Hormones. It’s sometimes hard to believe how completely crazy they make you feel. Before I knew what PMDD was, I genuinely thought I was either a schizophrenic or a manic depressive. My mood swings made me so low and irritable that on multiple occasions I built myself up so much I became aggressive and filled with rage. It would feel as though I’d completely lost control and become possessed. I would lash out at my partner, sometimes hitting him and screaming for him to get away from me when he had done nothing wrong. When these 'seeing red' moments passed I would go into a dark stage of realisation followed by guilt and regret. I’d plead and beg for forgiveness - I couldn’t believe what I’d done, it wasn’t me.
The days surrounding the outbursts I would be on edge. Bursting into tears for no reason at all, finding simple questions difficult to answer and getting agitated by even the slightest movements and actions of others. Then, as if by magic, as soon as my period came I would wake up a completely different person - optimistic, relaxed and proactive. It was honestly that dramatic.
This severe change in emotion and behaviour made me so concerned. I saw the connection with my period but neither me nor my partner could believe that it was at the route of such a drastic personality shift. I had never had these experiences in my early 20’s and they were beginning to happen like clockwork every month.
Unsurprisingly, it was having a serious effect on my life. What was wrong with me? I would have visions of the 'madwoman in the attic' from Bronte’s Jane Eyre, pacing around. My future as a crazy old woman - alone, because no one would be able to put up with me. And my partner was getting very close to that point.
I finally went to my GP and explained everything. Her expression wasn’t one of concern, which is what I was expecting, instead she looked primed.
As soon as I had finished what felt like a frantic ramble she immediately responded -
“It’s PMDD” she said, “yes for definite, sounds like a more emotional rather than physical case. Have you ever felt suicidal?”
Fortunately I hadn’t, but she explained that it was a potential side effect many women experience. Hearing that was so eye opening and made me realise the severe effects hormones can have on our mental health. This is something so much more than having stomach cramps and feeling a bit teary once a month.
My GP suggested 3 things - more omega 3 in my diet, increased exercise and a low dose of the anti-depressant Setraline which I have now been taking for over a year.
I have been so much more stable and in control since making these changes. Of course I’m not completely without my mood swings but I’ve decided they should just be accepted rather than deemed as things that make me “crazy” or “dramatic”. It's empowering that we are able to feel so many different emotions and so deeply. Our hormones expose the complexities and intricacies of being a woman and they are what make us so beautiful.