Posted: 08.04.21 at 11:41 by Alex Jones
It must be among the most widespread and harmful conditions you've never heard of - Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) is thought to affect one in 20 women.
Of this high number, survey data suggests 30% have attempted suicide. Far more (perhaps 50%) have contemplated taking this unthinkable action.
Sadly, Penarth's Lacey-Beth Lloyd fall into this latter category.
"It is a severe negative reaction in the brain to how your body copes with the fluctuation of the hormones oestrogen and progesterone between a week and two weeks before your period," she explains.
"Symptoms can range from muscle pain, to breast tenderness, to joint pain, physical headaches, dizziness or nausea - which comes with a loss of appetite."
But worst of all are the severe mood swings, which manifest as anxiety, lethargy, irritability and a sense of hopelessness.
Perhaps due to societal stigmas around periods and despite its prevalence, PMDD was only formally recognised by the WHO in 2019.
There currently exists no UK-based charity designed specifically to help those affected.
Without awareness, there can be no diagnosis. Lacey is tackling this head-on by doing something amazing - climbing Pen Y Fan 10 times in 24 hours.
She has already raised £800 for The International Association For Premenstrual Disorders in the process.
"I think in a way my PMDD has made me stronger, which is why I'm doing this fundraiser. Life can be so challenging that I feel I can take on anything.
"I’ve had it where life doesn’t feel worth living. I’ve said to my partner before that it would be easier to walk out and be hit by a bus than having to deal with the emotions I go through.
"That’s why this fundraiser is so important to me. Knowing that I have it helps a lot. When I get to two weeks before my period, I’m now a lot more aware and in control.
"If people are aware of it, hopefully they can go out and get a diagnosis and consider treatment. If we can talk about it, we can save a life.”
Treatments for PMDD range from taking antidepressants and contraceptive pills to more extreme approaches such as undergoing a hysterectomy. That Lacey has requested this drastic final option is a testament to the severity of her disorder.
She is currently seeing a therapist and practising mindfulness to relieve some of the most damaging symptoms.
"I'm not surprised that 30% will try to kill themselves. I know because I've felt it.
"I’ve sat there, crying and happy at the same time, and then I wake up and the butter’s gone out of the butter dish and I go into an uncontrollable rage.
“You then get in a state of despair because you don’t want to feel like that and get into a minset of hating yourself. Lockdown has really intensified those feeling because I’m not allowed to do my usual routine and coping mechanisms.
“That’s why this fundraiser is so important to me, because it hurts to know that women are going through this all the time without any advice.
"Even if they don’t have this condition, women need know that it’s okay to speak up about your period affecting you."
You can support Lacey's via her GoFundMe Page.
More information on PMDD is available HERE.