Addicted to Oxytocin.
I’ve recently stopped breastfeeding the cub. And so, the oxytocin – the love, happy, hormone has abruptly left the party, without even saying goodbye. This naturally occurring love drug is the one that when you’re surviving on three hours sleep gives you the superpower to smile at your baby and not to sob and try to give them away to someone else who can cope better. It has been surreal to witness my calm, steady voice soothing my crying cub back to sleep. S**t I need my oxytocin back! Can’t you buy oxytocin by the bottle from Neal’s Yard? Or else have it injected monthly so I can be perma-pleasant? Apparently you can buy a nasal spray. You see, I thought I’d be a prime candidate for post-natal depression but remarkably I’ve been absolutely fine. More than fine in fact – I’ve been happy and healthy. I like the oxytocin-fuelled version of me. Sure, I’ve had days of overwhelm and extreme tiredness but overall I’ve been pretty surprised at how well I’ve coped with the tidal shift of motherhood.
We stopped feeding quite abruptly just before he turned one and he started giggling at my boob. It was bizarre and funny to witness; I’d scoop him up into my arms as normal and he’d just tip his head back to look at me with a huge, cheeky grin and giggle. If there was going to be a positive way to finish feeding, this was it. Bless him. I didn’t feel particularly sad that ‘I’d lost my baby’ nor did I mourn the loss of our beautiful bonding sessions. I’ve loved our feeding journey (after we got over the initial cracked nipple, tongue tie, wince-inducing pain and almost having to give up). If anything his new independence feels a bit of a relief towards greater independence. But I have started to feel really sad and moody, over emotional and craving sweet food and generally feeling like I’ve had a month long period. Presumably my cycle is trying to return to sending out its monthly newsletter.
Feeling Slobby & Off
It’s a bit of a vicious cycle I feel rubbish – lethargic, hyper sensitive and sad so I turn to unhealthy habits to soothe myself. I don’t feel I have the energy to make ‘healthy food’ or practice yoga. I crave caffeine, sugar, I indulge in consumerism and comparisons and I cut off healthy relationships and avoid socialising preferring to be alone. I start looking outside of myself for the ‘good feeling’ and for validation, which is never a good thing for someone who has suffered with his or her mental health in the past. I feel slobby and my self-care regime is being sighed out of the window at a time when I need it the most. I can feel myself panicking, like the supportive friend I thought I could rely on has suddenly moved abroad. These triggers are all great warning signs to really bring myself back to basics so I don’t repeat old pain cycles. Although, it does make me think that my depression in the past could well have been hormone related and Doctors were quick to prescribe anti-depressants ahead of sleep, a healthy diet as well as yoga and meditation.
Since attending a women’s cycle awareness course (we’re talking wombs, not bicycle proficiency) with my amazing yoga teacher Lara who I recommend to everyone I have a better understanding of my body’s natural rhythms. I need to listen to my body and rest and give it plenty of love and self-care. So I’ve booked an appointment next week to see Sharon who is an Ayurvedic practitioner to fix my regime and diet and to ask for her help to support regulating my system naturally. I’ll write more about what she ‘prescribes’ next week after I’ve seen her.
Share the Love
What is your experience of this stuff? Women don’t talk about things like this enough. Periods, mood and hormonal cycles are seen as taboo, something shameful and embarrassing “women’s problems”. I hope that we can change this mind set overtime.
I’ve been reading about oxytocin and it’s effects, it’s fascinating and definitely fits with my patterns. I’ll let you know if I find any gems.