As a teenager growing up in a loving Christian home, I struggled with low self-esteem and depression. Little did I know it was undiagnosed PMDD. PMDD stands for Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD). It’s a very severe form of PMS — like PMS on steroids — and it often goes undiscovered as it takes five to eight years to get a diagnosis. One in twenty menstruators suffer from PMDD and 5 percent are suicidal. In a world where 1.8 billion people bleed every month around the globe, it is an enormously understudied field.
Although the ’90s was a time in which the United States was beginning to increase public awareness and reduce the stigma of mental illness, menstrual health was not even really a discussion. The depression that I experienced led me into a downward spiral where I battled plummeting self-esteem, self-worth, sensitivity to rejection, anger, and binge eating; all of these are symptoms of PMDD. Eventually, binge eating turned into an eating disorder.
Later in high school and throughout my college years, I began to notice my emotional turbulence. At times, it felt like I was being taken over for days by some kind of monster, where the darkness would just swallow me up, only to wake up the next day being completely myself, happy, free, and excited about my life and the future. And then in a moment’s turn, it all came back, a tidal wave of despair. I felt like I was living some kind of Jekyll and Hyde experience.
I married young, had two daughters and later divorced. Over the next 20 years, I lived on an emotional roller coaster, secretly struggling with many of these PMDD symptoms. I would ask myself over and over and over again, what is wrong with me? Am I being punished for something? Does God hate me? Why me? I hid behind a mask of pain most of my life, but when I shared my struggles with my general practitioner, gynecologist, endocrinologist, and therapists, no one made a connection to my menstrual cycle or mentioned PMS or PMDD.
In 2020, when Covid hit, I lost my job and just a few months later, my daughter’s private school closed, including remote learning. Fear and panic overtook me. My symptoms skyrocketed to levels I had never experienced, including severe anxiety and panic attacks. Month after month like clockwork, I would find myself responding in rage that was triggered by my sensitivity to rejection, followed by days and days of plummeting shame, tears, guilt, and remorse. I remember telling myself, my children deserve a better mother. Every month I would promise my then-boyfriend, and now husband, that it would never happen again. I would promise my teenage daughters that they would never see me like that again, but I couldn’t stop it as hard as I tried.
Was I Bipolar? There were countless nights of being on my hands and knees praying for this to leave me. Not knowing what it was and willing to try anything to make it go away — or to at least ease the pain — my therapist recommended trying SSRIs. While the anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications took the edge off, I found myself trying to manage the side effects. It was complete chaos; I felt like a prisoner in my own body. I began reading articles on the benefits of ketamine therapy, and although it was an enlightening experience, it didn’t touch the deep-seated pain.
And then one night, everything changed. My boyfriend of two years decided that he could no longer be in a relationship with me. I had broken too many promises: that I would change, that it would never happen again, that I would get better. That anger-filled night changed my life forever. He left. He was on a plane, he was gone and I was alone. I had to face my teenage daughters and tell them that I ruined everything. I wondered, how are they going to ever forgive me? How do you even explain?
That night, by some act of divine grace, I googled “rage before period”. It was then for the first time I read the words “Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder.” That Google search led me to YouTube where I watched endless videos of people who were suffering just like me. I heard story after story, knowing that this was exactly what I had — they were literally describing me. For the first time, I was getting answers, and a sense of relief and validation flooded me. I was not alone.
I joined every Facebook group I possibly could to find support, get answers and get help. After spending days of reading posts, my hope began to sink. I read that there was no cure, that there is really nothing one can do outside of having a hysterectomy. What everyone was recommending was everything I had done for the last 25 years. So the only relief I could find is having my uterus taken out of my body? That was a major no for me. I was determined to keep searching, clinging to hope. I did not come this far to be told there was no way out. I continued to relentlessly search and then came across a therapy called Rapid Transformational Therapy (RTT).
After investigating more about RTT, I read that it helps uncover the root cause of why emotional pain is showing up in one’s life. Unlike other therapies which focus on the issue or challenge, RTT helps discover the origin of the beliefs and behaviors that have led to the symptoms of PMDD.
I could feel true hope beginning to rise in me for the first time. It all started making sense. I knew I was looking to heal the root cause, I knew I needed to heal from emotional pain. I would do anything to get my life back, and it was here that I knew I was ready and determined to fight harder than ever before to get myself back. I was ready to do the deep work, I was ready to know the answers, to let go of pain, and to shatter my negative self-beliefs, feelings and patterns.
After experiencing two RTT sessions, I knew that everything was changing. I could feel it in me. Daily, I was healing, I was setting myself free. I realized then, it was me that I had been waiting for all this time. When my next luteal phase (the time in our cycle when PMDD symptoms show up) came, the triggers were gone, I had self-compassion, I had clarity and self-understanding, and I had new real truths about me that were affirming, loving, and empowering.
It was like I put on colored glasses for the first time: I saw myself, my childhood, my relationships with my children, my boyfriend, my family, and even my career path all clearly now. I saw with profound truth the why behind my pain, and I finally released it once and for all, setting myself free for good. I can truly say I no longer have PMDD and it is the most liberating, amazing, and incredible feeling I have ever known.
My story didn’t end there. I realized then if I could heal from PMDD, anyone could. In 2021, I became trained and certified in RTT for one purpose alone: to share that there is hope, healing, and freedom from PMDD. This is now my life’s calling. I am now leading and guiding many who were just like me, who were once bound by the darkness of this debilitating disorder, into healing and helping set them free — forever.
Rachel Lynn Fox is a certified Rapid Transformational Therapy Hypnotherapist and coach in New York City. To learn more about Rachel and her PMDD program, visit her website, Facebook, or Instagram.
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