As a researcher and writer, beyond other things, I am a woman and I feel the natural fluctuation of hormones throughout the month. I recognize these recurring periods as a time that brings about changes in moods, interests, desires, and concentration – all components to which influence my creating and thus my writings. In general, my days beam with energy as I indulge in life’s obsessions, however as my hormones fluctuate I prefer to barricade myself with a wall of oversized pillows.
The pillows seem to grow into smooshy extensions of my body and I spend days seeping further into their layers, unraveling my memories into abstract and multilayered reflections. I become addicted to detailed imagery, obsessing over word choice to convey my thoughts as my writing is met with surprising articulation and a regurgitated flow of words.
Lonely and frustrated with pimples, I recognize the menstrual cycle is usually discarded as annoying, a weakness, sometimes shamed or gross. Obviously we have all seen products and ideas advertised to women to assist in minimizing, decreasing, or eradicating “symptoms” associated with the menstrual cycle.
If I subscribed to the all-encompassing experiences of this natural process as “symptoms” and attempt to neutralize the fluctuation of hormones, how would this affect my writings and research? How does the hormone-induced state of melancholy, which Western society (rightfully or not) romantically attributes to creativity (understood to be uniqueness in connecting the dots), contribute to some of my best works?
In writing academic research, my data and topics are extracted from transcribed narratives. And as the world of research has finally accepted that all work has its limitations of objectivity, my personal reflection here is an act of embracing subjectivity and how we all uniquely connect ideas to build understanding.
This process for me includes a recurring experience of melancholy, stretching my mind and focusing concentration on places of interest that I may have not visited otherwise. The actualization that these hormone-induced moods would impact the interpretation of my data drastically is unlikely as methodological approaches in my research can take months or sometimes years to carry out – not just a pillow burrowed week. But, in choosing to embrace these experiences, I recognize the possibility of valuable alternative insight.
While maybe unnecessarily romanticizing my own experience, I realize we all have a variety of ways hormone fluctuation affects us. I suppose it depends on context and personal preference, but I decided I needed all of me, including my ‘natural partner in crime’ in my writing and interpreting the world. Thus, I choose not to suppress or be apologetic for shifting and evolving through hormonal changes, but instead to be a bit more embracing of its quiet presence in my reflective process. That said, I am left wondering how those of us came to feel ashamed of these influences in the first place and what we are missing by not embracing it?
Sarita Fae Jarmack is a researcher and writer addressing topics on migration and gender through academic and alternative publishing (https://aalborg.academia.edu/