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Though I've had it since I was 10 years old, it took me almost a decade to realize that my period was not normal.

I always noticed that my cramps were very intense prior to my period. I also cycled through extreme mood swings, felt lightheaded, lacked energy, and experienced symptoms of depression. Not the passing, mope-around-in-your-bed-eating-ice-cream emotional slump — this was depression that affected my everyday life. It made me feel like a completely different person. Leading up to my period, my normally confident, capable self gave way to an intensely anxious, harshly self-critical version of me that I hardly recognized.

But as someone who's suffered from depression, anxiety, and IBS throughout my whole life, I thought it was normal. My high school nurse said it was just PMS and stress, and my mother agreed. During my first year of college, I noticed that my symptoms grew even worse. They began affecting my schoolwork and attentiveness. I often felt like I wasn’t really able to respond to my surroundings due to my lack of energy.


I couldn’t understand what was going on in my body or causing these changes. My peers seemed to not have any of these same issues with their periods. That's when I realized there was something wrong, and I finally visited a nurse practitioner in my college and asked for help.

I received a diagnosis: premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), a more severe form of PMS.

For the first time, everything made sense. PMDD is rare, occurring in only 2%-10% of people who menstruate, and mostly occurs in those who have depression disorders. The symptoms include fatigue, decreased interest in activities that are typically enjoyable, and difficulty concentrating, plus more intense versions of the mood swings and cramps that come along with regular PMS.

While I felt relieved to know exactly why I was feeling the way I did, it didn’t make my life any easier. The nurse practitioner prescribed low-Ogestrel birth control pills, which were supposed to regulate the symptoms caused by PMDD. Those helped for a year or so, until they began to make me feel sick. After starting feeling nauseous each time I took the pill, I decided I was a better off without it.

Then, when I moved to study abroad, things got even worse.

I moved to England, where I wasn’t able to find a gynecologist. I had to deal with my symptoms completely on my own — which is, as I know now, not a good strategy for coping with PMDD.

Walking around in temperate weather made me feel like I was about to faint. I found it difficult to do normal errands, like buying groceries or following directions. My depression also worsened, making everything even more difficult to deal with.

Some days, I’d be perfectly fine and happy. But a week or so before my period, I’d become this lethargic, self-loathing person. Sometimes I couldn't even summon enough energy to brush my teeth or take a shower  — things I do daily whenever I'm mentally healthy.

Even though I'm back in the U.S. now, my PMDD still isn’t something that can be easily solved by going to the doctor and getting medicine. I've already tried birth control, so my next option would be antidepressants. But since I don't have American health insurance, antidepressants would cost a lot — more than I can afford right now. I've been postponing getting medication, but it's something I intend to solve soon.

But the hardest part of PMDD is that I always know it's coming, but for a long time, I didn’t know how to prepare for it.

Menstruation is still so stigmatized in society that it makes it difficult or impossible to communicate what I struggle with and get the support I need.

In school, I’d be an efficient worker and student, until my PMDD hit each month. But telling professors or employers that my performance level would go down due to a period-related disorder was seldom taken seriously. And that's assuming they would talk to me at all — many people don't want to discuss menstruation, even clinically, because it's still considered intimate and taboo to talk about.

People's periods are rarely taken seriously as a cause of true mental or physical distress. We're just expected to deal with it or ignore it, despite it being a big part of our lives. I’m sick of being told “Déjate de changuerías” (Puerto Rican slang that loosely translates to "Stop whining") when I’m dealing with PMDD and my period. Even those who don't have PMDD still suffer through symptoms that can be extremely unpleasant and painful. It’s time to leave behind the taboo of discussing periods and bring to light these issues that show that menstruation is more than a monthly chocolate craving — it's a real struggle facing millions of people who need others to listen, understand, and support us.

Joy

Delivery driver's reaction to snacks left for him shows how a little kindness goes a long way

“Seeing a grown man get so excited about Capri Sun is extra wholesome."

'Dee' the delivery guy stoked to get some Doritos.

Sometimes the smallest gesture can change someone’s day for the better, especially when that act of kindness lets them know their work is appreciated. Over the last few years, delivery drivers have done a fantastic job keeping people healthy during the pandemic, so Toni Hillison Barnett told News 11 that she and her husband started a tradition of leaving snacks for their drivers on the front porch.

The Barnetts, who live in Louisville, Kentucky, can see the drivers' reactions by recording them on their doorbell cameras. “I live for reactions like this to our snack cart! Thx to all of the delivery drivers out there! We appreciate you!” Toni wrote on an Instagram post.

Recently, one of the Barnetts’ delivery guys, a joyous fellow that we believe is known as Dee, went viral on TikTok because of his positive reaction to receiving some snacks during his deliveries. The snacks are tasty, no doubt. But it’s also wonderful to feel appreciated. After Toni posted the video it received over 100,000 views.

“Oh my God, you guys are the best, I gotta take a snapshot of this,” Dee can be heard saying in the video. “Oh, Capri Suns are my favorite, Yes!”

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Photo by Roméo A. on Unsplash

Cat hilariously rats out owner in front of the landlord

Maybe it's a right of passage into adulthood or maybe some landlords discriminate against pets because they can't tell people kids are forbidden in their residence. Either way, just about everyone has lived in a rental home that didn't allow pets. Most people just abide by the rules and vow to get a pet when they find a new home.

Some people, on the other hand, get creative. I once came across a post on social media where someone claimed their pit bull puppy was actually a Silver Labrador. But one woman on TikTok was harboring a secret cat in her rental that had a no pets policy, and either her cat was unaware or he was aware and was simply being a jerk.

My money is on the latter since cats are known to be jerks for no reason. I mean, have you ever left something on the counter for a few minutes? They make it their mission to knock it on the floor. So I fully believe this fluffy little meow box wanted to make his presence known in an effort to rat out his owner.

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"Time is the one thing we cannot increase.”

Over his seven years as host of “The Daily Show,” Trevor Noah brought us laughter and valuable insights, even with a pandemic and political upheaval. He made such a positive mark that the announcement of his departure from the show came as bittersweet news to fans.

During an interview with Hoda Kotb of “Today,” Trevor Noah gave further explanation to his personal decision to leave, and in typical Noah fashion, it touched on something universal in the process.

“I realized during the pandemic,” he told Kotb, “everyone talks about a ‘work-life balance.’ But that almost creates the idea that your work and your life are two separate things. When in fact, I came to realize during the pandemic that it’s just a ‘life-life balance.’ It’s just your life.”

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Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash
woman holding a cup of tea, writing in a notebook

It's no secret that everyone could use a little kindness in their lives and it can come in many forms. Sometimes it's the neighbor cutting your grass when your husband's away and you're too busy to get to it yourself. Other times it's sending a card to the elderly widow down the street.

One woman in Arkansas has taken to spreading kindness through writing letters to strangers. Allison Bond, 25, started writing letters over a year ago during COVID-19 when she couldn't attend school due to her medical condition. Bond has cerebral palsy and is at greater risk for serious illness should she contract the virus. Writing letters was an act of kindness that didn't require a trip out of the house.

Bond began by writing to soldiers and inmates. In fact, the first letter she received back was from a soldier. Bond told 5News, "I have one framed from a soldier. He had all his battle buddies sign it. So I framed it so I could put it up." She's kept every letter she's received.

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