Updated: Aug 1, 2020
How many of you ladies out there feel that peri/meno anger? Do you know what I'm talking about? It's not like your average anger, and if you are living with it you know exactly what I'm talking about. I'm trying to put it into a "category" so as best to explain it, understand it even, but I find that it may be multifaceted, like so much else in life, and therefore hard to pigeonhole.
I found that I began to feel a kind of anger I hadn't felt before about a year or so ago. Sure, I have felt anger, been angry, expressed anger but it was always appropriate because of course someone else had warranted it...totally joking. Maybe. No really, I am, I'm joking! The anger that rears up now feels different and I've been considering what the differences are quite a bit lately. Let me just say, I'm not that comfortable with anger in general. My own or anyone else's. It's not my default emotion in response to matters that may be justified or not and honestly, I've had to learn to be ok with things that anger me. Displays of anger used to make me very nervous (old trauma) and they still can, but I'm better at coping now than I used to be.
The anger I'm talking about here feels complicated because it feels over due and also bigger, stormy, maybe sometimes eruptive? But it's also a little confusing because it feels largely driven, like so much else is these days, by hormones; by that I mean, it feels a little out of my control. Like monthly migraines or breast tenderness. So, while I feel part of this is latent anger come to pass, it also feels a lot more dramatic than it might've felt even 5 years ago thanks to hormones roaring and RAG-ING away. Catch that? I think I gotta stop RIGHT HERE and let you all know that although I might sound like I'm expressing blinding rage around the house, berating anyone in my path with frenzied, frothy episodes of indignation, I'm not. Heh-heh-heh. Just kidding! Rest assured, I'm not that passionate about anything. But, I have to consider what I feel angry about, why I'm so enraged and if my emotions are appropriate. It helps to know a bit about what's going on internally in order to better understand what's occurring externally, so let's take a really brief look at hormonal flux.
The main female sex hormones are estrogen and progesterone and the body produces many other hormones including but certainly not limited to: adrenaline, DHEA, Insulin and Ghrelin (controls appetite). For our purposes, I'm just referring to estrogen, progesterone and cortisol (the stress hormone) because those tend to be the "heavy hitters" for us and as those fluctuate like a rollercoaster, we gals suffer the consequences.
As these 3 hormones do their most obnoxious seesawing, we may feel an uptick in irritability and weepiness. We may feel extraordinarily quick to anger, moody, depressed and have a hard time staying focused, "Oh, hello brain fog. Btw, I hate you." Several years ago, I visited both my gynecologist and an awesome nutritionist and both women told me that having my hormones (estrogen and progesterone) tested would prove fruitless. They were in flux after all and tests wouldn't reveal more than that. I was bummed but that's what it was. I could try HRT (hormone replacement therapy) if I wanted to or I could focus on supplemental support, stress management and nutrition to try to bring more balance to my hormones. PLEASE NOTE: I am NOT a physician and should YOU have been given other advice by a trusted healthcare practitioner, please discuss best protocols for YOU. I'm just sharing my story as I really believe hearing the stories of others may offer a positive and helpful perspective.
I hear countless women talk about feeling "SO angry," "Full of rage," "More pissed than I ever felt before," and I get it. Some of it sounds funny and certainly we women downloading these feelings amongst ourselves can elicit resounding laughter. Many of us understand this kind of anger and honestly, laughing helps. But, truthfully, this is not very funny. In fact, many women have shared that their rage has interfered with their closest relationships. I've felt this myself. And look, the truth is the one receiving the brunt of my anger is my husband so that's the relationship I would highlight. For others, I've heard it's children, friends, siblings. And this is what is so complicated. And hard. How much of my anger is hormonally driven and how angry am I really? How can I tell the difference and how much does it matter? Further, maybe the anger is there for any number of reasons but hormones have made the degree to which I feel the anger that much greater. How grudgy am I anyway? Possibly a lot, I'm afraid. Yikes. Am I really just furious about something I didn't allow myself to feel angry about 10, 20, 40 years ago? Maybe I need to get back into therapy? Or am I just done being the "yes" girl? Am I over saying nothing at all because I'm no longer afraid of conflict? I'm 50 years old now and maybe I'm just through not letting my true feelings be known. I'm not entirely sure. But I totally get feeling like my anger may be scary. I also altogether accept that perhaps my anger isn't so scary at all. Maybe the fact that I'm expressing my needs, thoughts and feelings is just that foreign and uncomfortable to even those closest to me.
Here's what helped me then and continues to today, although I do think it's time for a touch base with my medical counsel. I've been taking a supplement called ChasteTree which is made of Chasteberry, an herb I'd never heard of before I met with my nutrition counselor. ChasteTree helps estrogen and progesterone find their way to each other, like two people on a seesaw finding the level. It also helps both hormones function at their optimal best. If progesterone is not operating adequately relative to estrogen which may be too much in the body, ChasteTree helps the two find a more level playing field and play nice together. The other supplement I'm religious about taking is Ashwaganda. Ashwaganda is an adaptogen, an herb that helps the body adapt and be balanced in response to stressors. It is known to reduce cortisol levels (that stress hormone) and I find it to be especially helpful to me. I up my dose from one to two droppers full a day when I'm feeling particularly irritated.
Always take a look at what you're eating if you're feeling especially triggered to anger. I know food isn't everything but it's more than you think and you may need to clean up what you're consuming. So often we don't even realize we've let our better judgement and choices slip and when we're feeling emotionally vulnerable this is very often the case. So, do a check in: refined sugar, refined carbs, too many grains, alcohol, not enough water, not enough protein? Examine what's going on and rein it back in. Sugar especially triggers all kinds of behaviors we may otherwise be able to regulate. As adults we all know about giving kids too many sweets right? We're not surprised when they start bouncing off the walls, having meltdowns. We're no different, we're just bigger.
Exercise. I wont expand here. Suffice it to say, do what moves you. Lift weights, dance, swim, walk, barre, yoga....just get movin' girl. It helps. Really.
I'm several years past those above mentioned appointments and feel like it's time for some supplemental tweaking. Plus, I want to learn more about HRT. I'm not opposed to it at all, I just don't have enough information. I held off years ago because I'd been on the pill for so long in my younger days, the thought of taking external hormones to wrestle my internal hormones into submission didn't feel like right thing to do. Now, I'm ready for a deeper discussion. How're you doing with this, ladies? Is this not a thing for you or are you struggling with your emotions this way? Would love to hear from you.