Have you commenced the second phase of your career after a career break? Share your story & get featured at Women in Corporate Allies 2022.

Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder, When PMS Gets Unbearably Brutal & Extreme

Even though the most common symptom of premenstrual dysphoric disorder includes extreme mood swings, there is a lot more to it than that.

Trigger Warning: This deals with suicidal thoughts, suicidal ideation as a result of the premenstrual dysphoric disorder, and may be triggering to survivors.

Research shows that around five percent of the menstruating individuals in this world suffer from PMDD (Premenstrual dysphoric disorder), the symptoms of which start showing around a week before one’s menstrual cycle begins.

Even though the most common symptom of premenstrual dysphoric disorder includes extreme mood swings, there is a lot more to it than what is visible to the world.

If you’re someone who either suffers from PMDD or has a loved one who does, this post might be for you.

(My) Symptoms of Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder include

Crying Spells

In my case, these emotional breakdowns take place even in public spaces, with or without a reason. The smallest of things (such as not being able to find a pen or a stapler in my drawer) can trigger these breakdowns. What’s worse is that if something extremely disturbing happens when I’m PMDDing, then the howling and tears don’t stop for hours.

Extreme hunger

Hyperphagia or excessive eating a few days before my menstruation starts often causes my food intake to become thrice as much as it usually is. This symptom is not just limited to binge eating as it even includes constant thoughts about food when I am not consuming anything.

Never miss real stories from India's women.

Register Now

Apart from the psychological changes, I sometimes experience physical changes such as growling sensations in my stomach.

Swelling of breasts which further causes sensitivity and tenderness

My breasts hurt a lot (well, quite a lot) before my period every month. Even loose hugs seem extremely painful and lead me to squeak if they come unexpectedly. Incorrect sleeping posture, walking too fast (or exercising in ways that could lead to the movement of my breasts), and wearing bras that are too tight increase my pain.

Bloating

Every time I look at myself in the mirror while I’m PMDDing, I feel as if I have gained 5 extra kgs. However, I do realise that there is no point in panicking because it is, at the end of the day, just bloating.

The worst thing is that I crave cold coffee the most when I’m about to get my period, but caffeine is what makes bloating more evident.

Back Pain

There are times when my back pain gets so terrible that I need to remain on bed rest for almost a week. I find it difficult to stand or sit without support and constantly find myself leaning against a pillar or a wall.

During such times, I carry hot water bags and pillows everywhere I go.

Pain in the lower abdomen

Sometimes, if I am lucky, the pain is momentary rather than being continuous. However, the pain always increases a day or two before my menstrual cycle starts.

Pricking sensations in the vaginal area

It often feels as if someone is constantly pricking a needle in my vaginal area. When that doesn’t happen, there are thumping sensations in the same area instead.

Night sweat

I sweat too much when I start PMDDing. Even during winters, I have to change my clothes twice or thrice a day because of that. Sometimes, the sweating can be compared to hot flashes.

PS: The sweat might also be a result of the anxiety I have – which worsens a few days before I get my period.

Irritation

Even things like too much or too little sugar in my coffee can cause me to curse my luck during times like these. Of course, my reactions are usually more than valid. However, sometimes, my irritation leads me to say and do things that I usually wouldn’t.

In addition to that, my crowding tolerance and sociability reduce drastically and too much social interaction leads me to snap.

Hopelessness

I like to believe that I am a hopeful person, in general. But, when I am about to get my period, I lose hope when it comes to most of the things in my life. If things get too extreme, I find myself thinking about whether life is worth living or not.

Sometimes, people have suicidal thoughts when they are PMDDing solely because the hormonal changes in their bodies make them feel that way. However, even a little bit of support from co-workers and family members can make things a lot better for someone who might be suffering.

A few coping mechanisms that might help in PMDD (because they helped me)

Read or watch something that makes you laugh (or makes you feel better, in general)

In my case, something that always helps is watching dark comedies like Schitt’s Creek (2015-2020) and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (2015-2019) or reading a book from P.G. Wodehouse’s Bertram Wooster series.

Laughter always improves things when one feels lost and hopeless every month.

Talk to people who make you happy

Talking to a school or a college friend might lighten one’s mood and distract them, as well. When I feel absolutely pathetic about my very existence a few days before my menstrual cycle starts, I sometimes ring my boarding school friends up and they remind me about the comical and embarrassing things I did in school. While that doesn’t solve anything, it certainly gives me the courage to keep going.

Write…Word vomit till you feel light

There are different ways of word vomiting. You can do it in a diary, on your blog, on loose sheets of paper that you might throw away later, or on a WhatsApp group.

Whatever you choose to do, it is important to be honest and not have any sort of filter while writing about your feelings. Write till you have nothing left to mention, and soon, you won’t have anything to complain about.

Remember to carry a hot water bag to your place of study or work

Abdominal and back pains can get really bad due to premenstrual dysphoric disorder. Thus, having a hot water bag with you can be very helpful. In fact, it might be a good idea to have two-three hot water bags in different places to avoid stress.

Drink lots and lots (and lots) of water

Drinking water helps reduce bloating and even makes you grow a little more happier when you might have every reason to appear gloomy instead. So, make markings on your water bottle and keep drinking water all day.

Remove your bra

Removing your bra can do wonders for your overall mood because this small act can relieve your pain and can even make you feel less restricted. In case you’re someone who can remain at home when you’re PMDDing, it might be a good idea to throw your bra away for a few days.

Allow yourself to cry when it all gets too much 

Crying really helps when things get unbearable. There have been times in the past when I have cried in the shower till the time my tears completely stopped because of how unpleasant and toxic everything seemed to be. While that didn’t solve any issue I had been facing, it certainly made me acknowledge my thoughts and emotions.

Sleep

Sleeping is more important than we think it to be because lack of proper sleep makes things more difficult than they usually are.

Block out all arguments and confrontations 

Some of us have careers that require us to explain our viewpoints to the ones working with us constantly. While that might be necessary, and often cause for disagreements, well, can you limit these meetings or schedule them for later?

Limit your interactions with those who don’t make you happy 

We all have people around us who, at times, make a bad situation worse (for us). They might be good human beings, but they’re still not good for us because of how they make us feel.

When you’re PMDDing, your interactions with such people might increase your feelings of hopelessness. Thus, if you think you aren’t in a position where you can engage with such people, it might be a good idea to limit your interactions with them.

Avoid reading or watching anything disturbing (or anything that might have emotionally heavy content)

I ended up watching The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008) while PMDDing in 2020 and ended up ruining a full day as a result of that. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love that film. However, my brain and body didn’t have it in them to process something as heavy as that.

There is a lot you might be going through during this time of the month. Thus, avoid reading or watching anything that would require more energy or emotional labour.

Avoid taking any (life-changing) decisions

You might feel like leaving your job if people aren’t accomodating or divorcing your spouse the moment they say something you didn’t want to hear. However, a lot of these reactions might be triggered because of all the hormonal changes you’re experiencing. So, sometimes, it might be good to avoid taking these decisions when you’re PMDDing and wait for a few days before acting. Your job might genuinely be bad and your spouse might also be condescending. But, you still need a proper time to react, and a few days before your period is definitely not that time.

Turn your phone off and lock it in a drawer

A lot of us who suffer from premenstrual dysphoric disorder find it difficult to control our emotions and reactions before we get our period. Thus, one’s phone can be a huge stressor when things are, as it is, out of control.

If you can’t live without your phone, do NOT open unpleasant text messages or upsetting emails

Even if you have to check Twitter, Instagram, WordPress, or other apps, avoid opening text messages or your email. The reason behind this particular suggestion is that the chances of you getting triggered are quite high when you’re PMDDing. Thus, it is best to avoid anything that might cause you any sort of stress.

If you still managed to open them, do NOT respond to them

Since it might be difficult to control your emotions and reactions, it might be best to avoid responding to messages and emails altogether. Doing so might help avoid a lot of conflicts and tensions.

Take care.

Image source: Polina Zimmerman on Pexels

Liked this post?

Register at Women's Web to get our weekly mailer and never miss out on our events, contests & best reads! Or - get a couple of really cool reads on your phone every day - click here to join our Telegram channel.

Women's Web is an open platform that publishes a diversity of views. Individual posts do not necessarily represent the platform's views and opinions at all times. If you have a complementary or differing point of view, sign up and start sharing your views too!

Comments

About the Author

Upasana Dandona

A (Literature turned) Human Rights Law student who spends most of their time watching (and thinking about) Bollywood films. read more...

27 Posts | 127,706 Views

Stay updated with our Weekly Newsletter or Daily Summary - or both!

Organisations & Inclusion of People with Disability 2022

All Categories