dysphoric Disorder, it is like PMS only 10 time more extreme on the mood swings and emotional state. Like PMS, premenstrual dysphoric disorder follows a predictable, cyclic pattern. Symptoms begin in the late luteal phase of the menstrual cycle (after ovulation) and end shortly after menstruation begins. It can cause women to be unable to perform normal daily tasks that many others find comes naturally to them, it can affect their mental well being and the mental well being of others around them, as you will discover in my fight with PMDD.
At 23 I gave birth to my first child via emergency caesarian section after a 14 hour labour. He was a very healthy baby boy weighing in at 8lbs, I was overwhelmed with happines, trepidation, joy and exhaustion. I soon got used to the sleepless nights and soothing a colicky newborn. My issues started to arise when I fell pregnant just three months after giving birth to my son. I was exhausted all of the time which made me ratty and would become frustrated with myself for being so tired, but all was well considering. My second pregnancy was difficult, I had lots of morning sickness throughout the day and sometimes at night, I had trouble sleeping, I was in a lot of pain during the third trimester, and my pregnancy hormones were running high. Little did I know what was to come in the weeks after giving birth, three weeks early to a healthy 7lb baby girl.
Tiredness, rattyness, tearfulness and mood changes started setting in about 6 weeks after my little girl was born. However, it was not me who noticed this, my other half did as I often had a short fuse with him and if he did something even slightly wrong I would flip out. These mood swings gradually became more frequent and increased in intensity. I put it down to just being extremely overtired, unfortunately I found out three and a half months later that these intense mood swings were caused by something much more complicated than tiredness.
In the months following the birth of my daughter I went to see my GP to discuss my low mood and tiredness, I had been on antidepressants for a short time while I was in my final year at university due to stress and anxiety, so both the doctor and I decided to try an SSRI again to see if that improved my mood and help me sleep.
During the next four weeks my mood became lower and would swing from hour to hour. One minute I could be so happy playing with my children having fun and the next I would be crying or shouting at my other half usually for no reason at all, other than he had done something that had annoyed me. It was getting to the point where I either thought my children were better off without me or maybe I should up and leave with my children as I thought my other half was the problem. One month later I went back to the GP with no mood improvement so the dose of the SSRI was increased. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
A couple of weeks went by it seemed as though the meds were working, but then it all slipped. The rage, anger and mood swings all came back, I felt like I had no control over myself, as is someone was taking over me. I refused to leave the house, I would shut myself in our bedroom for hours and my other half could not work because I was not able to look after the children when I was in one of my moods. My other half and I argued over every little thing, I would yell and scream in front of the children and then go off in floods of tears, feeling guilty for allowing myself to become so out of control.
I was miserable and could not see a way out of the hole that I was in. My other half had tried everything to help me he took some leave from work to help out at home so I could try and get better, this only caused more friction between us and exacerbated my mood swings. This did not feel like the stress and anxiety I had experienced before this was something else, I felt as if I was turning into a complete monster and it needed to stop before it broke up the family. ⠀
I started searching the internet for women who had been experiencing such severe mood swings, that is when I came across the term premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). ⠀⠀
My heart sank all the symptoms these other women and experts were describing were me. It wasn’t just low mood, it wasn’t postnatal depression, it was all becoming clear I was starting to piece together all of the jigsaw pieces, things were starting to fall into place in my head. I was not a monster who hated everyone around her, I was not a bad mum or a terrible girlfriend. ⠀⠀⠀
Three months on I am feeling so much better now that I have found my purpose in life. PMDD may never go away but as long as every so often I take a step back and look at myself and my family I can think clearly and plan. .⠀⠀⠀