Two Things You Need to Know About Peri-menopause That May Save Your Life
I’m writing this today because this happens to be one of the days where I’m experiencing both and every time this happens I say “I really should warn them… ”
So here I am. Warning you.
There are lots of things about menopause and peri-menopause that you read about in books, magazines, blogs, and articles.
But two of the most life-threatening are seldom mentioned:
- Crazy, over-the-top anxiety/ panic attacks. Often with full-blown heart gripping pressure and palpitations. And
- Short, intense bouts of suicidal-level depression
Thankfully, for me, neither of these are long-lasting effects. They come from out of the blue, last for a day or two, then go away until their next uninvited visit. But while they are here, they shut down my life. I can scarcely function at all.
But here’s the thing. Doctors who do admit to anxiety and depression during “the change” like to say that women who were prone to anxiety and depression before menopause will likely be the ones to experience these attacks during the menopausal transition. Not true.
I have always been the happiest person I’ve ever met.
Maybe nobody knows what it is or where it comes from or why, but they need to stop implying that it’s a personality quirk or female drama episodes or all in our heads. It’s real. It’s dangerous. And it can happen to any of us, or all of us. And sweeping it under the carpet isn’t helping. We need to be warned so we can be ready.
For me, today is an anxiety day. I can almost (sort of) deal with these now. I’ve learned that when the chest tightness sets in and the worrying begins, and my brain screams to shut down, I need to meditate. and that helps me calm my body. Some days, like today, I have to stop literally every ten or fifteen minutes to do some deep breathing and meditation. It’s annoying, but I get through it. It’ll be almost the only thing I do all day. For me, journaling and blogging often helps too. I can type through my worries. It’s taken me almost a year to figure out how to work through these anxious days, but I’m finally doing it.
It’s the depression days that scare me most.
Again, happy person. Me. Chronically. I have the most amazing life. I have great dreams and lots of adventures. But when those intense depression days hit, something very strange happens. Out of nowhere comes thoughts that seem to be coaxing me to leave this world. “All this could be over forever. No more worries.” or “Imagine just going to sleep and not waking up into this world. Wouldn’t that be nice?” or my favorite “We could do it together–Mr. C and me.”
Crazy right? yeah. It’s that kind of crazy. And it’s so real, and it makes so much sense at the time. I find myself starting to agree and think it’s a good idea. Often times I find myself thinking of arguments to tell Mr. C to try to convince him to do it with me. Once or twice, many month ago, I found myself debating how to do it and making preparations. That’s the day I picked up the phone and called Mr. C and told him what my brain was doing. Needless to say, he was alarmed. He came home.
We talked. A lot. And by talking through it, I realized that this had been happening every 4-5 weeks for a while. I’d suddenly wake up profoundly depressed one day, fight the urge to do something stupid and permanent all day, go to bed, and wake up feeling like my normal happy self the next day or at the very most two days later.
It must be hormonal, we reasoned. (I have since begun marking them on the calendar and discovered they are absolutely cyclic.) So… we agreed then that whenever I wake up feeling like that I am to tell him immediately. And I am to then pack up and go visit or go to the bookstore or shopping for the day. No staying home alone. All I need to do is get through the crazy hormonal day, so I am to find pleasant distractions and stay WITH people, even if they are people I don’t know.
So far, obviously, it’s worked. But that’s because I know what’s going on and I have a support system and a plan in place. How many women don’t have those two things? How many women experience intense hormone-induced depression and never tell anyone? How many act upon it like this woman did? Why isn’t this a better known issue?
I think that every time a woman goes for a mammogram, this discussion should be happening with the tech. Or at the very least, some literature on the subject should be stuffed in her hands, or displayed on the wall in the waiting room. However they do it, every woman needs to hear that these things may happen and she is NOT crazy. She is normal. It is part of the change, and she just needs to kick into gear with the plan she should have in place BEFORE those days ever come.
So there. That’s it. I had to warn you. So this doesn’t happen to you unexpectedly. And you need to warn your daughters when they get old enough to understand what you are talking about. We need to spread the word. Tell them.
Tell them it’s temporary. It’s not real depression. They don’t really want to hurt themselves or leave this world. Tell them. Don’t do it. Call a friend. Visit. Swim. Read. Do anything, but don’t stay home alone!
Okay. I feel better. God bless, and take care, Ladies. We’ve got this.