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A nursing student with a severe form of PMS has revealed how she suffers from extreme anger, anxiety and depression in the two weeks before her period.
Tayla Dougall, 26, from Melbourne has been diagnosed with premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), and says the crippling symptoms she experiences every month have completely changed her personality.
Since she was a teenager, Tayla has suffered with paranoia, bloat, skin breakouts, hot flushes and aching limbs - the pain of which has been so severe she's been left bedridden.
But after starting to track and record her symptoms a few years ago, she decided to visit her doctor where she was diagnosed with PMDD (which is a very severe form of PMS).
For years, the symptoms have taken a toll on relationships and friendships, with Tayla explaining it impacts every area of her life.
Although Tayla is now happy with boyfriend Conor Mengler-Francis, 28, she says the condition has contributed to the breakdown of past relationships.
She explained: "Not only will I feel incredibly low and anxious, but my irritability is off the scale. I'll get really bad road rage, or something tiny, like somebody walking too slowly in front of me, sparks this anger in me.
"PMDD creates this huge body dysmorphia in me, so I won't feel confident in myself. That, plus the anxiety, leads to this horrible paranoia. If someone doesn't text me back right away, I'll become convinced that they're angry at me, or I've done something wrong.
"That can be hard in a relationship and not everybody understands. Thankfully, Conor is very supportive. He knows that this behaviour isn't coming from me. It's PMDD taking control."
Tayla believes her symptoms began at the age of 16. Over the course of a few years she went back and forth to different doctors, but was repeatedly told she had either PMS or depression - which didn't make sense as her symptoms came in cycles.
"I started doing lots of my own research online. By that point, period tracking apps had become quite a popular thing, so I downloaded one and would carefully record all my symptoms," said Tayla.
"I knew the way I was feeling was somehow connected to my period - but I hadn't heard of PMDD until I started scouring the internet, and found some articles about it."
As soon as Tayla started reading about the condition, she was convinced she had it and in 2017 - with months of detailed symptom diaries - she returned to her doctor.
"The doctor was fantastic. She'd heard of PMDD, but didn't have any real in-depth knowledge of it, so she went away and read up on it and asked me to keep tracking my symptoms in the meantime."
Tayla was soon diagnosed and has now started working on some coping mechanisms including following a healthy diet and exercise regime and avoiding alcohol.
"It was bittersweet. On the one hand, I was finally being heard, but on the other, I knew I now had to live with this thing for which there's no real cure," she said.
"Sadly, it seems it's getting worse as I get older. It takes over my social life, so I almost have to plan around it.
"My skin breaks out, my hair is limp and lifeless and I'm so bloated that clothes don't fit. It shatters my confidence completely, and I'm usually such a happy, outgoing person.
"But I am trying to treat it holistically. I see a naturopath - someone who treats various medical conditions naturally - and also make sure I stay on top of my healthy eating regime.
"Exercise has also been my saviour."
Mind describe PMDD as "a very severe form of premenstrual syndrome (PMS), which can cause many emotional and physical symptoms every month during the week or two before you start your period. It is sometimes referred to as 'severe PMS'.
"While many people who are able to have periods may experience some mild symptoms of PMS, if you have PMDD these symptoms are much worse and can have a serious impact on your life.
"Experiencing PMDD can make it difficult to work, socialise and have healthy relationships. In some cases, it can also lead to suicidal thoughts."
In a bid to raise awareness and help others with their diagnosis, Tayla has now launched an Instagram account, @livingwithpmdd__.
"My goal is to create as much awareness as possible," said Tayla.
"I do still have days where I'm not on top of it all, and PMDD has put me in some very dark places where I genuinely felt I was going crazy.
"But It really helps to talk to women who understand. Everyone copes differently, but now I have a little community that I can share advice with.
"I want to say to others that may be going through this to keep pushing. You may get criticised for being moody, or told it's all in your head, but if deep down, you know it's something more than that, listen to your own body.
"PMDD is difficult to live with but it's also made me grateful for my good days, and pushes me to live life to the full when I can."
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