Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Did someone say hormones?

If you are a woman or have ever been around a woman the presence of hormones has made itself known. My first memory of associating hormone changes with behavior was as a boy staying with my grandmother. She would be like a roller coaster, happy and giggling one minute grumpy and crying the next. 

Usually when you know someone well you can anticipate what they need from verbal and physical ques. For example when I am with a friend and they frown I know that they are concerned or unhappy. When someone is living with unbalanced hormones racing through their body a frown can be leading up to happiness and a smile could be a trap.

I wanted to point out some common times when hormones are more evident than normal. Pregnancy, WOW here is a walking meltdown. During a pregnancy a woman is flooded with extra chemicals that are so powerful that many women seem to lose themselves for a while. Their bodies become a laboratory for chemical change. They struggle with weight, hot flashes, emotional upheaval, self esteem, diet, and changing mood. 

After they navigate a pregnancy many women suffer through postpartum depression. Their feelings are so intense that they stay in a sense of sadness and loneliness that is like a storm. They get pulled into it and tossed around so hard that they can lose part of themselves for a while.
Menopause, this is a time when a woman’s body stops it’s reproductive cycle. I don’t think I have seen anyone as mean as my grandmother was during that time. She would chase my grandfather around with a knife threatening to kill him. In his wisdom he ran.
       These very obvious hormonal effects sometimes make us overlook some simple things. Teenagers punish us all as they begin to change. Physically they grow hair, get boobs, talk with a deeper voice get taller. Emotionally they feel every feeling as if it is the only one they have ever or will ever experience.

So are women and teenagers the only ones to deal with hormones? No! If you have spent any time with a man you are well aware that he can be moody and go between happy and unhappy as easily as any woman. Sadly in our society we have resisted and denied the importance of hormones on people as part of the cycle of life. "Oh is it that time of the month?". Very seldom do you hear people talking about the changes they are going through with fondness. Most certainly there is rarely a conversation about how happy we are that our teenage son won’t get out of bed and we never know when he will throw a tantrum.
How many times during a woman’s period has she been dismissed for having PMS or being out of control? Don’t we  pity the pregnant woman or new mother and their lack of control.
These changes are natural (although sometimes extreme). If your wife or husband is off the deep end (again) don’t fix them, don’t pity them, don’t blame them. Take time to just be with them. As a culture we are swift to toss out discomfort in others. I believe that is because we don't know how, or don't like dealing with others. When it's me I can cope because "that's just who I am". To all men, women, and teenagers out there, "that is just who we are". None of us escape life's challenges and none of us are so special that we are immune.
Doctors have some nice experiments that they can put people through to try and balance things, but really all that confusion and emotion will find it’s way out. America is on Prozac. We are chemically altered. Depression is at an all time high. We have learned to make a diagnosis and fit into the right category. Who teaches us how to navigate and get through it. We take our medicine and feel bad for not being good boys and girls. People survived without medicine, therapy or a TV doctor's advice since the dawn of man.

Don’t put yourself or your loved one in a box even though you may have ample proof that they are doing it again. Open the box and give them something different to count on. When they are lost and crazy pull them in and remind them and yourself that you will bear with them and that they will bear with you. If it’s time to stay out of their way do that, if it’s time to listen do that, if it’s time for consideration do that. Don't think that you aren't crazy and unmanageable sometimes it just isn't true.

I am a firm believer that what we keep hidden will surface somehow. When our hormones rage we can do a full dump. We abandon our inhibitions and let er rip. The trick when you are the one dumped on is to look for the need. Allow that you are being hit with too much force and go beneath it, let the wave pass over. Wait a few days and then ask questions. Use the discomfort of the outburst as a map to look for real issues. We have a tendency to completely dismiss or completely take blame. Search for the balance for the chance to learn about yourself and them.

Turn an unstable uncomfortable experience into the springboard for a stronger relationship. As much as possible embrace and be compassionate to each other, it builds trust and longevity. Remember that dismissing someone, however you do it, is a wedge between you. Remove the wedge.

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