I am once again lost in the sea of Menopause. I capitalize it, Karen, because it deserves to be capitalized. A small letter just wouldn’t do it justice. I think I’ve been sinking in its ocean of symptoms for about 8 or 9 years now. I’m officially menopausal, but the symptoms didn’t wait until it was official. They laid siege many years before. Looking back, I can see that some of the health issues I had in my 40s were directly tied to peri-menopause, the insane period before the cycles cease. I would argue that peri-menopause was exactly one billion times worse than Menopause, but still….. Menopause TODAY … sucked.
Before I discourage any of my fellow travelers, it’s not always awful. I can go months without having any kind of problems associated with the change. In fact, I directly relate my ability to get off my anti-depressant medication to the cessation of my cycles. How any of us are sane for the first 50 years of our lives with that hormonal circus going on inside of us is beyond my comprehension. When my cycles finally ceased, and the hormonal roller coaster shut down for eternity, my mind got quiet. I could focus. I wasn’t so obsessed with relationships and building homes. That flush of estrogen forces us to focus on home and family and keeping the peace. When the estrogen started slowing down… and it does it gradually over a several year period, my priority became me. I also had to work on a lot of issues that had been overlooked to “keep the peace.” I actually get up every morning feeling pretty much the same. I have minimal mood swings. Yes, I know, it doesn’t seem like it, but you should’ve seen me before. Be nice. Also realize… this is MY experience. Others have much better OR much worse experiences.
So, the last week and a half I’ve had three nights where I woke up in a complete panic…. over NOTHING. I wasn’t worrying about anything for a change. I was happy. Work is going good. I feel loved. I have friends. It’s spring. Life is just pretty freaking awesome. But, for some reason, my body wanted to panic. I woke up about 2:30. My heart was racing. My palms were sweating. And, there was no way I was going back to sleep. It wasn’t 3 nights in a row, so I thought it was isolated events. I had some great, calm days in between. But, last night it happened again, and I was a physical mess when I got up at 5. I hadn’t slept. I was in a panic. I couldn’t really function. And I wasn’t worried about anything at all. I KNEW it was something to do with my body. I suspect it’s something to do with Menopause because I was also having hot flashes like a banshee. First I was hot… then I was cold.. then I was wet and chilly.. then I was hot. The weather has been confusing enough without adding my body’s temperature crisis to the mix. I’ve been using peppermint oil on the back of my neck, and it has helped a lot, but it’s still driving me crazy.
There’s no way to be sure that Menopause is the culprit because the medical profession is horrible at understanding it. I gave up on them after they put me on hormones and I had 3 periods in a month. Yeah… next. I’m not doing that. I know they work for some people, but they didn’t work for me… at least then. The answers out there are confusing. I understand why. Every women reacts differently. What works one year is not effective the next because the hormone levels keep changing. It’s a moving target. So, everybody does the best they can. I know that I can’t process coffee anymore since I’ve hit Menopause. I suspect I’m not processing sugar very well. It seems like everything that I used to do to cope and to have fun is now off limits. That is, it’s off limits if I want to feel good. If I don’t mind feeling half-ass, then I can do whatever I want. But, I like to feel good.
So, I took some time today to go get acupuncture. I did a meditation that always shifts my anxiety. I ate healthful food. I didn’t drink much caffeine although I had a little tea this morning. I got some progesterone cream which a friend recommended. She said it helped calm her anxiety. It was just a temporary case of severe anxiety, but I hate anxiety. Depression sucks, but I can take it for awhile if I know it won’t last. If somebody told me I could have severe anxiety for a week and live 20 more years or die tomorrow and never feel it again, I might have to get my affairs in order. It’s so horribly uncomfortable. At least when life is causing the anxiety, I can do something about it. When it’s purely physical, there’s nothing that I can really do myself to end the episode. After the needle doc did his magic this morning, I was on a pink cloud. It took exactly 10 minutes to get there. I was so happy. I am so grateful that I feel calm right now. I was never so glad to have someone poke holes in me. I’m back. I’m a little tired, but I feel like myself again. I hope it’s awhile before whatever it was comes back. I wonder if the full moon has anything to do with it? Anybody else having issues?
See this article for more on anxiety during Menopause and peri-menopause.