Puberty, PMS, Postpartum, Perimenopause & Menopause are all a times of hormonal upheaval. Are you crazy or is it hormones? It’s the hormones, you are not crazy; hormones can have a drastic impact on your mental health. HORMONES are responsible for many physical & mental symptoms. From aches & pain, to anger & sadness. When we feel these symptoms it’s our brains job to search for the problem so we can solve it. BUT sometimes it’s just the hormones.

STORY: “Yesterday all I could do was cry. (Which BTW is completely uncharacteristic to my usual sarcastic and humorous approach to life. I’m not a crier.) And I was crying over nothing in particular. I looked in my journal and realized I had not written in it for awhile, which meant I hadn’t been taking my supplements either. Crap. So, yesterday it caught up with me. I woke up in a brain fog, forgot to look at my schedule for work, forgot entirely what day it was,… and it all went down hill from there. The day had normal little frustrations, normal food intake, yet I was filled with overwhelming anxiety and was reacting emotionally,as if everything was a crisis. I was pissed off with myself.” – Amy

Every woman is different and hormonal fluctuations vary from person to person. One might have feelings of overwhelming sadness, mental exhaustion, ”heavy feeling”, others have anger issues, feel irritable, bloating, and joint pain. Every woman seems to have her own unique set of symptoms.

The moral of the story is: HORMONES LIE TO US! Hormone fluctuations are responsible for more fights, divorces and unhappiness than probably any other solitary issue. Why? Well because we don’t always recognize when IT’S THE HORMONES TALKING and not our sane brain.

Typical Symptoms & “Feelings” with Hormone Changes

Here’s what women had to say:

  • I feel fat. No matter if I look no different or my weight is exactly the same. I ”feel” fat. I hate all my clothes and tend to feel a bit bloated and irritated.
  • My hair doesn’t cooperate.
  • If I’m going to break out, now is the time. Usually one big prominent hard zit, on one cheek. Does it have to be right in the middle of my face?
  • Alternate between feeling hungry and nauseated, but nothing in the fridge looks appealing.
  • Grouchy at spouse, but want compliments and kindness.
  • Low tolerance for bull-shit.
  • Want to stay on my couch, avoid people & work
  • House is a disaster, walking into the kitchen to cook or do dishes seems like monumental task.
  • Get the dropsies.
  • Foggy headed and forgetful.
  • Emotional over dumb stuff like taking out the trash & commercials.
  • Late or feel rushed for everything.
  • Headaches and muscle soreness. Feel like I have arthritis in my joints.
  • Every day stresses seem overwhelming.
  • Desire for sex vanishes followed by periods of agitation where I really need it; usually when its not possible or changes mind once started.
  • Vagina gets very wet, then dries out completely like the Sahara Dessert.
  • Have to pee more often.
  • Don’t want to exercise.
  • Excessive hot flashes.
  • Crave ice-cream or sweets.
  • Crave bread and carbs.
  • Question my relationship & life choices. Oh and if anything does go sideways during this time my reaction will not be in proportion to the issue.
  • Voice drops and I sound mad.
  • Can’t make decisions.
  • Need validation but wont believe it.
  • Alternate between wanting to be alone, and wanting comfort.
  • Feel tired after only being up an hour.
  • Brain feels ”stuck” focussing on one key problem, almost with hyper focus.

The hardest part about all this, is not knowing when it’s coming. If you still have a period, then it’s easier to understand what is happening. Regardless, the most damaging aspect of this can be the very thing that is most important to us, our relationships with those who live with us. When your body is telling you something is wrong our brain looks for the source of the problem. It usually finds one: work, spouse, family member, even yourself.

Relationships & Hormonal Imbalance

More relationship’s ”break-up” or go sour during this phase of life than at any other time. Even long-term marriages. Why? Mostly lack of self-awareness that the hormones are dictating your mind-set and your happiness. Communication is key, starting with yourself. Understanding what is ”real” and what is “hormones” can make all the difference in the world.

Self-Awareness Questions – to Mitigate Relationship Disaster During A Hormone Crisis

  • What time of month is it?
  • Is this a ”normal” reaction for me?
  • Would this have bothered me last week?
  • Am I being unreasonable?
  • Am I reacting with ”pure emotion” and finding ways to give this emotion credibility?

Keep a Health & Mental Health Journal and track of your daily, weekly & monthly mental and physical health; your personal pattern will become apparent.

STORY: “I am at the stage where I do not ovulate every month, nor do I have a period due to a partial hysterectomy, my journal is a life saver. If I am reacting to situations that would normally not have any impact, I know to check-in with myself and adjust my supplements, schedule, and eating patterns to support a calm nervous system.” -shared experience.

STORY: “By keeping a journal, I was able to test and track what worked specifically for me, I also suffer from Fibromyalgia so when my hormones go out of whack, it can also trigger a relapse. If that happens it can take a week or more to get back on track. I increase the following: Vitamin D, C & B vitamins, I take extra: Kava, Ashwagandha, L-Phenylalanine & Optimized Folate, drink more water, eat supportive foods on a regular schedule, take time for extra cuddles, and give myself a little grace when being forgetful & emotional. I also warn my spouse. During this time I also require a lot more sleep but tend to feel wired. CBD with melatonin and an eye mask to ensure I get adequate darkness for optimal sleep are more important now than at other times in my cycle. “ -shared experience.

Remember your symptoms are real, and the emotions ”feel real”. This doesn’t mean they are valid, or maybe they are but your reaction is over-the-top. Many times I have had to apologize when a hormone responded quicker and with more intensity than was warranted. If you are upset because you burnt the toast, and crying because ”I don’t know why”, its probably reasonable to consider that maybe your partner isn’t the devil incarnate after all.

Communication After a Melt Down

Communication after a ”melt-down” is key. Talking to your spouse or whomever got the brunt of your reaction is vital. Once everything has calmed down, it really helps to explain what you’re going through. Apologize for anything that was said or done that wasn’t appropriate to the issue. (It’s fair to be upset that they came home an hour late without calling, it’s probably unfair that you threw their dinner in the trash and stated yelling the moment they walked in the door.)

Helpful Tips When “Feeling” Hormonal

  • Be kind to yourself.
  • Talk about how you feel. Silence will only build resentment in you, and those around you who are trying to figure out what’s wrong! Giving voice to what’s going on will also allow those around you the opportunity to be supportive.
  • Tell your family when you’re feeling emotional – eg. ”Nothing is funny this week!”
  • Delegate some duties – ask your partner to make supper or order in when you are feeling overwhelmed. Announce that its “hormone week”, which means cold cereal for supper unless someone else wants to take over.
  • Try to find the humor in it all. Don’t be afraid to use a little sarcasm and wit to help others navigate this with you.
  • Don’t’ forget the golden rule… Do unto others as you would have done to you & speak to others the way you wish to be spoken to. Your family may love you, but they may not like you very much if you’re being bitchy and moody. If your alter personality is rearing its ugly head, remember that’s not the person they are used to. Be kind to be liked.
  • Give yourself and others a little grace. If you are having a hard time understanding yourself, don’t expect others to get it.
  • Write yourself positive affirmations.
  • Say what you need: Is it a a night off from running all the errands, extra sleep, to order in supper, help with the chores, ability to opt out of events, bath and a good book, quiet time, alone time as a couple, sex or a massage?

Calming Rituals

Give yourself calming rituals when you are feeling agitated. Self-Care is essential. Love on yourself a bit. Do for yourself what you would do for a friend. A few suggestions:

  • A long bath or hot shower,
  • Make a nice cup of tea (you don’t need to drink it, but its a good time-out)
  • Read a book,
  • Listen to calming music,
  • Sing,
  • Dance,
  • Go to a movie,
  • Watch a comedy show.
  • Pamper yourself: with a manicure, facial, or pedicure.
  • Light scented candles or use aromatherapy,
  • Write in your journal,
  • Go for a walk,
  • Meditate,
  • Call a friend,
  • Bake some cookies,
  • Doodle, knit or crochet
  • If you know your cycle ahead of time, book a massage or personal service. Go get your hair done.

Supplements That Support Balanced Hormones

Supplements can lend a ton of support during this time. Keeping a health journal, will also help you track which supplements are the most effective and what is needed daily vs at different times in your cycle. Do be wary of anti-depressants. This is many times the go-to solution, however they are NOT always the answer. Anti-depressants definitely have their place if you are experiencing high anxiety or are clinically depressed. But they can also cause just as many problems as they “cure”. Weight gain, Inability to feel joy, lethargy… they can dampen your natural drive, cause changes in your personality, and mask what you really need. We advocate working with a doctor & a naturopath to get a more balanced picture of your health.

The Supplements that Consistently Get Recommended as Helpful Are:

Ashwagandha – is said to reduce anxiety, is an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-stress, and has sleep- inducing properties. Studies have also indicated it to be as effective as anti-anxiety medications without the harmful side effects.

Kava – is said to promote natural relaxation, be mood enhancing, and acts much like alcohol on the brain making you feel calm, relaxed, happy and while promoting feelings of affection.

L- Phenylalanine -is an amino acid involved int he production of neurotransmitters (norepinephrine ad dopamine) which help the brain and nervous system . “My natural Prozac” said one lady.

CBD with Melatonin for sleep – CBD has anti-inflammatory properties, helps with pain, agitation, and calms the mind, in combination with melatonin promotes a deep, restful sleep.

For more information on these products or to purchase visit: One Little Hot Flash – The Shop

Additional Reading with relevant information can also be found here: Perimenopause, Thyroid Hormones, Menopause