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Nursing Student Opens Up About Severe PMS That Completely Changes Her Personality

Tayla and her boyfriend (PA Real Life/Collect)

A nursing student revealed how the crippling anxiety and depression she suffers are ruling her life, completely changing her personality and impacting her relationships.

Tayla Dougall has suffered of pain, bloating, and breakouts so severe she can be left bedridden for up to two weeks before her period starts.

But four years ago, she started tracking her symptoms using a journal and an app and she was diagnosed with premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). It can cause extreme anger, anxiety and depression every month, in the week or two before a period.

Tayla (PA Real Life/Collect)

Plagued by symptoms for a decade, Dougall says PMDD has taken a terrible toll on her past relationships.

“It impacts every region of my life – my studies, my social life, my self-esteem, relationships and friendships," she said.

“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."

Tayla and her boyfriend (PA Real Life/Collect)

“PMDD creates this huge body dysmorphia in me, so I won't feel confident in myself," she said.

“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 during a difficult episode of PMDD (PA Real Life/Collect)

Looking back, Dougall believes her symptoms began when she was 16 and would become much more affected by her periods than her friends.

"I seemed to handle things differently to other people. I'd become so depressed and anxious. It was far more than the usual PMS," she continued.

For years, Dougall suffered in silence thinking she was just particularly sensitive to hormonal changes.

Every month, she would bloat uncomfortably, her skin would break out in painful spots and she would become gripped by feelings of despair.

Over the years, she went back and forth to various doctors, but was told repeatedly that she had either PMS.

“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," she said.

Tayla showing where her skin breaks out (PA Real Life/Collect)

“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," she said.

Convinced she had the condition, Dougall returned to her doctor in 2017.

“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," she said.

Tayla during a difficult episode of PMDD (PA Real Life/Collect)

A couple of months later, Dougall was officially diagnosed.

According to the mental health charity Mind, symptoms of PMDD can include feelings of hopelessness, anxiety, anger and tension, difficulty concentrating, tearfulness, lack of energy and even suicidal thoughts.

“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.

Tayla (PA Real Life/Collect)

Since her diagnosis, Dougall has continued to live with the debilitating condition and has developed some coping mechanisms.

She follows a healthy diet and makes sure she exercises regularly, even when she is feeling overcome by fatigue and nausea so severe that she is on anti-sickness medication usually reserved for chemotherapy patients.

She also avoids alcohol and making social plans on what she knows will be her “bad days."

“Sadly, it seems it's getting worse as I get older," Dougall said. “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 savior."

Tayla and her boyfriend (PA Real Life/Collect)

In a bid to spare other women the decade-long fight for answers that she went through, Dougall has now launched an Instagram account where she documents her life with PMDD to raise awareness.

Through her page, she has spoken with other people from across the globe, all living with the condition.

“My goal is to create as much awareness as possible. 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," she said.

Tayla and her boyfriend (PA Real Life/Collect)

“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," she added.

“I want to say to others that may be going through this to keep pushing. You may get criticized 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."

Follow Tayla on Instagram here