Sunday, April 10, 2016

It's Not You, It's Me

Guess where I am?  Just guess - go ahead!! Guess! Guess! Guess!  Give up?  Ok then, I'll tell you. I have found myself smack-dab in the middle of perimenopause. Seriously.  Actually, it's more like the second phase of it.  I spent a lot of time on Sunday researching the symptoms, non-pharmaceutical therapies, and everything else I could find about the subject. There is an abundance of information out there and I am slowly trying to make my way through the weeds to find the answers to all of my questions.

One of the things that I've learned, is that every woman has their own menopause path to walk (or run down, while screaming hysterically and crying).  I have always known the age a woman begins perimenopause varies, some as young as their mid-thirties, others in their fifties, but I didn’t realize that the symptoms could also be so different.  It makes sense, though, and I feel silly for not realizing it.  Most women don’t have the same PMS symptoms, the same child birth stories, the same metabolism, so I’m not sure why I didn’t realize our perimenopause and menopause symptoms would also be different.

Over the past six months, as I have been slowly moving into this next phase of perimenopause, I have been surprised at some of the transformations in my personality. I’ve experienced my first panic attack (is there an award for that???), have battled with severe anxiety, cry often (and often for no reason), wake up frequently through the night, feel exhausted and overwhelmed, my migraines have increased, my skin is dry, I had a weird burnt tongue thing for a few days, and I have become anti-social.  ME!!!  Anti-social!!

SnapChat Filter - I wasn't actually crying

Did I mention crying?  I hate crying...

I have always been slightly socially awkward, but somehow I've managed to keep it hidden.  Suddenly finding myself with these anti-social tendencies has been rather bewildering to me and I don't know how to handle it. I am usually a good listener and someone who is easy to talk to, but that person seems to have disappeared.  Seriously, it's been so bad, that unless accidental eye contact has been made, I quickly turn and go the other way when I see people I know in public.  In fact, I don’t want to talk to anyone after work.  I dream of being able to go straight home after work and stay there, surrounded by my animals and spending time with my DH, but that won’t happen... At least not until DD gets her driver's license this fall.

One of the thoughts I had during my extensive "research-athon" yesterday, was if, possibly, some of what I've been feeling has been exasperated by the discovery  a few months ago that one my my "close" friends was not really a friend; but I don’t think that’s the case. Then I started to think that perhaps my lack of social desire could be due to work and how much I dislike my current situation there.  It's been so bad lately, that when I pull into the parking lot at work, I sit in my car, giving myself a pep talk just to get myself through the doors of the office.  No, that’s not a good thing and yes, I have several applications out there. But that's a blog for another time, and besides, I don't think  t's the cause of my newly found desire to live as a hermit. 

I know that hundreds of generations of women have survived this, most of them without medication, and I know I will survive “Mental”pause; I just hope my husband stays with me.  I’ve caught him looking at me, when I’m staring out the window.  This morning, I was crying as I was drinking my coffee.  Not loudly sobbing, no sounds escaping. - just silent tears, streaming down my cheeks.  He came over and kissed the top of my head, asking if I need anything.  No, I don’t need anything.  Well, actually I do need a few things, but nothing he can help me with.  A new job, a new house, warm weather, a week where I’m not running in a million different directions, new shoes because I only have three “nice” pairs that I wear to work, to lose fifty pounds, and a two week vacation to Hawaii.  Ok, ok, I really don’t “need” any of those things, but I would like to have them.

I already know that I am not going to take hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to take care of the side effects of menopause. It’s a matter of morals for me, and it’s a choice that I feel strongly about.  Big pharma does not care about the number of women who have developed breast cancer because of their hormone replacement “therapy” (my own mom included in that number), nor does it care about the thousands of PMU foals orphaned or slaughtered to create it. Please know, I will not judge anyone for doing what they need to do to get through this, but do yourself a favor and research the prescription your doctor hands you before you fill it. 

Since I know what I’m not going to do, do I know what I am going to do?  I know what I should do, but I don’t have an actual plan of action.  I should exercise (I love hiking & Zumba).  I should go to a yoga class, something I have read time and time again during my research.  I should take vitamins, minerals, and supplements, especially B complex, vitamin C, magnesium, and ashwagandha. I should find time once a week to do something I enjoy (**cough cough** horse back riding).  I should identify the biggest stressors in my life and either remove them or find ways to reduce them.  I should spend more time with my fur babies. I should work in the garden with DH.

Now that I have a list of remedies to start with, I also need to work on my gratitude.  I am grateful for that job I don't want to go to - REALLY!!! I am also grateful for my house, the car that I spend thousands of hours running DD around in, the shoes I do have, my health, my family, my animals, and my small circle of friends.  I am also thrilled that I don't have more severe symptoms, especially rage or non-stop periods.  My period has been irregular for several years now, only making an appearance three or four times a year, so that's something I am extremely grateful for.

So, have you been here?  Have you made it through this dark, irrational time? Did you find something that helped you through it? I know I’m not alone during this journey, even though I may feel like it at times.  We should start a local support group, but I probably wouldn't want to go.  :)
PS - If you see me in a store, and I am running the other way, just remember - it's not you, IT'S ME!  :)