Earlier in the year, I surveyed people with PMDD to find out what we need to know to provide better support. In this article you will learn what they, think their family, friends, employers and community need to know ‘to support people with PMDD’.
What is PMDD?
PMDD stands for Premenstrual dysphoric disorder. It is an invisible illness with severe physical and psychological symptoms. Symptoms can occur for one to two weeks of every month, before the period begins in menstrual cycle. Due to how often the symptoms occur, it is classified as a chronic condition. It’s not surprising then, that PMDD can affect the way people live their lives, relate to others and perform their jobs.
The disorder affects 5-10% of women and assigned female at birth (AFAB) individuals. Like most disorders affecting women, the causes of PMDD are still unclear.
What are the Symptoms of PMDD?
According to the US Office of Women’s Health, symptoms may include:
|Suicidal Thoughts||Difficulty Focusing||Headaches|
|Panic Attacks||Fatigue||Joint & Muscle Pain|
|Feeling Agitated or Angry||Uncontrollable Hunger||Abdominal Cramps|
|Feeling Out of Control||Feeling Hopelessness||Bloating|
|Mood Swings or Crying Often||Feeling Uninterested in Activities||Insomnia|
|Feeling Tense or Anxious||Feeling Uninterested in Relationships||Breast Tenderness|
Things you need to know to support people with PMDD
Below are key points those with PMDD would like people to know. It details their descriptions of how the condition affects their lives especially during “hell weeks”. Hell weeks are the weeks in which they experience the “hellish” symptoms.
What PMDD Sufferers want their Partners and Husbands to know
1. They feel guilty because they feel, that they “ask for more patience than is humanly possible” which they feel it isn’t fair on you.
2. When they go through hell weeks, they still love you. It just becomes challenging to be warm and loving when their outlook is warped by the disorder.
3. They need to focus on staying healthy. The stronger and healthier they feel when not experiencing the symptoms, the better equipped they feel to be the best wife/woman they can be, for the rest of the month.
“Sometimes existing just feels so heavy and hard.”A Person with PMDD
What PMDD Sufferers want Family, Friends and Colleagues to know
4. As much as they love you, it’s just hard to be around others when dealing with the symptoms. They just need to be alone for a while.
5. They are not ignoring your emails or texts; they just don’t have the energy to respond or talk when dealing with symptoms.
6. It’s not you. They are sorry for putting you through all their ups and downs.
7. They don’t want to call you when PMDD is at its height, because they don’t want you to worry. It feels more comfortable to suffer in silence and let the storm pass. They will happily call you as soon as they feel themselves again.
What PMDD Sufferers want their Employers to know
8. In general, they need to take one to two days off per a month in order to push through the awful symptoms (severe insomnia, high anxiety, backaches, racing thoughts, brain fog and more).
9. The fatigue cannot be controlled and its part of the reason they feel overwhelmed. Sometimes it’s easier to just give up for the day because their bodies will not cooperate.
10. They enjoy their jobs, but feel overwhelmed when experiencing PMDD symptoms and feel disheartened that all they can do is “simply go through the motions”. For most, it’s the only way they can get through the day.
11. It’s a challenge to keep up and get work done. They always try their best, but the struggle of trying to work while dealing with the symptoms can have a physical and mental toll.
12. While they might go through periods where they perform slowly and are unproductive for one to two weeks, they will definitely make up for it when they are back on their feet.
13. They care about their jobs and want to do their best, so they feel they have to suffer in silence and keep smiling to keep their jobs. They really want you to know that most of them are working while experiencing severe, disruptive depression, migraines, suicidal ideation, extreme paranoia and possible simmering rage about nothing in particular.
“We work crazy hard on our good days so we can manage through hell week.“A Person with PMDD
What PMDD Sufferers want the Public to know
14. PMDD is not a different way of referring to PMS. It is its own thing, and it can cause extreme psychological changes in its sufferers. It is not women and AFAB individuals being “weak”. Over 16% of sufferers make suicide attempts.
15. They just want the world to know that they are not choosing to be miserable, but no matter how dark they seem during hell week, they will be okay.
16. They want policy makers and governments to recognise the chronic, repetitive and debilitating nature or the disorder. It would be great if all governments could adopt similar policies to the UK, where PMDD is classed as a disability under the Equality Act 2010. This creates awareness and ensures that employers make reasonable adjustments to help employees with PMDD or face action on the grounds of discrimination
“It would be amazing to have a certain amount of period days off in our contracts instead of having to burn through our sick days.”– A Person with PMDD
Why we write these articles
At Mums in Science our aim is to support people that identify as women, find and create flexible options based on their specific needs. Our hope is that more awareness will remove the stigma around illnesses like PMDD to bring more understanding and compassion. We hope this enables them to have frank and open conversations about their needs.
Connect with Other
If you are looking for peer support, you can connect with others and chat more about PMDD here.