Hormones are crazy things. I’ve heard them blamed for anger, happiness, motivation, lust, and cranky teenagers.
Turns out, they’re responsible for much more than that. In reading over Dr. Wikipedia just now, I see that my original plan of typing, “Hormones have many functions besides mood” is kind-of, completely obvious and extremely limited.
Frankly, we can’t live without this classification of body processes, which include directly influencing functions and indirectly affecting nearby functions.
In layman’s terms: hormones are everywhere, affecting everything. Plus, even the simple ones come as a package deal. I’ve often described them as like upgrade options when purchasing a new car. Just like getting the sunroof also includes the heated seats, a hormone like serotonin affects happiness and appetite (and memory, social behavior, sexual desire, etc.).
As you can tell, they’re the sort of package you’re hesitant to sign up for. Can’t I get just the mood improvement? We wonder.
Stodgy, uptight mood salesperson says, “No.”
Despite this limitation, an über popular trend is Hormone Replacement Therapy. I should know; I jumped on the bandwagon.
People (with money) are rushing to embrace this idea of supplementing the hormone that is deficient in order to fix problems. It seems to mostly be applied to menopausal situations but is branching out to include testosterone-failing men and hormone-deficient women (like me).
I am not a fan of medication. The whole hormone thing seemed a safer bet, a more natural bet. Plus, my symptoms are milder than many others.
Almost all of my life I have been somewhat depressed. I’ve called it pessimism, realism, an analytical nature, being a woman, shyness, low self-esteem, and social anxiety. Since something inside me has been able to ultimately resist actually acting on thoughts of harm or suicide, I assume my mental issues to be somewhat lesser than others’ experiences.
So, my initial journey down the Medicate Me route has been to take a few hormones prescribed by my (very expensive) hormone doctor.
Obligatory I’m not a doctor warning: I am not a doctor. Go see one, and don’t self-medicate.
Anywho: She prescribed progesterone pills for my whole cycle issue I discussed in an earlier post, plus serotonin “out of intuition.” Interestingly, the serotonin turned out to really be 5-HTP, some sort of supplement that helps some people’s bodies make more serotonin. That pharmacy got into trouble for selling one thing as another, but that’s a different story.
After looking over my blood tests, Dr. Pricey asked me if I was frequently tired. I have been potty training my youngest for nighttime sleeping, so have therefore not slept through the night in a few years. On top of that, sometimes the children feel ill or want a drink or can’t find their own beds and end up waking me for directions.
She added a thyroid vitamin to the mix.
My testosterone level showed to be nearly on empty, so she recently injected a testosterone pellet into my backside. Don’t worry, it was voluntary.
So: monthly progesterone, daily 5-HTP and Thyrotain, and slow-release testosterone.
Did it all work? I wasn’t sure.
Life is difficult to isolate variables in. Besides normal depressive thoughts, I also have a husband with whom I have been trying better marital techniques. I have four children, a house, writing commitments, a side job, and cycling hormone levels.
“I’m not sure it’s changed anything,” I noted, to my husband.
“I’ve noticed a difference,” he responded, in that sweet, sensitive way of the matter-of-fact engineering personality.
And, actually, I have started to notice differences as well. Let me give you a few scenarios:
We invited a neighbor family over for dinner and games one evening. As the night wore on, they admitted they were planning an early-morning trip out of town and we cut the evening a little short so they could sleep. Next day, The Devil Known as Facebook showed that they and another neighbor couple had gone together.
In the past, seeing people’s pictures of going places and not even telling me were triggers. Those happy faces meant no one liked me, noticed me, or cared about me. They must all hate me, I was sure.
When I saw the post, I thought, How fun! I hope they have a good time! I think I even commented something of that sort since that is what The Demon Facebook Lord requires.
I’ve had conversations with my husband wherein he started to pull out some of our Cycle of Hurt tactics, and I was able to stick up for myself. I valued myself and told him that he’d hurt my feelings.
Perhaps you are more mature than me in this regard, but my past fallback was to become personally offended, internalize the hurt, assume he did not love me and end up blocking my closet door whilst crying on the other side of it.
I previously described my current sensation as looking at my life like a detached anthropologist. This is because I have been able to think differently than before and compare the new exchange to past examples with a scientific attitude.
Formerly, I would mentally berate myself for not being able to just change my attitude. Why couldn’t I just think positively; feel happy? Somehow, the hormonal cocktail supplements have done just that. They’ve given me pinkish lenses.
This may not be the same result for others. However, I wrote this rambling post to encourage myself and those faltering at the doorway to medication to not be afraid of medicinal aids.
Granted, this is low-level stuff. They’ve pushed my baby toe in the door, however; helped me see that the cure is better than the disease.
I warn, as well, of blindly accepting a drug-happy psychiatrist’s insistence. Find someone knowledgeable, but also caring and reasonable.
I also warn of side effects. Even these hormone thingies have them. For example, the testosterone is causing my hair to fall out like post-radiation treatment. I’ve been put on saw palmetto (another supplement), to stop the loss. Not helping yet, but perhaps I’ll look good in a scarf.
And, as an update six months out: I learned that testosterone may make me birth a hermaphrodite if I become pregnant again. You live, you learn. So, don’t try the pellet; do talk to a doctor.
Take some control of your life today. You won’t regret it.
Chelsea’s Writing Site, if interested.