Becci is a 35-year-old mum, blogger, and patient representative for the Fair Treatment for Women of Wales and The International Association for Premenstrual Disorders. This is her story about living with Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD):
I first began to experience symptoms of mental-ill health around the time of my first period, known as the ‘menarche’.
For two weeks of each month, it was though a switch had been flipped and I no longer had control of my own body.
I felt depressed, and anxious, and experienced panic attacks, suicidal thoughts, and body dysmorphia.
At first, doctor’s assumed my problems were simply ‘teenage angst’.
After this, I was diagnosed and medicated for Depression, Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD), and eventually bipolar and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
However, I still felt that none of these diagnoses aligned with my experiences. I began to notice a pattern in my symptoms, which started about two weeks before my period and ended within the first two days of bleeding.
It was like clockwork each month. When I explained this pattern and my feelings, I felt like I wasn’t being listened to, which left me feeling isolated.
It wasn’t until 18 years later I felt the relief of being correctly diagnosed with Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD).
At first, I felt scared, but now share my experiences of living with PMDD through social media, and collaborate with other bloggers in order to educate others and let those with lived experience of PMDD know they are not alone.
I also share my partner’s experiences of living with someone diagnosed with PMDD, so that loved ones feel acknowledged too.
I first discovered the NCMH when The International Association for Premenstrual Disorder posted details of the study.
I believe that participating in these studies is integral to learning more about mental ill-health, it allows researchers to learn more about these disorders and this helps educate healthcare professionals and wider society.
I hope this research will break the stigma around menstrual health and help spread the word about PMDD, so that fewer people are misdiagnosed, feel less alone in their symptoms, and are educated.
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My audio diaries about life with PMDD were featured in the BBC documentary ‘28ish Days Later’.