Behind the Smile

Posted by Lisa Stevens on

This is a very hard post for me. I am a very private person when it comes to things I am dealing with. I hardly ever talk about things that "really" matter. But I believe this issue is too important to not discuss. Too important to me and my family, cause it effects us as a family, any friendships I have, as well as our business.

I have a lot of weird, rare disorders and things that affect me. The one I am going to talk about today is PMDD (Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder). I suffer from this....and suffer is true in every sense of the word. I suffer and my family suffers (although different) right along with me. Over the years, there have been times where it was worse and other times when it was better. When I am pregnant and nursing it tends to get better....but now that I am done having children and has been almost 2 years since I have finished nursing my last (yes, do the math...I nursed our youngest until he was 4...another thing I don't talk about much...hahaha) it has gotten bad....really bad. 

What is PMDD? 

Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (also known as Premenstrual Dysphoria, Late Luteal Phase Dysphoric Disorder, or PMDD) is a cyclical, hormone-based mood disorder with symptoms arising during the premenstrual, or the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle and lasting until the onset of menstrual flow. It affects an estimated 5-10% of women of reproductive age. While PMDD is directly connected to the menstrual cycle, it is not a hormone imbalance. PMDD is a severe negative reaction to the natural rise and fall of estrogen and progesterone. It is a suspected genetic disorder with symptoms often worsening over time and around reproductive events including menarche, ovulation, pregnancy, birth, miscarriage, and menopause. Women with PMDD are at an increased risk for postpartum depression and suicidal behavior. Many, but not all, women with PMDD have a history of sexual trauma or depression. ( 

Symptoms of PMDD

  • Feelings of sadness or despair or even thoughts of suicide
  • Feelings of tension or anxiety
  • Panic attacks, mood swings, or frequent crying
  • Lasting irritability or anger that affects other people
  • Lack of interest in daily activities and relationships
  • Trouble thinking or focusing
  • Tiredness or low-energy
  • Food cravings or binge eating
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Feeling out of control
  • Physical symptoms, such as bloating, breast tenderness, headaches, and joint or muscle pain

These symptoms occur during the week or two before menstruation and go away within a few days after bleeding begins. A diagnosis of PMDD requires the presence of at least five of these symptoms. (

So, the deal is, you are diagnosed with PMDD if you show at least 5 of these symptoms for 2 cycles...I present with all 11 symptoms during most of my cycles. (Some are better than others but I rarely have no symptoms). Like I said, over the years there have been worse months and better months. But in the last year I have had several REALLY bad months, last month being the worst I have ever experienced. Thus, why we decided to be open with everyone about it, hoping getting support and understanding from our family, friends and customers will help our family deal with it. Sometimes, as our customer, you may wonder why we "go quiet" in our social media...this is why, honestly we are just trying to survive the days here and it is hard to think about anything outside of what is happening in the house. 

I have been reading tons of blogs from women and their partners who deal with PMDD. Everyone's experience seems to be slightly different, but in the end, all of us (those who suffer AND their partners) find it overwhelming and a true disruption to their lives. Lots of people explain it like a Jeykle and Hyde type situation. I like to think of myself as very easy going, have a love for life and very optimistic. But when dealing with PMDD, those are not the emotions that take over. 

It is hard to write this on a "good time", since I do not always remember what it felt like during my episodes...I know this last time was bad enough that suicide was a very real thought in my mind. I was so overwhelmed with despair that if it had not been for Ben, I am not convinced I would still be here to write this blog. Those thoughts do not happen every month (thank goodness) but they have happened more over the last year than they ever happened before (not saying they never happened before that....just that they seem to be occurring more often now). 

The thing with PMDD and my anxiety and sadness and anger, most of it is irrational. Outside of the "bad time", I look and think, why did I get so upset? Why did I think that was even an issue? Even during the episodes, it is like I am in a movie and I am watching the events unfold without having any control over them....even though I am the one doing them. Kinda like an out of body experience. I watch myself yell, or scream or throw things....I watch myself lay on the bathroom floor sobbing, knowing it will never get any better than this....that my life is to be sadness and anger and pain for the rest of my life. I get jealous and paranoid...I feel like everyone is talking crap about me behind my back and no one really likes me anyway. I assume Ben is having an affair, thinking how could he like me anyway, I am too crazy to be worth sticking around for.  (This is totally in my head, Ben does not feel this way....and right now as I write this, I know this...but during my PMDD there is no convincing me otherwise). 

I find it very hard to concentrate, focus and cannot make even simple decisions. That is actually my first sign or symptom each month...when I begin my day by not being able to decide which socks to wear...I know it has begun. I have anxiety, in both the physical and emotional sense. My whole body gets tense, my chest hurts. These are all symptoms that I do not deal with on a regular day....only my PMDD days. 

It is very hard to describe how it feels during them, because I cannot write about it during an actual episode (although I have read that it is therapeutic to do I may try this month and see how that goes....maybe not for all you to read....hahahaha). I am trying some new treatments this month, that I am hoping will help. I have had some success with treatments in the past, but nothing that has "cured" it....which is unlikely to happen, but if I can find ways to help make it better, I will do just about anything. I have to get things in place before it happens again, cause when it starts I am unable to make decisions and be coherent enough to actually do anything. 

So, there it is. This is me laying one more of my skeletons out for all to see (don't worry...I still have lots more....hahaha). I do hope that by being open with it, it will help us as a family, as well as maybe help someone else, someone who is dealing with the same issues as me, but not knowing what PMDD is or that there are treatments available. Here is a list of various websites that you might find helpful, whether you suffer from it yourself, someone you know or just care to educate yourself on PMDD. (This is a foundation for those who suffer with PMDD) (A blog from someone who suffers from PMDD, she also has guest blog posts from partners). (This is a phone app that helps you track your symptoms!!! I haven't been able to get it to work on my phone yet...but I am very excited when I do. I think it will be very helpful). 




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  • Hey! I sent you a private message on FB messenger a couple days ago, not sure if you’ve received yet, but thank you so much for this article!

    Michelle on
  • We are gonna pray for you all. I suffer from depression. I’ve been on medication for at least 15 years.
    Yeah, it sucks. I obviously cant relate in every way but some of that I can.
    One thing I have found is that magnesium calms my anxiety. I get it from the Corn Crib. I use the powdered stuff that you mix with warm water. I think its called “calm”. I drink it at bedtime but have been considering taking some in the morning. It works.
    Anyway, bless you and your family! Jesus, I lift Lisa and Ben and the kids up to You. Take this horrible disease away please! By your stripes we are healed. Bless you in Jesus’ name.


    Joel Tower on
  • This sounds like what happened to me post partum after each of my kids.. i was diagnosed with bipolar.. 2 isolated events in my whole life! No history of depression only these 2 manic episodes. Completely paranoid and emotional. Our hormones can cause serious issues with our mental health.. no one ever talks about it!! Thanks for being real. I will be praying for you. I know how hard that kind of behaviour was on our marriage and kids.. i can only imagine expecting monthly episodes. I hope there can be a cure!!! ♡♡♡♡

    Cheryl on
  • Thanks for sharing on such a personal level.
    I may have suffered of the same affliction my entire life!
    Much more than PMS, I had many recurring symptoms during that exact time frame.
    I am nearing 51 now and in peri-menopause, so I have noticed the symptoms becoming lessened.
    This is the first time I hear of such, yet it makes perfect sense to me.
    Though I did not struggle with thoughts of suicide, I can relate fully with all your other symptoms. Again, thanks for sharing. Hoping to meet you soon!
    Co-founder of

    Michelle on
  • I know you do not know me but Ben does. Although I do not have the same illness I can relate to the emotional/mental side. I suffer from bipolar disorder and have been in your shoes many times over the years. I am sure when I was younger I could have been diagnosed the same as you but it would have been hard to separate. I just wanted to say you are a true warrior. It is hard for others to understand the complete loss of control or the despair we feel. Then when we come out of it there is the guilt of what we put our family through. It is also difficult to explain what it is like to live in survival mode. What I do know is that we are survivors. I will be honest if not for my faith I don’t know as that I would be here either. You never know He is all you need until He is all you have. It takes amazing courage to face what you do and do not question the amount of strength you have. Sometimes all I can do is fall at God’s feet. I hope in time your body will improve but until then I want you to know you are in my prayers now and how much I admire your ability to stay real and still be able to love your family. You got this girl!

    Denene Morgan on

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