Hormones and Writing (WARNING: Blatantly Honest Post)

I thought it was my period making me want to rip apart my laptop with tweezers in mock torture.

I mean, hormones can be a bitch. One minute you love everything and the next you are Satan. It happens. To the best of us. Once a month we lose all grasp on reality. (If you do not experience this, you are either male or alien or an eighty year old woman or an 8 year old girl and I need you not to talk).

So anyway…I was in revisions mode. And at that particular ‘loss of reality’ point in time for me last month, my WIP looked like a Chinese dictionary.

I can’t read Chinese.

Honest truth…I didn’t know what to freaking do with those words. I’m the chic that pulls up to McDonald’s and spends thirty minutes trying to decide what she wants. So, revising an ENTIRE BOOK?? Making the choice of what stays and what goes and what gets added to an 85,000 word novel??

It’s like asking me to fly.

On top of that, my creativity had dropped to nil levels. The most creative thing I could do was watch Paula Deen make fat loaded food on The Food Channel from my perch on the couch while I ate Nutella by the spoonful. And maybe I got creative enough to dip a Hershey’s bar in peanut butter, but that was it.

PMS was in full swing and had been for two weeks. I was irritable, sad, mad, hungry, bored, frustrated. You name it, I was it.

And then it was over. And I still couldn’t make heads or tails of my WIP. You cannot imagine my explicit horror. It was supposed to be the hormone’s fault! So I did the only logical thing to fix my problem.

I went to the gynecologist.

Now, don’t make fun. I’d just had a rough few days and thought maybe my hormones were jacked up. I REALLY believed that had to be it. I love writing. There have been times, MANY, when every breath of my waking day was spent slugging away at the keys on my laptop. So, it seemed utterly impossible to me that my inability to put anything legible on paper had anything to do with things under my control. It had to be nature screwing with me.

So off I went. I didn’t know what I needed, but you better believe I wasn’t leaving that office without SOMETHING.

So the nurse practitioner comes in. She looks sweet and young and I think, “Oy. She can’t know what she’s doing. I’m screwed. I need a woman with a good quarter century of menstrual hell under her belt.”

But I wasn’t going to get it. So I just did as told and let her fondle my giant breasts with her tiny cold hands and then proceeded to try not to cringe like I was experiencing my first time when she invaded my hoo-ha with cold metal as her nurse watched with rapt attention and too much delight for my taste.

And then she asked the biggie. “So what brings you in today?”

What brought me in. Greeaat. How the crap do I explain this one? Well–‘I needed a yearly exam anyway, though I was trying really hard to avoid it, but I think my hormones are messing with my ability to write fiction and I couldn’t have that so here I am. Please fix me’–didn’t sound sane. So I explained how screwed up I’d been. The Super Dose of PMS that forced me to seek medical attention.

She asked if I’d been depressed. Well, duh. I was a writer that couldn’t write. Of course I was depressed. But she didn’t know that and it felt weird even thinking about saying it, so I just said yes.

Then she asked if I was suicidal. I had to make sure she knew just how un-suicidal a person I am, going on and on about how I love living and I want to live forever and all that. At that point, I worried I sounded crazy.

Then she said, “Well. This happens to women a lot. Nothing abnormal. It’s just that the two weeks following ovulation can be rough. The PMS symptoms can worsen as you age. We treat it with Prozac or other SSRI’s to be taken during PMS or for the two weeks after ovulation. Would you like a prescription?”

I almost fell off the bed. She did think I was crazy. Did I look crazy?? Was it the babbling about living forever?? 

Needless to say, I refused her offer. One, because, jeez. It’s Prozac. I just needed my hormones to behave. So I told her of my aversion to taking pills of any sort. A little Advil for pain here and there but that’s it. Then I decided to explain to the obvious newb that I thought maybe my hormones just needed ‘leveling’ out.

She looked at me like I had three heads and clearly no medical degree.

“Leveled out? There’s no way to level out your hormones, ma’am. (Yeah. She called me ma’am).Women’s hormones fluctuate every day of their cycle. There are different phases and…” I tuned her out. I knew this shiz. All of it. I took a million hours of college classes that drilled that crap into my head. I know the luteal phase and the follicular phase and blah, blah freaking blah. But, dang it. I just knew there was something she could do. She faded back in at, “I could always put you on the pill to try and regulate things.”

Regulate. Level out. SAME THING. All that really registered with me was MAGIC PILL. So I readily accepted her offer, even though I haven’t been on birth control in forever (like 13 years) and even though I hate taking any kind of pills. I was down for a try. The Pill was going to make me creative again.

So I began taking them, with all the hope in the world that they would fix my problem. But then, about four days in, I started feeling bad. Just overall bad. No energy, all that mess. But somehow, my brain did not make a connection to the pill. It was supposed to help and by God I was going to give it a chance.

Life for me was busy (as usual) so I wrapped myself up in all my mom duties. I was giving it time. Both the pill, and my body. It HAD to work.

And with each passing day I felt worse. I wanted to eat and sleep and that was it. Writing? I wanted to write like I wanted to stick my bloody head in a shark tank.

I’d had an excuse before, and a freaking good one at that. Hormones. Period. My God-given right as a female to be a little wonky. Yet there I was two weeks later, my mind blank, my creative urges urgeless, my body downright SICK. I thought maybe I had a bug. Maybe I ate something wrong. Maybe it was stress. GOD. But as sick as I was, it was secondary to my inablity to create anything good on my WIP. The voices were GONE. Words were GONE. It was like one day I was a writer and the next I wasn’t.

So I drank coffee. Caffeine was supposed to help, damn it. It didn’t.

I consulted a couple author friends who gave advice and when that didn’t work, they suggested I just give it time.

Another little thing about me: I’m the World’s Most Impatient Human, so this was me: “Give it time?? Wait?? Are they on crack? I already waited!!”

But what the hell else was I gonna do? It wasn’t like I could write. Or maybe I could. Just not on my WIP. So I whipped out a little short story/novella in two days thinking maybe that would get the old creative juices flowing again.

But that would be TOO FREAKIN’ EASY, wouldn’t it?

Still, there was nothing for my WIP. Just a big blank hole in my head. And I was getting sicker by the day. I mean, I was so disinterested in everything I actually watched the news and presidential election coverage and The Weather Channel for entertainment. I couldn’t eat much without getting sick, so the usual emotional eating was SO not happening. I was miserable.

So finally, I fess up to my Friend/Crit Partner Extraordinaire Misty Waters what has REALLY been going on. She informs me that it’s probably the pill as they apparantly turn her into Medusa. And because I think she’s a genius, I stopped taking them. The following couple days were rough. I was really sick. There were times I wanted to kick my own ass for ever even considering fooling with mother nature. But then it passed. And day by day I felt more like me again.

I am now recovered and have vowed to never touch another birth control pill or make random trips to physicians when I can’t write. I learned a lesson the hard way. It’s important to sit back and chill. I can’t control everything. Life can alter the writing process for anyone. It happens. It sucks, but it happens.

Slowly but surely my brain is turning back on. It’s like I don’t have an off/on switch but a dial that’s making its way to full steam. The characters are talking again. Their voices are a little dim, but I just keep listening. I read a book yesterday and plan on reading another today (Thank You, Laura Kaye, for Marco and Brady). And for God’s sake…I’m writing a blog post. That takes creativity. Which means I’m not depleted anymore 🙂

And it feels really, really good.

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  1. Thanks for writing this post. I could have written it (but not as well). Oh menstrual hell, I know you well! There are a few things I've done that help (not pills). I cut out all soy. I started exercising. I cut WAY down on my sugar intake. Reading definitely helps. ^_^ Wishing you loads of WIP creative energy!

  2. This post is perfect, Charissa! I totally get you. Yes, I have been there. Recently, after years – and I mean hellish, wanting-to-blow-up-a-small-country hellish – of suffering, I finally had a partial hysterectomy, just missing my uterus, but not really missing it at all. Best decision I've ever made. No more migraines, cramps, and excessive everything else. Hope you stay on the mend. But if this reoccurs, remind yourself that you are not alone.

  3. Yes, this "shiz" has happened to me too…then I had a mid-life baby, lol. Was kinda worried this was how your story was gonna end. I loves my baby, but talk about stemming the creative flow, lol… WOW… all I can say is… {{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{supersolidaritysisterwritermamahugs}}}}}}}}}}}}}}

  4. If this post is any indication, your creative juices are starting to flow again! Sorry you went through a rough time! I've been there myself! And glad Marco and Brady helped! 😉

  5. This is my favorite part: So I just did as told and let her fondle my giant breasts with her tiny cold hands… Made me guffaw like a nutjob, lol. I heart you so much:)

  6. Charissa, Hilarious! And so understandable! Been there, done that! And I have definitely found that meds can affect my creativity. I can't do hormones, and when I was taking something for depression, I had to try 2 different meds before finding something that didn't quiet the voices in my head. (haha) I've found reading helps a lot, watching movies, etc. Hugs and hang in there! Your voice is unique and funny. Keep it up!