MOST women know what it’s like to suffer mood swings and depression round their periods. But for Cat Stone and women like her, the hormonal cycle really does feel like a curse.

Cat suffers from Pre Menstrual Disphoric Disorder (PMDD).

She has been suicidal, violent, destructive to relationships, unable to work and severely depressed.

During one particularly bad spell she drank half a bottle of whisky before phoning social services to ask them to take her eldest child away because she couldn’t cope.

Cat, from Winchester, first began showing signs of PMDD shortly before she started her periods, when she was 12.

At the time she and her family assumed her mood swings and aggression were simply teenage behaviour.

By the age of 16 she’d been prescribed |antidepressants.

For years, her condition went undetected, although it was having a huge impact on her life.

“As a young adult I’d have full-blown tantrums,” she says. “I’d scream, cry, throw things and want to kill myself.”

Although she was in the care of psychiatric teams, it wasn’t until she was around 25 that Cat realised that her problems were caused by her menstrual cycle.

“I thought I’m moody, I’m not just depressed. I’m up and down and all over the place. I started looking into mood disorders and realised there was something linked to the menstrual cycle so I became more aware then and started charting my mood cycles.”

Cat took the records of her mood cycles to her doctor who confirmed she was suffering from PMDD.

Unfortunately, this hasn’t made the condition easier to treat, although it has meant Cat can manage it better.

The contraceptive pill actually made her symptoms worse and antidepressants don’t prevent the mood swings and can just leave her feeling ‘zombiefied’ on what should be her good days.

Hysterectomy can be an option and was something Cat was considering but a |drug-induced temporary menopause left her feeling suicidal and indicated this isn’t an option for her.

She has now come off antidepressants and tries her best to manage her lifestyle to fit in with her cycle. She knows that she has around ten good days a month and tries to fit important things in then.

Cat knows her relationships have suffered as a result of PMDD, with partners, friends and her two daughters.

“Relationships have definitely ended because if it. I have friends I go for cups of tea with and natters but I don’t have any really close female friends.

“Once I texted everyone in my phone book and told them all to leave me alone, which was awful. It can cause huge rows.

“I have a boyfriend now and before we started seeing each other I sat him down and explained about my illness.”

As the years have gone by, Cat has become better able to manage her moods though.

“Homeopathic treatments are quite good, I feel I’m being more positive. I have to remember not to overreact to bad times. I use things like meditation and breathing techniques. Rather than raging I try to take myself off and try to sleep it off.

“Over the years I think I’ve mellowed a bit and have better coping measures. You have to take responsibility for the things you do and say. You often have to spend your good weeks making up for the things you did and said in your bad weeks. You feel you have to make it up to your family and go to the opposite extreme.”

Cat is worried about the future – if her daughters will have PMDD, if once she goes through the menopause her symptoms will become worse.

But it’s not all bad. Having been unable to work for the last 18 months she hopes she will be able to return to work soon. Through an online community and blogs she is reaching out to other women with the condition and has even won an award for one of her blogs. She hopes that by raising awareness about PMDD it will make it easier for other women in her situation to get the help they need and for people to understand what someone with the condition is going through.

“I’d really like to have an income – as a therapist or artist, something creative – and have that normality.

“I’d like to be part of society because I don’t participate in it much at all.

“I want to be able to maintain a relatively normal life.”