The relationship between body and mind, and precisely where personality and the ‘youness’ of ‘you’ sits in that relationship continues to fascinate me.
This is largely because I was on The Pill for years. I was put on it as a teenager when I complained of painful periods to my doctor and thought it was wonderful! I still think it’s wonderful though were I thirteen now I’d definitely go for an implant, less to remember. (Idle thought – did having to take the pill at 7am every day make me more organised?) Deciding to come off the pill has given me a glimpse of the downside of ingesting hormones daily for over ten years. Deciding to come off the pill after having a coil fitted has given me a very raw glimpse of what it’s like to have my body purge itself of over ten years worth of hormones in a short space of time.
Hormones are clearly curious beasts and the amount to which we are creatures of the chemicals flowing through our bloodstream is…awesome and terrifying. Now I admit I’m not the most rational of people, add that to the learning differences and top up with hormonally charged but I can see why it was largely assumed that women were incapable of being rational in the 18th and 19th centuries. Oh it’s unfair and untrue but I know why I’m feeling the urge to behave in crazy ways and can explain and understand, must be rotten if you can’t and you must feel like you’re completely irrational.
My rational mind and my instinctual body often want entirely different things, I’m aware of that and the fact that I cycle with reasonable regularity through hormonally based urges. I think procreation is a good example to use here.
At a base level I do not want children, intellectually there are personal and less personal reasons for this. A good example of a personal reason would be, I’ve still not achieved everything I want to and what I want to achieve would take too much time away from potential children, an example of the less personal would be that the world is overpopulated as it is. Now in a particular sort of relationship, certainly with partners who want them, I can consider that children may be an option and as someone with a passionate interest in the education and well-being of children even get quite a kick out of the idea of bringing them up. Usually at my base level this desire is for as many of my friends as possible to procreate and for me to make the most awesome auntie in the world ever. (Oh siblings I am looking at you.)
Now my body has no idea about bringing up children or the education systems problems (if I were to have children there would be serious consideration of home education, which as an intellectual excercise is quite fun to consider, but I digress), my body, when it gets involved reacts instinctually. A good rendering would be: ‘Make Pregnant. NOW’. In my usual cycle there is a particular time of the month where my body wants to be pregnant. Understand that I still have no desire to bring up children, no hormonal induced instinct to teach babies lullabies etc.etc. (The whole notion of potty-training continues to repulse me.) It is an animalistic desire that when asked questions of by my (hopefully still rational) mind sulks and kicks and shouts from a corner.
Body ‘Get pregnant NOW!’
Mind ‘You want to bring up a child for eighteen years?’
Mind ‘Seriously, if I were to commit to the Montesorri method I might be able to get them into a local private primary school but that would cost and then I’d have to home educate from 13 and I probably couldn’t do Science GCSEs which would mean a home tutor.’
Body ‘FUCK anyone. GET PREGNANT’
Mind ‘I am in a committed relationship you know.’
Body ‘Jump him! PREGNANT!’
Mind ‘The Jellicle is looking awfully attractive right now. Sex might be fun. I’m still not changing a child’s nappies for however many months though.’
Body ‘PREGNANT!…No! No! No! Stop! No Condoms!’
Mind ‘Nope, still don’t want kids.’
As I get closer to thirty certain passing men, not necessarily attractive ones either, will suddenly have ‘GOOD FATHER’ tattooed across their foreheads and my ovaries will start their little alarm bells. This bares no relation to whether I fancy them or have any sort of relationship with them, in my defence though, to a man they’d make good Dads and even my mind agrees with that. (Just not with me as the Mum though.) I’m guessing this is a natural hormonal progression, everybody has heard of the body clock and it would appear to exist and be entirely independant of the rational mind. This isn’t me rationally realising that my window for having children without a large probability of Downs is shrinking, this is my body doing it’s own special little countdown, and considering it can’t count as I understand it, that’s moderately impressive.
Good Father Material: Hi Mish!
Body: Quick! Follow him!
Mind: Uh…hi. Hey how are you?
Good Father Material: I’m pretty good (starts roleplaying discussion)
Mind:(attempting to follow roleplaying discussion)
Good Father Material: (continues roleplaying discussion)
Mind:(realises what body is doing and attempts to extract self from conversation)
Good Father Material: Well, see you around Mish
Now luckily, to anyone external me adding sexual innuendoes or flirting wildly is not unusual behaviour. It’s just from the inside that I notice the difference. I usually flirt because I can’t help it and sex comes up in conversation, but, if I want to get laid it’s usually because, well, I want to get laid. The notion of sleeping with someone and pregnancy being a desired outcome is so opposite to everything I’ve attempted to do for the past eleven years it’s absolutely terrifying. I would imagine it would still be quite nerve wracking if I’d made a decision to actually try for children to be honest. Also, it does lead me to react sexually to people I never would do normally in some cases. Mostly the ‘Good Dad’ alarm bells are quite good fun as I can silently react to them, and note down which of my friends I need to get into a stable relationship ASAP so I can become an awesome auntie.
These are normal, if contradictory to my rational mind, hormonal influences. They’re not problematic for me because they’re expected and they can be easily countered by my mind.
Body: Want pregnant. Fuck Now.
Mind: Do not want children. Have sex using a condom and like it.
(This is an especially easy interaction when my body gets confused because it’s a woman it wants to get it pregnant…)
The slew of unanticipated hormones which I assume is a combination of coil and coming off the pill are more difficult to deal with. The first few months were full of unexpected psychotic behaviours. A lot of anger and violence. Because I’ve never really suffered PMS and the sexually induced urges are at least coherent and require at least one other person to be involved. Being angry for no reason came as a shock. Being sad, clingy and upset for no reason (current hormonal state) is really causing a problem for me.
When I noticed the anger and shouting then I could rationalise that as much as I do the weird-horny. It took me a few months, I can go for a walk, I can ask myself ‘So, why am I suddenly angry with this person? What exactly have they done?’ I didn’t at first because it took me by surprise whereas my usual hormones I’ve had a few years to get used to. I also don’t tend to get angry or violent to the extent where I have to deal with it.
Hormones coursed through my body unexpectedly and this meant that the body was controlling the mind for a while. Which isn’t a good thing tm.
The extreme sadness, crying at the drop of a hat and generally down nature of myself for one or two months now is causing me other problems. I suffer from depression, the way I deal with my depression is that I assume it’s always going to be there, now can I please get on with something else. I don’t talk about it regularly because it was last a serious problem about nine years ago. It ebbs and flows and I deal with it. I know how to deal with it.
I have no idea if it was hormonally induced, I assume hormones played some part in it. It’s a psychological tweak of mind which has led to many interesting and annoying personality traits. This feels a little different. My depression doesn’t make me clingy for one, it makes me alienate and isolate myself. However, a lot of this feels like I’m depressed…and rationalising discussions when depressed usually turn out badly. I’m feeling somewhat out of my depth and I know I shouldn’t. I do have practise at dealing with myself in this mood, or at least one very like it, but it’s very slight variances from the Swamp of Melancholy I know so well are providing me with obstacles.
Mind and Body combine to form some sort of self, and that’s fascinating but confusing and weird when Body is purging itself of chemicals that have such vast effects on Mind.