Hands from different people are held in a heart shape to symbolise peer support

Peer Support: Inspiring Hope

Having a shoulder to lean on was something that both my husband and I were lacking in the dark depths of my PMDD episodes. I would turn on him so quickly because I didn’t have a safe outlet for my fears and tears. My anxieties and frustrations would build up inside of me, day after day until I exploded and tore into the person who loved me even when I couldn’t love myself.

The internet can be a dangerous tool, full of misleading and harmful information. Dr Google has a way of turning mountains into our very own Everest. To a person wading through hell every month the internet was both an enemy and a friend. I knew there were others like me but I didn’t know how or where to find them. Equally I knew that I wasn’t well enough to carry their loads as well as my own. I know that may sound selfish, but I had to be my own priority.

Peer support is a precious and rare commodity. It is built on shared personal experience and empathy in times of personal or emotional crisis. It focuses on strengths, empowerment and wellbeing. Being terribly British we are not accustomed to reaching out for help, but to know that there is someone out there, ready to listen, without judgement and be that shoulder can be that little, yet crucial piece of the jigsaw puzzle that helps you to hold it together through another cycle.

The International Association for Premenstrual Disorders (IAPMD) have this shoulder. The IAPMD Peer Support Program is there for adolescent girls, women, trans, non-binary and those assigned female at birth across the globe. The Peer Support Team is made up entirely of volunteers who have each had personal experience with reproductive mood disorders and had specialist women’s peer support and crisis intervention training. IAPMD take great pride in providing this unique service completely free of charge and this wonderful program is a safe and reliable resource for those needing to shelter from the storm.

Sandi MacDonald CFLE is the Peer Support Program Director for IAPMD:

“At IAPMD, we believe that no one should have to deal with issues like PMDD alone. The peer support program grew from a small community of women that provided support to each other via Facebook.  Over time, and with the help of some amazing people, it evolved into the global program that it has become. Our Peer Support Team is comprised of volunteers who have personal experience with PMDD, PME, and other reproductive issues. All our peer support volunteers have completed our unique peer support and crisis intervention training program. The program provides a safe space for individuals to be heard and not judged.”

We at PMDD & Me have a deep appreciation for the valuable commodity that is peer support, which is why charitable funds raised at the 2019 conference will be donated to the IAPMD Peer Support Programme.