Testimony Tuesday: Life with Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)

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This is a weekly staple affording our readers the opportunity to share their personal testimony regarding abuse, violence, disease,  family, happiness,  faith, jail time, obesity, and/or mistakes made in your youth,  just to name a few. Let your testimony be a blessing to someone else attempting to overcome a particular avenue in life. 

“According to Women’s Health Advice PMDD, a severe form of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) occurs in 3-9% of menstruating women.

This was my life… 

Mood swings, frequent tearfulness, feelings of depression, irritability, sensitivity to loud noises, extreme fatigue and hypersomnia, increased appetite with an intense craving for simple carbohydrates coupled with binge eating, decreased interest in usual activities, along with bloating and constipation are symptoms I have dealt with two weeks out of the month since adolescence.  I assumed it was a signal that your menstrual cycle was about to start, and all women went through it.

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What I didn’t anticipate was how greatly it would impact and disrupt my life as a wife, mother, full-time employee and aspiring figure competitor.

My fraternal twin boys are 11 and my youngest son is four.  Two weeks out of the month they knew mommy would be on the couch and sleeping most of the day.  “Is mommy sick?”  “Why do you sleep so much?”  “You’re too tired to play with me today?”  These are the questions I encountered during those two weeks before my period started.  They also knew their sweet and patient mother turned into a feisty, short-tempered maniac during these two weeks.  I instructed them to play quietly and keep the television volume to a minimum.  My husband knew he had to assume the responsibilities that I normally fulfilled during these two weeks. 

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Thank goodness for a full-time state job with ample sick and vacation time.  I used both during those two weeks and ended up changing my schedule in order to sleep later.  When I came home, I retreated to my room with donuts, peanut M&Ms, butter and syrup-drenched pancakes, snickers or Twizzlers and drew the blinds and slept some more.

Six months into prep for a figure competition, my trainer candidly advised me to seek professional help after observing a consistent pattern.  Two weeks of perfect nutrition with completion of all workouts then two weeks of, eating two servings of pancakes, a few peanut M&Ms ended up being two packs and I was just too tired to complete the workouts. I also overslept and couldn’t do the fasted cardio. This meant we had to push back the competition date due to my nutrition slip ups, and failure to complete my workouts as outlined in my plan. I vividly recall my trainer saying, “Erika, this is just not normal.  You shouldn’t have to live your life like this.  You’ve been on competition prep far too long.”  

My family doctor and ob-gyn both diagnosed me with PMDD and prescribed birth control pills and antidepressants. The birth control pills were for my hormonal balance and antidepressants in the form of Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) for my low levels of serotonin.  The U.S. National Library of Medicine lists all the symptoms that I experienced as symptoms attributed with PMDD and also recommends SSRIs and birth control as possible treatments.

I declined to take medication, leery about the side effects.  After conducting my own research, I was confident I could combat PMDD with alternative medicine and a holistic approach, such as herbs and vitamins, acupuncture, massage therapy and cognitive behavior therapy with a licensed therapist. 

I tried alternative medicine and therapy for over a year.  It was beneficial; however, my symptoms continued and my frustration grew.  Desperate and hopeless, I decided to follow the advice of my doctors.  Just as I suspected, I suffered from the side effects of the medications.  One of the major side effects was weight gain, 17 lbs.  However, overall, birth control and intermittent SSRIs (antidepressants) during the 14-day premenstrual period have been extremely effective in relieving my PMDD symptoms.  The effectiveness undoubtedly outweighs the side effects.

If you experienced any of these PMDD symptoms, and they have been severe enough to interfere with work, social activities, and/or relationships, I would encourage you to see your doctor. He or she will review your symptoms and medical history and give you a thorough medical exam. Psychiatric evaluation may also be included. 

Written by Erika Kelley

3 Comments
  1. This is a great story! I applaud you for sharing; and it must be liberating paving the way for other women to overcome any obstacle that can be a hindrance. Your testimony offers comfort and hope for many others!

  2. I applaud you for sharing your personal story! It must be liberating paving the way for other women to overcome any obstacle that can be a hindrance. Your testimony offers comfort and hope for many others!

  3. Great article Erika!! I’m sure your openness to discuss this issue will bless many readers. Kudos to you my friend!! 😀

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