Here’s just one of the things that is not that great about being a lady-person (you know, after patriarchy and low pay): every cycle, about 2 days into PMS, my self-esteem seems to go missing. She either takes a dramatic leap off a cliff, whining “you don’t loooooove meeeeee….” on the way down, or she goes to the quietest part of my inner cafe, crumples over the table and says, “No, don’t mind me…it’s okay, really.”
And not only do I suffer for that day or two, but so do my kids and my husband. He knows I’ll come out of it, but I am always sure I won’t. And I get less productive and more whiny. And I just feel…kinda useless.
Can you relate?
Here I am, the hormones lady, and I still have these problems. This is one of the sneaky aspects of peri-menopause, though- you think you got the right coping mechanism or vitamins to make the hormones harmonize and (wham!) the game changes. Also, I am constantly tweaking my supplements and vitamins and whatnot to get the right mix; experimenting on myself doesn’t always help!
Here’s the thing, though: this is not actually you, it’s your hormones. If you feel like a useless human being once a month, it’s your hormones. If you’re a raging bitch, a sleep-walking zombie, a sex goddess, a focused machine, fighting with your partner, or anything else at a pretty regular time in your cycle, it’s your hormones. I’m focusing on self-esteem today because when that takes a hit, everything else seems to go down the rabbit hole, too.
So, what makes this happen? It generally has to do with the loss of progesterone (as we head into our bleeding time) coupled with low levels of estrogen. And your brain is screaming, “WHERE ARE MY GOODIES???” It wouldn’t be a bad metaphor to say it’s like a fish out of water- our lady brain is not getting its most basic hormones and the software inside our head kind of goes haywire. We flop around, not feeling like ourselves at all.
What to do?
1. Make sure you have adequate nutritional supplies to make estrogen and progesterone. They need building blocks; make sure you get them.
2. Be gentle with yourself. If you know this happens on a pretty regular basis, you can begin to plan for it. At the least, you can make a pact with yourself that you won’t make big decisions when your hormones are making you feel like shit.
3. Look to other places in your life where you do have good self-esteem. Draw from or rely more heavily on those aspects of your personality when you’re feeling low. (Stick to what you’re good at for those couple of days.)
4. Let the emotions flow, in a safe space. Sometimes we need a good cry to clean the gunk out. Or a good cleaning of the house. What woks for you when you feel low? Do that. And try not to judge yourself in this phase, either.
I also want to remind all of us that yes, sometimes our hormones can do a number on us. But so can our relationships, work (co-workers!), and the society at large. Yes, if we’re looking at a ‘pretty-regular-monthly’ issue, it’s likely to be our hormones. But there are certainly larger factors at work – commercialism, capitalism – that keep us down and make us feel crappy about ourselves. The cool thing is: we can work on all of them, a little bit at a time.
And most of all, I want you to know: you’re good, just as you are. You’re smart and powerful and funny and we need you in this world- we need your particular gift to make the world a better place. Your hormones will just have to learn to accept that.