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  • Meredith

Learning To Live With PMDD: 5 Things That Have Helped

Updated: Mar 1, 2023

I’ve been living with and navigating PMDD for over 10 years. This has enabled me to get up close and personal with the symptoms each month; to experiment with what helps my symptoms and what makes them worse. Frustratingly, as is the experience for so many women, health professionals often have a very limited understanding of the condition and there are still not enough, good enough treatment options (some can make things a whole lot worse). So, in this respect, I learnt to become my own PMDD practitioner.

In this first in a series of blog posts on PMDD I offer some of the things I have discovered along the way that helps me navigate and manage the symptoms.

1. Cycle tracking (noting the dates of menstruation via a calendar or an app) has been enormously helpful in becoming aware of the days that are more challenging. Being forewarned in this way helps me with planning my schedule and asking for support around the particularly tough days. Communicating my own awareness of the condition and sharing my cycle with family and friends has also helped.

Counselling can help you develop the confidence to communicate with others about the condition and ask for necessary accommodations.

2. Managing stress. The mind-body link is firmly established. I noticed a clear link between stress and my symptoms. If I had been experiencing a lot of stress in the first two weeks of my cycle, my PMDD symptoms were undoubtedly worse. When you think stressful or negative thoughts this releases stress hormones which make PMDD symptoms worse. It is also cyclical. A stressed, tense body can create stressed thinking.

Counselling can help break the cycle by exploring ways to calm the mind and body.

3. Going with the flow of the cycle. As much as it is tempting to deny or resist the luteal phase, it inevitably comes around each month! Resistance or fear around this phase are added sources of stress. In addition to the challenges, there may also be valuable messages to heed in this phase of the cycle; a demand that you slow down, surrender and that you tend to your body and soul. There can also be a truth-seeing clarity and power in this phase, which can help to notice your boundaries and the times you have said yes when you actually wanted to say no.

Counselling can help you reframe your relationship to PMDD and explore the messages your symptoms may be offering.

4. Rest. Despite the conditioning and messages we receive from our capitalist culture, we are not meant to be ‘productive’ all the time. Our society tells us we should consistently work hard and that resting is synonymous with laziness. I have learnt to resist this thinking as much as I can. I listen to my body’s calls for rest and rest as much as my schedule allows, particularly in the luteal phase. This is honouring and taking care of my female body.

Counselling invites you to explore how you feel about rest and productivity in our culture and any barriers to giving yourself what you need.

5. Allow intense emotions, feel them and find safe ways to move them through your body. As women living in a patriarchal society, we are socialised to believe we should not feel or express feelings of anger or rage. Yet there is much to feel rageful about. Repressing emotions creates a ‘coke bottle effect’, where they can erupt with the slightest trigger (which tends to be what happens in the luteal phase). Allowing my irritability, anger and rage to be there (but taking responsibility for not allowing it to express in a hurtful or damaging way to others), acknowledging it for the wisdom and power it can offer and finding ways to move it through my body e.g. dancing to loud, energetic music or expressing sound vocally can help offer release and relief.

Counselling offers a space to explore all your emotions, the wisdom they offer and the judgements you may put on them.

I am a trained counsellor offering specific support to women suffering with PMDD. Get in touch via or via the contact form to book a free 20 minute consultation.

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