Via social media this week TikTok star Dixie D’Amelio revealed that she was recently diagnosed with Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD). As defined by Mayo Clinic it is a chronic premenstrual condition that can cause extreme mood swings, depression, anxiety, irritability and in severe cases, suicidal thoughts.

“I wasn’t feeling great and not really sure why,” D’Amelio told her 24.6 million followers on an Instagram live. She added, “I have never been so low … and having no idea what was wrong with me was very alarming. I just felt like I had no control over my body or mind and I had no idea what was wrong but it would turn on and off like a light switch.”

Like PMS, PMDD symptoms occur around seven to 10 days before a period and will continue for several days following. With a shift in hormones following sufferers will start to feel better almost immediately. It’s a long time to suffer from debilitating symptoms – nearly two weeks from a 28 day cycle – and up to eight percent of the world’s population have been diagnosed with condition. So why isn’t talked about?

I was diagnosed with PMDD in early 2019. I had struggled with what felt like random bouts of anxiety and depression, on and off every few weeks for months, before I spoke with my GP. There was no question as to what I was experiencing but as I walked away from the appointment with a list herbal remedies and coping mechanisms (there is currently no cure) I struggled to find any first hand accounts of this mysterious condition.

The crippling panic attacks came and went and for a long time I felt completely normal again. Then one Christmas I cried for days on end, normally about losing in a family board game or the fact it was raining again (thank you La Niña). I’ve attempted to educate my family and friends, who while are incredibly patient with me, can be often caught off guard when I fall apart again.

Perhaps the hardest part of PMDD isn’t riding out the violent mood swings, but as D’Amelio puts it, how it “really disrupts” relationships, work and a social life. The normal rhetoric “just relax” or “look at the positives” is still so prevalent. I get angry when I feel as if I’m gaslighted and then awful when I take it out on someone else. It’s easy to take deep breaths, meditate or cry it out to manage the immediate symptoms, but having to repair relationships in the aftermath is another challenge. A monthly cycle which often feels so isolating.

“I’m feeling better now and I will probably be going through the same thing next month and the month after that,” the influencer shared.

As I write this I’m feeling good off the back of another tough week and it’s strange to write about something that for a little while feels foreign. I have a sense of relief however that with millions of followers to D’Amelio’s name, that the condition of PMDD won’t be foreign to anyone else.

If you need mental health support, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or visit online. If you or someone you know needs support after sexual assault, call 1800RESPECT or view resources online.

thoughts?