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Bipolar News

January 25, 2005

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Lawmakers to experience mental illness (of sorts) - Bend,OR,USA
... It will feature a Virtual Hallucination Machine that simulates the effects of severe and persistent mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder ...

Hormones and home: Nowhere to run -- and nowhere to hide.

Sarasota Herald Tribune; 1/22/2005

Byline: Rich Brooks

Hormones are on the march.

A couple of decades ago, I could claim credit for my wife's hot flashes. These days, though, her hot flashes have nothing to do with my amorous advances.

She's going through what's known in polite circles as the change of life.

At the other end of the family's generational span, I draw scowls and scorn from the 14-year-old nearly every day. Before he turned the corner of puberty, I had to mete out punishments or chores to merit such a heated reaction.

Nor am I immune from hormones' unbalanced grip. According to some Web sites I visited, my gray and thinning hair, expanding waistline, and occasional memory lapses are caused not by age, but by the decreased production of various hormones, resulting in a condition called male menopause. Who knew?

It doesn't take a Rhodes scholar to recognize how hormones affect us on a wider scale.

Just scan the newspaper.

In Sarasota and other counties across the nation, religious organizations are trying to persuade hormone-driven teenagers to refrain from sweating up the sheets.

And major league baseball is finally getting around to testing muscle-bound ballplayers for steroids.

Using a little creative extrapolation, one can see how hormones have played a role in humanity's socioeconomic development.

For example, do you think Florida would be as populated if not for the hordes of college students visiting our beaches during spring break?

Face it, if not for those youngsters heeding their hormonal urges, Florida would still be a gator-infested swamp and not the crowded, overdeveloped, expensive paradise it is today.

One wonders what role hormones have played throughout history.

Not to downplay the influence of stupidity, but it's probable that hormones have been at least partly responsible for causing wars, murder and mayhem ever since the first hominids attacked neighboring tribes.

And it's not as if men have a lock on hormones' dark side.

We probably wouldn't be singing about Lizzie Borden taking an ax to her parents if she could have controlled her estrogen.

Here in the present, my wife's fluctuating levels of that hormone and progesterone, and my son's rising level of testosterone, are wreaking havoc with our bipolar but occasionally content household.

True to the clinical description, my wife has bouts of anxiety, moodiness and forgetfulness along with the aforementioned hot flashes.

It used to be that there would be days between the appearance of those symptoms. Now, she runs the gamut in a matter of minutes.

The 14-year-old is getting good at reading his mother's moods.

During those times when he sees her at wits' end, he leaves the house to hang out with friends or hides in his room to play video games until her mood improves.

And she is able to recognize when his hormone level is nearing the tipping point. She has the good sense to leave him alone.

As for me, I am blessed with neither my wife's intuition nor the 14-year-old's insight.

This leaves me butting heads with an immovable object, the 14-year-old, or clashing with an irresistible force, the love of my life.

My saving grace has been that I haven't crossed their dark sides simultaneously.

I hope that never happens. If it does, I'm afraid I'll end up in a song just like Lizzie's parents.

Rich Brooks can be reached at

COPYRIGHT 2005 Sarasota Herald-Tribune

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