When I was several years into my period, around 16, I finally accepted that maybe something wasn’t normal about riding a severe emotional rollercoaster and being doubled over in pain every month. I went to my mother, who assured me that the tears and the pain were just part of the process and imparted her wisdom regarding heating pads, Midol, and home remedies from Mexico. But something about it intuitively felt off, and very little offered relief. When my distress could no longer be ignored, we took a trip to the doctor, who almost immediately diagnosed me with PMDD. PMDD, or Premenstrual dysphoric disorder, only affects 3-8% of those who experience PMS. The effects of PMDD are wide-ranging but include panic attacks, severe cramps, trouble sleeping, and low energy. In the weeks leading up to my period, I suffered from crippling panic attacks, splitting migraines, insomnia, and cramps that would leave me in the fetal position.
I was prescribed birth control pills that day that helped make certain symptoms, namely the intense cramps, more manageable- they’d only keep me home from work or school every so often now. However, the migraines, panic attacks, and emotional up and downs would remain a part of the monthly lineup. And being on the pill while suffering from migraines meant that I had to be regularly monitored for higher risk of stroke, something that is still sobering to think of.
It wasn’t until after having my daughter at the age of 24 that I began to seek out relief alternatives. Before, during, and after having a child, your body undergoes massive changes. It felt like my body after the baby had turned up the intensity on my PMDD. Every month I had to brace myself for the weeks surrounding my period to be an uphill battle. I was exhausted- and so I started trying everything. I sought out acupuncture in the hopes to trip the right wire and relieve myself of the stomach-turning cramps and cupping to alleviate the terrible tension pain left behind from my migraines and panic attacks. I started meditating and stretching every morning. I changed my diet to counteract my hormone imbalance. But it wasn’t until someone gifted me a CBD bath bomb that I finally began to find the recipe that would work for me.
As it turns out, this bath bomb contained an effective dose of CBD, which left a lasting impression on me. I felt at ease around that time of the month that I had never experienced before. From that evening on, I started incorporating CBD into my daily routine, including a daily ingestible, topicals like lotions, roll-on oils, and bath bombs, and my quality of life every month has improved so much. This isn’t to say that I’ve found a cure-all or that PMDD is no longer a factor for me, but I have found a routine that’s vastly improved things for me. My experience over the years has taught me how to listen to my body, advocate for myself, and explore holistic options that were right for me. I want anyone suffering from period pain, whether physical or emotional, to know that their pain is valid and that there are options out there.