The World According to Renee

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Happy PMDD Awareness Month!

Well… sort of. April 2013 was PMDD Awareness Month in the UK; I think it should be an annual, international thing.

First things first: What is PMDD?
It’s PMS’ bigger, badder, sadder sister. It’s the sister that beats you up and leaves you crying in the corner because you want pizza for dinner and someone’s making roast lamb instead (yes, that’s worth crying over). It’s the nasty bitch that makes you want to slash your wrists because you can’t deal with the world. And it happens every month.

PMDD is Pre-Menstrual Dysphoria, which means that before every period, the sufferer has full-blown depression and may have suicidal thoughts. Symptoms ease as soon as bleeding starts. Sound fun?

It’s estimated that 3-9% (or, 1 in 20) menstruating women suffer PMDD, while up to 90% of women suffer PMS. PMS symptoms may include irritability, crankiness and general mood swings. PMDD isn’t just a case of severe PMS- it’s a recognised psychological disorder.

My Tale of Woe

You knew it was coming! I was diagnosed in my late 20s after crying to my doctor to control my PMS. It was bad every month, but one night I was trying to write up a CV for a job application but the words wouldn’t sit right. In frustration, I held up my laptop to hurl it across the room. Luckily I stopped myself, but the utter despair I felt because nothing was going right… well, it wasn’t normal.

After telling the doctor all my symptoms, she said, “I don’t think you have PMS.” I told her she was crazy. She replied, “I think you have PMDD.” At the time, there wasn’t a lot of information out there besides ‘it isn’t PMS’. So, I suffered.

But then, I did something crazy. I read a study about the effects of caffeine on depression and anxiety and decided to give up caffeine, cold turkey. I’m very pleased to report that in the two years since I did so, I have not had a single symptom of PMDD. Hooray! I can still feel a bit down, but nothing like what I used to go through. It was getting debilitating. It had to stop. Maybe one day, in my post-menopausal life, I can go back to caffeine… but I don’t miss it. Kudos to Pepsi and Coca Cola for making caffeine-free cola because I couldn’t give that up (and oh how I’ve tried!). Sometimes, when I’ve overindulged and had some dark chocolate, I can feel the caffeine surging through my veins and I know it’s going to be a bad month. Regular, milk chocolate is OK as long as it’s in moderation, especially in the 2 weeks leading up to a period.

It’s not a solution for everyone, but it’s worked for me. I’ve never been happier. And now you are aware of PMDD, so my job here is done.

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April 2, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment