Hormone Havoc

I've been completely distorted lately. I was trying to come up with a word to describe this sensation of feeling disproportionately out of sorts with myself, my life, and everyone I come into contact with, and "distorted" seems to fit perfectly. Yesterday, as I sat holed up in my writing room, I tried to reflect on the reason I was behaving like a petulant teenager, throwing mini-tantrums and storming around "loaded for bear" as the saying goes. Truthfully, these feelings are not unfamiliar. They used to happen on a regular basis - about once a month, to be exact. Any of you who happen to be female know exactly what I'm referring to. However, since I haven't been bothered with that monthly occurrence in well over a year, I thought I was done with all that.

But this week, it came roaring back with a vengeance, the attack of the raging hormones. It's really as if an alien has invaded my psyche and injected me with lethal doses of impatience, dissatisfaction, restlessness, anxiety - all those awful feelings that women dump into the category of PMS, premenstrual syndrome - or, in my case, post menopausal syndrome.

Now, I've since realized why this has happened, and taken steps to remedy the situation (I'll tell you about that later.) The interesting thing - the rather frightening thing - is the way I have felt completely out of control, completely not myself. I literally want to do violence to people and things. I hate everyone I know (and love!) and have this almost overwhelming urge to get in my car and drive it off a cliff - seriously.

This has got me thinking about the ways women really are different from men. And these thoughts are completely antithetical to the feminist way of thinking I've been raised with. But it occurred to me that if I were the President of the United States right now, I might be sorely tempted to push that famous button and annihilate anyone and everyone who was getting in my way.

Of course, being the good girl that I am, I always stop myself from committing any act of violence worse than tossing dishes (plastic!) against the wall. Even in this state of hormonal havoc, I retain my sense of control, because I generally have great control over my emotions. (Whether that's good or bad, only my therapist knows for sure.) But some women are completely ravaged by their hormones - we've all read the horror stories of seemingly "normal" women who murder their children while suffering from post partum depression.

Luckily, when I woke up this morning, I could feel my sense of emotional equilibrium returning to normal. I did some yoga, rode my bike, went to church, and haven't felt like killing anyone (yet). But this episode reminded me once again that our bodies can play vicious tricks on us, and it's well to be wary of them.

By the way, here's the reason this happened - at least, this is my best guess. A couple of weeks ago, I started taking Black Cohosh as treatment for hot flashes, which were really driving me crazy this summer. As I looked at the bottle, I realized I was taking these 540 mg capsules twice daily, when the recommended dosage was once daily. So, I think I may have experienced an "herbal overdose." I cut back immediately, and started to feel better. Another lesson learned - even "natural remedies" can be dangerous if not taken properly.