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In March I was in Houston for a wedding and a couple of days after touchdown I noticed my chest area had broken out. I assumed Texas humidity had gotten the best of me and the breakout was simply heat bumps, but when I had the same issue a month later and, again, two months later I realized something else was going on.

For whatever reason (though I’m guessing age), this year my period decided cramps, mood swings, and a pimple here and there weren’t enough to make me detest those seven days of the month; I now needed my entire chest to be overcome with little red bumps so I’d know it was real. Believe me, I did. And though the flare up would subside within a few days each time, my irritation at this new PMS symptom did not.

Coincidentally, I also had an uptick in professional and personal stress which was wrecking me from the inside out — stomach aches, anxiety, more breakouts — and breathing and praying just weren’t doing the trick (sorry God). That’s when I remembered that I’d been sent a sample of HUM Big Chill pills to try. I figured why not since nothing else had relieved my symptoms, and started taking one capsule per day with food in late July.

Several of my coworkers swear by HUM but I was a bit of a skeptic. I had a positive experience with the Raw Beauty Green Superfood Powder as a probiotic alternative, but live bacteria and real-life stress were two different things in my mind and I wasn’t sure a supplement could do much about the latter, but it did.

Within a few days I noticed my stress levels were reduced. I no longer had that anxious feeling in the pit of my stomach throughout the day and I didn’t react as strongly when negative things occurred, which, apparently, can be chalked up to the supplemental properties of Rhodiola Rosea Root Extract. According to the HUM website, the “adaptogenic” herb has been shown to “stabilize stress levels and promote homeostasis so that the body can easily ‘adapt’ to physical and environmental strains.”

It wouldn’t be for another few months, though, that I’d realized the pills also delivered on their promise to “remove the signs of stress” known as breakouts and aging. Suddenly I noticed I wasn’t having those monthly breakouts on my chest and I figured the Big Chill pills must’ve done the trick. And then, true to form, I stopped taking them because I didn’t think I needed them anymore.

Fast forward to today where I’ve been looking at the same three bumps in the middle of my forehead for three times the length of my monthly cycle and feeling more apprehension about the future than any normal non-Trump supporter. Yet again I remembered the chill pills and resolved they are what truly made the difference the past few months and their efficacy wasn’t just a fluke or a placebo effect. I’ve begun taking them again right along with my Omega-3s and multi-vitamins because they’re actually not just a supplement, but a necessity when it comes to stress and the havoc it wreaks on my skin. I may not like having to take something every day to “cope,” but this alternative is a lot better than the other.

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