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When Your Period is More than Just a Period

Two years ago, I started noticing there were times I felt that it was physically out of my control to be at peace. That no matter what I did, I felt rage, irritability and agitation. It was a very palpable shift and change in mood and attitude. I mean, most days I woke up feeling weightless, positive, energetic and happy, EASY PEASY! But on these days I just woke up feeling like the big villain in your next Disney movie, 100% enraged and irritated, but for no reason whatsoever.

At this time I was already on my journey of peaceful living, journaling and tracking the days I lost my cool, so I also began to track the days I felt these extreme shifts in mood. Turns out this was happening the days leading up to my period.

I thought geez, other women have their periods and are freakin' normal, they're not making their family's lives a living hell…what the F is wrong with me?! After some weeks of negative self-talk and comparing myself to other women who could hold it together on their periods, I started thinking about possibilities….could it be POSSIBLE, there was something else going on with me? So I began to research.

Turns out, there's a scientific term for what I was experiencing and it is called Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD). I was stunned, shocked, that an actual disorder actually existed. My friends, it is real.

What exactly is PMDD

Like PMS (premenstrual syndrome), PMDD symptoms can begin a week to 10 days before a woman's actual period starts. It can last until the first 1-3 days a woman has her period.

According to Jacqueline M. Thielen, M.D., PMDD has at least one of these emotional/behavioral symptoms:

  • Sadness or hopelessness

  • Severe anxiety or tension

  • Extreme moodiness

  • Marked irritability or anger

What to do if you suspect you have PMDD

Document your symptoms, track dates, times and shifts in your mood/behavior. I tracked my symptoms for 3 months straight and I didn't miss a beat. Each month, exactly one week before my period started, the sweeping shifts in my mood began, almost on cue.

Once you've gathered some info make an appointment with your doctor so you can review the data. Your doctor will likely conduct a more thorough medical evaluation to determine whether the symptoms could be due to another condition outside of PMDD.

PMDD Treatment

PMDD treatment focuses on preventative measures for symptoms, or minimizing them. This could include one or more of the below:

  1. Birth control pills

  2. Nutritional supplements

  3. Herbal remedies

  4. Diet and lifestyle changes

  5. Monthly antidepressants/anxiety medication

Number 5 is more for severe cases of PMDD, but the doctor did offer it to me to use at my discretion. You only take it in the interval between ovulation and the start of your period. In the past, when it's gotten really bad I have taken it, and it has helped...but I try not to rely on it as I have noticed more exercise and ensuring proper nutrition have helped as well.

I guess you can say it's been liberating not to be in the dark about this anymore. Having information is empowering and now I have a better handle on the situation. Through this experience I found that sometimes peace may quite literally be out of our hands but by taking a pause and stepping back from it all, you can get out of the weeds and see the bigger picture at play. I encourage you to continue to keep your awareness up, and be open to seeking help and support. Sometimes we just need a little help...there's always a way back to peace.

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