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

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