Natalia Fernandez: Overcoming PMDD with Community
Hi folks! I’m Spiffy, your interplanetary journalist reporting from Planet Earth, back with a new guest, Natalia Fernandez, founder of "period". Natalia is super committed to making a difference for girls and women in the world. Let’s see how she’s doing it!
Spiffy: Welcome Natalia! I'm super excited to talk to you! So, what challenge are you addressing?
Natalia: At “period” we address period shame, mental health stigma, and the gender gap in the medical field- falling under PMDD (Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder). PMDD affects approximately 375 million of the world’s population, and currently, an average diagnosis takes 12 years. Symptoms of PMDD include but are not limited to depression or feelings of hopelessness, suicide ideation, anxiety, irritability, fatigue, and difficultly concentrating. At “period” we inspire, inform, and share stories of PMDD.
Spiffy: What motivated you to do this?
Natalia: I had the idea for “period” about a year ago, but it wasn’t until this past summer that I launched this social venture. I had met Blake Baylor, and upon discovering that we both had PMDD, we shared an instant connection that sparked action to create “period”. Blake helped jumpstart “period” with our merchandise line, and being the amazing person she is, it was a fun creative process designing prints that were all inspired by PMDD.
Spiffy: How does “period” create a more equitable world?
Natalia: “period” is creating a more equitable world by creating an intersectional dialogue about PMDD and who it affects. It is so important that we validate people everywhere that menstruate and the pain that they are experiencing every month, including their troubles in being understood and seen for an invisible disorder. “period” created the We Deserve Better Foundation to fund more research on PMDD, and all proceeds of the merchandise goes towards this foundation.
These bags help fund PMDD research. (Photo courtesy of Natalia Fernandez)
Spiffy: What’s a milestone you’ve reached recently?
Natalia: Since “period”’s launch just 12 weeks ago, we have organically received 725+ website views from almost every continent, created 3 international partnerships- including a new partnership with StandWeSpeak (a sex-ed tech initiative located in Goa, India)- reached over 1,700+ individuals from across the globe and have directly impacted women's lives in helping them discover they have PMDD.
Spiffy: You’ve burst onto the scene! What’s a time you’ve faced failure or adversity? How do you deal with it?
Natalia: I am currently pursuing my masters, and it has been especially difficult managing everything on my plate. What I learned from this time of transitioning is that it’s important to be kind to yourself, and not demand too much, because then that same energy that inspires and creates can become tired and dull. That being said, I definitely value my practice of Transcendental Meditation now more than ever, as it gives the body a chance to rest, while awakening the mind.
Spiffy: That’s a lot to juggle, I’m glad you have the right mindset. What’s something you’ve learned from someone recently?
Natalia: I have learned from a three-year-old boy that you don’t have to be worried about so many things! He is indeed a natural problem solver. But in all honestly, he taught me to be unforgivably myself, to have fun, let loose, and enjoy the simple things in life. Life is too short to be worried and in constant stress - sometimes you just need to have a Mamma Mia dance party and all will be well.
Spiffy: I love to dance! Thanks for talking to me today, Natalia.
Natalia Fernandez is a first-generation Cuban-American and founder of “period”. Fernandez did a Rotary Youth Exchange in Denmark, studied in Madrid, Spain, and graduated from Flagler College with a bachelor’s in political science. She is currently pursuing an MA and MBA in Sustainable Business at Maharishi International University. (Nominated by Action Accelerator)