“There’s no cure for it…” Bella Humphries, spreads awareness of PMDD in new BBC Sounds documentary
Welsh actor and stand-up comedian, Bella Humphries, is looking to spread awareness and destigmatise health issues such as PMDD (premenstrual dysphoric disorder), POI (primary ovarian insufficiency) and endometriosis in Bleeding Hell, her new documentary available on BBC Sounds.
Humphries, like 1 in 20 people who menstruate, experiences PMDD, and despite living with the condition since she was a teenager, was only recently diagnosed. According to UK mental health charity Mind, “PMDD is a very severe form of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). It causes a range of emotional and physical symptoms every month…It is sometimes referred to as ‘severe PMS’.”
In Bleeding Hell, Humphies speaks to hormone and mindset coach Laura Teare-Jones, BBC Radio 1 DJ Clara Amfo, pop singer Leadley, and NHS GP and health content creator Dr Aziza Sesay about their experiences with their health and the lack of support available.
“Just like with any women’s health condition, unfortunately, there is not much understanding as to why this happens,” says Dr Sesay. She explains that getting a PMDD diagnosis is not easy as “there are so many conditions that have similar symptoms.”
This is all even more concerning given how prevalent the condition is. As Humphries notes, “Chances are someone you know, someone you love has it too, yet no one seems to be talking about it.” The documentary also discusses how serious PMDD can be.
“PMDD is a real chronic health condition…” says Teare-Jones, “…there’s no cure for it.” According to the International Association for Premenstrual Disorders, “34% of people with prospectively-diagnosed PMDD have made a suicide attempt at some point in their lives.” As Humphries warns, “If left untreated, PMDD can be fatal.”
In an Instagram post, Humphries said of Bleeding Hell, “This is the programme that I wish I could’ve heard years ago when I was struggling and didn’t know why. If this helps just one person reach out for the answers they need then I will have achieved what I want to.”
In the documentary Humphries also reflects on her position as a comedian discussing such serious issues, “Joking about it…that’s how I deal with everything.” She notes that there’s a stereotype about female comedians talking about their periods and vaginas, “…and yeah, I do because I’ve got one and, honestly, it has ruined my life.”
But Humphries is hopeful about the potential that talking about these issues can have, “The more I talk about it and the less secret I’ve kept it, the more people I’ve connected with and it’s made me feel so much less alone.