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PMDD Chronicles: Dancing with Shadows

Introduction: In the quiet corners of my life, a silent storm named PMDD unfolds. This isn’t just a list of symptoms; it’s a journey, a dance with shadows that many might relate to. Let me walk you through the twists and turns, the highs and lows, and the resilient spirit required to navigate this unique journey.

PMDD (Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder) and PMS (Premenstrual Syndrome) are both related to the menstrual cycle and involve a range of physical and emotional symptoms. However, they differ in terms of severity, duration, and impact on daily functioning.

Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS): PMS refers to a set of physical and emotional symptoms that occur in the days or weeks before menstruation. These symptoms are common among menstruating individuals and can include bloating, breast tenderness, mood swings, irritability, and fatigue. PMS symptoms can vary in intensity, and while they can be bothersome, they typically do not significantly impair daily activities. Many women may experience some form of PMS without it severely affecting their quality of life.

Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD): PMDD, on the other hand, is a more severe and clinically significant form of premenstrual disturbance. It shares some symptoms with PMS, but the symptoms are more intense and can have a profound impact on a person's emotional well-being and daily functioning. Severe mood disturbances, such as extreme irritability, anxiety, depression, and mood swings characterize PMDD. Physical symptoms may also be more pronounced, including severe breast pain, joint and muscle pain, and fatigue.

One key aspect that differentiates PMDD from PMS is the severity and the impairment it causes. PMDD symptoms can be so severe that they interfere with a person's ability to perform daily tasks, maintain relationships, or engage in usual activities. The symptoms typically occur in the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle and are alleviated once menstruation begins.

Distinguishing Features:

  1. Severity: PMDD involves more severe symptoms than typical PMS.

  2. Duration: PMDD symptoms are generally present in the luteal phase and significantly improve or disappear with the onset of menstruation.

  3. Impact: PMDD can significantly impact daily functioning and quality of life.

My PMDD Symptoms:

  • Extreme pain in the breast

  • Extreme irritability

  • Heightened sensitivity to sounds (especially mouth sounds)

  • Achy, joint pain

  • Crying episodes

  • Feeling hopeless

  • Feeling invisible

  • Feeling worthless

  • Feeling angry/bitter

  • Extreme overwhelm

  • Rage

  • Unable to sleep

  • Brain fog: I can’t remember names or sometimes simple words

  • Withdrawn

  • Urge to hide

The Prelude: Picture this: a monthly ritual where my body rebels. Extreme breast pain, irritability that pierces the soul, and sounds that become a cacophony, especially the dreaded mouth sounds. It's a symphony of discomfort – joint pain, crying spells, and emotions that swing from feeling hopeless to invisible, worthless to angry. And then, the overwhelming tidal wave of rage and the inability to find solace in sleep.

A Changing Choreography: Once upon a time, these symptoms dominated multiple days during the Luteal Phase. It was an unwelcome guest overstaying its welcome. However, over the past year, I've learned to waltz with these shadows. The dance is now more manageable, with just a day or two of milder symptoms during my luteal phase.

Navigating the Storm: Supplements, stress reduction, outdoor escapades, and a conscious effort to eat healthier – these became my shields in the battle against PMDD. They worked well, until this week.

The Unraveling: This week, I dropped the ball. Stress, poor eating, the cold bite of seasonal depression, an out-of-town husband, and the looming uncertainty of a colonoscopy – all ingredients for a perfect storm. Fundraising, podcasting, and school commitments added to the mix, pushing me to a night of tears and emotional exhaustion.

Guilt and Cancelations: I was supposed to host a science class for Wild & Wonderful Enrichment, a cherished activity. But I sensed the brewing storm within and knew I couldn't give my best. So, with a heavy heart, I canceled. The guilt set in, imagining the disappointment of kids and parents who look forward to these moments.

Remembering Imperfection: Amid this chaos, I almost forgot I had PMDD. It's a reminder that even when it seems I have it all together, I'm just another person navigating life's challenges. Prayers become my anchor, helping me find solace in sleep and the promise of a new morning.

Lessons from a $10 Bill: As life continued, a simple transaction became a metaphor. A poor-looking $10 bill in change reminded me that imperfections don't diminish our worth. It's a lesson in embracing flaws and recognizing inherent value even in the midst of tears.

Conclusion: So, here I am, sharing my PMDD journey – not a flawless dance but a messy, real-life tango with shadows. As I narrate my story, I hope others find solace, realizing that even in the darkest corners, there's resilience, self-discovery, and a glimmer of light waiting to be embraced.

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