Why do I feel like I’m Going Crazy in Perimenopause?

by Magnolia on July 1, 2013

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It is the most common thing I hear from women regarding perimenopause.

“I feel like I’m going crazy! What is wrong with me?”

And there are a variety of reasons why women might feel this way too.

Personally, I think the primary reason is the simple “craziness” of perimenopause in general.

The wacky mood swings, depression, rages, inability to sleep, laughing one minute, crying the next, and all at an intensity that is too hard to explain to anyone who hasn’t been through it.

Never mind trying to get your spouse to understand.

Physically, however, there are a few symptoms of perimenopause which probably scare women more than others, leading us to believe we’ve finally fallen off the turnip wagon.

Mood Swings

For me, mood swings were the “grand mal” symptom.  They were so intense, and I felt so completely out of control (and frankly, I was), that I was certain I was losing every last semblance of sanity I ever had.

For someone like me, never accused of being a wilting wall flower, and who has spent her entire life bulldozing through any obstacle that might have the misfortune of being in my way, this lack of control was emotionally and psychologically eviscerating.

I’m also certain that my emotional and mental duress over my inability to control or stop what was happening to me, made the mood swings even more debilitating.

What Causes Mood Swings?

In the most basic terms, it is the very turbulent shift (rising and falling) in estrogen and progesterone levels that causes mood swings – particularly the raging part.  Much like the years of PMS (remember those?), when estrogen levels rise and progesterone levels fall, it affects your mood profoundly.

Estrogen is a wonderful hormone, and when in balance does wonderful things for women.  But, when estrogen levels are too high, as they often are for women going through perimenopause, raging mood swings (among many other symptoms) are often the result.

Adrenal Fatigue & Thyroid Dysfunction

Let me tell you something: I had no earthly idea that women going through perimenopause could also suffer from adrenal fatigue and thyroid dysfunction.  But we can.  In fact, these two secondary issues are often the culprit in causing and intensifying many of the symptoms of perimenopause.

Such as: crashing fatigue, heart palpitations, panic attacks, vertigo and dizziness, bolting awake from a sound sleep hyperventilating, and a racing heart.

You know, maybe crashing fatigue is not a symptom which most women would associate with “feeling like I’m going crazy.” But heart palpitations?  Panic attacks? Vertigo and dizziness?  Bolting awake in the middle of the night with your heart racing and hyperventilating?

I should say so.

What Causes Adrenal Fatigue & Thyroid Dysfunction?

Again, in most basic terms, adrenal fatigue occurs when the adrenal glands are called upon too much in order to help us cope with daily stress and demands (in other words, too much on our plate and we’re stressed out); and when our thyroid hormones (TSH, T4, & T3) become out of balance, thyroid dysfunction (either hypo or hyperthyroidism) is the result.

Both adrenal fatigue and thyroid dysfunction can contribute to and exacerbate perimenopause symptoms.  Vertigo and dizziness, for example, are associated with hypothyroidism, and heart palpitations and panic attacks are associated with both adrenal fatigue and thyroid dysfunction as well.

So let me say it again, ladies, you are not going crazy in perimenopause.  It only feels that way, and you can thank some of these symptoms for it too.  The important thing is to understand that “this too shall pass.”

It really will.  And while I can’t promise you that this aging thing and menopause is “all that.”  It’s certainly a lot better than perimenopause.  So, while you may be suffering mightily with those perimenopause symptoms right now. There is a light at the end of the tunnel.

It’s called menopause.

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{ 93 comments… read them below or add one }

lee February 21, 2015 at 5:17 pm

Just wanted to say hi to all you lovely ladies who are going through such a difficult time. It helps me a lot to come to this site and read your stories when i am feeling particularly bad, so a big thanks to you all for sharing. I think my hormones have been shifting alot in the last 6 months but i was so busy blaming my symptoms on myself that i couldn’t work out what was going on. I am 43 and my lifelong menstrual headaches stopped last summer, which i thought was the best thing ever till all my other symptoms kicked in! The length of my cycle now varies from 25-31 days with bleeding lasting between 2 and 7 days, some times its mostly clots. I have only had a few flushes but my temp does fluctuate alot and seems out of balance. My sleeping pattern is pretty unsteady too. The worst thing for me has been the heightened anxiety, feels of dread, panic attacks and unwanted thoughts. I found this is a viscious and complicated cycle as it seems to create all sorts of physical symptoms as a knock on effect- racing heart, tight chest, feelings of cold and constant shakes. At some points i have felt like i was falling apart and constantly wanting to go to the doctors, it truely does make you feel like you are going mad. I have just had 1 session of acupuncture which did really help and seemed to stop my body reacting to the stress of my emotional symtoms, will let you know how the next sessions go. Other things that help me are;
Taking 1 day at a time
Excercise, just 20 mins here and there
Getting outside
Being kind to myself
Reading self help books- try Richard Carlson ‘stop thinking start living’ -dodgy title but great for controlling crazy thoughts!
Remembering all the years i was well
Try see anxiety as a passing moment of fear, it always does pass
Remember not to believe anything your thinking when your’e in a low mood
I keep a list of things that helps me that i can re-read to calm me when i’m really struggling
Good luck to everyone x

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Nicole February 23, 2015 at 10:42 pm

Hi Magnolia!

My name is Nicole and I am a mother of three boys ages 10,8 and 6. I have been married for 17 years and this year I am turning 43. Perimenopause started about 3 years ago for me and I am just now beginning to understand things. I have had the most difficulty of late as I am a control freak. My oldest son has a congenital heart disorder and I am anal about medication, education and his (as well as my other guys) over all being, My husband would tell me “you go overboard ” with helping others and our guys. But for me it did/does not seem like too much. I want to raise responsible leaders in my boys.

So the marriage has not been a picnic as you can imagine. I have told my husband I want out, I have asked him to leave, I have tried to leave and it never seems to work. My menstrual cycle ends and I wake up from a days of hell. I take full responsibility for my actions, I just can’t believe some of the things I say and or do. SO weird and bizarre that I sometimes can not remember what I may have yelled or screamed about. My husband then takes the liberty to …leave me alone. The last thing I want is to be left alone. I want to be cared for and looked after like I have done for him for 17 years. But I can’t seem to get him to understand. Then today it hit me…..Why should I have to make someone that loves me understand, shouldn’t they seek answers from the depths of the earth as if …..my life depended on it? So said to say…..in my case…not so much! Thanks for listening.

Nicole

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Magnolia February 25, 2015 at 12:49 pm

Hi Nicole,

I do understand your frustration. The problem with hormone imbalance and mood swings is that most people (and most certainly men) think you should be able to control them.

I do agree that we absolutely take responsibility for what we say and we should do our best to try and avoid the outbursts. But, as you’ve learned, it’s darn near impossible. I liken it to post-partum depression, which I suffered from HORRIBLY with my 3rd and last child. I couldn’t control it. I could only mop up the mess when the mood swings left.

I wish I had some good advice for you. However, I’m afraid that women suffering from hormone imbalance don’t get much sympathy when it comes to mood swings in a marriage. Some men seem to want to try and understand and God bless them, I applaud them. But, they seem to be (around here, anyway) few and far between.

I’ve tried to use the analogy of hormonal teens. How much crap does a mother take off of teenagers while they are going through their hormonal hell during the teen years? LOTS. We seem to be better equipped in removing ourselves from the situation in terms of not making it a personal assault when our teens behave like, well, hormonal teens.

Men are not as good at that it seems. They become resentful and bitter, and well, you know the rest.

I sincerely hope you can find a way to work it out and hold on to your marriage. If you have a good marriage outside of what is happening right now, I would strongly suggest you do everything you can to keep it. As a woman who is divorced and now raising three children on her own, I don’t recommend it.

However, my divorce would have happened whether I went through perimenopause or not.

Best wishes,
Magnolia

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Madelene February 28, 2015 at 2:24 pm

Hi Magnolia and thank you for being here for us.
I’m suffering from peri menopause more than 3 years ago. But what hurt me area the unwanted thoughts that cripple my life.
How can we stop the “what if” forever.
Did you experience horrible thoughts during your journey?
Thank you

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