The Female Brain

To listen instead check out Kier Here Episode 15 : The Female Brain

My brain is changing everyday.

And if you’re a relatively healthy female yours is too.

I’ve been doing a ton of reading on the human brain lately. I loved my Psychology courses in college and it always interested me and secondly, y’all know I’ve been through some pretty tough shit within the last year. Between HA experience (listen to episode 12) and moving across the country – it’s a lot of heavy change !

And then I learned about this brain changing everyday thing. It’s not wonder I’m feeling all out of sorts!

And if you’re feeling all out of sorts, stressed out one day, cool as a cucumber the next day, you’re really going to enjoy this…

You might know that when a human takes an additional hormone testosterone, they seem to become this entirely different person. We see this with male bodybuilders a ton. They are more aggressive, etc. Well it’s from actual physical changes in the brain.

Hormone levels change the size and function of the human brain. Sooooo it only makes sense that the female brain would change almost daily because her hormones are different every single day of her menstrual cycle.

Our testosterone is not nearly that of a mans but we do still have it and when our estrogen rises and decreases and our progesterone rises and decreases, all the hormones are received in the brain at different ratios and thus, the female brain is different every single day.

This explains why we can have the uproots confidence one day and none what so ever the next! It’s not that we aren’t strong enough to keep our confidence. It’s because it’s physiologically out of our control!!

We process and feel our emotions different on different days of the month. That’s why one small comment can set you off one day but on another day you shake it off like it’s nothing. It’s not always the situation or who said it, it’s your brain. 

Men dont have this because their hormones are not fluctuationing nearly as much as females are. They are for the most part, at this kind of constant level of hormones and processing emotions. The parts of the brain that control emotions are actually larger in women than men due to more estrogen in our bodies and so it’s no wonder we feel things more.

Before I was diagnosed with Hypothalamic Amenorrhea, I was searching for the reason as to why I didn’t have a period. I had my hormone levels tested several times. The results always came back the same with low estrogen and low progesterone but everything else was normal. Which would mean that the ratio of testosterone and the other hormones I was still producing was being received in my brain much higher than an average females would. And because my hormones were not cycling because my hypothalamus wasn’t producing enough estrogen and progesterone to induce ovulation, my brain was not changing everyday like a normal females would. So I was always at this very constant level of emotion (much like a dude). Which leads me to believe I had this kind of hybrid brain for a while where the emotion processing parts were smaller than they should be because there wasn’t enough estrogen. 

I originally assumed the problem was in my ovaries but it was actually in my Hypothalamus (hense hypothalamic amenorrhea). And now that I’m recovered and hormones are cycling again (and knowing what I know now), not only is my body a different shape now and my lifestyle so different, but my brain is actually physically different now than it was this time last year. MIND BLOWN! Literally!!

The week before my period starts.

The final days before my periods start are absolute hell on earth. Even the most silly things can trigger hours of crying, feelings of hopelessness, depression, anxiety, panic attacks and more uncontrollable bouts of crying. I feel so jerked around by my hormones that I literally cannot work or speak to anyone without bursting into tears or biting their head off. I feel like most days of the month I’m super engaged and productive but the week leading up to my period leaves me hating myself and those feelings are so very real even though they are solely coming from hormonal shifts in my brain. And then as soon as the hormonal tides change, I’m back to my normal self.

It seems I haven’t gotten a grip on my confidence and I’ve been beating myself up because I haven’t been able to behave myself as much as I used to when my hormones were not fluctuating. One week it’s high and I’m crushing it and the next I can’t even look at myself in the mirror. Everything I thought I knew about myself has come undone once my hormones began to cycle again.

It’s almost as if I’m experiencing puberty for the second time! I shouldn’t be so hard on myself for having such intense emotions because my brain is doing exactly what it should be doing as someone who’s just starting to have active hormones. And that’s a relief because that means there’s nothing wrong with me afterall! Except for maybe having to go through this a second time at 28. It’s like I’ve been given a whole new set of extension cords and need to figure out which one plugs into which outlet. 

All this time, I thought I’m not strong enough because it can’t control my emotions or out of control behavior or that I should be able think a certain way because that’s what therapy tells us we need to do – but we aren’t actually hard-wired that way. 

Instead of beating ourselves up about not being able to process our emotions like men, we need to embrace our differences and use them to our advantage!

And maybe if we stop beating ourselves up over not having high confidence everyday, then we can give ourselves that grace and actually have the confidence to be okay with that! Because that’s what our brains naturally do!

Having this understanding about how we are wired is the key to our success. When you’re aware of what’s happening, it’s so much easier to cope with and explain to our partners and friends what’s going on. These hormonal changes aren’t excuses for poor behavior but they are explanations and I think that is so powerful!

So if you’re a female in her reproductive years who feels moody and off sometimes and can’t seem to get a grip on your confidence. You’re completely normal and your are not alone. You are stronger than you think, you are hard-wired to fluctuate this way. Let’s embrace it, and give ourselves some grace. In a few days, it all all be okay! 

If you want to learn more about this topic I highly recommend the book called “The Female Brain” by Louann Brizendine 

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