Perimenopause: I felt like I was losing my mind until I discovered this.


For centuries, doctors readily diagnosed women with hysteria- a mental illness when they had behaviours or symptoms that made them uncomfortable or they didn't know much about. Read the first-hand account of Miriam who figured out what was going on with her mind and body- she was not losing her mind, she was going through symptoms of Perimenopause.


There are a lot of things in life we should keep secret but, for the life of me, I cannot figure out why perimenopause is one of them. It’s not like it is a taboo subject among women. I mean, if we can swap childbirth stories that graphically describe the demise of our vaginas, then why oh why are we so quiet about the bizarre things that begin to happen to us prior to menopause? It’s because of this:


WE THINK WE ARE LOSING OUR MINDS


This is my story, maybe you can relate?


I am an older mother; I welcomed my daughter at 36 and my son at 39. And while some of my high school friends are already grandmothers, I am still busy teaching my youngest how to wipe his own butt. Like many post-partum mothers, I began to experience a lot of new and very strange things. At first, I put it down to having just grown and evacuated a small human being from my body but when they persisted after my son celebrated his second birthday, I started my (confusing and frustrating and insane-making) journey to discovery.


What were these novel and unexplained things?


- Aching and throbbing in my forearms and lower legs

- Weakness in my wrists

- Rollercoaster emotions, moodiness, feeling “low”

- Serious daytime fatigue

- Inability to fall asleep and stay asleep

- Extreme fury that would come from nowhere about nothing

- Next-level anxiety

- Suicidal thoughts

- Facial muscle twitches

- Dizziness

- Inability to remember things (both short and long term)

- Very dry and thin skin and yet lots of facial acne

- Severe scalp psoriasis

- Thinning hair and hair loss at my hairline

- Heavier and longer and messier and more painful periods

- Shorter cycles

- Headaches

- Lower back pain to the point of disability

- Have I already said, “inability to remember things”?


I was terrified. When I added all these symptoms together, I truly believed there was a good possibility that I had Multiple Sclerosis (considered an Autoimmune Disorder). I vividly remember willing myself to tell my family GP; the words choking in my throat from fear and embarrassment. When this theory was put to rest, I scoured the (literal) planet for medical specialists to help me make sense of all these horrible things my body and mind were doing to me.


Was it carpal tunnel syndrome? No.

Was it arthritis? No.

Was I clinically depressed? No.

Did I have undiagnosed allergies? No.

Did I have celiac disease? No.

Was it my iron levels? No.

Was it my thyroid? No.

Was it PCOS? No.

Did I suffer from PMDD? No.


So what was it then?


My conclusion


I was slowly but surely losing my ability to cope with even the simplest things in life and the stress this caused me was making my body my enemy.


I was at one of the lowest points in my life. Gone was the competent, goal setting and achieving, obstacle-busting Miriam of the past (had she just been a fraud, anyway?). She had been possessed by a fragile and erratic neurotic who was victimised by her own brain and body. And who, in turn, was letting down her kids, her husband, and her future aspirations (because who is going to hire a basket case?).


Maybe by now, you’re thinking, “Okay, but just exactly HOW did you discover you were in perimenopause?”.


Let’s rewind a little.


I had fertility issues, and to overcome this I tracked my ovulation and periods religiously. Even after birthing my two sweethearts, the habit stuck. And somehow, I began to notice a link to some of my symptoms (particularly anxiety and fury-balls) and my cycle. Day 1, period begins, thick, heavy, messy. My period ends and I have around 5 days of feeling like my “old” self. Then ovulation and cue anxiety, fury, aches and pains, acne, fatigue, insomnia and so much more. These progressively worsen the closer I come to getting my period. And almost always completely disappear on Day 1.


Once I had realised this connection, a quick google search told me either a) I was on death’s door or b) I was in Perimenopause!


Perimenopause? What was that? More googling and – epiphany!


I was in Perimenopause!


I was not suffering from a mystery illness!

I was not losing my mind!

Maybe I still was the “real” Miriam!




Worth noting quickly. Here is the kicker - according to 5 qualified, very friendly OBGYNs – was I in Perimenopause? No. And why? Because I was “too young”.


At just 41 years of age, I was outside of the norm for the onset of Perimenopause so, obvs, couldn’t be that.


Lesson: don’t be surprised if you relate to many of the symptoms above but you are dismissed at the doctor’s office. Be prepared to advocate for yourself. What do I mean by prepare? I mean, track your cycles and your symptoms, research perimenopause, present undeniable proof that it is real and probable that you are, in fact, perimenopausal. And, if all else fails, do what I did. Walk into (the sixth) doctor’s office and tell them bluntly that you’re looking for someone to believe you.


So, did you relate to my story? If you did, please know that I no longer suffer so acutely from many of these issues. With a combination of nutrition, exercise, rest, and acceptance of the new things my body was doing hormonally, I have found relief.


And you can too.


P.S. I stumbled upon the Facebook group “Perimenopause – Thriving and Surviving!” during my research and it has been a wonderful source of support and information.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/429197863903603/


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