Tag Archives: perimenopause

Making assumptions

9 Jun

12:20 pm

You know how everything in years past came back to drinking and getting sober?  Well, these days, everything seems to be coming back to perimenopause–and you know what?  I am no longer going to be afraid or apologetic writing about it on this blog.  It’s a HUGE reality for me, for women in general, I have to think; and that means it occupies a lot of headspace and takes its toll in many areas of one’s life!?

Perimenopause.  Menopause.  Getting older.  Women’s bodies.  HORMONES.  Of course, I GET it, I get why people are afraid to talk about it!  Women’s issues are taboo, women’s bodies are not our own; we’re not supposed to talk about them lest we start asking questions and become, oh, I don’t know, advocates for our own health!  Really, I get why everyone, women included, are afraid to broach the subject in public forums.

What I don’t get is why they won’t talk about it even in private!?  I mean, do women have THAT far to go that even women themselves won’t talk about it, as if it’s something to loathe, be afraid of, be ashamed by?  You know, it’s not just my own gynecologists, who have brushed me off or implied that I should just get over it, get on with it; it’s my women friends who have gone through it or are going through it, and they either don’t want to talk about it with me/at all, or they try to pass it off as something that isn’t, well, kind of, sort of horrible.

I mean, you are fucking breaking out into a cold sweat before my eyes, and you’re still smiling as if it doesn’t bother you?  I get being positive and all that, but what about being real?

Beyond the physical changes, it means you’re getting old–and, I refuse to believe that I am the only woman who primarily associates this (at least at first, until I get a grip on getting older), with losing my sexuality and losing my youth and all that that entails in our culture!?  I really wish that were the case, actually; I am used to my own paranoia, and it’d be great to know that I am, indeed, the only one who feels this way.  BUT, I really, truly doubt it.

See, I refuse to hide the fact that this is driving me a bit crazy and angry and mad and frustrated and sad; that I’ve wondered if this night heat is THE THING that is worth starting drinking again over (it would be much easier to pass through the three to five hours of night heat if I was drunk); that I’ve always known that the pill offers relief but that it’s SO FAR from matching what is usually happening in a woman’s body that it might well be partly causing my lack of optimism and sometimes-paranoia.

Lately, I feel like I have become a bit paranoid.  For example, I wonder if my coworkers don’t like me, or are annoyed by me.  I am chalking it up to things beyond my control, and to politics–I don’t truly believe that my work is not good.  At home, I have been wondering if my love no longer likes me as a person–again, or course, I truly don’t believe that, and I know that he’s going through some tough transitions now, as am I…

I don’t want to make assumptions anymore, though, about what people want to hear about or talk about–if you’re still reading, that means you do want to hear about this and I’m glad!  I partly attribute this sometimes-paranoia to my hermetic lifestyle–making assumptions involves getting inside your head and not coming out for reality checks, which is usually helped by interacting with friends who normalize your tendency toward outlier (extreme, probably unhealthy) thinking and behavior.  I need more friends.  I need, in a word, to get out more!

I won’t assume that you, my awesome readers, don’t want to hear about my thoughts on perimenopause.  I won’t assume that my man doesn’t like or love me because he told me not to step in horseshit yesterday on our hike (haha–it sounds funny now).  I won’t assume that my coworkers don’t like me because one or two of them have personal issues and are using my writing to play politics in the workplace.

Onward, toward clarity and optimism, I hope.

(I have to say, my burning up at night has gotten a lot better after starting a new pill, with higher dose estrogen, and after making it through the first 10 hellish days on the pack.  I hope that it just keeps getting better from here on out.  I do turn 45 this week–a part of me realizes how young I am, while another part just wants this phase to be over with!)

Where’d DDG go? I’m right here, Elliott

9 Mar

11:44 am

And like Elliott, it’s been so long since I checked in on him, he grew up into a man!

Hi, guys.  WOW, I don’t think I’ve chased around this much in my life since, well, I worked a full-time job back in my cold, big-city days.  And even then, I managed to ALSO live a double life, drinking away four, five, six hours every night.  HOW on EARTH did I work, eat, work out, AND drink five hours every night–and still maintain a handful of friendships, an often-bordering-on-broken romantic relationship, and make phone calls to the family every Sunday night?

In case you haven’t been reading my oh-so-interesting posts about my struggle with what I’m just calling “hot flushes” (as opposed to hot flashes), let me quickly say:  I have been having this “thing” that happens to me pretty much constantly, wherein, my skin feels very hot all over, but I also shiver.  And I don’t sweat.  And this lasts for hours, days, weeks, sometimes months at a time.  I chalked it up to perimenopausal weirdness that I can’t do much about.  However, when I went to a gynecologist, she was like, that doesn’t sound like hot flashes; and then, when I went to an endocrinologist, she was like, the symptoms you’re describing, I’ve only seen in ONE other patient in my entire career, and, your blood tests say that you’re body is hypothyroid but your symptoms are hyperthyroid (figures).  So, there might be more going on here than I originally thought.

Anyway, this is all just to say, the way I’ve been dealing with this is by taking a hot/cold shower at night, which means, over about 20 to 30 minutes in the shower, I change the temperature of the water from hot to cold, eventually ending with cold when my skin can tolerate it; somehow, it like, “resets” my body’s interpretation of its temperature.  SO WEIRD, I know.

As I was methodically going through my nighttime routine last night, I was like, huh, what would my nights be like now, if I was still drinking until 2 or 3 or 4 am?  I mean, would I still be drinking?  I would definitely not be taking care of myself the way I have to each and every night these days, just to be able to get to sleep; like, maybe I would just pass out and avoid feeling the body heat, avoid having to meditate myself down from feeling stressed about it, avoid having to take a series of deep breaths (I have what seems to be related irregular heartbeats, too–doh!)…?  Would I just pass out and avoid it altogether?  Probably not, which means, I’d somehow have to juggle it all.

Which, well, I wouldn’t be juggling it, and my life would be falling down…

And it just made me see how important my sobriety actually is right now, and how grateful I am to be ABLE to care for myself at night (and that doesn’t include forgetting about it all by passing out).

This year, 2019, has just been blowing me over–I will bend, but I will not break, one of my high school teachers used to quip.  And, I guess that could sum up the past three months for me, being bowled over by the seeming-hurricane winds of my neverending to-do list!  It’s all good, though, and I’m glad I’m making it through the days–and the nights.

Since the last time I blogged, I’ve become entrenched in my new job.  I started it about three months ago, and I feel like I haven’t looked up from the page since then.  I have to preface this by saying, it IS a nonprofit, and I DID have some inkling about the workload (large), but, I am constantly reminded that I gave up a job that was pretty cut-and-dry for something that is anything but that.  I will say this:  there are things I like about it, and things I don’t, and that’s where I’ll leave it.

There is one thing that stands out, and that is having to–gasp–speak in public at a work retreat the other week.  If there is anything that causes me anguish, aside from nighttime body heat and insomnia, it’s gearing up to speak in front of a group.  I may have talked about this before on my blog, but when I was in graduate school, I started having panic attacks related to drinking; and then, during one of my seminars, for which we had to give a lot of individual presentations, I suddenly froze up, my heart start hammering in my chest, and I became so anxious that I could barely speak.  One of my generous classmates stared me down, and as we locked eyes, she was able to move me out of that place.  From that point forward–that happened over a decade ago–I have not been able to escape feeling the same intense physical reaction to speaking in front of a group.  Someone recently told me that it sounds like PTSD.

Well, at this work thing, I had to do just that–I have been successful at avoiding it, but really, you can’t avoid it for the rest of your life; there will be times when you have to get up in front of a group of people and talk.  And, of course, all the same things started to happen when my name was called:  yammering heart, whirling mind, the literal inability to breathe such that, I come across as either winded or stuttering when I am actually talking.  But, because I had no choice, I started talking and just went through it.  I apologized a few times, stumbled over my words, was breathless at least twice and had to stop and inhale and apologize again; BUT, I went through it, made it to the end, and by the end of those five minutes, I was at least still talking.  And breathing.

It was good for me to see that I could get through it.  No one is going to die, I thought.  With that new knowledge, I realized, well, if I can get through it by just going through it to the end, sticking it out to the end; then, I should be able to apply that practice to my night heat–I just have to go through my routine, wait to cool down, and wait to fall asleep.  I don’t know why, exactly, but it was just really empowering to see that I COULD get through speaking in public–it was painful, and I will avoid it, but I CAN do it, if I have to–the same way that every night since I started my new routine, I eventually DO cool down, and eventually do fall asleep.

Of course, you can apply this to sobriety!  You CAN get through those nights of horrible cravings, those days of zero-dopamine lack-of-motivation, those months of want and lack and sadness about losing your “everything.”  You can and will get through it if you just keep going.  Just keep not drinking, no matter what and how you feel.  You will make it through to the end.  No one is going to die.  You got this.  (notes to self, literally, in my journal every day, to this day)

The angry insomniac

20 Jan

9:33 pm

Perimenopause is ruining my life.

I actually Googled that the other night–as I was sitting up once again until 5 am, getting more and more, uh, agitated might be the best way of describing it.  Agitated, angry, raging, whatever.

Come to think of it, I don’t know if I’ve EVER felt as angry as I did last night–like, an out of control, desperate anger that not only lingered into the next morning and afternoon, but persisted and felt just as strong upon waking as it did at 5 am!?  I am trying to move on from it, and not hold onto it, but…guys, this feels a little bit WAY too much like a hangover, and I do not like it!

I’ve mentioned that I started experiencing symptoms of perimenopause all the way back in 2013 (when I was 39), but they never really affected my life until the fall of 2015.  It took me until the fall of 2016 to start taking the birth control pill (to even things out–it was amazing and I had no side effects), and not until well, this past year, to really start having “night heat” and insomnia.  Now–and this is what is so damn maddening, especially for someone like myself, an alcoholic control freak–I have no clue if it’s the pill that’s giving me night heat and insomnia, or if it’s the peri.  One thing I do know is that the pill I have just gotten back on in the past few weeks seems to be exacerbating my mental health issues–crying jags, dark thoughts, anger anger anger.  I know I should get off it, but…maybe one more night (I am afraid of that intense body heat at this point, even more than I am of the sleeplessness)…?

So, last night, right on time, my body started to heat up at about 10 pm–it has been doing this for a while, maybe a year on and off; and I’ve fixed it by both going ON and OFF the pill (go figure).  I recently had about two months of continuous heat–it’s like having a fever and the chills, at the same time, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week; I don’t have hot flashes yet, so these are more like heat flushes that just don’t stop and that seem to come only at night, except for this two-month period where it just didn’t go away.  For some relief, I decided to get on the pill again, and while it has helped some, I have nights where it seems like the pill causes me to both burn up and wake up.  Last night, I was up till 5, and in between all the huffing and puffing, I just got SO ANGRY.  Angrier than I can even define, or have ever felt.

Mind you, I think I HAVE been this desperately, painfully, crazily angry before, but I was blacked on on wine and never actually had to deal with it.  Last night, I just could NOT calm down; I was almost heaving, I felt so angry.  I paced around, cried, heaved silently so my boo couldn’t hear me (he was sleeping); I slammed my fists into my quads, but not hard enough like I did last time to leave marks.  It’s like, I wanted to break things.  I finally fell asleep for a few hours at about 5, and woke to a relatively cooler body.

Though, like when you wake up after a bender, I was still feeling angry.  I went to the gym and pounded out a few miles on the treadmill, which helped but not completely.  By the time we went to see a movie, I felt anxious, and struggled to not have a panic attack throughout the entire length of the film.

Man, it just feels SO much like a hangover–the lack of sleep, the anxiety from the lack of sleep, the fuzzy brain…

I am feeling better now, but, I don’t think, outside from being drunk, I have ever felt more out of control as I did last night and this morning.  Maybe it’s just the lack of sleep, and my reaction to it is anger.  If only it were that simple…

I just want myself back!  I haven’t felt like myself in quite a while, I have to admit.  I am trying to not think about it and hope it just gets better, but I don’t think I can stay on this pill and also have it get better.  I thought I could deal with a few side effects for the relief of not burning up all night, but maybe it’s better to burn up all night?  I am trying to have patience here, but why does it feel like perimenopause is ruining my life (and I don’t even have true hot flashes yet)?  I am going to see my doctor next week, but until then, I guess I’ll really have to work on cultivating a positive space in my mind, reserved for my old self, whenever she happens to come home.  🙂

I’m useless when I don’t sleep

30 Oct

4:41 pm

Ugh.  Are you as useless and mentally scrambled as I am when I don’t sleep the night before?

I’ve been having insomnia on and off this year–it was pretty bad when we first moved to our new home in January, and I attributed it to shifting hormones.  At that point, I had never had insomnia, really, and my experience was that I kept waking (the fuck) up every hour on the hour.  It was maddening.  And it made me very angry!  Seriously, it often felt worse than being hungover.

It went away when I got off the (nasty) pill I was on (I am new to that as well, and had no idea that one tiny contraceptive pill could eff up my entire reality).   It’s started up a little bit again recently, but is more like, I can’t fall asleep until 6 am, at which point, I feel like lead and there is NO POSITION that would hurt me if I fell asleep in it–that’s how tired I am after staring at the ceiling from midnight to 6 am!

I can point to anxiety, I guess, as the culprit, and (hopefully) not hormonal crap (yes, it’s crappy; this shifting hormones shit sucks, and I am going to have to learn grace and patience if I am to make it to old woman-who-wears-purple status).  At the moment, we are planning another move, haven’t yet ironed out all the details, and are sort of doing it because we must (like, we just cannot stay here; it’s not our gig).  We don’t have to be anywhere–I can take my job with me (oh, and I got a new remote job–I start the week after we move!).  That lack of parameter in and of itself can either be liberating or incarcerating, but both freedom and confinement cause me stress, so…  That might be why I’ve been up at night lately.

It’s crazy how crazy I feel when I don’t sleep!?  I mean, it’s interesting to observe myself at night:  the second I feel like I’m going into that mode of being alert and restless (albeit sometimes really tired), I start getting anxious about not sleeping and about the next day being ruined; I start feeling really effing angry, irrationally so; and I start to feel a feverish frustration, like, there is nothing I can do about this except wait, in the freaking dark, alone with my lack of thoughts and my only desire to be unconscious!!!  It is maddening.

But, I am here, today, getting through the day.  I know that I am definitely a control freak, and it’s true that I hate not being able to control this situation and will myself to sleep.  I really don’t do well on lack of sleep–and worse, being ill-rested has all the same hues and tones in my mind as being hungover.  I think it might actually be worse than being hung because at least when you pass out, you do sleep for a few hours in a row; when you’re up at night sober, you might only sleep for an hour in a row, maybe two or three.

I know I’m probably just anxious about all the change happening–new job, a move coming up in a few weeks–but I don’t want to admit it.  If you ask me what I was thinking about last night, I wasn’t.  I wasn’t thinking, or worrying; I was just feeling really angry that my day was going to suck, and that I had no control over that happening.  And, while I have gotten through today, I wish I hadn’t had to drink three coffees just to slog through my work; I wish I had gotten to the gym; I wish I had had more energy to breeze through my work faster so I could get to some personal writing and projects (like, finding an apartment in our new locale!).  BUT, that’s not how it turned out, and I think I need to learn to accept when that happens, to let it go if it doesn’t go the way I want, expect, or plan.  Maybe I need to re-learn the basics of sobriety!

I think my tolerance for lack of sleep, for feeling like I’m hungover (and all the associated anxiety, anger, and frustration that goes with hangovers) is WAY LOW…because I’ve had to endure so many wasted hungover days.  I’ve had to endure so much worse, I keep thinking, why is a day after a night of not sleeping so hard?  It should be really easy, I keep thinking, compared to, let’s just say, sobering up in a jail cell while also having my period and not being able to do anything about that situation for the next 48 hours; or let’s just say, coming out of a blackout and realizing that I have to pack my bags and grab a cab for a 60-minute ride to the airport for an international flight…and I only have an hour to do this?

Being blackout drunk and then, horrifically hungover, are, in fact, MUCH WORSE than not being able to sleep in my warm bed under my sober mind–it’s only painful because I’m used to the good life, to sleeping and waking and feeling high on a restful night’s sleep, and getting my shit done because I am sober and rested!  I’m used to how it should be, how it can be, once you’re sober.

After all, I am grateful that insomnia is all I have to endure now.  This concept alone is what propels me through insomniac nights and the days after:  no matter how hard it feels or seems, it’s really a piece of cake compared to how bad it truly used to be.  And I know that with grace and patience, we will find our way, and handle our situation, and transition to our next locale and phase–all without wine, or hangovers, or regrets (except eating way too many Ritz crackers at 5:30 in the morning).

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