Every month I hit rock bottom for two weeks. I’m not depressed, it’s my period.

Every month I hit rock bottom for two weeks.  I’m not depressed, it’s my period.
My partner caught me crying in the dark on the floor because I can’t face another day (Photo: Jackie Adedeji)

I become a totally different person.

For two weeks out of every month I feel severely depressed, sometimes on the verge of suicide.

I question everything, including why I’m here. I feel like a failure and like my life is a mess. I’m in a dark hole and I want to get out of it.

I’ve got PMDD – premenstrual dysphoric disorder, which is a very severe form of PMS (premenstrual syndrome). It causes a plethora of emotional and physical changes two weeks before your period starts.

For me, these two weeks seem endless.

It is a troubled time, where I hate my life and all the blessings within it. I go from a person with a glass half full to a depressed, insecure and anxious person in a few moments. I suffer from hot sweats while having insomnia and wake up every morning in floods of tears.

I look at my period app and the days that stretch out in front of me, and I know I just can’t escape this nightmare.

I was never someone who experienced depression in my early years or into adulthood, and I found the onset of these feelings frightening.

It started happening about three years ago, and I was puzzled as to why, every month, I would go through such extreme mood swings.

I could never get rid of it. I would wonder if something had it happened to me? Nope. Was there a past trauma that I was holding on to, that I was now trying to get out of? Nope.

I could never get off of him (Image: Jackie Adedeji)

After months of torment, I talked to my mom and older sister about how I’ve been feeling and they instantly looked at me and said, ‘It’s PMDD, we both have it.’ Then they told me that my grandmother had it too.

In many ways, I wish the conversation would happen sooner so I could be prepared, but I recognize that maybe there was no language for it at the time my mom started dealing with it. She had had it since her teens, and PMDD wasn’t recognized as an official diagnosis until 2013.

I still didn’t really know what PMDD was, but knowing there was an answer gave me a sense of hope, so I decided to do some research.

I found out that PMDD occurs during the luteal phase (between ovulation and the start of your period) of the menstrual cycle. It lasts about a fortnight on average, but this is different for each person.

PMDD is caused by the brain’s negative reaction to the rise and fall of estrogen and progesterone that occurs during the cycle. It’s a mood disorder, not a hormonal imbalance, and therefore won’t show up on a blood test.

Feelings change as fast as Jekyll and Hyde (Image: Jackie Adedeji)

My luteal phase feels like it will go on forever. During this time, I wake up covered in sweat most mornings and have an insatiable hunger for anything greasy or unhealthy.

I feel lazy, I don’t want exercise or socializing, I hate my life, and I have this thick cloud over my head following me wherever I go. In short, I just can’t introduce myself.

There have been many times when my partner has caught me crying in the dark on the ground because I can’t face another day and he’ll look so confused because, yesterday, he was smiling about how life was finally aligning.

Then, after an agonizing couple of weeks of feeling this way, my period will start and I’m back to my bubbly self again.

Feelings change as fast as Jekyll and Hyde. Most people can’t stand it when their period comes, but I tend to be relieved when I see mine because it means I can get back to normal again.

I did a poll on my Instagram about the symptoms and asked if any of my followers had suffered from PMDD. I received message after message from people saying, ‘This is exactly what’s happening to me!’

I was in shock. If so many of us suffer from this, why is there so little research and medicine available to us?

I had been to my GP but felt slighted because they told me cutting out dairy and high carb foods might be good, but I had tried everything and even that didn’t work.

They had said it was PMS, but it’s worse than that; I know my body.

Emily Holloway, a therapist and counselor at PMDD Collective, a wellness service that offers emotional support to those affected by the disease, told me that 5-8% of menstruating women are said to suffer from PMDD and more than 70% of them will have suicidal ideas. .

She said: ‘These can range from having fleeting thoughts about not wanting to exist to requiring medical interventions to stay safe.

‘And 70% translates to up to 630,000 people in the UK feeling suicidal every month. About 34% of people with PMDD will attempt suicide.

PMDD is often confused with PMS, which affects 90% of menstruating people and has similar but less severe symptoms.

But they are different, since PMDD is actually considered a disabling extension of PMS.

PMDD has completely altered my life (Image: Jackie Adedeji)

I think PMS is more recognized than PMDD because it’s more common and often I don’t think people understand the seriousness of PMDD.

I’ve always had PMS since my period started at age 11, but it was always fleeting and in some cycles barely affected me; I could be delirious like those women in the Always ads, showing they can bleed. Y twerking. Or I could even go camping and still smile, despite my period.

But in the last three or four years, PMDD has completely disrupted my life.

Many people struggling with PMDD are turned away by doctors and are therefore forced to take treatment into their own hands. The way I got tested for PMDD was through the International Association for Premenstrual Disorders, which has a self-assessment on their website.

I now take my own natural supplements that help alleviate it. These help me relax and stay calm when I feel like my mind is heavy.

It is very important that doctors understand that this is about more than just “mood swings” or “time of the month.”

Understanding illnesses like PMDD is also about suicide prevention.

Historically, women’s pain has never been taken seriously, and neither has our mental health, especially in the context of menstruation.

But it’s time they listened to us. PMDD feels like he only gets two normal weeks out of the month. Since women today have approximately 450 periods in their lifetime, PMDD is a long-term diagnosis.

It is very important to make as much noise as possible to educate everyone on how to spot PMDD and how to keep track of their cycles.

PMDD awareness literally saves lives.

Do you have a story you would like to share? Get in touch by emailing jess.austin@metro.co.uk.

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