I Feel Like a Monster… Is This Normal?

hormonesHere we go again like clockwork. It’s the week before my period, and I feel like a bloated, anxious, ugly, mad monster who barely knows who I am. The week leading up to the monthly fun has become a painful nightmare, especially since giving birth to my two daughters. Sure, I remember coming home from high school because I was so sick from period cramps and hormonal migraines, but I lived with it because I thought it was normal. I have also been living over a decade thinking I was a high-strung, anxious person — but it turns out my hormones and gut health were the root cause of what I thought was just my personality.

Monster Mom

I know there’s a cultural taboo over women being angry, and how dare we lose our temper? Because that makes us bad moms. I went back and forth even writing this because I didn’t want to be labeled as crazy or a complainer. Terms like “MOM RAGE” or “OVERSTIMULATED MOM” popped up, but I was starting to wonder if it was more than me just being stressed out about motherhood, work, and life. I even quit my high-stress job because I thought that would change everything, but I still felt the same. My mood and what felt like my entire personality changed into someone I barely knew. I felt out of my body at times in such anger over the smallest things. I felt like the OUT-OF-CONTROL HULK — but without the nice shade of green. I would cry and feel so guilty for the way I reacted toward my kids or husband, but I didn’t know how to stop it. I hated myself at times because I lived a great life, yet I was so angry and anxious. My body was always in fight or flight, as if a bear was coming to attack me.

The Symptoms

High anxiety. I had constant ruminating thoughts to the point where I always thought something happened to my husband if I didn’t hear from him right away on a work trip, or if he was a tad late getting home from hockey.

Excruciating cramps. My cramps came so fast that I wouldn’t even have time to take pain relievers. You know that pain that radiates up the spine, through the hips, and down the legs? That pain that we women are just supposed to just deal with and work through? Even after taking pain medicine, that dull ache was lingering and waiting to become a painful beast again exactly at the 4-6 hour mark.

Painful, swollen breasts. Like, where I could barely wear a bra? Yeah, that’s been fun, too. It was so bad one cycle that I actually called my OB and said, “I think something is wrong with me, could this be cancer?”

Night sweats. We’re talking sweats so bad that I’d have to change the sheets each night during the week and wake up embarrassed and feeling gross.

And, let’s not forget the migraines! Thank God for Dr. Brett at Life Family Chiropractic who basically eradicated my daily headaches and monthly migraines.

The fact is, I always felt ill, as if I was coming down with the flu, and I swear even my lymph nodes felt swollen… it just didn’t feel right.

Is This Normal?

Every month I would ask myself, “Is this normal?” The doctors always said it was. I explained that I thought it was PMDD — a severe form of PMS — and asked to get hormonal testing completed, especially since I have a family history of thyroid issues and autoimmune disease. I was written off “because most women experience this, my cycles were what they considered regular and I had no issues trying to conceive.” Well, cool, I guess everything must be fine, and I should live like this. Why is the only solution anti-anxiety medication or hormonal birth control with major side effects? Let me be clear, I am not against either of these solutions, but right now it’s not what I’d like to pursue for myself.

READ: Battling PMDD: The Evil Stepmonster of PMS

Functional Medicine & Finding the Root Cause

I researched and listened to health podcasts. After reading the testimonials, I went to see Dr. Tommy and Dr. Lexie Romero at Optimal You Wellness Center in Ponte Vedra Beach. I was hopeful, and Dr. Tommy did not disappoint — after meeting with me for over an hour to discuss my symptoms which included anxiety, fatigue, and gut issues I’ve had for most of my adult life. They did full blood, hormone, and thyroid panels, and a GI Map. The first thing we tackled was the severe gut issues including high inflammation markers, food sensitivities, bad bacteria, gut infection, and very little good bacteria. Past doctors labeled it as IBS which is a catch-all for “we don’t know what’s actually wrong.” We worked on that with diet changes, supplements, and vitamins. After three months of working with Dr. Tommy, my bloodwork came back with NO red flags. My gut was finally in good health after years of suffering, and I sure could feel the difference. I am currently on the hormone balancing journey, and I found that my hormonal pathways are not firing, causing my body to hold onto estrogen and cortisol which makes sense as to why I always feel stressed, tired, and anxious. I basically have no progesterone, a potential MTHFR gene mutation, and the beginnings of hypothyroid disease… you know the thing I spoke to the original doctor about, but he just told me I was anxious.

The Lesson Here: Advocate for Yourself

I am sharing this story because I really believe women need to advocate for themselves more and not take the first thing a doctor says. We know our bodies best, and if something isn’t feeling right, we need to know it’s okay to speak up. We do not necessarily have to live in the pain we are told is normal. I truly believe that by discussing what feels off, and by pushing for what we know our bodies truly need, we can be better and happier moms, wives, and partners. I am not saying we can’t be angry because we sure can be… and we will be because being a mama is HARD! But ladies, let’s speak with other women, and let’s speak mom to mom because once I started talking about this, I found out I was not alone.

About the Author

Renee Demers is a 36-year-old mom of two sassy girls, ages 5 and 2. She lives in Nocatee and loves working out, running Disney races, and is always on the go with her family, whether traveling or just out biking, walking, and swimming.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here