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Hope and PMDD Awareness Month

YA author Rhian Ivory tells us about her own experience of Pre-Menstrual Dysphoric Disorder, after writing about it in her latest novel for Young Adults, Hope.

PMDD is a severe form of premenstrual syndrome and a little-know condition affecting 3-10% of women. Despite being such a chronic and devastating condition, it is largely unheard of and massively undiagnosed. I only realised I myself was suffering from the condition – which can cause extreme mood swings and rages – while researching the book.

Although Hope is my sixth novel I've never received fan mail, letters, emails, tweets, DMs and messages on my author page in response to a novel like this before. When I speak at festivals, author days and writing workshops I'm shocked by how many people this novel has resonated with. It seems we haven’t come very far since Judy Blume’s iconic, Are you there, God? It’s me, Margaret which published in 1970.

Hope features a young woman who is having difficulty with her periods but has never heard of PMDD until someone suggests it to her. Ironically, I had the same experience and it wasn't until I was doing my research for the novel that I realised I might be suffering too. I was diagnosed just as I finished the novel – which made for an interesting editing experience! I was clearly writing through my pain but didn’t see it at the time.

Readers have shared deeply personal stories with me about their PMDD and how the novel helped them. I've also been contacted by parents who are so relieved to have discovered the novel, to be able to put a name to what their daughter is going through and find a way to help them.

I’ve written notes in the back of the book to ensure that anyone reading Hope would be able to get help if they felt it was something they were dealing with. I've been asked by teenage girls for years during author visits to please write about periods and not hide them away, they very much wanted to read fiction which dealt with periods openly and break away from periods being a taboo topic in YA fiction.

For more information on PMDD and Awareness Month April 2018, go to The Gia Allemand Foundation website.

Watch a video with Me v PMDD Co-founder, Brett Buchert chatting with Rhian Ivory about Hope and how she came to write about Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder, and the unexpected connection between Hope's story and Rhian's.