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Archive for the ‘My Hormones are Kicking my Ass’ Category

I do math all day at work

For those of you who attempted to comment while I was on hiatus from blogging, THANK YOU and SO SORRY I it took me so long to find you! All comments are now approved.

Where have I been? I wish my answer were more interesting: I’ve been working late nights. I was approved for a “reasonable accommodation” at my job, due to my morning dizzy spells. Now I get to work when I can and put in my time. When I get home from work it’s usually well past dark, and Spooky (bless him) usually has dinner on the table or is about to. No time for blogging! After dinner, I look after the cats and go to bed.

As Time Goes By . . . still a lot of catching up to do

On weekends we play catch-up, same as any 2-career couple with full lives.  No time for blogging! On my days off I’m at my other house, painting and spackling and sanding, getting it ready for a sale this spring. Yes, I’m selling the house!

I’m exhausted. Sometimes I look in the mirror and see Judi Dench staring back at me. Which wouldn’t be a problem – I mean, she’s a great actress and looks great – but she’s 78 years old! I’m fortysomething!  I hope she was fortysomething when she did As Time Goes By, because I swear I can relate to her character.

Will I keep blogging? I want to, so I believe I will.

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Got PMS zits? Coconut oil soap is magical in that it’s somehow drying and softening at the same time.  It’s an affordable weapon for anyone’s anti-acne arsenal.

However, use it for more than a week at a time and you’ll probably be sorry:  Many experience a “rebound effect” as their skin finds a way to over-react to the dryness.  Sometimes this over-reaction involves MORE breakouts and the bitter conclusion that coconut oil soap “doesn’t work.”  Oh it works all right, because all oil soaps are paradoxically drying, but perhaps it works TOO well.

I found a way to take advantage of the anti-acne benefits of plain coconut oil soap by only using it for a few days during PMS-time, then switching to a gentler cleanser during the rest of the month.  This way I avoid the rebound effect while clearing up what my hormones do to my face. It works!

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Now that I have most of my brain and body back (I love you, progesterone) I’ve found the energy to work out again. I wanted to take dance classes but  had no luck finding a local adult ballet class, I don’t care for jazz, and I’m no longer in a bellydance state of mind.  

I searched for a yoga alternative and lucked out: I found a small gym up the road that offers barre workouts and pilates in the evenings. I’m there two to three times a week, which cuts into my writing time, but it’s going to take some hard work to get back in shape! I’m only 118 pounds these days, but I am SO out of shape it’s embarrassing. Grandmothers last longer in class than I do!

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This is going to sound very woo-woo, but I found this rock at a New Age shop and I really like it.  Whenever I’m feeling lonely or jaggedy I hold it in my hand and two minutes or so later I’m calm and settled.  

That’s right, I just said it:  This “crystal healing” stuff really works!

Via Jewelry Art:

Lemon Chrysoprase Gemstone Meanings – Healing, Medical, Physical, etc.

  • Lemon Chrysoprase is said to help with depression.
  • Lemon Chrysoprase can help keep the mind more alert.
  • Lemon Chrysoprase can help with nightmares specially in children – place it next to the bed and it will aid restful sleep.
  • Lemon Chrysoprase is good for the liver, and for detoxification and elimination.
  • Lemon Chrysoprase helps with heart problems.
  • Lemon Chrysoprase aids hormone imbalance.
  • Lemon Chrysoprase soothes the digestive system.
  • Lemon Chrysoprase is said to help increase fertility and other sexual imbalances.

Lemon Chrysoprase Gemstone Meanings – Emotional, Spiritual, etc.

  • Lemon Chrysoprase enhances perception.
  • Lemon Chrysoprase encourages feelings of trust and security.
  • Lemon Chrysoprase helps to instill wisdom and self-confidence.
  • Lemon Chrysoprase helps to release emotional tension and stress.
  • Lemon Chrysoprase is the stone of the heart and encourages compassion, loving acceptance and kindness.
  • Lemon Chrysoprase encourages fidelity in business and personal affairs.
  • Lemon Chrysoprase is a soothing stone for those suffering from the pangs of love

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BRAAAAAAIIIINSSSS

Is my old brain back.  Actually, it hasn’t been so great for a few years. Can I go back to my 1988 brain?

It was once thought that lack of estrogen was responsible for memory loss in women beginning their trips toward menopause.  Fortunately the medical establishment has changed its mind because if I were to start taking estrogen now I would go MAD.  Estrogen dominance or estrogen depletion?   Estrogen can spike and dip erratically during perimenopause. Do I supplement, or not? GAHHHHHHHHHHHH

Fortunately it’s not a dilemma I need to face:  Researchers have discovered that although estrogen is important for vasomotor skills and brain functioning, estrogen does little to improve a bad memory.  Still, you’ll find all sorts of advice all over the internet that the answer to menopausal memory loss is estrogen hormone replacement therapy (HRT).  The drug companies gotta make their profits donchaknow, nevermind that HRT contributes to estrogen dominance and makes things worse.

So. if estrogen loss isn’t the culprit, what is?  The good knews is also the bad news:  The symptoms of menopause themselves are responsible for the cognitive problems.  Hot flashes and sleep loss.  Heavy menstruation, mood swings. Hormone fluctuations and imbalance, basically.  They cause anemia and massive stress, which in turn cause memory loss. It really is that simple.

First, let’s talk about all the blood loss:  I don’t care how smart and determined you are, because when not enough blood gets to the brain you’ll start experiencing memory loss, period. No pun intended. I can report from direct personal experience that blood loss causes brain fog and confusion, and a complete lack of awareness or caring that one might actually die from it.

An acute bleed, on the other hand, can mess with the mind. “When patients bleed significantly from a hemorrhage and they are anemic, until they get replenished with blood they may end up having cognitive dysfunction because of loss of oxygen to the brain,” says Shander. 

“Some women can be chronically anemic from heavy periods. They may need to stay on long-term iron therapy until bleeding is managed or stops with menopause,” Lukes says.

– Pumping Iron: Replenishing Iron After Anemia

Even more importantly, being jerked around by one’s hormones is extremely stressful and exhausting, especially when PMS morphs into PMDD, where even suicidal thoughts, even if unwarranted and unwanted, can haunt the mind.  It craps out the adrenals, which then can’t create important hormones because they’re too busy making cortisol to deal with the stress. Stress leads to cognitive trouble, which leads to relationship problems, which create more stress, including stress blackouts, the penultimate form of memory loss, second only to alzheimers.

It’s a vicious cycle. Women feel terrible, don’t perform well and feel guilty about it.  They feel as though they’re not good enough mothers. They feel like they’re screwing up at work (they probably are). Their relationships with friends and loved ones crash upon the rocks. Mind over matter doesn’t work, which causes even more stress. 

Worse of all, the people around them don’t understand what’s going on, and thus offer no support whatsoever.  Instead of support, women just get anger, blame, rejection, and when a loved one has a sadistic streak, “punishment,” which only backfires, because the problem isn’t lack of discipline. On the contrary it causes even more stress, which only increases the odds of future blackouts. 

  guilt vs. remorse

So what to do? 

Do whatever I can to steady my hormones.  Other than that, the only apparent treatments are sleep, a good diet, a multivitamin, a mineral supplement, exercise and stress reduction. Menopause will solve the problem when it’s all over.  That’s it. That’s all I can do, besides ride it out. Which leads to the obvious question: What the fuck kind of solution is THAT?  I don’t have the time or leeway to wait. I’m only45.  I have people in my life and a technical and math-intensive job. But with the exception of a multivitamin or mineral supplement to eliminate any deficiencies there are no drugs, no “brain foods,” no herbal supplements that will do a damn bit of good. Women take black cohosh, but really, does it work? The jury is out.  It may only be good for hot flashes. Believe me, hot flashes are the least of my troubles.

I’ve checked my screaming oracles at ifate.com twice on this menopause madness.  The I-Ching has never let me down; I’m always able to come away from a reading with a good feel for what needs to be done.  Both times the message was, tough luck, there will be pitfalls, this is a test of faith, you need to remain vigilant and persevere, but resistance is futile.  The I-Ching actually said Resistance is futile.  I am not to fight with my mind, but just observe what it is doing. Wait it out. Rest. Spend some time alone. It’s temporary, and there will be deliverance and joy at the end. 

In the mean time . . . here’s what us ladies have to look forward to with perimenopause if we haven’t gone through it already. They look like the signs of early alzheimers, yes?  Fortunately alzheimers doesn’t run in my family. I can lick this memory problem I should remain sharp until my 100’s. Anyway, the ones with the red X are what I’m going through now:

THINKING CHANGES

  • Losing your train of thought more often than in the past X
  • Forgetting what you came into a room to get more than in the past X
  • Not being able to concentrate as well upon demand X
  • Feeling foggy, hazy, and cotton-headed and not being able to clear it up at will X
  • Experiencing a thought blockade: an inability to pull ideas out at will
  • Fluctuating agility in prioritizing as well as in the past

SPEECH CHANGES

  • Naming difficulties for long-known names: children, best friends, things, places X
  • Finding yourself at a loss for words in how to express something while speaking
  • Experiencing “It’s on the tip of my tongue but I can’t get it out” sensation
  • Making malapropisms: saying wrong words that are related some how to the intended one
  • Reversing whole words while speaking
  • Reversing the first letters of words while speaking
  • Experiencing “echo” words as unintentional intrusions into present speech
  • Relying on “filler” words more often: “whatchamacallit,” “that thing,” “you know what I mean” X
  • Organizing sentences and ideas less efficiently while speaking

CHANGES IN THE “BEAM” OF ATTENTION

  • Blinking social attention when interested and interacting: listening but not always attending X
  • Blanking-out amnesia for what you just did X
  • Experiencing increased distractability X

MEMORY CHANGES: SHORT- AND LONG-TERM

  • Forgetting what you just did, or past occurrences, with no threads of association to getting back to what’s missing: missing links X
  • Changing certainty in how words should be spelled in once good or great spellers X
  • Fluctuating agility in calculating and in “counting with a quick scanning look” X
  • Experiencing changes in the speed and accuracy of memory retrieval X
  • Forgetting the content of a movie right after seeing it but remembering your emotional reaction to it X

BEHAVIORAL CHANGES

  • Making behavioral “malapropisms”: unintended slips in behavior that are related to the intended behavior somehow, such as putting shampoo inthe refrigerator X
  • Forgetting briefly how to do things long known, such as where to turn on the computer X
  • Feeling that automatic skills such as driving for a few moments are not “automatic” in the same way as usual
  • Dropping things more often that require fine finger/hand coordination X
  • Absentmindedly, leaving out or reversing letters in words while writing
  • Forgetting how to write a word in the middle of writing and having to leave blanks
  • Experiencing “translating” hesitations in converting what’s heard into writing
  • Not handling the same amount of stress in the same way X

SPATIAL SKILLS CHANGES

  • Changing skill in remembering and/or recognizing faces (not well-known faces)
  • “Looking at but not seeing” what you are looking for when it’s right there ultimately, more than in the past X
  • Changing reading skill in visually “seeing” and comprehending reading material
  • Spending less time reading, without difficulties above (for formerly heavy-duty readers)
  • Forgetting briefly how to get to long-known landmarks in your life X
  • Experiencing familiar locales in one’s experience as momentarily unfamiliar X

ALTERED SENSE OF TIME

  • Forgetting appointments more or not anticipating events of personal importance with the same accuracy as in the past X
  • Forgetting important events in your personal history timeline, i.e., which breast you had biopsied X
  • “Living more in the moment” out of necessity: a “spliced-film-frames” sense of personal time X

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It’s been two weeks since beginning iodine supplements, seven days since I started to pray for Divine intervention, five days since I stopped taking my birth control pills, and three days since I started applying the progesterone cream.  I feel like a different person. 

I am calmer and happier than I’ve been all year.  I’m optimistic and attentive.  I can keep my focus at work. No longer am I getting “lost in my head” or gasping for breath, as if I were in a room with no air.  Gone is the anger, the bitterness, and the crushing, neverending grief that exploded at PMS-time.

Wow. I was circling the drain and didn’t even know it.

Granted, since I made all these changes within days of each other I may never know for sure what worked and what didn’t.  Did praying work? Actually I think it did, because the next day I found myself in front of a psychic. I wasn’t planning to do it; I just walked into a store, saw the opportunity for a tarot card reading and took it. 

She was a very nice lady, maybe sixty years old, friendly and practical, not at all the “woo woo” New Age flake stereotype. She started her tarot routine, but a few seconds into it she put the cards down and said “Wow, I have to stop for a minute. There’s an angel right next to you, pointing. Your hormones are really messed up.”

“Yeah, I know.”

“He’s pointing to your abdomen, and now he’s pointing here.” She patted the front of her neck. “I think he means your ovaries are giving you thyroid problems.”

“But my doctor says my blood tests are normal.”

“Get another doctor.”

I never got my card reading. Instead, the psychic spent the next 15 minutes teaching me how the sex hormones and the thyroid talk to each other. It was worth every penny.

She was right:  I had a thyroid problem, because  I immediately started losing weight in my upper body/abdomen when I started the iodine. Eight pounds in two weeks without even trying! Plus, I felt a little brighter every day, and the brain fog started to clear up. 

I was still depressed though, until the third day after I stopped the birth control pills, at which point I’d already begun using the progesterone.  Last Saturday, all of a sudden I was cool with everything.   I was relaxed.  Even when something seemed “off” I put a positive spin on it and vowed to overcome it.  It motivated me to make better choices.

Hormonal imbalance seems to weaken the emotional profile of a woman. She may present as distraught, exposed, fragile, out of tune with her body and her needs, exhausted physically, emotionally and spiritually. She doesn’t know why she’s crying all the time.

If you have issues – grief, unresolved conflicts, burdens, sadness, a floundering relationship – then allow them to surface and use your menopause or hormonal imbalance as an excuse to have a damn good cry. Tears are for healing. Tears are a way of cleansing the soul. And then get on and deal with it!

Hormone imbalance appears to be a catalyst for visiting painful and hurtful conflicts and memories, thus isolating and alienating us into further despair and depression or, for others, triggering anxiety and panic attacks. There is this overwhelming sense of helplessness and distortion of reality that is compounded by hormone imbalance, but seems to be easily addressed once progesterone is introduced. This remarkable hormone just seems to give most women the ability to tackle her problems with perception and renewed mental acuity.  Progesterone: The Happy Hormone

So there you have it: I think everything I tried, worked. What are the odds! The only down side – and this is a big one – is that I appear to have lost half a shoe size.  It was probably water retention that’s gone now, but this means I’m walking out of my favorite shoes!

The gravity of this turn of events cannot be overemphasized:  I have about 100 pairs of expensive shoes. Many of which no longer fit now. Fortunately my favorites, my Manolos and my Dolce&Gabbanas, are still wearable if I use a shoe insert. Many others, I’m afraid, are getting boxed and put into the attic.

But now I can buy more shoes, you say? Ah, yes but here’s the rub:  I’m putting my kid through college, so once I find a few replacements for my favorite classics, no more shoe shopping for me!  Besides, I no longer need “shoe therapy” because I’m happy. Again. Finally.

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Nice shoes

Well, goddammit.

My premenstrual dysphoria symptoms have returned (PMDD). This is not good:  Now Spooky gets to see a side of me I never wanted him to see.

The symptoms are worse than ever: I’ve graduated from imagining myself driving my car into a tree, to slitting my wrists in a bathtub a few days before and after my period begins.  Less mess that way, kind of a peaceful way to go.  But once I emerge back into normalcy I’m horrified, because no matter how bad things in life get I don’t want to die!

I have got to fix this.  Only three weeks until it comes again.  Next on the docket:

1. Progesterone cream and iodine to stabilize my estrogen-progesterone-thyroid triangle.  I have most of the symptoms of estrogen dominance and hypothyroidism, both of which exacerbate PMS symptoms. 

2. L-Tryptophan, a serotonin precursor. Two studies have shown that it provides relief from premenstrual dysphoria, if taken in large enough doses.

3. GABA, so long as my brain is leaky enough to benefit from it.

4. Dance class and/or yoga, which have proven positive effects on mood.  I haven’t been able to find anything local yet, unfortunately.

5.  No more birth control pills as they exacerbate estrogen dominance and can make PMS/PMDD symptoms worse.  Besides, I want to get a full hormone workup soon, and I don’t want synthetic hormones screwing with the results.  If I decide to go back on the pill I’ll try Yaz.

6. See my gynecologist.  It’s time to make an appointment with Dr. Cooter in any case, for my annual checkup.  I wonder what she thinks about voluntary hysterectomies.  Probably not much. I know she’ll recommend I switch to Zoloft. It’s better for PMDD than what I’m taking now, but Wellbutrin doesn’t give me the tedious side effects that Zoloft does.  I will only consider Zoloft as a very very very last resort, to keep my relationship with Spooky from mirroring the fall of Western Civilization.

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