Bemoaning Hormones

Last week I cried about a hamburger.

The evening started out pleasantly enough. It was my husband’s birthday — his first since we’ve been married. We decided to try one of Boston’s best burger joints for the celebratory dinner. My mouth was watering at first sight of the menu — more than two dozen varieties of fresh-ground sirloin were awaiting my selection. I excitedly announced my choice to the server — the Cape Codder, medium rare, topped with avocado and Swiss. Combined with sides of onion rings and fresh-cut fries, I knew we had the makings of a perfect meal.

From our table I watched the chef place the fat, juicy patties on the grill. As we waited, I interviewed Tim about the highlight of his last birthday (the cheesecake I made him), the most momentous event of his 26th year (our wedding), and what he was looking forward to in the upcoming year (more good times with me). At that moment, I might have said life was perfect.

And then the food arrived. My immediate reaction was complete distress. Though my burger looked incredible, I quickly realized I would have a hard time actually consuming it. It was too tall. I tried squishing it down, but to no avail — the half-pound patty was just too thick. I cut the Cape Codder in two, hoping to make it more manageable. As I picked up the first half, juices dripped from my fingers. Avocado, cheese, and hunks of sirloin came spilling out of the grips of the soft, white bun. It all fell in a heap on my plate. And then the tears started flowing. These weren’t just small tears of frustration — I’m talking full-on crying, complete with sniffling and mascara smears. My hamburger — and night — were ruined.

You may think this sounds silly — even ridiculous. But at that moment, I couldn’t have felt worse. And I blame it all on hormones. Though breakdowns such as this do not affect me frequently, occasions do arise where I am completely at the mercy of the hormones within me.

I’m not the only one, right? Is there a method to handling the hormones? Or are there any equally embarrassing stories out there that might make me feel less crazy? Help. Please.

About Ashley Dickson

(Copy Editor) is a Virginia native now living in Boston. She graduated from BYU with degrees in broadcast journalism and home and family living, then spent three years writing and editing for magazines. She's now working as an editor for a financial research firm while freelance writing and obtaining her master's degree in library and information science. Ashley is happiest when she’s reading at the beach, sweating at the gym, or eating crepes in Paris.

39 thoughts on “Bemoaning Hormones

  1. I had a good cry over french fries several years ago. I was pregnant with our first child and hubby and I were househunting for our first home. We had flown across the country and were worn out, but only had a weekend to look so we were on a tight schedule. A quick trip to a fast food place for breakfast introduced us to Maryland’s typical grumpy-as-can-be service. The lady behind the counter said we were too late to get hash browns, but we could get fries. I said, then we’ll just skip the hash browns. She was rude and kept talking about how late we were for the breakfast menu and I should be happy with what we got… Anyway, I left hubby to deal with her surliness and sat at the table feeling far more emotional than I should. Then hubby comes to the table with our breakfast, including an order of fries – at which point I lost it and sobbed a good, long and loud sob. Rather embarrassing, but completely hormone driven.

  2. Very well-written. Yes, I do think fluctuating hormones have a powerful impact on the rise and fall of our moods.

    I went on birth control pills 15 years ago when I first got married, and I swear they made me loco. I felt much better once I got off of them. Maybe they’ve improved them since.

    I have PMS that makes me noticably more tired and irritable for 7 or 8 days every cycle. It’s gotten worse as time has gone by. Exercise helps my mood a ton. I consider it essential, especially during my PMS time. I’ve heard that B-complex vitamins can help….I’ve tried those and haven’t noticed a huge difference for me but have heard that it’s helped some people.

    Pregnancy does a real number on my moods. When I was pregnant with my twins, I dubbed myself “hormonal hag”…it was really bad for about 3 months….my husband considers that one of the worst periods of our marriage.

    Part of me has just had to surrender to the idea that sometimes I am not in full control of how I feel. There are natural ups and downs to my life, in large part because of the rise and fall of my hormones. Lots of us are right there with you.

  3. Very well-put! I have had this kind of experience many times, and it is SO embarrassing. When we were dating, my now-husband and I played scrabble once on his birthday. Terrible idea. I totally came unglued and CRIED when I lost. Kinda ruined the celebratory spirit.
    About a year ago, I was having a rough day. I don’t remember the particulars; I was pregnant and probably feeling sorry for myself. At one point my two-year-old daughter brought me one of my favorite picture books to read to her, and I broke down and wailed. Not just sobbed, but wailed. I guess I was remembering the innocence and beauty of my childhood, and mourning its loss. When my daughter sees that book she still says “Remember when you read me this book and you cried?”
    Do you want more examples? I cried in public lots in college. College! I haven’t gotten much better at controlling it since then. My natural reaction to almost every emotion is to cry, and I hate that it makes me seem weak or manipulative.
    So I guess the point is… I relate! And I appreciated reading your post and knowing that I’m not the only one who is subjective to hormonal whirlwinds.

  4. Track your cycle. Know when those times are coming. Be prepared. The last thing you want is to have those times happen in front of your boss, for example. You’ll feel less nutty if you can anticipate it.
    And, if you’re new to the pill, and this emotional roller-coaster came along with it, get a different pill or another BC method. The pill made me depressed, and it does it to lots of other women, too.
    Best of luck!

  5. You are NOT the only one!

    I’ve been amazed at the difference a few hormones can make in my state of mind. I’ve been mostly stable the past year since getting an IUD to help even out the peaks and drops in my levels, because I swear I was turning into the mayor of crazytown.

    But just yesterday for the first time in a long time I am quite certain that my body had a surge or something, because within a few hours my formerly clear face broke out, and I tuned into an irritable, grumpy, impatient mommy, culminating in me using a word in the profanity spectrum…something I’d never done before in front of them. Which threw the whole situation into a tailspin of badness, and I ended the day on sour note, alone, while the rest of the fam went to Festival of Trees.

    Today I’m trying to pretend I’m not feeling grumpy…but it’s not an Oscar worthy performance.

    It does give me a heightened appreciation for times when I feel “normal”. Hormones are the worst. :-(

  6. I’d been married for just a few weeks and was still getting adjusted to a new lifestyle, new priorities, and handling the new influence of birth control on my emotional fluctuations. My husband made a request regarding how I handle the laundry, and I burst into a good ten minute sob session. Poor husband. Fortunately, we’re now both better at predicting my mood swings and gauging our responses appropriately :)

  7. After reading Louann Brizendine’s “The Female Brain,” I quit blaming myself for such breakdowns. I highly recommend the book to all women (and men). Hormones dictate much of how women feel, and since hormones are different for men, they have a hard time understanding. As some have mentioned, the best thing to do is just let the crying sessions come and hope there is a good man around with a shoulder to sob on. :)

  8. I have no suggestions for the hormones, but I feel for you and that hamburger. You were making me want one!! :) Nothing like a good burger…

  9. My husband and I laugh about the fact that with both our children, the first sign that I was pregnant was a dramatic mood swings (even more so than just my regular cycle). I believe when I was pregnant with my first I threw a primary manual (not at my husband; I just threw it) across the room after my husband confessed he hadn’t read the lesson (it was Sunday morning; I hadn’t read it yet either). Then I burst into tears and ran into our bedroom. We were both pretty perplexed by the whole thing (NOT my typical behavior) until the next morning, when the test came back positive . . . :)

    I don’t have any good ideas for managing it–except to make sure your husband knows it’s not anything he’s personally done.

  10. Maybe you are pregnant? That always made it worse for me. I also had terrible birth control pills during the first year of my marriage and had a major melt down about every three weeks.

    Truthfully, turning 30 helped me more than anything. I’m still hormonal, but I don’t feel as roller coaster as I did when I was younger. My hormones are more of a BENEFIT now than a liability. Wink, wink.

  11. And mom o’boys–your experience sounds so much like mine. Have you tried the patch? I’ve had much better luck with it than pills.

    I’m not sure if the houseful of men is helpful or not. On the one hand, nobody relates, but on the other, my own emotions set the tone for our home. It gives me a lot of control over the way things go around here.

  12. That sounds like me too; once every five weeks I spend a few days acting totally crazy. I can tell my reactions aren’t normal, but it can be hard to stop them. I try and keep track of my cycle and prepare myself (and my husband). Once when I was a senior in high school my mom dropped me off at the dentist and then left to run errands. I didn’t realize that she had left, so when I got out of the dentist chair I was alone. She took a long time to come back and the lady at the front desk asked me several times about my insurance info and where my mom was. Finally I just began sobbing “I don’t know where my mom is!” and then I kept crying because I was so embarrassed to be a 17-year-old sobbing at the dentist’s office. I have other stories too–like the time when my husband and I were dating and I had sobbing fit in the grocery store because I wanted Thai food and they didn’t have the right curry sauce. Sigh.

  13. I cried at a hamburger commercial when I was pregnant. I wanted it so badly I just broke down and sobbed. Turns out I was also severely anemic.

    ——

    Hormones and I dance a terrible dance. My PMS starts at ovulation, so it’s pretty fun for all of us. The few days before my period are horrendous. It’s like that little black cartoon rain cloud that follows people around, only this is more like a thunderhead at the center of a tempest. I wake up feeling it and just can’t shake it.

    It has been helpful for me to recognize the patterns in my cycle and talk about it openly with my husband. I let him know when I feel it coming on. It’s not an effort to excuse poor behavior on my part or tell him to steer clear, but more an opportunity to help him make sense of my responses and not feel like it’s his fault. At the same time, he works hard not to treat my thoughts or feelings during that time as crazy or invalid, he just knows my overall reactions are stronger than normal. For example, I may be frustrated over something like him coming home late and not calling. If I’m hormonal I may flip out a bit. My husband knows the basic concern is valid and needs to be addressed, but he can also recognize that my heightened response is incongruous and he needn’t take it personally. He’s pretty amazing that way.

    It’s crazy how quickly it all resolves once I start my period. This past month, after a couple of rough days, my mood had obviously improved because my husband smiled slyly and said, “Congratulations on starting your period”. Sweet, patient man.

  14. BYU-Utah game of 2007. We were sitting in front of two very enthusiastic young men. I was 11 weeks pregnant. One of the guys whacked me in the head during his celebration of a particularly good play made by BYU. Yes, it hurt a little, but definitely not enough to warrant crying about it and he’d felt really bad about it and apologized. But cry I did, almost through the rest of the quarter. Quietly. At first because this stranger had hurt my feelings (ridiculous), and then because I was embarrassed that I was crying.

    Hormones are crazy! Oh and I felt the tears coming on at Costco earlier today because I thought they might not have any more pumpkin pies left. But don’t worry – I found them and the crisis was averted.

  15. I cried over food this very day. Not only did I cry over food, I cried over really crappy fast food. I’m 20 weeks pregnant and wake up every morning with extreme hunger and low blood sugar. This morning my kind hubby decided to run to the McDonald’s near our house and grab us some breakfast sandwiches since we anticipated a busy morning. Before he left the house he confirmed, “You like the biscuit sandwich, right?” To which I replied in the affirmative. I did not clarify that I like the bacon, egg, and cheese biscuit. So I was sorely disappointed when he returned with a sausage biscuit of all things. I just sat there at the table, unwrapped sandwich in front of me, silent tears running down my face saying, “It doesn’t even have cheese” over and over again. I kept reassuring him that I wasn’t mad at him I was just really, really hungry.

  16. You’re definitely not alone! When I first got married, my BC pills made me completely crazy. It took about four months for me to figure out that was the problem, and then when I talked to my husband about it, my poor brand-new husband said, “Yeah, it kinda feels like you’ve been crying ever since we got married…” Poor guy.

    The only thing that helps me is when we both can recognize why I’m being illogically emotional and irritable. After a few days of break downs over the unfolded laundry or unwashed dishes, one of us will usually realize that hormones are to blame.

    And the other thing that helps? Laughing about it later. :)

  17. I have a similar story. I mentioned to my sweet husband that I was craving a big, tasty salad from a nice sit-down place. So he totally went out of his way to make that happen and took me out, and it ended with us having to leave because I was just crying and crying. My husband was so upset and I just kept saying, “I don’t know why I’m crying!” That was probably the worst incident, but there are many more.

    I sobbed so hard in the shower a few months ago after I got my hair cut, because I thought it was just slightly too short. That was right before we moved and for me, stress always brings the hormones out even worse!

  18. Are you taking birth control pills? I took them for several years (on and off between children) and won’t touch them ever again. They worked my hormones over in an awful way. If I could go back and do it again, I would have just used condoms and enjoyed being me.

  19. I’m dying to know what Tim’s reaction was! And did you end up eating your burger? One of my most embarrassing crying memories was during a family picture incident, but I was probably too young to blame it on hormones. And then one time when I was in the kitchen, about to be late for work. I think my dad was the only one home at the time and I’m sure he felt helpless. Also multiple times with my husband, but neither he nor I can remember specific triggers.

  20. After I had my first baby, I told my husband I really really wanted some granola. So he went to the store and bought granola for me. When he came home, it turned out he’d bought regular granola, but I wanted lowfat granola. I threw the bowl of granola and milk across the counter and burst into tears.

  21. I’m kinda hoping that Heavenly Father is going to look at my life and say , “ok, these hormonal weeks during your life don’t count. Your body wasn’t functioning properly, so you snapping at the kids, or wigging out over a burned dinner, or crying at the mailman – we’re just going to ignore those.”

    Because honestly, sometimes I wonder where my real self is inside all this hormonal mess.

  22. Beedle’s “It doesn’t have cheese!” made me smile.

    Time to ramble: Well, this is another time in my life when I wish I’d become a nurse. (Nursing degrees should be a prerequisite for having children, I swear!) Sobbing because of hormones seems quite extreme. Feeling like a thunderhead for several days in a row during a cycle like Sunny also doesn’t seem like the average girl’s hormonal experience. It doesn’t seem right. I’d talk to an OBGYN about it honestly. Could it be PMDD? I know a lot of commenters have agreed about crying, but maybe it’s because PMDD is more widespread. I was better hormonally until I got my IUD about two years ago. It’s copper so the hormones are all mine. I don’t cry much, but I get depressed and withdrawn the week before my period. I plan to ask my OBGYN about PMDD at my next appointment.

  23. French fries! Scrabble! Granola! I love all those stories. Hearing all these incidences has been surprisingly meaningful over the last 24 hours. I’ve also decided to scrap the birth control pills and talk to my doc about a new method. Here’s hoping to a less tearful future!

  24. One thing you might try, especially if you know you’re at That Time in your cycle, is vitamin B6.

    It’s supposed to help with first trimester nausea sometimes, too, but it was my lifesaver when I had PMS. As soon as I’d take some, I could feel myself calming down (though it could have just been psychological, I suppose).

    And as long as you don’t megadose, vitamin B6 can’t hurt. It’s worth a try anyway.

  25. Some of our worst marital problems kicked off when the hormones went screwy and I chewed out my husband for something that was on the “no-big-deal” list. I would complain about something he did, totally hurt his ego, and then I had to deal with the “why did I just do that?” When I finally caught on to the point in the cycle that these things usually occurred, I had to say to myself, “shut up, it’s the hormones talking”. The first time I blow up at the kids for something that’s an everyday thing…I put myself on alert. Sometimes it means I’m more quiet, because I’m forcing myself to be that way, but I figure it’s better than the conniption that does more harm than good. Once the period starts, the emotional waves are over and it’s easier to remember which battles need to be fought and which ignored entirely.

  26. Great topic to get to the bottom of our weird behavior. I think in the last Segullah jounal in print there was a line about hiding the crazies as a method to get a man! Problem for me is hormones too. They always inflate small problems. Birth control pills have made me suicidal. My iud made me bleed for five months and pms makes me cranky (unless I eat chocolate!–I guess I should try the B6. I know my mom took it).

    My crying over food episode was during pregnancy. We were at Disneyworld and I was really hungry, but my husband kept looking for a better place to eat. I finally burst into tears that I needed food right that second.

    Is it just a way for us to learn better self-control? I love the sister who just knows to be quiet. I need to try that more often.

    Good luck!

  27. How timely this post was because I was just telling my husband that I’m a hormonal mess right now since I’m weaning. (It’s been three days since Baby’s nursed now, and I think my body is getting the message.)

    I serve in the primary and all the songs about the Baby Jesus were making me cry. And it’s Christmas, so ALL the songs are about Baby Jesus. I’m hoping I just came across as really spiritual and not like the hormonal psycho I actually have been this week. Jeepers.

    Actually, my hormones are at their calmest while I’m nursing–especially before I start menstruating again. But when I’m pregnant I feel this deep pit of inner rage just waiting to leap out and spew fire all over its helpless victims. ;)

  28. Ashley-BC stinks! Don’t do Depo Provera…it was created by the devil. I did Depo Provera for one shot and swore I would never do it again! Gained 30 lbs in 2 months, acne, crazy mood swings…horrible horrible…better to use condoms and like the other reader said “be yourself” or there’s the diaphram (aka the trampoline), but it just was too much work.

    So here’s my stories:

    when I was pregnant with my first son, we were poor due to my husband loosing his job. I saw a commercial for a stuffed crust pizza and I WANTED IT! We couldn’t afford it as we were on a very tight budget. My husband mentioned this to me and it upset me. I started doing the dishes (rather shoving them around loudly) and started crying. “Are you crying?” my husband asked me. “No!” as I am sniffing and wiping away tears. “Why are you crying?!” “Because I just want a pizza!” We laugh about it to this day…I tell him it was his son’s fault for wanting pizza….

    there was the time that I had to take my youngest son to the doctor and he was being difficult. I was PMSing bad. The doctor was talking to me and telling me I was a good mom and doing a good job. I tried to hold it in until I got to the car, but it didn’t happen. I broke down in the exam room. My son’s doctor took my had and told me it was okay and it will be okay. I was so embarrassed.

    then there was the time that my husband and I were talking about dogs and movies…I started to think about old yeller and my dog skip…I started to cry, and then I started to laugh because I was crying about old yeller.

    You’re not alone..hormones are crazy

  29. My ex-roommates and I have a legendary tale about hormones. One of my roommates started birth control before her wedding, and she likes to tell how she hit a four-way stop one day and every car stopped perfectly. It was so beautiful, she felt, that it made her cry. We always have a great laugh over that one!

  30. I picked up some peas that were supposed to be on sale for 59 cents a few weeks ago, and when I got home, I realized I had paid $1.50 a bag for six bags, paying almost an extra $6. They were frozen, and I didn’t know if the store would take them back, and I didn’t want to load the kids and drive back to be embarrassed at the service desk over it. So instead I cried my face off until my poor little kids were very concerned for my well-being. Thank you hormones.

  31. I love the “it didn’t even have cheese” line. That is classic.

    I have so many hormonal moments. Like Justine, I wonder what is me and what is the hormones. If I’m super sensitive one day, it’s usually hormone related. But then sometimes not–sometimes I really am that touchy. Embarrassing but true.

  32. I used to have lots of hormonal issues, but they have all but disappeared since I started taking anti-depressants. But before that things were absolutely horrible.

  33. Something to look into for those of you who experience depression the week before your period is progesterone. Progesterone drops the week before your period starts. I have a friend who takes bio-identical progesterone pills on a regular schedule to combat PMS. I took them for a short period of time when I felt that my progesterone was off. I occassionally take one when I feel I am raging angry under the surface. It’s one thing that might be worth looking into.

  34. I’m so glad I’m not the only one who randomly bursts into tears! My last episode of crying in public was on my 30th birthday. We decided to go to Outback for dinner because the last time I was there they had this really fantastic entree and it was exactly what I wanted. So we hauled my 7-months-pregnant self and two young kids to the restaurant and shortly thereafter discovered that they no longer offered it. So I sat at the table and cried because they took my favorite meal off their menu. Then I was sobbing about turning 30, being 2,000 miles from family, and why didn’t my husband throw me a party? (Does this ever happen to you? Cry about one thing then pretty soon you’re crying about a whole slew of non-related things you hadn’t even thought about?) When the waitress came back I had pulled myself together and ordered a bowl of French Onion Soup in protest while my husband enjoyed a really great looking steak. Regular hormones are no fun, but pregnancy hormones are the pits.

  35. I think the last time I sobbed in actual public was when I went on my mission. I’d just broken up with my boyfriend of two years who decided to elope three weeks later (the day of my missionary non-farewell) with a girl he’d met online less than a month before. I got the news via e-mail my first week in my mission (in Australia). I held it together pretty well until my companion (who I knew nothing about because I was new to the mission) and I were grocery shopping. We went to the cereal aisle and all I wanted were Lucky Charms (I don’t even like cereal, so that was weird) but for some reason overly-sweet cereals don’t seem to exist in Australia. I sat down in the middle of the aisle and just SOBBED over and over that all I wanted were Lucky Charms. Probably less to do with hormones and more with stress, but it was still so embarrassing.

    I’m glad my companion still liked me after that (o:

  36. Is it wrong that I’m cracking up right now? I’m reading these comments thinking; “All husbands should be required to read this post so they know it’s not just their wives who are PMS crazy.”

  37. Wow, I feel in-place and like a total alien at once. But then, that’s the standard experience for conversion to LDS at 44, or so I have found. I am divorced (18 years), childless (NOT the original plan), and on Tuesday the 14th I am having a radical hysterectomy. I’m having some problems, sure, and I am obviously in early perimenopause, but the main reason is to avoid my mother’s fate, death by ovarian cancer.

    My ward knows about this because I’ve been unwell for a while and my church attendance has been hit or miss.I’m in phone contact, so folks have finally figured out that I’m here for life and that I’m not one of those Great Disappearing Converts. While I appreciate their love and concern, I admit that sometimes I really get ticked off. It seems like I’m being pitied for losing my ability to have babies. At 45 and with nary a whiff of an eligible, righteous priest, I don’t see what’s to miss. There was no chance, hasn’t been for a while, that I was going to have a child. That’s the beauty of fostering and adoption. And though I understand the Church’s reasons for stressing a 2-parent family, getting foster kids out of nightmares and into my home seems like a mighty good plan. My ward sisters can pity all they like, but this is NOT the end to me, not at all.

    Many of my sisters seem to think the sad part is the lack of momminess; but I’m a lot more scared of the hormones to come! I keep being told things, by doctors and women who’ve gone before, that stack up to “Beware day 14 after losing the ovaries…you’re gonna hit a wall!” Then, the choices! The pill, the patch, estrogen, black cohosh and other naturals, or bioidentical hormones that sound great but about which my stodgy Western doctors are ALL dismissive. Already I can tell that this is going to be interesting in the not-fun way.

    I know that all medical solutions are trial and error. I’ve done that with ADHD, bipolar, and thyroid for starters. But truly, I want a magic pill, a simple answer without deviation, for this. I intend to live to 104. I’m 45. I’m NOT spending more than half my life a prisoner to fatigue, hot flashes and dry skin!!! I intend to be hot in a totally different way, and gorgeous inside and out, forever and ever. Call me spoiled and demanding, but … hey, everyone does!

    For me, this is a real ETTE issue…I do it on my own in human terms, and the outcome will be worth the work. Does that make sense? Thanks!!

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