Book Review: Moody Bitches by Dr. Julie Holland

Maybe as a product of growing up in a rules based society, with absolute rights and wrongs, I have always preferred doing things which are “allowed”. As children, we learn to ask for permission and as adults we generally continue to act in a socially acceptable manner. Having been taught to feel deep shame when we do something that breaks the rules, it is often difficult to act with reckless abandon as an adult without reverting to the desire to follow the rules. Perhaps this is why I feel so grateful for groundbreaking books based on decades of scientific research which aim to change our view on women’s health and encourage us to adopt a new social paradigm when it comes to wellness. Such works are liberating in the sense that they allow us to consider issues related to total health in a new way which might have previously been off limits or taboo in our society.

There are two issues which I care deeply about – those being 1) holistic women’s healthcare which considers not just what medicine to prescribe, but what nutritional, exercise, stress reduction, and sleep based solutions to apply and 2) the empowerment of those plagued by negative thought patterns and psychological illnesses to change the status of their mental health no matter what trauma or issues have occurred in the past by using evidence based interventions to create a brighter future.

Both of these issues are addressed and discussed at length in Dr. Julie Hollands book, Moody Bitches. Dr. Holland makes it clear right from the title of her book that she isn’t going to sit quietly at the table with her legs crossed and her makeup done just right. In the introduction, she gets right to the point:

“The problem with taking your happy pills and puttering along as before is that it’s no better than sweeping dirt under the carpet. I want you to take that rug out back and beat the hell out of it.”

Throughout the book she proceeds to beat the hell out of outdated ideas about women’s health, citing interesting research in medicine and psychology while interjecting humor and wit. She cautions women to ignore the popular idea that we all need to be medicated, it is just a question of which medication to take. She tells us to stop trying to figure out what meds to take to medicate our moods away; instead those “negative” moods can be interpreted in a positive and powerful way.

“Moodiness – being sensitive, caring deeply, and occasionally being acutely dissatisfied – is our natural source of power.”

For any woman who is tired of being treated by male doctors with greying hairs who say that your complaints are “all in your head” or the product of some great “mystery illness”, Dr. Holland explains common concerns from a refreshing female perspective. From menstruation to menopause to hormones to relationships, this book covers a lot of ground on those things which matter the most to women. The book promises answers to “The Truth About the Drugs You’re Taking, the Sleep You’re Missing, the Sex You’re Not Having, and What’s Really Making You Crazy.” and it delivers. I’d highly recommend the book to any woman seeking greater understanding and control of her own health, who isn’t afraid of diving into some of the science behind what’s happening in her body.

moody bitches
Below, I will highlight and explain some of the best takeaways I found in Moody Bitches:

 

Health begins with understanding. Before you can become healthier, or make any changes to your health, you must first understand your body, your genetics, your life situation, and much more. The more you can educate yourself, the better chance you have of being truly healthy. The multi billion diet industry which pushes quick solution pills, slimming shakes, and processed bars in our faces wants us to believe that losing weight and enjoying optimal health is easy and fun, but for many of us, reading books about efficient exercise and understanding nutrition labels, although more work, is a much better long term solution for better health.

 

It is alright to cry and get angry. This is a lesson I still struggle with to this day. As women, we are taught by society and by the media that we must hide our feelings and “never let them see you cry.” Dr. Holland argues that there are appropriate times for showing our feelings, and that society as a whole needs to get over the fear of women’s emotions.“But we clearly have issues around our tears. Have you ever noticed how often women apologize for crying? In part it is because men are uncomfortable with expressed emotion, and so they, and we, have been socialized to shut it down.”

 

There is nothing wrong with feeling lousy on occasion. Life has lots of ups and downs. Some seasons are sunny while others include rainstorms every day. Rather than heading to the doctor for an antidepressant at the first sign of storm clouds, Dr. Holland advises that there’s nothing wrong withexperiencing a full spectrum of emotions – from angry to sad to joyful to mad. “And we don’t neessarily have to medicate away the essence of who we are to make others more comfortable.”

 

Use natural fluctuations to your advantage. Dr. Holland writes a full chapter about how women can use our monthly fluctuations to our advantage! One tip to try is to track your cycle so that you “You can plan to take on more challenging assignments at the beginning of your cycle right after your period, when your resilience is higher.” Also, she notes that “The dissatisfcation that comes on a monthly schedule is a gift to you, a chance to make some much-needed change in how you’re living your life an how much you’re giving, bending, and stretching to meet everyon else’s expectations”

 

Stress creates inflammation, and the most important stressors are emotional. I loved Dr. Hollands real talk about stress. For example, “The main factors that can trigger a stress response are uncertainty, lack of information, a loss of control, and a sense of helplessness” I found myself intuitively agreeing with each of these as well as the idea that “Suppressing emotions like anger or neediness negatively affects hormonal balance, immune statues, GI functioning, and skin, to name just a few.” Instead, Dr. Holland advises that we can change our minds about stress and that by doing so we can change our body’s reaction to it. We can reframe stress to our advantage by viewing it as our body’s response which is helping us to rise to a challenge.

 

There are so many other great takeaways and practical suggestions throughout the book – I highly recommend women of all ages to pick up a copy. Dr. Holland provides thorough advice about the many different facets which are important to women. She directly addresses hormones, diet, emotions, relationships, mindfulness, and more. She writes, and I agree, that there are certainly times and situations in a women’s life where prescription medication may be required for anxiety or depression. These situations should not be ignored and medications can be a lifesaver in such instances. However, statistics show that Americans are severely overly medicated, and the natural solutions highlighted in this book are useful suggestions for how to handle the messiness of life in a long term, sustainable way through a shift in our mindsets and small changes in many areas of our lives.

 

 

 

** All italics quotes are taken from the book Moody Bitches by Dr. Holland. 

 

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