I am a woman, and so I have many, many hormones. Too many hormones, I think. Of course, hormonal issues vary from woman to woman, but let me just say that my experience with the hormones* has not been great.
My basic problem is that any time my hormones shift (twice a month, more or less on schedule) my emotions get thrown completely out of whack. I start thinking that my life is a terrible wreck. I believe that everyone is doing their level best to aggravate me to the point of insanity. Flying off the handle seems like my best option for handling any problem. I am no longer myself: when the hormones attack, I am truly possessed. The hormones’ thoughts are my thoughts; my ways are their ways. If I lived in New England in the 1600s I would cheerfully burn myself as a witch.
But instead I am doomed to deal with migraine headaches, exhaustion, fierce irritability and white hot rages. You would think that knowing that it was only hormones would help. In the middle of a white hot rage it might be good to think, “You know what, nothing in reality is provoking this response. This is just the hormones in my own head!” But thinking that does not make the feelings go away. It just takes away the righteousness of my anger and makes it so I can’t enjoy it. Just being swept away by the emotions is really the most pleasant way for me to go.
Pleasant for me I mean, not for my husband or any other innocent bystander. So instead I try my best to fight these emotions back and contain the swirling turmoil inside of me, which is pretty uncomfortable. I try to describe what I am feeling to my husband, instead of unleashing it on him.
I tell him, “I feel like you are being a total jerk who is being super mean to me and I feel like you are chewing your food AT ME on purpose to make me hate you.” Adding “feel” forces me to admit that maybe my feelings are not based on reality. He doesn’t feel completely attacked. Instead, he does something to help me manage them, like feed me guacamole or make me go for a walk or sit on the couch and watch House Hunters or take a nap of rage. Whatever it takes to try and restore some sort of emotional balance.
As if all of this weren’t bad enough, there are experts, real life experts, who do not believe that any of this is real. For example, some of them do not think that PMS is a real thing. I invite those experts to say that TO MY FACE while I am PMSing. They would quickly be disabused of their errors. And maybe their lives.
I should add though, that this isn’t every woman’s experience. And it isn’t even the same woman’s experience all the time. There have been a few times in my life when for various biological/medicinal reasons my hormones were pretty balanced for extended periods of time. It felt AMAZING. And I realized, this is what my husband feels like ALL THE TIME. I felt so calm, so steady, so peppy. I had so much extra time because I wasn’t managing a freak show of ridiculous emotions.
That’s especially important to add because sometimes people will say that women can’t do certain things, like run countries, because their hormones will make them nuke the world (Good thing men are 100% emotionally rational all the time! What a relief!). Or they use it to perpetuate the myth that women are crazy. I am not crazy; my hormones are crazy. Like I said, when they’re balanced, I am cool as a freaking cucumber. And women who struggle with hormones develop techniques to manage their emotions (“Mr. President, I feel like you are trying to destroy this country and ruin everything all decent people hold dear.” Oh wait, men directly accuse the opposition of that all the time, without the diplomatic “feel.” Women, you’re doing fine). Bernadette from The Big Bang Theory explains:
Women definitely have more practice, but sometimes I fall off the dragon. Sometimes I do completely unleash. Sometimes I become cranky and sullen and unresponsive. Sometimes I accuse my husband of trying to ruin my life. But I have to keep trying to wrangle my emotions, because this is my circus, and these are my monkeys. As nice as it would be able to claim that the devil made me do x, y, or z (and that is what it feels like), I need to be the boss of my hormones to the best of my ability. And when I fall off the dragon I need to dust myself off, eat a sickening amount of chocolate, and climb right back on.
* Pronounced "the hor-mone-ees"