i'm not hormonal, you're just stupid!
December 13, 2007 10:48 AM   Subscribe

Is there a way to tell the difference between real emotions and crazy emotions caused by temporarily messed up hormones or brain chemicals or whatever? Is there even a difference?

Last night, my boyfriend made some stupid comment, but instead of rolling my eyes or punching him in the arm, I had a mini-freak-out and was just inconsolably sobbing for hours. Eventually, he quietly suggested that maybe the birth control (which i've recently re-started after a three month break) was making me this emotional. I at once thought "How DARE you not recognize the VALIDITY of my VERY IMPORTANT EMOTIONS?!?" and "Huh. Maybe that's why I've been such a crazy wreck the past few days."

I felt justified in my reaction last night, but this morning, I really don't have any idea why I was upset, so I think maybe he was right. The thought that it might just be some brain chemicals or hormones on overdrive makes me feel very uneasy, like I have no control over myself.

I am basically oblivious to patterns in my life (even on bc, my period comes as a complete surprise every month), or to how little changes affect me, like how I don't notice any difference between eating healthy/taking vitamins daily and eating nothing but milkshakes for weeks. How do I become more aware of how my body/brain responds to things, so that I'm less likely to flip out over stuff that would otherwise not bother me at all? How do I even know if that's what was going on?
posted by kerfuffled to Health & Fitness (30 answers total) 34 users marked this as a favorite
Oh, boy, as a person who will be spending the rest of their life on antidepressants, I can identify. I do not have PMS or other estrogen-type mood swings, but I have learned from experience that three days without antidepressants and/or thyroid meds = very labile emotions.

I have noticed the progression goes like this:
Day 1: things are fine.
Day 2: I get sentimental over IAMS cat food commercials. Honestly, I tear up when the little kitty is so sweet to its owner!
Day 3: It's all over -- I feel like I'm about to cry at the slightest provocation.

I also (after having been on antidepressants for over 10 years) find that, occasionally, one fails. But it fails gradually and slowly, until I think it's only natural for me to cry at everything and think my life sucks. I remember my mentor/surrogate father/confessor Les once asking me if maybe my antidepressants were failing, and I sobbed hysterically, "I don't KNOW!!!" Then I realized that, y'know, maybe they WERE.

Have you considered a lower-hormone-level form of BC like NuvaRing? Because the hormones are locally delivered via vagina, you need a lot less to get the same results.
posted by lleachie at 10:56 AM on December 13, 2007 [1 favorite]

It is somewhat possible to disambiguate the contribution of birth control from your "real" emotional state. (Whether the emotions are "real" or not is a philosophical problem, I think).

The correct approach would be to hold all other factors in your life as constant as possible (food, vitamins, work, sleep, relationships), and go for a time on birth control (perhaps 3 months). During this time, be vigilant about recording your feelings about and reactions to things with a journal or voice recorder.

Then stop taking birth control. After a wait period of a month or two (wherein your body will be re-adjusting to not being on birth control) you do the same recording/journaling process. Then evaluate your responses to see the contribution of birth control to your emotional state.

Anecdotally, many of my close friends who have used hormonal birth control report the same out-of-control emotions. Going off the drugs has helped them enormously. Given the delicate balance of neurotransmitters/systems in the brain which regulate emotional responses, it is no surprise to me that changing the hormone levels in the body can seriously upset normal emotional function.
posted by fake at 11:00 AM on December 13, 2007

I'm not sure that YOU can stop yourself from flipping out. If it's your birth control, you need to talk to your doctor and see what your options are. Maybe try something different.

I spent months crying EVERY day. I thought my life just sucked, so why shouldn't I cry over it all the time. It was only after the depression lifted that I looked back and said heeey, that is not OK. When it came back, I wasn't able to stop myself from crying all the time, but I was able to get to the Dr. and get some antidepressants.
posted by clh at 11:00 AM on December 13, 2007

I bring up this book at least once a month here (sorry, I'm about to do it again):

Taking Charge of Your Fertility

Essentially, Ms. Wechsler teaches you to chart and recognize patterns in your hormonal balance. Many people would do that for reasons relating to pregnancy (either achieving or avoiding), but I just do it because, like you, I spent years in this vague fog of not understanding that there was an absolute connection between what was going on with my body and how I felt emotionally.

For instance, in the evening, two days before my period starts, I get this horrible emotional dip where I'm convinced that everything is worthless and I'm terrible and life is meaningless and oh GOD, global warming, we're all doomed!

For years, I failed to realize that this happened two days before my period, like clockwork. I didn't make the connection between "hey, a hormonal shift is going on in your body" and "I feel incredibly depressed." It was always a surprise, and it was always terrible. (And then my period would start, and I'd feel fine.)

I was in my late 20s when I figured this out, and it wasn't until I started charting my cycles a year ago that I figured out other patterns relating to mysterious minor joint pain, sexual interest and response, how my skin was behaving, etc.

I know you're on hormonal birth control, but I think it's still an extremely valuable book to read. In terms of emotional shifts, it has helped me understand that some of my out-of-the-blue intense feelings aren't actually in response to anything external, they're just in response to a hormonal increase or decrease of some kind. And then, because I know it will pass in a little while, I don't need to obsessively analyze the feeling.
posted by thehmsbeagle at 11:02 AM on December 13, 2007 [6 favorites]

In a word: pause.

Pausing, which I suck at doing, but know I need to do, can provide the opportunity to be immediately (and quickly) retrospective, enough so that you might be able to evaluate the situation and react accurately instead of emotionally.

Just a thought. Like I said, I suck at it, too, but try, every day, to integrate pausing into my quest to be a better husband/father/man.
posted by legweak at 11:03 AM on December 13, 2007 [4 favorites]

They are real emotions, but they're being amplified by chemical or hormonal triggers. Personally, the only time I've been able to stand hormonal birth control is when I was also on antidepressants. But once I tapered off the antidepressants after about 7 years, hormonal bc (various brands of the pill, plus the patch and the ring) became unbearable, acting as a catalyst to turn the regular ups-and-downs of daily living into the stuff of Greek tragedy.
posted by scody at 11:03 AM on December 13, 2007 [1 favorite]

The only real difference is that the atypical reactions are atypical. The only way to find out what's typical is to pay attention.

Birth control hormones can certainly mess with your emotions, my wife and I can vouch for that you betcha. I believe there are different types of pills which may affect you differently, or you might even be better off using some other birth control method, but I'll leave those details to those with first hand experience.

Last year, while I was going through some pretty serious depression, I started keeping a really simple spreadsheet (basically I'd just mark down how i was feeling on a scale of 1 to 10 at morning, midday, and bedtime; I also kept track of my sleep hours, how much exercise I was getting, and a few other details, but the basic 1-to-10 scale was in the end the most important.) What I found was that I actually wasn't as depressed as I thought I was -- most of the time I was doing fine, there were just some episodes of 1s and 2s that colored my memory of all the rest of the time. I only kept it up for a couple of months, but even now that I'm no longer explicitly keeping track, I think I'm better at paying attention to my own moods and what causes them. Might be worth a try.
posted by ook at 11:05 AM on December 13, 2007 [1 favorite]

How do I even know if that's what was going on?

One key thing you can do is to try and catch yourself in the middle (or, even better, at the precursors) of a strong emotional response and try to ask yourself what you're responding to and whether you would normally respond so powerfully to it.

If your reaction strikes you as weird-for-you, out of character, etc, it might be something worth trying to put the brakes on and just talk out with the boyfriend or whoever else is there: "hey, I'm feeling really upset by foo. This or that made me feel that way." Slowing down and getting really intentionally careful and descriptive and straightforward about how you're feeling can derail a meltdown and help you separate the actual problem from whatever amplifying reaction you might be having (be it from medication or a hormone swing or just a really lousy day).
posted by cortex at 11:10 AM on December 13, 2007

You might want to research Vitamin B supplements and lower dose medications. I've been through the cycle of not recognizing the emotional side effects of BC at least three times, and it's really valuable that you're looking into the issue now.

If your emotions are being distorted or amplified by BC, it may not be realistic to just talk yourself through it. Can you talk to your doctor about the symptoms? There are a lot of choices -- the low-cost university clinic I go to was able to offer me the NuvaRing, which has helped a lot.

On preview, I'll second ook's suggestion. I had the opposite experience, though: I couldn't convince myself that my moods could be triggered by hormones until I charted them and realized that they were really problematic, and not at all normal for me.
posted by scission at 11:16 AM on December 13, 2007

Most of us are pretty oblivious to the effects that the tiny elements of our environment have on our emotional state. Birth control can be a big one, but so can things like coffee, sugar, how much sleep you've had, whether you've eaten enough protein, and sexual activity. Unfortunately, there's no so thing as 'fake emotions;' if you feel them, they're real. The answer is to turn to something besides your emotions to judge. You have to hone your ability to be detached and rational even when you're feeling strong emotions. Keep an eye on yourself, and keep in mind just how the things you've eaten and your environment might be affecting you. Then, when you're feeling extraordinarily angry, sad, upset, or anxious, you can say to yourself: "Why do I feel this way? Is there some chemical that's making me feel this way more than I normally would? Or do I feel this way because something someone did or said or something that happened really was hurtful or upsetting?" It can help you calm down and let go of your emotion to know that it's just chemical or physical.

This can be very helpful in keeping one's emotions in check, but it can also be helpful when we're trying to justify our emotions. When I have an argument with my wife, things go much better when I can say to her, "you know, I'm feeling this way because you said x, and x was hurtful to me because of y," rather than "GRAAHHAARGH!" (Which is what I sometimes sound like. Still working on it.)
posted by koeselitz at 11:16 AM on December 13, 2007 [2 favorites]

Or: what cortex said.
posted by koeselitz at 11:17 AM on December 13, 2007

I've been trying to make this theory work: close your eyes (if you're not driving), count to ten and focus on each breath. Think about the situation as objectively as possible, and flip your position in the conversation. Try as hard as you can to keep your voice calm. I've noticed that if I begin to cry or if my voice even wavers, that's it. There's no brakes on that train.

If you're crying watching commercials, stop watching the commercials, and actively remind yourself that marketing people are counting on you crying to buy their products. I know it sounds inane, but that was the only way I could get past them.

Also, see mdn's advice on a question I asked regarding stress. He/she basically said to make sure that you give yourself enough space to deal with the stress/problem/whatever. Your situation last night doesn't sound like something that was taking over your life that very second, except for the fact that you got more upset than you normally would, and then it just snowballed.

Keep all of this in mind if you decide to have a baby, because you will probably go through all of these same things.

Maybe you could try chamomile tea, lavender baths, and other calming methods. Your hormone fluctuations (esp. while on birth control) are a very real thing that will continue to affect you, but that doesn't mean you can't learn to take things a little bit easier. Good luck!

on preview: what legweak said
posted by mitzyjalapeno at 11:19 AM on December 13, 2007

I had similar responses to hormonal birth control, and honestly, I was not able to control the crazy emotional issues at all. Even if during the episode I thought to myself "this is a hormonal issue because of the BCPs" I still freaked out and couldn't stop. Unfortunately I do think that's the case with many women. Good luck with everything.

(2nding Taking Charge of Your Fertility. I wish I had read it many years ago.)
posted by miss tea at 11:23 AM on December 13, 2007

Thirding Taking Charge of Your Fertility. It's incredibly useful.
posted by rednikki at 11:33 AM on December 13, 2007

Please, PLEASE change your birth control pill. There are far better ones on the market. I've experienced exactly the same thing you mentioned, along with a sister and several friends. Changing my pill sorted it. And I agree with the above suggestions to chart your moods/feelings/arousal/skin condition for around 2 or 3 months to see which days are good and bad. You'll be shocked at how clockwork it is. There is one day a month when I'm in a pit of despair and nothing can make it better, but at least I can now prepare for it (ie make sure I'm not at work, stay in bed, watch nice tv until it passes).
posted by gatchaman at 11:44 AM on December 13, 2007

The only way to differentiate is to look coldly at the facts you are upset about and try to reason logically whether the average person would get bent out of shape. At least that is what I have had to do. But the emotions themselves feel exactly the same.
posted by konolia at 11:58 AM on December 13, 2007

H.A.L.T. is a recovery slogan that I think is a perfectly useful reminder that our immediate feelings may not reflect the reality of our situation. It stands for "Never let yourself get too Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired."

So at times when I feel myself flipping out, I mentally run through the checklist before deciding whether to make decisions based on my feelings. And guess what? Usually I'm just tired. Or frustrated from work. And I don't actually care whether we see the movie at 7:20 instead of 9:30 like I thought I did a moment ago. And having become aware of this, I can stop punishing you for it (whoever you happen to be).

Honestly, attention to this kind of thing has probably saved some of my relationships.
posted by hermitosis at 12:05 PM on December 13, 2007 [20 favorites]

Nthing Real, but LOUDER! I'm not on BC, and never have been (lifelong lesbian here), but when I'm a few days out from my period, I either get really, unreasonably cranky, or I love love love everything (I much prefer the latter). When not a couple days out from bleeding, I'm pretty even-keeled - I might get cranky, but about stuff that should make me cranky, and it doesn't last as long or feel as intense.

Talk to your doc about changing types or dosages.
posted by rtha at 12:10 PM on December 13, 2007

Hormones can definitely wreak havoc on your emotional life -- hormonal bc isn't an option for me because of the whole emotional roller coaster ride.

Up until I had my first child in my late 20s, I also had no concept of where I was in a cycle and never connected the dots between that "I will stab you in the eye and/or sob uncontrollably at that commercial where the little girl learns to read and so her mom takes her to McDonald's, where she gets the braille menu and you realize the little girl is BLIND" feeling and then two days later my period arriving. After a couple of pregnancies, however, I can tell you exactly where I am in my cycle at any hour of any day because I am so sensitized to the hormonal shifts.

Your question -- How do I become more aware of how my body/brain responds to things, so that I'm less likely to flip out over stuff that would otherwise not bother me at all? -- reminded me of something I came across recently that has helped me "pause," as another poster put it, in the midst of being caught up in the shift. It was just something simple and zen-like about feelings being transitory and about the difference between a person experiencing her feelings as permanent (feeling attached and overwhelmed by them) and a person merely observing them, experiencing the feelings as something akin to a weather system passing through the sky. Anyway, the reminder that "I am not my feelings" has been helpful -- especially when I find myself in the middle of a moment where I feel emotionally full and fragile, and like any small thing might break me.

Obviously, hormonal birth control is the likely culprit in your experience -- but still, that mantra "I am not my feelings" (and while we're at it, "This too shall pass") has proved to be helpful when in the grip of something that feels beyond my control and too pressing/anxiety-provoking/overwhelming to respond to as I might in a calmer state.
posted by mothershock at 12:12 PM on December 13, 2007

Hormonal birth control (the pill) definitely made me feel sad/depressed. I really wish that doctors were more up-front about this information. It wasn't until after a couple (few?) years on birth control that a smart OB/Gyn said something to me like 'but nobody with your emotional tendencies should be on tri-phase hormonal birth control.' (I was on Ortho Tri-Cyclin at the time, having been seduced by their very persuasive ads about how it helps your skin.) That was the first time I'd ever heard there could be a connection between birth control pills and emotions! I got off birth control and felt happier.

Years later, I tried the Nuva Ring for a while, but I suspected it might be doing the same thing to me, and got off.

Planned Parenthood has a great reference section about other available methods of birth control. I've concluded that the hormonal ones are nasty.
posted by toomuchkatherine at 12:16 PM on December 13, 2007

i find that hormonal emotions actually feel different, physically. i am the opposite of you, though--i am super in-touch with my body (not only can i tell within hours of when my period is coming, i can tell which ovary is ovulating). so it's hard to express what feels different. mostly, though, i can feel it on my skin. it feels flushed and slightly prickly, almost like it's on the verge of getting a sunburn. also, i feel pressure in the back of my throat, and a quiver in my solar plexus, like i'm a little short of breath.

this is just me, i'm sure everyone is different.
posted by thinkingwoman at 12:19 PM on December 13, 2007

I get hormonal.

If I'm on implanon (the stick) I get incredibly weepy, clingy, and inconsolable, as well as having low-level background depression all the time.

If I'm au naturale, I am a little ball of spiky. Very touchy, tending towards anger rather than sadness.

On the pill, I'm prone to emotional upset, but not as badly as either of the above. I'm not quite on that hair-trigger.

When I flip out, I do take a moment to take stock and say 'would I normally flip out over this? like, last week would I have flipped out over this? am I hungry, tired, or in pain? when was my last period?'

Of course, it usually doesn't help me calm down any, but it helps if I know it's 'just' hormones.

Recognising hormonal changes has taken several years of my husband saying 'I think you're PMS'ing, sweetheart, this isn't like you.' I, too, am not so hot with the in-touch-with-myself thing.
posted by ysabet at 1:08 PM on December 13, 2007

Yes, learn to observe yourself - develop a sense of what's normal by paying attention to what you do. Maybe keep a journal, if writing works best for you, or just do something to periodically remind yourself to quickly query your status: how'm I feeling right now? Like wear a rubber band on your wrist and every time you notice it, run your little system check. (Dorky example, but you get the idea.) Sounds like you should look into a different form of birth control, too.

You need to build up a baseline of what's normal for you, then when you depart from that you'll know it's probably because of something like hunger, fatigue, hormones, etc.

Normally I'm pretty even-keeled but PMS sometimes hits me hard, and then I just warn Hubby that I'm volatile. He knows it's "not the real me" talking, and he just shrugs my crap off and waits for the real me to come back in a few days. PMS is no fun for either of us, but giving him fair warning prevents things from spiraling out of control. (He has his crabby triggers too, and I return the favor by not taking it personally when I know something has pushed his buttons. It can work both ways!)
posted by Quietgal at 1:40 PM on December 13, 2007

There's no immediate, "this is it," sort of way to tell where emotions are coming from. If they were always based in logic, they wouldn't be emotions.

Have you thought of keeping a "mood journal" of sorts? Write what you're eating, what exercise you've had, how much sleep you got the night before, how social you've been, and how you're feeling. You might even include the current weather if you're prone to seasonal depression. Pretty soon, you'll start to notice patterns -- if you don't exercise for a few days you might feel chronically tired, or if you don't rant at a friend once a week you might feel frustrated with life. Pretty soon, you might be able to realize that you need a day off work, some sunshine, or that something (like a pill) is not having a positive effect. Hormones and neurochemistry can get thrown out of balance by a lot of things.
posted by mikeh at 1:46 PM on December 13, 2007

As others have said, keep a record of when you're feeling particularly sensitive, and also keep a record of when you have your period - you will probably notice some patterns that you can work with. (Changing your pill may help too.)

Accept that the feelings that you have are real feelings (at the time) - you can't change the way you feel by telling yourself "this is just PMT" - that just doesn't work. Which is why when loved ones suggest that our emotional responses are related to PMT, it's not exactly helpful! What helps is learning to do this yourself.

It's taken me nearly 20 years, but I've got to the point (give or take the odd moment) where I try and manage the effects of PMT rather than manage the PMT itself. Being able to say "I'm feeling really insecure / angry / paranoid right now, I think it's probably PMT but I can't stop feeling this way and anything you say right now is going to be wrong so just give me a hug and we'll talk about this in a couple of days" is a really powerful thing to be able to do. It doesn't solve the problem of you feeling like crap, but it does help the people that care about you to support you (and not take your reactions so personally), and prevents situations from escalating to the point where when you're back to normal, you need to fix things. In a work context, if I'm getting particularly upset / angry about something, I check my diary, and if I'm due on in the next couple of days (and hence, it's probably PMT), I refrain myself from sending stroppy emails or storming in to confront people - I arrange a meeting for a time when I know I'll be back to my normal self.
posted by finding.perdita at 3:38 PM on December 13, 2007

In general, I second what cortex and koeselitz and thehmsbeagle said.

In specific, one thing that has helped me has been the extremes. I spent a couple years on depo, where you get a shot once every 90 days. So I got a huge boost of (I forget which hormone) the day of the shot. So now I can now tell you exactly what my body feels like with extra (whatever that is). Likewise, low blood sugar, I know what an extreme crash feels like, so minor ones are easier to spot. (In fact, I attribute most of my temporary depressions to low blood sugar and/or a beer the night before.)

Another specific thing that helped was meditating. I've done very little of it -- I went on one ten-day retreat about five years ago, and I pick it up again when life is really rough. But even that low, low amount of experience made me much more observant of physical sensations and how they influence my emotional state. Daily meditating (the rare times I do it), after about a week, makes an amazing difference at helping me distinguish what is "me" and what is "that wave passing through." Yoga is useful for this as well.
posted by salvia at 4:19 PM on December 13, 2007

One of the advantages I've found of paying close attention to my cycle is that I have learned to recognize the way I feel when I'm vulnerable to flipping out. It's subtle, but I feel different on those days. I'll say to myself (and to my boyfriend) "woah, this is one of those days when I might have some PMS issues, I could flip out". Then if I do find myself flipping out, I can remember that I'd predicted it; this gives me internal permission to disregard the feelings. (Because it's not just feeling bad that's awful -- it's feeling bad and thinking that this is evidence that your life sucks.)

Perhaps more importantly, when I realize that it's one of those days, I will become much more careful with hermitosis's H.A.L.T.. I make extra sure to eat. I disengage very quickly if a conversation starts to get touchy, and don't let things escalate. This actually helps keep the frequency of flip-outs down considerably.

I've been having all these cyclical effects for years; I just didn't put it all together until I went on the Mirena UID. This actually stopped my periods, but not the rest of the cycle; without the periods, I had to pay close attention to all the other changes figure out what was going on.
posted by wyzewoman at 4:36 PM on December 13, 2007

A few years back I took to writing out my thoughts whenever I was depressed. It became clear very quickly when I was just down (usually because of some specific event or because I was tired) versus when my brain was out of whack (everything in the world was wrong, and would never be right again).

For me, at least, the difference is very dramatic now that I know what to look for.
posted by tkolar at 4:38 PM on December 13, 2007

Aw girl, I'm hugely PMS-y and I have panic attacks and anxiety disorder. I can pretty much tell the difference now between righteous indignation, hormonal melodrama, and panic fury. (the last one is the worst, obvs.)

One of the things that has helped me determine the shape of the hormonal effects I experience is having seen my mom be the same way my whole life. Of course, others may be not so lucky (unlucky? mom's still flaming irrational a lot) as having a genetic template to observe. But she gets frustrated, claustrophobic, and bad at expressing her wants when under the hormone gun, and whaddya know? So do I. Got any female relatives whose bad behavior rings bells?

Another is charting. I have wildgirl week and boo-hoo--hoo-RAAAAR days mapped. Even just within one day, check yourself on weird emotions you've had. Today and yesterday are my PMS days, IF THAT'S ANY BUSINESS OF YOURS, and I got teary looking at inspirational calendars in a bookstore. Take those more innocuous hormonal surges as warnings. Rough waters ahead.

Another is trust in your partner, roommate, of whomever is gonna bear the brunt of your lashing out. If you're as expressive and as up-front as you can be, saying "I am so frustrated!!!1" rather than "You are so stupid!!" as much as possible helps develop trust, eliminates the likelihood that they'll play the "your on teh rag" card, and helps create an ally more willing to skedaddle, if that's what you determine is best, or speed you to the froyohaus, or give you kisses, as you may need. Talk through it. Don't be afraid to sound like an irrational nut, just talk it. You may find yourself talking about tearing your face off and wanting to stomp your cat, but at least it'll relieve the pressure inside. Betcha you wind up crying, not shouting.

Another is trying to observe the symptoms. Are your ears ringing? Are you feeling flushed, having tunnel vision, or trouble getting words out? You may be having a surge of some kind of hormone. Those things are supposed to happen when you're under serious duress, not just in a squabble.

FWIW, I used to take the pill, a very very low dose, and wound up taking it without breaking for my periods for a good year, under doctor's orders, trying to avoid my genetically supplied relationship-threatening, life-destroying PMS. I took a break, and have been off for 6 months now. Best sex of my life. The PMS is manageable, the decreased sex drive, more insidious.

Good luck!
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 10:29 PM on December 13, 2007

I would agree with the many people above in saying that awareness is going to help the most. Just acknowledging how you feel and tracking patterns is exceedingly helpful. Once you start observing what's going on, it's possible that your thoughts and behavior will start changing by themselves.

For myself, as someone who experiences hormonal ups and downs, the answer is not to figure out whether or not that is going on at all. Instead, I remind myself that I don't really know what's going on, but it's possible that this is just a hormone/mood thing. Then I agree with myself to wait until the next day for a reassessment. If I still feel strongly about the issue, or if it even is an issue, I'll deal with it then. This stops me from expending energy on non-problems and controls for crazy hormone-related thought spirals.

I also have a group of thoughts that fall into the "I'm sane and have a clear understanding of the world" category, if that makes sense -- conclusions that I've reached when I know I'm thinking well. Sometimes making comparisons to those is a good indicator as to whether or not my thinking is reasonable.

(I have never used birth control or mood-affecting drugs.)
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