They are unpredictable. Seemingly uncontrollable. And they wield the power to reduce me to tears over a mangled homemade waffle. They deceive us into believing they are powerless. And they older we get, the more hostile they become.
Before we go any further, it is important that you know that I have struggled with how to share this topic, and even whether I should. After all, the line separating “good to know” and “too much information” is a delicate one. Besides, admitting that you cried over breakfast batter is embarrassing, at best. But now that my 40th birthday is squarely in my rearview mirror, I realize that they have me outnumbered and they aren’t giving up without a fight.
Wikipedia defines hormone as a chemical messenger. A chemical released by a cell in one part of the body as a signal to other cells in another part of the body. Sort of like a town crier, I suppose, letting others know what’s happening so they can respond accordingly. Except that mine seem to be less “Paul Revere” and more like a character from World Wrestling Entertainment: they make a whole lot of noise and stir up a whole lot of trouble but, in the end, nobody really knows what they said or why it matters.
It took me a while to realize that it was my hormones that were turning my life upside down. Like any self-critic worth her salt, I blamed it on personal shortcomings. I was disorganized (a blog for a later date), not eating well enough, not exercising enough, and just generally being impossible to live with. I wasn’t sleeping enough, wasn’t managing my time properly, and I was “just being emotional.” But even the best self-critic knows that an ugly waffle never killed anybody.
So when I finally admitted defeat and went to see my doctor, he said it was likely my hormones, and he explained to me the upheaval they can cause. He talked about brain fog. Which is just a nice way of saying that you couldn’t formulate a coherent thought if your very life depended on it. He mentioned anxiety, which, in my case, meant standing in the produce section of the grocery store convinced that my bi-weekly shopping trip was just too much responsibility for me to handle. Then he finished strong with the trifecta of food cravings, weight gain and depression. It’s enough to make a girl cry… which, of course, comes with the territory.
I write this not to promote some specific treatment plan, because I’m not a doctor. I share this for the critics. Like me. The ones who have spent many years in the “you can’t blame everything on hormones” camp. The ones who bought into the lie that hormones are harmless. And the ones who can’t really explain why suddenly everything is a struggle. Who look in the mirror and wonder what happened to the organized, confident woman of their youth.
If this is you, take heart. My doctor assures me that it won’t last forever, and that with the really low lows will come some really high highs. He has given me techniques to lessen the impact of these crazy messengers, and has assured me that I’m not alone. He told me I was wise to see a doctor and that I was not imagining things. Your doctor may tell you the same.
If, on the other hand, I’m alone in this battle and none of you can relate, please have mercy. Allow me to continue to delude myself into thinking that I’m not alone. Save me the heartache of hearing that everybody else has it all figured out. And that nobody else has ever cried over mangled waffles.