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Blog 01. The awful PMDD thought train

Updated: Mar 18, 2022

by Anonymous

I can't believe I've kept this in for so long. I've been tortured by PMDD since my late teens. Twenty years on, finally diagnosed, I look back at my younger self and simply feel sad for the turmoil she lived with.


Every month these symptoms attack me.

It sounds dramatic but I find each symptom traumatising in its own way.

 

GRIEF: Drowning in inexplicable grief. Feels like an intense bereavement. I feel inconsolable and can't stop crying (more like sobbing), even in public.


SELF-LOATHING: An intense feeling of shame and guilt. I feel utterly worthless. I avoid going outside so that people don't 'have' to look at me, as I am so disgusting.


MADNESS: This feels like my brain is unravelling, almost like being tossed and turned in a storm. I question myself and my sanity. The feeling of madness ranges from a 'mental pain' to 'numbness', like I'm not a real person.


FATIGUE: Ooohhh the exhaustion is severe and intense. There have been times where I'm sure I'll die from exhaustion alone. The tiredness is dark and inside my bones (sounds weird I know, but that really is what it feels like). I get slow movements and slow/slurred speech. It's difficult to open my eyes, I blink slowly. It's an effort just to breath.


SAD / DEPRESSED: For me, this is different from the grief. Often I simply have bouts of overwhelming sadness. My face feels like stone and even if I force myself to smile my eyes are hollow and dead. Sometimes I take a photo of my face to remind me how bad it can be.


ANGER / RAGE: Immediate flare ups of anger over small things. At times I feel quite militant, I'm ready for a fight, with anyone, over anything. The rage can be all consuming that sometimes I scare myself. I find when I'm like this I need to spend time away from my children as I feel like an ugly parent. I also get uncharacteristic lasting anger towards people, I just can't shake the paranoia and resentment.


DESPAIR / HOPELESSNESS: Such a scary symptom. It has come along with passive suicidal thoughts. There have been days when I am 'ready' to die ... I've driven to the water and stood by the sea contemplating walking forward, I've looked at trees when driving and considered aiming for them. I have never made a 'plan' to take my own life. But this is what I'm scared of, the PMDD deteriorating to the extent that I can't keep fighting.


ANXIETY / AGITATION: This is so exhausting isn't it? Your brain is never still, your body is never still, there's never any calm. While it is there you live and breath tension. I feel my diaphragm fluttering in my chest, shallow fast breathing, my fingers and toes constantly drumming. It's horrible when it comes at bedtime and you simply crave sleep.


DIFFICULTY CONCENTRATING: This has also been getting worse the past year. I really struggle to focus and concentrate on anything. My work is suffering. I can sit at my desk for two hours staring at the screen and forget what I was supposed to be doing. I'll forget that I have a 10am meeting, despite checking my calendar at 9.55am.


CAN'T FUNCTION: I find this has been getting worse over the past year. Before I could manage at work in beween my bouts of PMDD but now I simply can't. I am late to work, leave early, struggle to cope with workload, barely speak to anyone. At home, I barely function and struggle to cope with parenting or doing anything in/for the house.


MANIA: I often have 2-3 days where I feel manic. Usually it's a pleasant manic where everything goes well. My energy is sky high, I'm super productive, I talk talk talk talk talk at the speed of sound, very animated, I have limitless dreams and ideas, and I'm thinking "I'm cured!!!! Wooohooo, I'm never going to feel that bad again!". I'm not complaining about this symptom, I quite like it as a refresher. But occasionally it becomes mania linked with anxiety and agitation, but only sometimes. Luckily.


PHYSICAL SYMPTOMS: Aahhaaaaa if only I could go back and tell my younger self to keep the physical symptoms that she so hated, in place of the psychological ones. I used to despise the physical symptoms, now they are the least of my worries. There are quite a few as well ..... severe and painful bloating, acne, grey skin, headache, nausea, dermatitis, water retention, disturbed sleep, cramps and either wide 'rabbit in the headlight' eyes or 'half shut knife' eyes.


With each symptom recurring every month for 20 years I'm left feeling drained, exhausted and traumatised. I've read about other people experiencing PTSD from years of PMDD. I get it. I really do get it ... it's a recurring war!


Read next Blog 02. PMDD and the inability to function

 

This blog site is hosted by Dr Lynsay Matthews, Research Fellow and PMDD researcher at the University of Birmingham.


If you'd like to share your story, drop Lynsay an email at drlynsaymatthews@gmail.com


If you'd like to hear about or be involved in Lynsay's research see her research page


 

LOOKING FOR MORE INFO ON PMDD?

A reminder that you'll find up to date information and support for PMDD at www.iapmd.org For info on raising awareness visit www.viciouscyclepmdd.com

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