From PPD to PMDD: It Wasn’t All In My Head

Hi ALL it has been too long since I’ve stopped by to say hello! I’ve been training for the Cooper River Bridge Run in Charleston SC and that has taken pretty much all of my free time. On days when Ari is at school instead of blogging I’ve been out running — and making great progress if I might say so myself. 🙂


We’ve got some heavy stuff to cover today so lets get to it.

You all may remember my joy when I announced that I beat postpartum depression (PPD)!  I was on cloud nine, ten AND eleven. I was feeling great and I mean really GREAT! I was able to discontinue Sertraline (generic of Zoloft) which is something I was unsure I’d be able to do, ever.

Of course the story doesn’t end there with a lovely “happily ever after”. If it did I’d be scared because that is NOT how my life works.

Enter Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) Symptoms

After a month or so of feeling excellent I began feeling:

  • Lethargic
  • Asocial ( my doctor informed me that if I were anti-social I’d want to kill all of my friends. Thanks for the clarification Doc!)
  • Depressed wondering what’s the point of life
  • Sad and tearful
  • Hungry … very hungry ( I was so hungry I thought I was pregnant … FOR SURE )
  • Angry, rage-ful and easily irritated
  • I THOUGHT my marriage was doomed
  • Impatient with my son
  • Very down on myself – low self esteem
  • Body aches especially my upper back
  • Brain Fog – Spacey feeling – Zoned out (unable to hold a conversation)

My first thought was that I hadn’t beat PPD after all … that it was still there.

But what were these feelings of rage and anger… like punch the computer angry?

Of course I feared that I needed to jump back on the Sertraline wagon but, I decided to ride it out just in case it was my body needing to stabilize.

To my joy and excitement within about two weeks I eventually felt better.

But month after month those same symptoms would POP up and plague me and my family. My poor family. Again and again — and just as soon as they returned they would go away.

After looking closer at what I call  “HELL weeks” (usually two) they coincided perfectly with ovulation (or around day 14 of my cycle and the clouds began to part once my cycle started).

HELLO Pre-Menstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)

For my entire life, for as long as I can remember I have needed a nap. Some days more than others but I always felt tired, withdrawn and extremely fatigued. Sometimes so much that like I felt as if I couldn’t muster the energy to breathe.

Social events that at the time of scheduling I was super excited about, I’d end up dreading the thought of attending and often cancel. I would go shopping and even though I had a cart full of things I would leave without paying because I was just — that — tired. I wouldn’t go to the grocery store without DH because of anxiety that I took as being an introvert or maybe a touch of social anxiety. And here lately I’ve been an evil nasty short tempered little lady.

I’ve spent so much on tests thinking that I had an auto-immune disease or a thyroid problem. But all test were always negative and I was told I was in perfect health.

Looking Back…

The symptoms of PMDD began during ovulation — the two weeks before I got my first postpartum (PP) cycle at 19 months PP (thank you breastfeeding!). At that time I made an appointment to see my Psychiatrist because I thought I needed to increase my medication for PPD. It was increased and I felt better. But now I know that was actually the beginning of PMDD.

Treating PMDD

Since I stopped Sertraline I didn’t want to start it again without putting up a fight so tried the natural route:

  • Omega 3 (Flax seed oil)
  • B vitamins
  • 5-HTP (300 mg daily)
  • Calcium Zinc and Magnesium
  • D3 (10000 ius daily)
  • Maca Powder

Although it is MUCH more affordable to go the pharmaceutical route. 8 bucks a month!! I  do prefer natural alternatives … but then again whatever works??

… and for me that ended up being


50 mg a day on days 1-13 of my cycle …  and 75 mg day 14-28. I still have some days that I am TIRED but nothing like before!

I now schedule myself around PMDD. As much as possible and respect my need for rest.

So!? What has been your experience with extreme PMS?

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  • Reply
    March 3, 2015 at 1:39 pm

    I want to thank you sooo much for talking about this openly and honestly! I’m a new christian mom who had PPD which I believe has developed into PMDD also! It’s so nice to hear an honest and real response to this topic 🙂

    • Reply
      Raivon Lee
      March 3, 2015 at 11:38 pm

      You are welcome. Thank you so much for commenting. It really does mean the world to me… that simply being open and authentic helps others, even if it is just so that others know they aren’t alone..

  • Reply
    March 17, 2015 at 10:15 am

    Hey I was actually wondering if we could talk more about your experience with this? I’m in the beginning of getting it diagnosed and it would help to talk to someone about how it worked for them. Thanks!

    • Reply
      Raivon Lee
      April 14, 2015 at 6:59 pm

      Hello Andrea I would be honored to talk with you! I will send you an email. Thanks for reaching out!

  • Reply
    May 13, 2015 at 1:23 pm

    Is it possible to have PPD and PMDD at the same time?

    • Reply
      Raivon Lee
      May 13, 2015 at 2:07 pm

      Hi Lexie, I’m no expert but I believe you can. If you have your cycle… I didn’t notice PMDD until I had my first postpartum cycle.

  • Reply
    May 3, 2016 at 12:51 pm

    I am a loving husband, attempting to speak from the absent voice of the PMDD supporter. My beautiful wife, our 3 school aged kids, and I have suffered the effects of PMDD for years, more recently worse since last summer. My poor wife, obviously the main sufferer, has had no choice but to be a warrior every single month like clockwork. Severe headaches, exhaustion, high anxiety and irritability often exploding into rage over usually minor stressful situations, strains on our marriage, her feeling depressed and hopeless until her period. She’ll then have a few good days then it’ll start all over again. We, she does the best she can every day, explaining whats going on to the kids, needing me to support her, to be infinitely patient, kind, loving, tender amd ..emotionless while she feels totally overwhelmed, irrational, and guilty for treating us this way. It takes every bit of emotional strength I have, to the point of complete exhaustion, to help her IN THE WAY SHE NEEDS, AND NOT THE WAY I THINK I SHOULD REACT. I’ve learned MY natural reactions to highly emotional amd IRRATIONAL arguments is like using gasoline to put out a campfire. I’ve had to catch myself so many times to stop and think about what is going on. Can not react to this situation like I would a normal situation or argument. MY ARGUING FUELS THE FIRE. Supporters, do yourself and your wife a favor… Do exactly what she asks when she is experiencing this. It is best for both of you. Your feelings are going to get in the way and hurt her. If you need to you can calmly talk about your feelings or later when she has calmed down. Take my advice, believe me.

    I know she does not mean any of it, i know she can’t help it. I know this darkness, this monster takes her over against her will like clockwork. Outside of PMDD hell, she is amazing. Truly a wonderful hilarious mom and woman.
    She is trying, for the first time, a new regiment prescribed by a wonderful gyno. She HAS been diagnosed with hypothyroidism last summer. Her primary prescribed her Synthroid. This was terrible. Her symptoms have escalated to a now consistently high level of anxiety since Synthroid. Her primary dr. Clearly does not know what PMDD is or how to help, tjat was evide t. And from what ive read in my extensove research on PMDD, many of you poor suffering women encounter similar experiences. So my wife is now on Armour thyroid, magesium, vitD, evening primrose oil capsules, and vitB6 in addition to her Zoloft shes taken for 10 years. It seems like a lot. I just hope ANYTHING will help my wife. She is my best friend, my love. And I helplessly stand and watch her battle this. Its awful, but we are trying, SHE is trying.
    I hope you sufferers are able to have your friends and family understand just what this PMDD monster is. It is the most difficult heartbreaking thing I’ve ever been through, and this is only a firsthand perspective.

    • Reply
      September 1, 2016 at 3:43 am

      Thank you for sharing. Your words brought me to tears. I’ve been crying all evening for unknown reasons, but your story touches me because you’re so supportive of your wife. Today is the first day I’ve ever heard of this condition. I stumbled upon it as I was researching PMS. As I’ve been reading the personal stories and research on PMDD, I have become absolutely sure this is what I have. I’m in the 1st day of my cycle, but still very emotional. Just this past weekend I had one of my rages, and am feeling very guilty. I realized something was wrong with me when I discovered I break up with my bf every month around the same time! All the while, I was totally rational and logical thinking he was the one with the problems. I’m feeling very relieved to know that I’m not crazy, not alone, and that I don’t just suck as a person. At the same time, I’m very emotional about “knowing” there’s something “wrong” with me…i had no idea. I just thought the symptoms were normal. It’s been somewhat of an overwhelming day with this newfound awareness…kind of makes me want to shut down, but I know I can’t. So thank you for sharing your story!

  • Reply
    Karen Trudel
    May 4, 2016 at 12:39 am

    I have bipolar disorder and PMDD as well as borderline personality disorder. It’s been quite the ride for me. I am perimenopausal and been diagnosed with bipolar since 1994 and probably should have diagnosed much younger with PMDD. No one has been able to treat me successfully with meds and therapy. My body aches r getting worse and worse. Today I got my period again after having all last week and did not have it at all yesterday and then it showed up again today. I took a late nap today from 7:30to 9:30pm. I am always exhausted. I am currently on disability. My obgyn does not know how to help and nor does my psychiatrist.

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