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My PMDD Story

Updated: Nov 22, 2021

I have struggled with premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) for about half of my life. If you haven't heard of PMDD, check out my previous post to learn more. In this post, I'll be explaining more about my personal experience with PMDD. You can watch the video, or if you prefer to read, the blog post below.

PMDD is an extreme sensitivity to the normal changes in hormones that occur during the menstrual cycle. Generally, someone with PMDD feels relatively normal for 1-2 weeks of their menstrual cycle, and terrible for 1-3 weeks (it depends on the person and the total length of their cycle).

For me, it felt like a whirlwind of destruction for half the time, and complete exhaustion and picking up the pieces for the other half (hence the picture for this post being half-and-half). It is emotionally, physically, and mentally draining. Again and again and again. One hundred and eighty times so far, give or take a few.

The Backstory

I had always had anxiety as a child, but once I reached puberty, I began to experience episodes of severe anxiety and depression. I felt overwhelmed and out of control, and struggled with the demands of school, work, and social life. Everything suddenly became more difficult, from maintaining friendships, to handing in assignments, to getting through shifts at my part-time job. I would be able to keep it together at school and work (for the most part) but I would fall apart at home. Those around me chalked it up to teenage angst, but over time, it became clear that I was struggling and that this was a real mental health issue.

I will explain how PMDD has affected my life in-depth in Part 2 (coming soon).

Getting Diagnosed

I wasn't properly diagnosed for at least six years after I started my period. The average time to diagnosis is actually about 12 years, so believe it or not, I lucked out. After many years of ups and downs, my Mom and I figured out that my intense mood swings were connected to my menstrual cycle. When we brought this up to my (3rd) family doctor, they suggested that I might have PMDD.

At the time, there were very few resources on PMDD, and all I had to go on was a printed handout that she gave me. Nowadays, the process for diagnosis is much better defined, check out this link for details.

Trying Treatments

I tried many treatments over the next 15 years. The unfortunate problem with PMDD is that there is no treatment that is specifically formulated for PMDD. All the treatments are off-label, which means that they are treatments targeted for other illnesses, but are used in an attempt to help those with PMDD. It seems that what works for one PMDD patient does not necessarily work for another, leaving it all up to a game of trial and error and making many PMDD sufferers feel like frustrated guinea pigs.

I am not a medical professional, so I won't go too deep into treatments, but you can find evidence-based and science-backed information on PMDD treatment at (a great resource that was started much later than my own diagnosis, but has been so helpful for many of us with PMDD).

Personally, on my own treatment journey, I've seen general physicians, gynecologists, psychiatrists, psychologists, psychotherapists, hypnotherapists, and naturopaths (usually multiple of each). I have tried therapy, hypnotherapy, acupuncture, vitamins, supplements, several types of birth control and several types of antidepressants. I've spent thousands of dollar trying to find solutions. The only options I haven't yet tried are chemical and surgical menopause, due to my age and the fact that I haven't yet decided on if I'd like to have children.