Hormonal. Emotional. Over-the-top.
Must be your time of the month, missy.
As women, we've all heard these phrases. Often, it's a catch-all to dismiss any outbursts that aren't deemed "nice," and thus diminishes our dignity as women. It leaves many women feeling frustrated by the fact that, when she is angry, upset, or weepy, she is automatically discounted.
She can't contribute. She's not in the "right state of mind."
Hogwash and poppycock, I say.
Emotions are just that. Emotions. Neither good, nor bad. They exist outside of our control, in that they are reflexive and initiate in the limbic system of our brains. They tell us valuable feedback about our environment and how we naturally respond to stimuli.
Here's a caveat: as women, our hormones play a big role in our emotional states throughout the month. The interplay of estrogen and progesterone, not to mention our thyroid hormones, all can contribute to our emotional state.
During certain times of the month, we are more likely to be energized, enthusiastic and motivated to accomplish all that we have to do. Other times...not so much.
Here is what's important to know: when you're coming up on your most fertile time, i.e. ovulation day, you exude more energy, confidence. You probably feel pretty good over all. To-do lists seem easy to accomplish, you handle your kids' crazy temper tantrums with ease, annoyances slide right off your back. All seems right in the world. That high is thanks to all that estrogen running through your veins. #estrogengiveswomensuperpowers
After ovulation, this sometimes happens.
You've just had it.
You're tired, and can even feel slightly depressed. All the doing now seems...just like a lot. A nap seems like a pretty great past time. Basically, most of those "good vibes" from what's called the preovulatory (or follicular phase) taper off and you're feeling pretty blaaaahhhhh.
Thanks, progestrone. Progesterone rises after ovulation and can contribute to these feelings. So, they're normal. You're not crazy, or overly emotional. You're an ovulating woman, dang it!
The hormone interplay between these two is particularly important: if one of these hormones becomes out of balance, it can contribute to serious problems.
What about PMS?
What isn't about it? Basically, PMS correlates to a drop off of both hormones if no baby is conceived and your body prepares to shed the uterine lining ( i.e when Aunt Flo comes to visit). Cramps, bloating, irritability, the general feeling of crappiness -- those hormones really do have an effect on us!
So what can we learn about ourselves from understanding hormones as it relates to our emotions? Well, first off, they are closely correlated. Understanding why you are feeling a certain way can be directly related to what your hormones are doing at that point in your cycle. This is another aspect of fertility tracking. Tracking your emotions throughout your cycle can help identify times that are particularly challenging for you and you can give yourself grace.
There is no point in beating yourself up when you're more irritable, you snap easier, or maybe the laundry isn't folded as soon as it comes out of the dryer. Or if work seems harder and more frustrating. We're going to react to those emotions. We should pause, reflect and acknowledge them before responding, but that is not always going to happen, menstrual cycle or no. Just ask God and your neighbor (i.e. your spouse) for forgiveness, forgive yourself and move on.
Experiencing fluctuating emotions, dealing with hormonal shifts -- none of these things diminish your worth or dignity. Your inherent, God-given gift of fertility is not a stumbling block in the workplace or your relationships. At least, it should not be. Your input and experiences matter whether you're flying high on the estrogen rise or crashing just before your menses returns.
This is just a quick overview of hormones and how they relate to our emotions. Bekah over at FMG has several great blog articles really taking a close look at these hormones and how they interact with one another and work in our menstrual cycle. If you want to know more, head on over to her blog and check them out. Plus, she's hysterical.
** quick aside: chronic depression or anxiety is not normal and if you experience those things, please seek medical assistance to help identify the best path forward for you**