When Hormonal Rage Meets Mental Illness
I was really fucking angry yesterday and Thursday. I wanted to hurt people. I wanted to punch and kick and make people cry. For those of you who know me, I’m all about peace and love. So this feeling is fundamentally against everything I believe in.
I acted on this feeling a little bit and I owe an amends. I used to get violent before I stopped drinking 20 years ago and I never made amends for the wrongs I did during my rages. There has been a lot of improvement in this area.
At first, I assumed the few things in my life were not going the way I think they ought to was the cause of my anger, but then I started my period Friday morning. I rarely have had periods in the past few years, but when I do, they’re brutal.
See, I entered the lovely world of perimenopause at the young age of 39. Perimenopause is so misunderstood that spell-check doesn’t even recognize it. Basically it’s around 5-10 years of hell, (Scary Mommy describes it much better than I do), until we finally hit menopause, which means we haven’t bled for an entire year.
And then that’s a whole different joyride, by the way.
Some women don’t experience perimenopause symptoms at all. Some women die by suicide because it’s so unbearable. The rest of us are overweight, angry and randomly hairy.
I take low estrogen birth control pills to regulate my hormones. I took bioidentical hormones for a few years, but found synthetic hormones to be less activating to my depression and mania since I have bipolar disorder.
I also have Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis which is another huge factor in this whole hormone game and should not be a side note, because it’s no joke.
Yeah, and I also have PTSD, which is by far the largest mental challenge of my life and I’ve never written about it, but I will. I promise.
Thankfully, I rarely experienced PMS or gnarly period symptoms for most of my life. But the second I was pregnant, my bipolar, Hashimoto’s and PTSD did not play well with my hormones. It took four years of painful trial and error before a balance of synthetic hormones, psych meds, DBSA meetings and TMS finally got me stable again.
And I stay stable by working my butt off in therapy and an entirely new 12-step program. And routine: going to bed and waking at the same time (almost), taking my meds at the same time (good friends are very aware of my 10am lithium alarm) and taking care of myself when I am not okay.
And I’m still not okay sometimes even while doing all this maintenance. Sometimes my thyroid is being funky. Sometimes my PTSD gets triggered. And sometimes my hormones attack me.
I experience manageable mania, depression and fatigue on a somewhat regular basis, but I don’t experience anger very often.
I used to love my anger. I mistook it for strength. It was an emotion I could handle.
Thursday night I was so angry I wanted to cry. And scream. And go on Facebook (nooooo!).
But I can’t cry. I wish I could – the release of a good cry heals. But I can’t – mostly due to my psych meds and disassociation from my childhood trauma.
I just get to the point where I really want to cry, but I can’t. It’s like crying blue balls.
When I was sick those four years, I cried a lot. The problem was when I started crying, I couldn’t stop. I’ve cried for three days before – I literally had to take breaks at work so I could go to the bathroom and bawl. I thought it would never end.
And yes, it feels like my body and brain chemistry are out to get me, but that thinking pattern is only going to lead me to self-pity and even more anger.
So this is how I stopped myself from going down the rabbit hole of rage (that would be a great band name) and doing some real damage to anyone within my screaming range:
- I paused. I admitted to myself that my body and mind are sick right now.
- I stopped the Facebook rampage I was about to go on that would only make me much more angry and would hurt people.
- I texted my husband and let him know what was going on.
- I happened to have a tattoo session scheduled so I showed up and am honest about where I am.
- And as the pain of the needle into my skin began, I thanked the Universe for putting me in the right place at the right time. I focused on moving the pain in my heart to the pain of the art.
- I asked her to stop after two hours because when I could no longer take the pain.
- I ate a healthy dinner and watched HBO with my husband.
- I went to bed on time. I took my night meds on time. I got a great night of sleep.
- I made amends to my friend who I hurt.
This morning I was woken up by my 6-year-old son and we’ve laid around in bed the whole morning, him playing on his iPad, me writing. I haven’t given in to the perfect mother in my head who knows too much screen time is bad for him because so is a screaming mother.
I still feel the anger lurking around me, but it’s not in me. I’m about to publish this blog that is way too long, but if you’ve read this far, comment “I LOVE CARROTS” and I will send huge love rays your way.
I feel release.
I know the rage is right there, waiting for me to get tired or frustrated, so I asked my husband to take our 6-year-old for the afternoon so I can take a big nap.
And that’s it for now. I love you with all of my heart. Thanks for reading.