Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Making (and Breaking) of Us

“Hormones are what make us who we are.”

—Sarah Wickham.

As I listened vacantly just recently, consumed otherwise in a world of my own, I heard an amazing truth and asked for it immediately to be repeated to the bemusement of those actually privy to the dialogue.

My wife was having a ‘deep and meaningful’ with my youngest daughter, and I hardly even recall the context of the conversation; let’s just say I sensed something more for it in that flash of an instant than what was originally planned for it in the mind of my wife. Yet, what she’d berthed—the actual quote—has a truthful power; a concept that could be forever explored.

Hormones have the power to make us or break us, notwithstanding our moods and propensities for disorders and exhilarations. Hormones don’t just help us party or cause our bad moods, they also facilitate biochemically—apart from those processes of the nervous system—all bodily processes via the endocrine system.[1]

Depending on the hormones and function of the body in question the body operates either on simple or complex negative-feedback loops. Fundamentally, our endocrine glands monitor our bloodstream hormone levels and when the levels are sufficiently low (i.e. ‘negative’) the glands secrete the required quantity of the hormone to restore the preset equilibrium.[2]

Of course, very simplistically, hormones make us male or female (the crux of the conversation I overheard) and still the thousands of micro-delicate bodily endocrinal balances are hard to maintain; yet, somehow a correctly functioning endocrine system sees to it without us even knowing.

All of this helps to highlight is how complex an organism the human body is.

We hardly ever account that such small things as glands, receptors and other ‘hardware’ of the endocrine system regulate our every emotion and so much more!

Why is it that we take such important things for granted? There are literally thousands of reasons to be grateful for our miraculous bodies.

But there’s a flipside to this too. Many people have a tremendous problem managing their hormones. It makes life, at times, untenable for these. But, when we understand the complexities involved we can go easier on ourselves, forgiving ourselves for how we feel.

It’s plain not easy much of the time. Let’s be gentle with ourselves during times of hormonal imbalance!

© S. J. Wickham, 2009.

[1] Gerard J. Tortora & Sandra R. Grabowski, Principles of Anatomy and Physiology (9th Ed) (New York, USA: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2000), p. 566.

[2] Robert J. Sternberg, In Search of the Human Mind (2nd Ed) (Fort Worth, Texas: Harcourt Brace College Publishers, 1998), p. 108.

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