Know Thyself

I was thinking about hormones after reading a rather depressed sounding post on another blog. The author seemed to think that she was feeling down because she was single. Personally, I never believe that. If I’m suddenly feeling sad it can’t be because I’m single. How could it be? I’m single on a regular basis. In fact – not to brag – but I am almost always single! Yet I don’t feel depressed about it nearly as often. So it’s got to be something else.

Well, I’ve decided that it must be hormones.

Hormones are a funny thing. On the one hand, it’s disquieting to think that so much of what appears to be our personality could be regulated by chemicals floating through our bodies. On the other hand, they’re a convenient scapegoat for when those very same personalities take a dive south. This is not avoiding responsibility. To the contrary. I think of it as the first step of one of those 12-step programs. Only by acknowledging one’s grumpiness as an external factor can you begin to act on it. For ee-jee:

Bad: “I’m sad because I’m single.”

This is a bad attitude, because what you’re saying is that as long as you’re single you’re going to be sad. It also doesn’t explain why you aren’t terminally depressed all the time.

Good: “I’m sad because my seretonin levels are low, due to elevated prolactin or reduced estrogen coupled with rising progesterone.”

This is a good attitude because it explains why  you feel depressed this week in particular, and relates it to a temporary situation which can probably be fixed.

Because hormones can be fixed. Feeling flush with sad hormones now? Drag yourself out jogging to get the endorphins flowing. Call a friend and get some oxytocin pumping.  Eat sweet potatoes or chocolate or lentils or other hormone-regulating foods. Or just curl up in bed and say “this too shall pass.” Because it will. It’s just hormones, not your single status.

Although you can hope that that too will pass… But it will probably take a little longer.

Part 1: Know Thy Spouse

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3 thoughts on “Know Thyself

  1. Oy vey, you’re a bad influence on Good4! I thought everyone knows that talking about estrogen and progesterone is not tzniusdik!!!!

    🙂

  2. Nice post. I constantly have to remind myself of this… it’s not me, it’s just my feelings… and they’ll go back to happy, cheerful, butterflies, and flowers (ie, my regular self) if I just ride this out. So hard… somehow I never realize its hormones until I’ve sunk to the deepest, darkest, lowest I can go and then I’m like, “Oh! Hey! It’s probably just my period.”

    And even if it’s not hormones. Feelings are just feelings, they are not who we are. And you can change your feelings through action. I was just watching this (http://jewishfoodforthought.com/?page_id=20), and it does a great job of highlighting the way that a Mitzva can push you to do the actions that will help you to change your feelings. It talks about apologizing and asking forgiveness. You must do this, even if you don’t mean it and you are not sorry. Somehow, the action of asking forgiveness helps you come to a calm and rational state, acceptance. Yay Torah.

    Coming back to the hormones… even on the worst day, taking the time to say Modeh Ani can be the thing that reminds you to step out of what your are feeling and realize that “Oh! My body is telling me to be sad! But I’ll feel better tomorrow because that’s the way G made me.”

    (I’m super tired so apologies for the redundancies in this… but yeah..,. your post was awesome.)

  3. Husbands do this all the time. Each month they say (to themselves if they have any survival instincts!), “It’s only hormones – this, too, will pass….It’s only hormones – this, too, will pass….It’s only hormones – this, too, will pass….”

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