A close friend of mine, who is always positive, healthy, energetic, and happiest when dabbling in different projects and causes, started to act and feel differently, and she was not her usual self. She began to notice a change in her emotions, as her behavior was unstable and she went from being organized, energetic, creative, and confident, to a muddled, paranoid, and fatigued nutcase. The lens in which she saw her world was getting cloudy, leaving her feeling scattered, confused and exhausted, and she couldn’t understand why?
Her symptoms included short-term memory loss, disorganization of thoughts, extreme mood swings, irritability, depression, confusion and insomnia. It started out slow, then as the weeks and months went by, it began to take over her life.
Her mood swings were unpredictable and were escalated more so when coping with her brain fog and confusion. Her husband and family experienced the brunt of her outbursts, and all donned a “deer in headlights” look of disbelief, while keeping this a secret from the public eye.
She was trying like hell to keep up her daily routine, going unnoticed as she pushed through her symptoms while managing this twilight persona. This cover-up approach of her new reality soon took its toll, leaving her exhausted, scattered and confused, as she began to lose control of her life.
At the advice of friends and family, she went to see her doctor who could maybe provide some answers. Her answers came in the form of a treatment plan that included a cocktail of medications. She began to see an improvement and was starting to feel herself again. But soon she suffered strange side effects, including dizziness, blurry vision, fatigue, shortness of breath and weight gain. Living with these side effects was equally disturbing and frightening. So she began to do some research.
She found out the medications she was taking were often prescribed for treating Bipolar Disorder and a host of other serious mental illnesses. Although the symptoms were similar, she felt there had to be a missing ingredient to this strange new personality that manifested so suddenly. She ask herself, “Why was this suddenly happening now – at 47 years old?” and “What was triggering these symptoms?” Without knowing the answers to her questions, it made sense to also review why she would just treat her symptoms, rather than look into the cause.
In hindsight, these were valid questions, and probably saved her life, if not the quality of her life, saved her marriage, her career and her sanity. Through her research, she started to see a pattern of stories from other woman experiencing similar symptoms, and all had a common thread. The average age range was between 42 and 58 years old, and these women had been experiencing hormonal changes, ranging from mild to severe cases. This is often referred to as “going through the change.”
She felt relieved, as now she had a diagnosis to represent her present reality. This new revelation and continued research led her to learn about Bio-Identical Hormones. She found a specialist in her area and after a thorough routine of tests; the doctor revealed that most of her necessary hormones for maintaining optimal health had disappeared. He put her on a special hormone crème, custom made through a compounding pharmacy, that would replace her depleted hormones and she would soon feel herself again. Within a week after using the crème, the clouds were opening up, the sun was shining bright, her lens was cleared, and she was feeling her old self again!
So now it’s time to reveal her secret… yes you guessed it, this was not my friend’s experience, it was actually my own experience.
My intention on writing this piece is to pave a path for others experiencing difficult hormonal changes. If you are “going through the change” or feeling menopausal, know you are not alone. There are about 35 million women in the United States alone who are going through this exact experience. Many of these women have reached menopause by age 50, or will soon after. Each of us experience our body changes our own way, some better than others. My personal experience was on the severe side of the hormonal axis.
It’s helpful to have a good discussion with your doctor, before you proceed on any treatment. It’s just as helpful to have a doctor that you trust, who will listen to your concerns, and offer solid options for investigating a treatment plan. It’s a team effort, so let him or her know all of the symptoms that are bothering you and how your body has changed.
There is a plethora of information out there, and some really good websites on this subject. One of my favorites is Woman’s Health Expert Dr. Christine Northrup. Dr. Northrup shares her expertise through best-selling books, audios, newsletters, radio and internet.
But the most important discovery I realized from my experience was the realization of knowing I didn’t have to go it alone. I reached out to friends and family for support. Buy sharing my feelings with people who were genuinely concerned for my wellness, who had similar experiences, and who were worthy of my trust, yielded me the quickest path to my own healing. Like the expression goes “two minds are better than one.” When we share our problems and concerns with someone we can trust, instead of keeping them bottled up in our internal blanket of shame, we can begin to see the light at the end of our dark tunnel. Instead of feeling isolated; we can see hope waiting for us around the corner.
To learn more about bio-identical horm