20 August 2011

Finding Balance in a Sea of Raging Hormones

I've heard a lot of women complaining about psychotic mood swings arising from perimenopause. I hope you don't take ten years to figure it out like I did. I lost a lot of valuable time and jeopardized relationships by taking too long to figure out how to return to sanity and hormonal balance. I’m using a homeopathic menopause remedy made by Hylands to smooth out the bumps in my emotional path.  I plan to continue to use it until I am long past menstruation.


If these don't work for you, I implore you to try something else that is natural before you resort to hormone replacement therapy (HRT).  In some cases, HRT might be the only thing that works, but at least make sure you get bio-identical hormones, if you go this route. Some of the stuff out there is made from horse urine. Yes, you heard me right. One of the names it  goes by is Premarin. Not only is this a form of cruelty to horses, but ew! Who wants to ingest horse urine?


Homeopathy is a safe, alternative way of approaching wellness. It's been around a very long time. It's not always fast acting, but it does work for a lot of people. I take the menopause remedy every night (3 tablets) before I go to bed and any time I start feeling sad, depressed, weepy, bitchy, etc. I usually need them only once a day, but if I need them more, I know I can take more b/c they operate on infinitesimal dosages. I also use their insomnia remedy for the perimenopausal sleeplessness. I’m sleeping much better. Now if I can only convince my kitz that I need to sleep more than six hours at a time, I’ll be set.  For you younger ladies, this same company has a menstrual remedy (PMS) as well.


Women's wisdom about women's needs used to be passed down from generation to generation, with wise woman healers helping women through difficult patches. We got disconnected from this chain of wisdom and are out there being tossed about on the stormy seas of our hormones. I've been taking the menopause remedy for about six months or so, and I'm back to the more gentle, easy-going woman I used to be. If I start feeling too weepy, I take an extra dose of the stuff and maybe some of the Calms Forte formula too until it subsides. The Calms stuff (various formulas of this) usually works really fast on me and has none of the side effects of Zanax or the other things being pushed onto women in times of anxiety.


Part of our midlife anxiety arises from the stress in our lives, but most of it is hormonal and needs to be eased back into balance rather than controlled by drugs. You need to control the mood swings in order to deal with the real sources of the anxieties. You may need to make lifestyle changes. You may need the spotlight to focus on the areas of your life that are out of balance. You may need to establish some boundaries or leave relationships, but more than anything, you need to be the one making the decisions about your life. Don't let the medical authorities take over for you. Empower yourself to make whatever decision you need to make by becoming informed. Menopause is not a disease any more than menstruation or pregnancy. Sometimes they get too complicated and you need medical people to intervene. But most of the time, all we need are food, herbs, and gentle alternative remedies (homeopathy, aromatherapy, massage, sound healing, flower essences, etc.) to return our bodies to a more balanced state.

Using synthetic hormones to treat normal and natural hormonal changes is like dropping a boulder on the other side of the scale to balance the weight. You might feel as though you need something that drastic to make the craziness stop, but you really don't, if perimenopause is the only underlying cause. Start experimenting with gentle, natural remedies as soon as you can to ease yourself back to balance.  I’ve been studying women’s health for a couple of decades, so I’m very accustomed to taking charge of my health issues, but by all means, please consult a naturopath, if you’re unaccustomed to taking charge of your own health and don’t trust your research capabilities and resources. Once you find what works, keep doing it until you bid these crazy swings goodbye. Just bear in mind that you might need to treat yourself for a decade or more, which is another reason going the natural route is a better idea.  Ten or more years on synthetic hormone replacement can cause other serious health issues.


If you decide to use HRT to treat the symptoms of menopause, please insist on bio-identical hormones over horse urine. I don’t understand why any woman would knowingly choose to ingest horse urine. The problem is that they are not being informed about what they are taking, so you have to inform yourself. Don’t take my word for anything either. I’m not an expert on your body. No one knows you better than you. Not even your doctor. Your doctor is taught about pathology and not necessarily about wellness. There is a huge chasm between studying how to treat illnesses and studying how to prevent them by creating a lifestyle of wellness.


Don’t be like a lamb led to slaughter when you go to the doctor. There’s a good chance that your doctor is being influenced by the powerful pharmaceutical companies out there, who are looking only to make a profit.  Sure, it’s easy just to pop a magic pill to calm the storm, but what sort of perfect storm are you setting yourself up for later down the line when the side effects all come together to create a true illness?

Menopause is not an illness, even though it sometimes feels like mental illness. I know I was feeling pretty insane by my 51st year. I was weepy and needy at times and angry and enraged at others. Mostly I was quietly depressed with episodes of sudden anxiety that had absolutely no basis in what was occurring in my life at the time. These bouts started slowly and infrequently around the age of forty and increased with age.  None of these emotions felt like me, and yet I knew it was coming from inside my body for the most part. I was also opening up psychically at the same time. Increasingly I started picking up on other people’s energy.  From what I’d read years ago about the crone stage of life, I knew this was part of perimenopause too, becoming increasingly empathetic towards others.  I learned to shield myself when other people’s energy started impacting me too much, and I learned how to discern which emotions were mine and which were coming from someone else. I also figured out that the erratic mood swings were because of being perimenopausal, but I still didn’t know what to do about it.  Finally when the crazies got too out of hand, I went online looking for natural answers.  I found what works for me, and it was a combination of homeopathy and herbs, along with aromatherapy, massage, and trying to maintain a more peaceful, simpler lifestyle.

After all is said and done, you may still need something you can get only from your medical doctor, but don't acquiesce to radical medical treatment without doing the research and exploring gentle, alternative methods first. They’re usually much less expensive, but because they aren’t generally fast acting magic pills, you need to take charge before the next crazy episode. Start talking to other women in this age range and the ones who have gone before you. We have a wealth of knowledge and wisdom collectively. What works for me might not work for you and vice versa, but if we keep talking to one another, perhaps we’ll all find something natural and gentle that works. Then when our daughters and granddaughters reach this time of life, we’ll have more knowledge to help them through this as well. 

The more connected women are to each other, the more solutions we can find together. If we remain in isolation, we are targets for those who want to tell us what our bodies need. They know medicine, but we know us. If you have a medical condition, then by all means seek medical help. Menopause is part of life...like giving birth, having periods, and letting go of loved ones when it's their time to leave. None of these things should fall under the auspices of medical treatment unless other issues arise in conjunction with them. There are plenty of women out there who have researched these things and some of them have done so with medical degrees to guide them. Dr Christiane Northrup is one of them.


Be aware that the pharmaceutical industry is the driving force behind much of what doctors are prescribing. I hope you've read enough to see how much harm indiscriminate use of any drug can cause. Or indiscriminate use of herbs too for that matter. Drugs originally came from herbs. They are strong medicine and not to be taken lightly either. The point is to be informed and talk to other women. If we remain isolation in our frustration and embarrassment about feeling so out of control of our emotions, then we are vulnerable to doctors and pharmaceutical companies who want to take over our health care. No one should ever take over our health care unless we are entirely incapable of handling it. If that is the case, then I'm pretty sure you're not reading this blog.

Beth Mitchum is the author of six novels, one collection of poetry, one collection of biographical essays, and one music CD. Her works are available at Amazon.com through the following link: http://tinyurl.com/bethmitchumbooks

16 August 2011

Gearing Up for What's Next

Since I don’t know where to start this blog, I might as well jump into the middle. That’s where I am in my life anyway-- midlife. At least as long as I live to be 102, which is unlikely. Truth be known, I’ve been having midlife crises for quite a while now, for at least a decade, I guess. This is partly because I’m perimenopausal and partly because of the strange times we’re living in these days, though they’re not really as hard as some make out. It's not like it was in the Great Depression when there were people who had to go to work on empty stomachs because there was nothing to eat, no money, not enough work, and no unemployment checks coming in weekly.  People really should read a little more history to keep things in perspective.  Even given these “troubled times,” a phrased overused a lot in the past couple of years, most of us still live like royalty in America in comparison to Third World countries and even mere decades ago. Most American households have multiple televisions and computers, among other things. I don’t watch much television when I live by myself, and I even have a nice one now. Of course that is because my best friend was visiting me while I lived in the Puget Sound area and she wanted to be able to watch sports during her visit. I owned a cheap 19-inch color television, but since her vision is less than stellar she bought me a 32-inch HD television with an LCD display. I've enjoyed watching DVDs on it and the Weather Channel of course. I even break down and watch a show now and then.

I’m a writer by trade, so my royal wealth is revealed mainly in the number of laptop computers I own. Yes, multiples, because of their tendency to develop weirdnesses after a few years.  Since I have to be connected to the internet a lot to keep my various businesses operating, I buy a new laptop if my main one starts behaving badly. I usually keep at least one backup just in case something untoward happens to my main one. I recently acquired an extra, older laptop that had been retired by my friend who doesn’t wear them out the way I do. I think she replaced this one because it didn’t have a keypad, which is okay with me, since I’m used to not having one anyway. I use numbers a lot less than I use letters. She, on the other hand, is a high school math teacher. Thus the need for the keypad.  Getting her old one brought my total collection to four. I just passed one on to my nephew, otherwise I’d have five, which is a bit excessive even for my tastes. But I digress.

I want to keep a journal on what I am about to do and how I am proceeding on my life’s path as it unfolds before me. I know that I’m on the right path, but I really need some guidance at the moment and a forum for untangling the threads of thought that are currently winding their way along my synapses. I need to process, I guess, and the best way for me to process things has always been to journal my thoughts. So let me bring you up to speed. If you’ve been following my blogs you’ll know basically how I got to this place in time. If not, you might want to back up a bit, but you really should read my first collection of autobiographal essays, Slices of My Life: So Far.  That will make my life seem a little more sensible to some of you. Maybe.

I’m 51, and I’m living in my best friend’s house in Florida. This is not where I thought I’d be at this age and stage of life, but it is, however, where I am at the moment. While I’m glad to be able to spend more time with my buddy after twenty-five years away from this part of the world, I miss my chosen home, which is the Puget Sound region. It’s located in the Pacific Northwest part of the United States. I also miss having my own life. For various reasons, I needed to come back here for a time. The reasons for this return to my childhood home are nearing completion, and I’m itching now to move onto whatever is next or to go back home to the Seattle area. Only I don’t want to go home the way I got here. I had a harrowing trip getting here that was hard on me and my three cats. In fact, the oldest of my cats died about three days after we arrived. That was no fun, but fortunately my cats reincarnate and come back to me, so he’s back now, and we are even closer than we were before, possibly because of all we went through getting here. I’d really like to go back in a small RV, so they and I can roam about the country in greater comfort and at a gentler pace. Apparently the size and kind of RV I’m interested in is called a Class C motor home. Whatever. It’s not too big and it’s not too small for one person and three cats. As in the children’s fairy tale, it’s “just right” for this Goldilocks (NOT) and her three teddy bears (cats).

While the trip here was difficult, it did have moments of beauty. However, I’d like the journey back to be simply beautiful and a great time of connecting with lots of friends and family along the way, and I’d like it to prepare me for the next stage of my life. I’ve had over a year’s worth of trying to recover from all that happened to me during the packing and moving last year. I need things to be easier now. I’m not in as good a shape as I was before I started packing last year, but I do have considerably less stuff. I’d already been paring down over the years because of all the moving I’ve done in my life.  I have continued to pare down since I got here. Now I find myself paring down even more. Again.

I’d like to be able to fit most of my belongings in and on the motor home, my bicycle being the one thing for sure that would have to ride on the outside. I sold my sixteen-year-old car a few months ago after owning it for fifteen years. I love that car, but it was time to let it go so I found her a good home. Now I need to find a good home for myself and my cats. We’re just fine where we are, except that it isn’t our home, and this isn’t the part of the world where I fit. I grew up in Central Florida, but for my entire life, I didn’t feel as though I belonged here. I still don’t.  I knew I had to be here for a time, but that time is running out now, and I need to know what I need to do in order to be ready for the next step. I also need to manifest whatever I’m going to need to move me to the next place.

So I continue paring down and now I’m looking for an RV so I can join the millions of other Americans in the world who ride off into the sunset to enjoy the retired life. Only I’m not retired. Indeed, I’m in one of the few professions where retirement is not only unnecessary, but it’s also unlikely. Most writers pretty much die writing. While I have a number of years to go and lots of things to see and say yet, I will no doubt stop writing only because my heart has stopped beating. I’d be very happy just to drift off to sleep some day and never wake up. I know pretty much when that will happen. If you've been reading my blogs, you might already know that I am of a spiritual bent. If truth be known, I am psychic and work closely with angels, so I know that death is nothing to fear.

When a spiritual teacher told me several years ago that I could just ask when my time would be up, I did. It wasn’t as long as I thought, but I’m happy with all that is left of it. It’s enough time to do what I need to do before I close my eyes for the last time, as long as I stay on my path. That’s what I’m doing here now. Staying on my path. It’s not necessarily what other people think I should be doing or want me to be doing, but I stopped worrying about what other people think I long time ago. That's what makes me a good lesbian. In order to come out to myself and the world, I had to quit caring about what other people think about me and my life choices.

In the immortal words of one of the greatest childen’s writers of all time:

“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”  --Theodor Seuss Geisel (a.k.a., “Dr Seuss“)

So here I go, preparing for the next step into the seeming void that will become more solid the closer my foot comes to making it.

I’m reminded once again of the Taoist teaching.  “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. “ -- Lao-Tzu

Beth Mitchum is the author of six novels, one collection of poetry, one collection of biographical essays, and one music CD. Her works are available at Amazon.com through the following link: http://tinyurl.com/bethmitchumbooks