PMDD: When You Learn to Dread Your Period

PMDD: When You Learn to Dread Your Period

PMDD, otherwise known as Pre-Menstrual Dysphoric Disorder is often described as a much more severe form of PMS (Pre-Menstrual Syndrome). Having recently received this diagnosis myself, and therefore talking from experience, personally, I think Perfectly Miserable Depressed Days is a far more helpful acronym to sum the condition up in a nutshell.

Not being medically qualified in any way, this article is written purely as a recount of my experiences which may help someone else understand what they may be going through.

What It Is

PMS can be rubbish as many of us will know. There’s the physical symptoms of cramps, sore boobs, backaches and headaches as well as the often joked about mental/emotional symptoms of mood swings, irritability and food cravings to name but a few.

PMDD though – that’s a cat of a different breed! Not only is it medically classified as an endocrine (hormonal) disorder but, because of the symptoms of depression, anxiety and thoughts of suicide, it is also now classed as a mental health condition too. Generally, although not always, the symptoms are less physical and more mood based.

For details as to typical symptoms, take a look at What is PMDD? | Mind

Dark Days

For me though, prior to diagnosis and treatment, usually around 10 days before my period, there was a noticeable and steady drop in mood until I no longer recognised myself. I could be happy and laughing one minute and then feel on the edge of a nervous breakdown, completely overwhelmed, in tears and shouting or screaming at those around me in a way that was massively out of proportion to whatever was going on.

I was also completely shattered for those 10 days with my energy depleting more and more until I could just about drag myself to work and back but by then I was running on empty. I would crawl into bed as soon as I could, convinced that I had Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or Adrenal Fatigue, feeling incredibly guilty that I wasn’t spending enough time with my family and knowing that even when I did, I wasn’t pleasant to be around.

There were still some physical symptoms to contend with though – I frequently had headaches that no amount of painkillers would shift and could not stand to be around bright lights or noise. The worst for me though was the insomnia. I would fall asleep as usual around 10:30 p.m. but, within 30 minutes or so, the slightest noise would disturb me and I would be up until the early hours of the morning.

Insomnia and fatigue do not a good mix make! However, it was the insomnia that finally forced me to acknowledge that this problem was not something I could continue to try to fix on my own with lifestyle improvements. I was already no longer smoking, drinking, eating less takeaways and processed foods, taking vitamins, exercising and practising yoga, meditating, drinking more water and less caffeine. There really was not much more I felt I could do on my own so I reluctantly booked a doctor’s appointment.

Getting Treatment

The first doctor was more concerned, quite rightly I think, with dealing with the immediate issue of the insomnia. He prescribed me sleeping tablets which I took for 2 weeks. The hope was that my mood would lift once I started sleeping. It did of course improve, but only very slightly. I was prescribed another 2 week course and told that this was the maximum recommended course as they tend to lose their effectiveness and people can become dependent on them. I was told by this male doctor that he thought I was bipolar and would need a mood stabiliser.

On my next visit, I had a female doctor who straightaway told me that she thought my symptoms sounded very much like PMDD rather than CFS, bipolar or anything else as, very shortly after my period arrived, my symptoms would improve and I’d feel back to normal – until the next time. She took me off the sleeping tablets and together we decided to try anti-depressants. The first course I tried for a month but I felt were not for me – I could not stop eating! She then suggested Sertraline, an anti-depressant I’ve used before and tolerated well after a week or so of unpleasant symptoms. Within a month or two, I slowly started to see an improvement.

I was no longer shouting and screaming at my friends and family. I started getting back into some of my old hobbies and interests. My energy levels began to increase so that I started walking more and sitting less. The unexplained aches and pains all but vanished.


Having said that, some symptoms remain – it has not been a cure all. I still cannot get through some days without a lie down and good sleep no matter how good my sleep the night before. But instead of it being 10 days like that, it’s now down to the first one or two days of my actual period, when I’d expect to be tired and fatigued, and not 10 days every month. Or put another way, a third of every year.

Other possible medications include birth control pills. I’ve decided that, at the moment, that’s not a road I want to do down. I’ve used them before and almost ended up having a stroke and know other young girls who actually did. Of course I know many others that have been fine but it’s just not something that I think is good for my body, based on past experience.

Apart from anti-depressants and birth control, along with lifestyle improvements, basic treatments available are pretty limited at the moment. The understanding of PMDD currently seems to be that it is the body’s abnormal reaction to a normal bodily function (e.g. fluctuations in hormones during the menstrual cycle), a bit like an allergic reaction I guess.

I am actually very happy that I now have a diagnosis, a treatment plan and can see improvement after about 12 months of trying to fix this by myself. I still don’t know why I did that! I suppose with Covid and everything else going on, I didn’t feel it was serious enough to bother my doctor with. If you think you might be suffering with PMDD, or any other condition for that matter, my best advice would be to go along and see your doctor. They’re the experts and although it may take some time to figure out exactly what is going on, it felt good to finally start doing something about it.

I’d also say that although anti-depressants aren’t for everybody and they often come with side effects, usually these side-effects do pass within a few weeks or you can try a different anti-depressant that you can tolerate better. The first week of being on Sertraline, I wasn’t sure I could do it but I am 100% glad I stuck it out because my body did adjust to the medication and it was well worth it to do so.

Lessons From Lockdown

What Did the Lockdown Teach You?

As we here in England begin to, tentatively, emerge from lockdown with restrictions still in place but to a slightly lesser degree, it seems as good a time as any to pause and ask ourselves what life lessons from lockdown did we learn.

Whenever any great trauma or challenge is thrown at us, it’s the perfect opportunity for self-growth. As the popular song by Green Day goes:

It’s not a question but a lesson learned in time…”

Good Riddance/Time of Your Life (Green Day)

Career Life Lessons

I’m sure many of us are emerging from lockdown as very different people with very different circumstances to how we went into it. Take jobs, for example. So many of us have been furloughed and/or have been made or will be made redundant. Sure, we could sit there (as I at times have myself), and demand to know “Why me?” and feel sorry for ourselves, or we could use the time to apply for other jobs, try our hand at something new and see whether that could bring in some unexpected cash.

I use this as an example as it’s a life lesson from Coronavirus that has applied to me personally. As someone who identified strongly with my career finding out that my role was one of those up for potential redundancy of course came as a bitter blow. Having the threat of this hanging over me for a month or so also isn’t good for someone who tends to get quite anxious if I don’t know the outcome of something “now”.

Don’t get me wrong, I still have the occasional “wobble” about it but, 3 weeks later, Covid-19 has brought me multiple new life lessons in this area. Firstly, I’m learning the lifeskill of going through the redundancy process which is something new for me. Secondly, I’m learning to be okay with not knowing the outcome of everything “right now” – I’ll find out when I need to know and I’ll deal with the issue then. Thirdly, it’s opened up the prospect of a new life for me applying for new roles and fourthly I’ve started getting paid for my writing by being accepted as a writer for other people’s blogs! I am insanely excited by that. No the rates aren’t as good as they were when I coached or was a lawyer, but I do love to write!

I never would have even thought to apply as a freelance writer for hire had the pandemic not come along and threatened my livelihood but here I am getting paid for a hobby. Blessing in disguise maybe?

Personal Life Lessons

Before Covid-19, I did not know that I could be stuck in the same building with my husband, 2 children and dog for 2 months straight without actually going insane. Yet here I am!

Not that we haven’t had our moments as I’m sure many of us have especially with homeschooling my 8-year old 5 days a week for 6 hours a day. Then there’s the challenges faced by those of us living alone who have found ourselves isolated from loved ones other than by some limited contact via technology.

As someone who adores staying home when I’m not working, I’ve discovered that once lockdown is lifted, I want to make more of an effort to go to at least one or two places extra, more often. You really can have too much of a good thing!

I’ve also tried, as much as possible to go through this experience without alcohol so it’s now been almost 7 weeks without a drink with some interesting results. I definitely think I am dealing with the threat of redundancy better without alcohol and, overall, whilst there are still good days and bad in this whole experience, the swing from good to bad has been less pronounced, with less mood swings and a better awareness of myself and others.

Spiritual Life Lessons

This one has been a biggie and I’m very grateful that even before the pandemic struck, I already had a good set of tools and practices such as yoga, meditation, journalling, tarot reading and access to spiritual reading/viewing material on YouTube and Kindle (see link below).


The biggest lesson here for me has been to live in the moment and the well-known spiritual teacher, Eckart Tolle (, who also has a free YouTube channel, has really helped explain this concept in an amusing yet profound way.

We’ve become accustomed in the West to looking for things “out there” to fill the emptiness we all feel sometimes. Lessons from lockdown here then have been that if we go inwards to face that emptiness, to sit with it, to listen to it, we can find an inner peace that cannot be reached or obtained by anything “out there”. Without the distractions of the outer world, we can connect with our inner wisdom to help us through the inevitable and necessary challenges and lessons life will always throw our way. Big spotlight shined here for me these last few weeks!

The Coronavirus has swept into all of our lives in 2020 in a way that few of us could have imagined at the start of the year. It has of course brought with it some very sad situations for many people and families. But, as with all of life’s difficulties, one of the benefits is that there are blessings to be found alongside those difficulties. It can be extremely rewarding, and give us renewed strength for the next phase of lockdown, to take a moment to reflect back on the lessons we’ve learned in lockdown.

Feel free to share this article with others, especially if you think it would help them through this challenging time.

The Covid-19 Diaries: Day 16

How Are You Surviving Lockdown?

It’s starting to feel a bit like Groundhog Day already for me, and we’re only on Day 16. Judging by my social media feed, I’m not the only one so for a change of pace in today’s post, I thought it might be interesting to hear how everyone else is keeping themselves occupied during lockdown?

I’m the sort of person who can’t sit still at the best of times even though I love being at home. I always have to be doing something – blogging, knitting/crocheting, tarot cards, yoga, meditating, guitar, reading, PS4, Candy Crush! And then there’s the more mundane tasks – cleaning out garages, cupboards, every room in the house from top to bottom. And when all else fails, there’s always the Netflix/YouTube rabbit holes to fall down.

It’s not often that people in every country in the world find themselves going through an event like this all at the same time. So whether you’re in lockdown in the UK like me or elsewhere in Europe, North or South America, Australasia or Asia, why not get involved and add a comment to this post telling us where you are and how you’re surviving lockdown.

If nothing else, it’s a way to fill the time – ready, set, go!

The Covid-19 Diaries: Day 15

Boris Johnson Taken into Intensive Care

Shocking news this evening, that Boris Johnson, UK Prime Minister who was hospitalised last night having tested positive for Covid-19 over a week ago, has in the last hour or so been transferred to an intensive care ward as a “precautionary” measure.

I don’t know but that word “precautionary” seems to have been used a lot by Downing Street during Mr Johnson’s illness. He’s clearly more ill than what we have, until now, been led to believe.

And that’s the frightening thing about Covid-19; some people, like Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, seem to have mild symptoms and are back to work in a week. Others, with underlying symptoms, tend to have it far worse and can need help breathing if the condition isn’t to become fatal. I’m not aware that Boris Johnson has known underlying health conditions – it certainly isn’t being reported that he has – but of course, any one of us could have an underlying health condition that we don’t yet know about, Mr Johnson included. I certainly hope he, and all others affected, make a full and swift recovery soon.

Today has also seen the start of a 7-day Yoga Retreat at Home in the Yoga Ritual series on the YWA website, Find What Feels Good – link below if you’re interested. It’s about 15 minutes a day of yoga, followed by a 5 minute meditation, a daily walk and drinking plenty of water. Usually, you have to be a member of the site to get access to this particular content but you can sign up for a 7-day free access to have a go and start it anytime:

As the Easter holidays have now properly started, it’s a challenge for us parents to keep the brood entertained. My masterplan today was to teach my 8-year old, Twinkle, Twinkle on the guitar, just on one string which did actually keep her entertained for a while. Hopefully, she’ll be as keen tomorrow to get back on it and perfect it whilst I belt out Someone You Loved on mine – our neighbours must be delighted!

The Covid-19 Diaries: Day 14

An Address from Her Majesty the Queen

This evening, Her Majesty the Queen gave a televised pre-recorded address to the nation and Commonwealth. I’m very much a royalist through and through, so I’ve been looking forward to this since I found out about it a few days ago. As ever, Liz didn’t let us down!

As expected, it was full of references to other times of crisis, most notably the Second World War and the Queen’s very first address to the nation, when she was only a teenager herself. I personally loved the reference to Vera Lynn’s famous song, We’ll Meet Again:

Social distance now so we can meet again sooner!

I found it all very emotional and caught myself fighting back the tears at times.

In other news, in Scotland, the Chief Medical Officer, Catherine Calderwood, had to apologise having been caught flouting the very advice she’s been giving out, having been reported to, not once but twice, having buggered off to her second home, something like 44 miles away from her main home. Personally, I think she should resign; I mean I get what Nicola Sturgeon is saying in that she has expertise that they’d like to make use of but, come on – She’s not exactly to be trusted is she. Surely we’re not that short on talented experts that can be trusted who could step into her shoes, are we? I’m more concerned about what a poor example she’s set in doing something that she, more than anyone if she’s such an expert, should know better than to do. The message that her thoughtless behaviour has given out.

And I don’t know who got that promised warm weather today but I did not think it was all that warm in Manchester – sunny yes, windy very much so but warm – not really. Still got out and gave the car a bloody good clean inside and out but I won’t lie. I’ve got a bit of cabin fever this evening. Restless, even though I’ve had a quick walk with the dog and been on the drive cleaning the car all afternoon. Goodness knows how I’d cope if the government has to take away our allowed exercise breaks, all because some people are incapable of following the rules. I think the increased threat of this is what’s making me a bit antsy tonight actually.

I’ve tried to combat it by coming up to the bedroom to type this tonight which is something I never do, just for a change of scene. Maybe the best thing to do is to get an early night and hopefully sleep it off.

Oh well, at least I don’t need to set the alarm for Monday morning!

The Covid-19 Diaries: Day 13

Second Weekend of Lockdown

It’s only the second Saturday of lockdown for us here in the UK, but already it’s my favourite day of the week just because it still feels like a normal day for me. Saturdays usually are a day for me to catch up with jobs around the house and garden that I don’t normally get the chance to deal with through the week, as well as a time to spend doing things I enjoy doing but I’m usually too busy to do.

And this Saturday was no different. I’ve been meaning to go through my youngest child’s room and give it a good clear out for weeks – and after two unexpected weeks at home, believe me, it needed it! So that took up a few hours on top of the usual household chores. By the time we’d got all that out of the way it was 3:30 pm and that was the first time the news stations went on all day.

Sad news again as the death count here continues, like so many other countries, to climb. Even a 5-year old boy has passed away from Coronavirus today it has been reported. When I hear things like that it really does make me wonder why in the next news story it’s the police, NHS and government having to beg people not to go out tomorrow because it’s going to be warm. Seeing footage of people on Brighton beach today just absolutely boggles my mind. I can only assume that these people really do not understand the danger that they are placing themselves and others in to be acting so selfishly. If it continues, then I fear the next step will be that none of us will be allowed out at all, even once a day for exercise.

I also think that we’ll be made to wear masks when we do venture out soon if things don’t start to improve, with the World Health Organisation changing its opinion on how useful they actually are in the fight against Covid-19. The cynical side of me does wonder though if we’re only being told this now so that we didn’t all panic-buy masks until such time as there was a sufficient stock for PPE.

Finished the day off with learning to crochet a headband (there were a few bad words but I got it in the end!), taking the dog for a walk with my eldest and then this update to the journal.

A big day of cleaning the car planned for tomorrow since it will be warm. Let’s stay home and save the world guys πŸ™‚

The Covid-19 Diaries: Day 12

Positive Vibes

Today was my last day in the office until June at the earliest. It’s probably just as well! After starting the day in a relatively good mood, it only took a team meeting to bring me down, and then I found myself cross at the people that I perceived as having negative vibes.

I then proceeded to allow those negative vibes to colour my whole day, all the while blaming others for their negativity. People in glass houses…

I caught myself doing this at one point, thankfully, and this led to a bit of a turning point as it led me to question why I was letting myself be triggered by someone else in this way. That in itself helped to break me out of the vicious circle I’d somehow let myself get swept up in and my mood began to lift a little.

The energy around us at the moment is, generally, one of fear. How could it not be? It was only 3 days ago, I described myself as having a “mini-meltdown” and yet here I was judging someone else for the way they were coping.

Having said that, beating myself up mentally for not being immediately compassionate wasn’t going to help either. We are all feeding off each other’s energy at the moment, without realising it.

One of the better known spiritual teachers in the Western world is of course, Eckhart Tolle. If you’re not familiar with him, I’ve put a link to the videos I watched of his on YouTube this evening that are, I think, a great introduction to him. One takes a more serious tone, describing the well-known parable of the New Testament of building houses on sand or rock and how that can be applied to Covid-19; the other is more funny and quite an accurate description of how many of us live our lives surrounded by “all these difficult people and challenges”, usually not realising that we need these difficult people and challenges to push us to connect with our real and higher selves. In essence then, as Eckhart Tolle discusses, Covid-19 could be a real opportunity for our own spiritual awakening and that of the planet.

Even if you’re not a follower of Christianity, and I’m not myself, the “special message” video is very calming and soothing to listen to, especially if you find yourself getting caught up in the negative energies around us all and has some great practical ideas as to easy steps you can take now to relax and just be with it. The other video is just a funny reminder not to take ourselves, or this situation, so seriously all of the time.


Positive Vibes Playlist

In the playlist I’ve linked to on my YouTube channel, there’s also the Yoga with Adriene video that was on today’s calendar, “Anchor in Hope”. I started the day with this video and partway through, Adriene encourages us to say to ourselves, “I trust”. I found myself having to say that to myself a few times today too when the negativity threatened to overwhelm me. What else can we do at times like these?

Today was a good lesson in remembering that when I am triggered it is a reflection of something within me that needs my attention. When I focus on that, instead of whoever I perceive as having caused the upset, it is easier to re-centre and re-connect.

I’m sure I’ll need reminding of this lesson a lot more before I learn it for good, but I’m just happy to be ending the day in positive vibes.

The Covid-19 Diaries: Day 11

Thursday Thank Yous

Nice to get out onto our doorsteps again at 8pm this evening to clap and cheer the NHS, and all the other fantastic keyworkers keeping the country going at this strange and scary time. It was a bit strange on my street; I didn’t see as many people as last week but it was definitely louder with even the odd firework let off.

Maybe then, this will become a weekly occurrence during lockdown. A way to boost the community spirit and get out and see each other, if only from a distance, to remind ourselves that we’re all in this together.

And, after receiving news today that my job is being furloughed as from tomorrow, I imagine I’ll enjoy getting out and interacting once a week, if only from my doorstep.

I’ve actually taken the news better than I thought I would. I think I knew on Tuesday that this was coming when the live lectures stopped so did my crying and getting upset then. Today I’m actually okay with it – feels like the 6-week summer holidays for grown-ups! I’ll still be getting paid most of my wages under the scheme and don’t have to work. It could be worse!

Given that the kids would be breaking for Easter as from tomorrow as well, I even get 2 weeks off homeschooling. I’m already planning what I can do with all this unexpected free time, whip the guitar out and take that up again, knitting and crocheting, finish off some decorating I’ve started, wash the cars.

The best laid plans…

The Covid-19 Diaries: Day 10

Wimbledon 2020 Cancelled

The daily death toll figure reaches its highest yet – 563 in the last 24 hours or so, according to Sky News. One of those being a young boy of just 13 years old with no known underlying health conditions.

These sad and sobering facts and statistics remind me of studying the Great Plague of 1665 at school and learning about those employed to push a cart around the streets of London crying, “Bring out your dead”. Most of us probably know that phrase better now from Monty Python of course. Maybe a very British humour, a gallows humour, is just what is called for at a time like this.

Wimbledon is the latest sporting event to be hit by the pandemic. It has now been cancelled this year for the first time since World War Two. This I’m sure hasn’t been all that surprising for most of us on the back of Tokyo 2020 being postponed last week. There simply wasn’t room in the tennis calendar to postpone Wimbledon as well as all the other tennis tournaments already vying for a space.

Some might wonder why bother to write a daily journal on such a sad time. Assuming that I do get out of this alive myself, I think it’s going to serve me well to look back at a time when our usual lives were thrown into chaos and nothing could be taken for granted. It’s a reality check for my future self. For me in the present, it’s also a good space to get my thoughts, fears and anxieties out, instead of bottling them all up.

In better news, not had a wobble yet today! I think yesterday was just my way of dealing with the shock of the last few days and reality setting in. Now I’m starting to realise the horror of the situation we find ourselves in, not just the virus, but its reach and affect on all of our lives, hopefully I can come to terms with it and make the best of a bad job.

After all, isn’t that too part of the British way? To “keep calm and carry on”, no matter what the situation.

I’m pretty sure that popping the kettle on and having a nice cup of tea is also the patriotic thing to do if you’re British at a time like this so I’m off for another cuppa!

The Covid-19 Diaries: Day 9

Not Okay

For those of you familiar with the music of My Chemical Romance, it will perhaps be telling that tonight I find myself comforted by listening to their back catalogue. In the words of one of their better known songs, “I’m Not Okay!”

Today has been the hardest so far with some of our services at work having to be reduced. I shouldn’t complain. I’m getting paid full wages for doing less work in that live remote lectures are being suspended for the foreseeable future on the basis that exams have been postponed. I don’t know why this upsets me so much. Maybe it’s because up until now I’ve been able to pretend that it’s business as usual.

My heart goes out to everyone who cannot do their job at all because of the nightmare that is Coronavirus. My 18 year old works at McDonalds and hasn’t been able to work for over a week now but I haven’t once seen her cry. But tonight here I am, twice her age and crying like a baby because the fortnightly live remote lectures with my students are cancelled. I am clearly not coping with this situation as well as I thought I was!

I’m trying to find the positives – I feel more tuned in and connected to the collective tonight than I have in a long time. On a personal level, I will have time to mark more coursework than I would otherwise have had. And, both me and all those that I love and care about are safe and well. I’m almost angry at myself for being upset over a work issue which, in the grand scheme of things, is something and nothing.

I always say that I’m not religious as I do not follow just one faith, but I am spiritual in that I do have faith that things happen for reasons that I do not always understand, but that always seem to somehow work out for the best. As heartbroken, sad and afraid as I feel tonight, I know that these feelings will pass and all will be well again. I guess I wouldn’t be human if this situation didn’t affect me at all from time to time:

β€œBran thought about it. ‘Can a man still be brave if he’s afraid?’

‘That is the only time a man can be brave,’ his father told him.”

George R R Martin, A Game of Thrones

In that case, I guess at least I’m brave tonight then because I am quite terrified in this evening’s mini-meltdown!

I’m sure that I’m not alone. Everyone, all over the world, regardless of nationality, colour, sexual orientation, faith, gender or class, is going to be affected by Covid-19. It is, if nothing else, non-discriminatory in its reach.

But we are brave, even in the face of fear and frightening statistics and realities.

I’ve had a wobble tonight but I know I’ll be fine tomorrow. I guess I wrote this in case anyone else is feeling the same to let them know that they aren’t alone.

Stay safe, stay strong and stay sane – we got this πŸ™‚