A searching, galvanizing memoir about blood and love: how learning more about her period, PMS, PMDD, and the effects of hormones on moods transformed her relationships—to a new partner, to family, to non-blood kin, and to her own body—from the beloved essayist and author of Women
Chloe Caldwell’s period has often felt inconvenient, uncomfortable, or even painful. It’s only once she’s in her thirties, as she’s falling in love with Tony, a musician and single dad, that its effects on her mood start to dominate her life. Spurred by the intensity and seriousness of her new relationship, it strikes her: her outbursts of anxiety and rage match her hormonal cycle.
Compelled to understand the truth of what’s happening to her, Chloe documents attitudes toward menstruation among her peers and family, reads Reddit threads about PMS, attends a conference called Break the Cycle, and learns about premenstrual dysphoric disorder, PMDD, which helps her name what she’s been going through. For Chloe, healing isn’t about finding a single cure. It means reflecting on underlying patterns in her life: her feelings about her queer identity and writing persona in the context of a heterosexual relationship; how her parents’ divorce contributed to her issues with trust; and what it means to blend a family.
The Red Zone is a candid, revelatory memoir for anyone grappling with controversial medical diagnoses and labels of all kinds. It’s about coming to terms with the fact that—along with proper treatment—self-acceptance, self-compassion, and transcending shame are the ultimate keys to relief. It’s also about love: how challenging it can be, how it reveals your weaknesses and wounds, and how, if you allow it, it will push you to grow and change.