Surviving Perimenopause: You’ve Earned Your New Attitude!

by Magnolia on April 18, 2012

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Back in the day – the days when I was firmly in the grip, or perhaps I should say clutches, of perimenopause, I felt out of control.

I felt so out of control that I sometimes bordered on the edge of panic attacks. For some women, being in control is a non-issue.  For someone like me, however, born under the sign of Aries, the head-butting ram, it is everything.

For 40-plus years before I entered perimenopause, I had perfected the art of plowing through life like a freight train.  No problem was too big.  No obstacle was insurmountable.  As a matter of fact, I rather thrived on the challenge of it all; and nothing motivated me more than to be told I couldn’t do something.   You get the picture.

Enter perimenopause:  erratic menstrual cycles, raging mood swings, hot flashes, night sweats (crazy night sweats), and debilitating depression; uncontrollable sobbing, crying, wringing of the hands, and the insomnia?  I was an absolute mess.

But old habits die hard as they say, and for two solid years, month after month, I would stand at the calendar counting the weeks until my next expected cycle, marking off the days when I thought the symptoms would begin, in big bold letters: HELL WEEK.

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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Wendy Collett April 19, 2012 at 7:43 am

Hi Magnolia – do I know what you are describing! – at 45 I am firmly in the grips of perimenopause – and she is one of those nasty ladies that rhyme with itch!

Night sweats so far have been the worst but I recognize all the others that you mention. One of the good things that has come out of this for me was the invention of Dry Babe. As you know , night sweats were driving me crazy and I couldn’t stop until I found the solution that would allow me to stop being woken up in the middle of the night drenched.

Glad to hear about the good news from the other side of it!

Best,
Wendy

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Becky April 30, 2012 at 7:31 pm

Magnolia,
Thanks for your website. I am 44 yrs old and I have started perimenopause about a year and half ago. 1st it was was very low progestrone but estrogen dominate. Dr prescriped me compound progestrone and it was a GOD sent. It stopped the cramps, the boob soreness, crankiness and everything else that comes along with PMS and as I like to call it DMS(during menstrual syndrome). Last fall I started to show signs that it wasn’t working. I became, in my husband words, an evil bitch. Back to the dr I went, She increased the progestrone, symptoms went away. But in short 5 months I and now having new symtoms. Chest pains and shortness of breath. I was admitted to the hospital to rule out heart attack. Thank godness I have a very heathly heart. Followed up with my dr and she thinks I now have low estrogen. She took blood to test and found out I’m very extremely low on estrogen which can cause the chest pains and shortness of breathe. WHO KNEW!! They don’t say these things about menopause. They just say your cranky. Today I started an estrogee patch. I cannot wait for menopause when this is all over with. I have always had issues with my cycle since I started (at the age of ten) I am ready for it all to stop!! 34 years of this crap is enough. It’s time like this that I really don’t like men. Lucky jerks!!

Best
Becky.

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Magnolia May 1, 2012 at 11:49 am

Hi Becky,

thanks for stopping by and commenting. I also found a very high grade bioidentical progesterone helped me as well. The brand I used compounded by Oasis Supreme was outstanding. Unfortunately, they no longer make the product due to the FDA clamping down on non-FDA approved creams.

I suffered from horrible blood clots and heavy, gushing, periods that would NOT stop, until I started using the progesterone cream. Once I started using it, the flooding periods stopped cold. It was amazing.

I would suggest that since you are still very much going through the fluctuating stages of perimenopause, that is why you are feeling symptomatic again. But, hallelujah that you have such a great physician who is working with you through it all! So many women do not and are beyond frustrated trying to get help with their symptoms.

I appreciate that you shared your journey with us. Please come back again!

Magnolia

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Teresa May 5, 2012 at 2:30 pm

Magnolia:

I am 45 and I was told two years ago, my OB/GYN told me that my uterus has started strinking and I was entering menopause. I am in perimenopause or just menopause. I have moods swings, periods when I cry a lot, and periods where I just feel lonely. I worry about pregnancy and menopause and birth control options. Can you give me some suggestions. I don’t want any more kids and I can’t wait for menopause to end.

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Magnolia May 5, 2012 at 2:50 pm

Hi Teresa,

I really understand what you mean when you say you feel lonely and you cry a lot during the mood swings. I’ve been there. While it is certainly *possible* that you could get pregnant before you become fully menopausal, you can rest somewhat in this: the chances of you getting pregnant are remarkably low.

Fertility rates plummet once a woman is over 40. And if you were to get pregnant, the chances of you being able to carry it to full term are stacked completely against you. You would have to work really hard to hold onto the pregnancy, even if conception occurred.

But, do not take that as birth control advice. It definitely COULD happen, and you COULD carry it to term. It’s just that the odds are very low. So, in light of that, perhaps you do not need to stay on the pill if that is what you are doing now? Are condoms an option for you? And you know, you may not even be ovulating at this point either. Anovulatory cycles (cycles where you do not ovulate) are common during perimenopause. VERY common.

If you do not feel comfortable not taking birth control pills, by all means, take them, but just take the lowest dose possible, and you should be just fine.

The rest of what you are feeling is psychological and emotional. That is also very common in perimenopause as well. Depression, sadness, and melancholy emotions are part of the process of moving through menopause. There is a loss occurring in your life. You are losing your fertility. You are losing a big part of your identity as a woman. Believe it or not, many of us define ourselves by our sexuality and fertility. We may not even realize we’re doing it.

So, it’s quite natural to feel grief, sadness and a sense of loss. Have you read Dr. Christiane Northup’s book The Wisdom of Menopause? She discusses the loss of menopause in there in a very poignant way. You might pick up a copy at the library if you don’t want to purchase it, and read it.

It certainly helped me cope with the changes to know that what I was feeling – the sadness, the loneliness, the grief – was very normal. As someone who is now fully menopausal, I can assure you that these feelings DO pass. It is a process and a journey that you must go through to get to the other side.

Once you get through it, you really will feel better, more hopeful, more energetic, and more focused. I would highly recommend that you take a long hard look at your diet and exercise habits. It does help to eat clean, healthy food, exercise moderately, and get as much sleep as you can.

If you are having trouble with sleep, moderate exercise will help. For me, working like a Trojan in my garden, lugging bags of mulch and soil around, shoveling and digging, really helps me work through a lot of my angst. Plus it tires me out and gives me a good work-out. It helps me sleep as a result too.

If there is anything else I can offer, please let me know. Thank you for stopping by, and hang in there, sister….this too really will pass.

Magnolia

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Brenna May 9, 2012 at 9:51 pm

Am I Amongst Sista’s of P-Pause?
I believe I have also joined the peri-ranks! At first I had night sweats, they come and go, cycle on an every 3 week schedule with sore boobs, low back ache, fuzzy brain, forgetting everything! All of a sudden i feel very old. I used to be so good with diet, now my appetite is weird. It’s more based on how I feel. I’m tired, I have lost motivation to exercise. I would rather sit and read! Don’t even ask me to cook dinner every night WTF? Did I actually keep up with all that sh–?! I just plain don’t fricken feel like it anymore! Am I dying? Feels like a S-L-O-W death…just reading my own blog here makes me tired…going to sleep, my backs aching and I’m fricken bleeding to death! Good night Sista’s~ I’m Out!
Forgetfulness…
Talk about forgetful…One day I took my 11 year old out of school for a doctor appointment she had 45 minutes away and we didn’t have an appointment that day. I feel like it takes so much more energy to keep up with everything I used to do so easily. I am one of those people who can keep a zillion details in my head…now I live by my calendar, I have to check it several times a day. What am I doing to help myself?

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Brenna May 9, 2012 at 10:04 pm

I need to finish I guess, because I forgot I wrote the other part…SEE what I mean! Okay so I am taking an herbal supplement I got from Wegman’s called Change of Life. I think its helping. Also taking Omega’s…I try to eat healthy but find my appetite is so changed. I am not as hungry and if I am hungry I don’t know what I want to eat! I woke up at 2:30 a.m. Last night wide-a-fricken-wake…got up made sleepy time tea, watched Julia Child cooking show and was lucky to fall asleep. Omg and Sex…whatever…what’s that? Ok not going there. Maybe someone can tell me I’m normal and make me feel better. My BFF is going thru menopause and she is leaving her husband after 30 years…it’s very hard, very awkward. My husband is afraid I will do what she is doing. I’m lucky to have such a supportive husband who loves me even when the biatch comes out! Hopefully I will remember how ro get to this sight and blab some more! G-Night Sista’s~

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tracy June 5, 2012 at 6:28 pm

I thought today was the day I was actually going insane. I feel so anxious and disconnected from things. is increased anxiety and feeling this way normal?

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Magnolia June 5, 2012 at 7:13 pm

Yes, Tracy, VERY normal.

Magnolia

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Christa June 11, 2012 at 4:17 pm

Brenna,

You are too funny. I am 45 and premenopausal. I can completely relate to what you said about how when you are hungry, you don’t know what you feel like eating. I have experienced this phenomenon lately as well. I could be starving & not feeling like eating any food that I can think of! It’s so strange! And leftovers? Forget it. I used to love them. Now I can’t stomach the idea of eating the same thing twice in one week. Soo bizarre.

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Bubbly July 4, 2012 at 3:43 am

Hi ladies. Totally relate to everything discussed here. I’m 46, in perimenopause. My symptoms started during my late 30s. Really disturbing and frustrating. But the worse of all is the persistent intermenstral bleeding. I had tried Black Cohosh, chastetree berry, soy isoflavones, wild yam, even sheep placenta, grapeseed extract, resveratrol, lately Nature’s way DIM-plus, nothing can stop this bleeding problem. They only induced heavier bleeding instead of just spotting. With a shorter cycle – 24 days and all these bleeding episodes, it’s almost like having a period everyday! All my tests were normal, was told by my gynae that problem probably caused by hormone fluctuations. Only solution is to bear with it and wait till menopause or opt for hormone pills or remove the womb all together! Can’t wait for menopause to come. God bless.

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Magnolia July 8, 2012 at 2:17 pm

Try bioidentical progesterone, Bubbly,

It worked for me. Heavy bleeding that doesn’t want to stop is estrogen related. Once I started using a high-grade bioidentical progesterone, my heavy bleeding stopped cold.

I became fully menopausal just after I started using it.

Magnolia

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Alice December 26, 2013 at 9:49 pm

Hi, I am 46 years old and have not been feeling like myself for a couple of years now and it is only getting worse. I can not get my doctors to listen to me. They always tell me that it is just anxiety and that I am to young to be going into menopause, my mother was 47 when she started.
I have even charted my symptoms they start about 4 days before my period starts and begin to ease about 1 and a half weeks or so after my period ends.
I was having extremely heavy, heavy periods but the last 2 cycles have actually changed. Much lighter and not as long. I have just started having hot flashes a couple of months ago also. So every month it is like this…

Heart palpitations ( Which by the way. I have seen a cardiologist and they say I am ok.
Then comes feeling spacey 24/7.
Then I have spells where I think I am going to faint but I never do. Just feels like
kind of a cold rush and very faint feeling. This only happens during my cycle.
Then crying all the time off and on all day long for days.
Hot flashes
Memory lapses.
Confusion.
Anxiety.
Depression.

I have just started taking some Bioidentical hormone crème. about 5 days ago so far I don’t feel any different. I don’t know how long it takes. I have an appointment next month with a gynecologist. I really hope I can get some answers. I feel terrible.

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Candice January 31, 2014 at 4:35 pm

Thank you for this article and posts. I’m 44 and an anxiety survivor – only to find that perimenopause is bringing the attacks back. When it’s time for me to ovulate, I have full blown panic attacks. When ovulation ends, it’s a headache. Two nights before my period starts I have insomnia. One night before my period starts I have night sweats. Then my period starts, and the cramps are so bad I can’t breathe. At the end of my period another headache. I also get this weird foggy-head tired thing where I feel woozy for no other reason than it’s been a long day, and I spend many mornings feeling like I have mild morning sickness. I can also relate to the weird hunger thing. I will go from not-hungry-at-all to so-hungry-I-might-puke in 0 to 60, and nothing sounds good to eat except cake. Other than this, I’m in perfect freaking health. :0) I’m not looking for a solution, or trying to chase down a cure – but I want to thank you all for giving me some comfort through your stories. I guess as they say, misery loves company. Thanks again.

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Patti April 7, 2014 at 2:07 pm

Thank you for this blog, I feel like I am going out of my mind and my doctor just wants to throw anti-depressants at me. I am 43 and too young to be starting menopause but my mother was 44 so I guess i am right on schedule for my family (older sister also started at 44). The anxiety is my biggest issue, I am a very in control person always have been but for the last little while I feel like I am so out of control, very depressing. I try to keep busy and not think about it but when my body is shuttering inside constantly I have a hard time ignoring it…I am sorry if this is jumbled but I am typing through tears because i can’t stop crying sometimes, which is very disturbing because I have no reason to cry. my husband is a God send is all I can say, he is worried about me because I have never in my life been like this. Just reading your stories help me by letting me know I am not alone even though I feel so very alone right now..thank you so very much.

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