Tag Archives: health

Causal Awareness

I have had depressive bouts for a long time.  In the early years, they would come on as a result of a life situation, or circumstance, or poor decision, and cling to me like a strong sedative for a short duration.  I would loll in the depths of despair for a few days, allowing the emotions to be acknowledged.  Then, I would pick myself up and shake off the dredges – usually finding a positive action to perk me up – and resume.  Don’t worry, be happy.  Happy face on, life goes on.

At some point though, I stopped recognizing the depression, as it would not necessarily be tied to a thing that I could pinpoint, but rather, an accumulation of things that were akin to being in the pot of water, as the fire is started below.  You don’t notice the heat, until it’s reached near boiling point.  These depressive bouts didn’t give me the awareness to acknowledge and feel the pain,  which I had earlier found to be an integral piece in the process of healing.  Rather, these bouts were more like a drug addiction, where the chemical has lost its potency.  I had built up a tolerance to the depression and a deeper state would settle on me before I would become aware.

This last bout, coupled with its added menopausal symptoms, struck a nerve finally.  Likely, it was because I could finally point my finger at a cause and effect.  Estrogen, you bitch!  How could you do this to me?

No matter the reasoning, I now feel that I have the arsenal to effectively combat this bout, and be more aware of any future bouts to stop them before I become mired.

I’ll admit, the emotions do start to roll in, creeping from the edges like fiery smoke, and it’s usually the awareness of an angry edge that raises my alarm.  I’m aware now, that alarm means it’s time to take action – turn up the music, sing it off.  Take a walk, reason out the emotions.  Drink some water, and redirect my attentions to some neutral subject for five minutes.  And suddenly, I’m back.  Me.  The me who finds the positive in life – the upbeat, still reclusive, but happy me.  Not the angry, withdrawn little ogre I’ve been.

So – wordy insight now given you to explain my dilemma, I thought I’d share some of the things that have helped me recover and get myself back to stability, sans pharmaceuticals or intense psycho-therapy.

Coloring Therapy
  • Supplements – first three taken daily, with EPO taken once/week (due to effects of blood thinning – I always check counter-indications for any alternative therapy on WebMD):
    • Vitamin B12
    • Fish oil with Vitamin D
    • Grapeseed Extract
    • Evening Primrose oil
  • Topicals – mixed with carrier oil and a few drops  rubbed on top of feet a few days a week:
    • Clary sage
    • Roman chamomile
  • Foods – needed to counter the effects of the estrogen loss
    • Green tea, and occasional Tulsi tea
    • Colorful vegetables:  leafy greens, beets, red cabbage, etc
    • Garlic
    • Turmeric
    • Nuts, seeds, legumes
    • Avocado
    • Wild caught salmon, sardines and mackerel
    • Oils:  EVOO, Flaxseed oil
    • Probiotic yogurt
  • Activities:
    • Reach out to and spend time with friends
    • Exercise at least 3 times a week for 10-30 minutes each
    • Music therapy – something I can do at work, at home, or in the car
    • Art therapy – the picture above is from my adult coloring book – a great way to redirect my attention at home
    • Outdoor time
    • Education – more time with actual pen and ink books and less internet
    • Reduced social media time

These are the things I employed to counter my situation, and it has worked wonderfully.  Being aware is key, I believe.   I had to know exactly what I was dealing with in order to find the balances necessary for me to put into effect.  Then I had to act.

 

Time for The Change

What isn’t often relayed about aging women is that The Change can turn you into an emotional wreck.

Over the past two months I found myself questioning everything:  my life, my worth, my purpose, my abilities – and I had a very difficult time answering with anything that wasn’t pure emotional drivel.  That’s hard to deal with at any time, but something that my logical self found incomprehensible.  Where did this weepy, clingy, dingbat come from and why the hell is she living in my head space, and fucking up my life?

I honestly thought that my brains were turning to goo.  I had moments of pure hopelessness and was slowly accepting near-complete loss of self worth.

Thus began my journey to put myself back on track, to figure out how to reclaim my abilities, my logic and my sanity.

I started with self-organization tactics:  I employed a bullet journal both for home and for work.  This forces me to stop and think what needs done and what the priorities are.  I began checking items off of my to-do list.  Oh, the long-forgotten to-do list!  Years ago, I didn’t do anything without a list.  When there are kids in the house and activity schedules to keep, it all had to be tamed and contained and managed and the lists were what kept me on track.  I’d missed those lists.

Tackling my nearly forgotten maintenance items, one at a time, I felt slightly better just knowing that I was no longer sliding off into total neglect and disrepair.

So, as I waited for my vehicle tires to be replaced, I took advantage of the hour long wait.  I went on a shopping excursion – retail therapy, surely it can cure anything, right?  I landed at the local bookstore chain and wandered around, looking for the clouds to part and the sun to shine on just the perfect selection.  Isn’t that how everyone makes reading choices?

The adult coloring section caught my eyes first.  That’s an option – divert my attentions and get me to focus on something creative rather than solving my neuro-emotional grey matter mysteries.  I was enchanted, as I pulled one after another from the shelf, thinking of the hours of diversion these would grant.

Then, suddenly, logical me stepped out of the shadows and shut down my little rose-colored dream state.  Turn, slowly, walk away from the enchantment – and move toward the non-fiction self-help section.

I found myself surrounded by chicken soups and how-to sex manuals.  Oy!  About to leave, nearly giving up, it happened.  The clouds parted… okay, well – ya know – my eyes lit on the title that just made sense to me.  The book that might help me figure out how to explain this aging brain and help me nurture and retrain the logical side:  Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman.

You have to glimpse a bit into my SOP:  years spent in near-poverty, barely making it and scraping to get by, have left me with a lifetime habit of frugality.  I don’t buy NEW books.  There are libraries, and there are thrift shops.  I’ve never bought a book at a bookstore, unless it was a Used Book Store.

So, there I am, with THE book in my hands — but the darned thing is $16.99!!!  For a book!!!  And it’s not a hardback.

So, I put it back and shuffle around the non-fiction section, being ever so disappointed by the options.  The humor section nearly had me sold on the Calvin and Hobbs selections, but then my logical self reminded me of my purpose.  Back to the shelf, grab that book with resolve, reward myself with an adult coloring book – not the usual flowery variety, no, break some habits and grab something with some personality – Imagimorphia.  Oh, another $14.99!  Of course.  Now, to fill in the gaps with a new fiction author.  I’ve nearly worn out my favorite authors selections.

So – tossing aside frugality, employing a bit of logic, and feeding my need to cocoon and heal – I walk out of the bookstore with three NEW books.  That’s one for the record books folks!

That was June 28th.  I’m now a quarter of the way through the Kahneman book, and making some sense of what is being presented.  I have to put it on my list though – read a minimum of two pages, daily.  And often, lately, I’ve ignored it.  The color book was a nice diversion – and I’ve completed one page – and the fiction was consumed immediately, followed since by three additional Kindle books.  While these things have helped me stop the unchecked careening off the hill of sanity, I was still floundering.  Emotions, self-worth still tottering, not quite stable.  Edgy, with a chance of stormy – I might emote angrily with no advance warning.  Monotone emotions – checked, but no joy, and still those tears were backed up against my eyeballs, pressuring me to let loose as pride forced them to dam.

I hate this – this taking over of my body, this insidious self-deprecating, loathing, angry thing inside me that does not accept logic or reason or boundaries.

And so, fearing the worst, as I perceived it – knowing that I had pushed my superiors to their limits at my job – and feeling that I might be fired from my job, I sat down and researched the combination of depression and anger.

Boom!  Menopause.

  • Mood swings – CHECK!
  • Depression – CHECK!
  • Anxiety – CHECK!
  • Irritability – CHECK!

I don’t know why it took so long to figure that out?!  I’ve had the physical symptoms of peri-menopause for years now.  Night sweats, hot flashes, weight gain, libido – I knew that I was approaching the shutdown of my hormones.  I thought myself educated.

What I forgot about, what doesn’t get near as much attention, is the emotional change associated with Menopause.  And my research sheds a bit of light on that.  You see, it seems that socio-economic factors greatly influence how the emotional changes will affect you – because we’re all so very different.

I’ve weathered the physical changes because they weren’t life-altering.  I didn’t seek any treatments for them, as they were so easy to adjust to and accept.  I thought I had this whole aging female thing whipped, tied, and filed in the ‘been there, done that’ cabinet.

No – not so fast.  The emotional side is saved for those of us who have weathered the storms of deprivation – those whose past is riddled with poverty, and dysfunction, and prior bouts of depression.  Oh joy that!  It definitely seems like an extra little kick in the pants, that.

So, guess where I’ve been after finding that link?  Did you guess correctly?  No?

Yeah?

That’s right.  I’ve been sifting through the past with a fine screen.  Because that’s what you REALLY need to do when you’re an emotional mess.  Pull up all of those past parts and pieces, dig them up and look them over, roll around in the shit for a little while to really get it on you and stink up the space.  Feel the old pains, live the old failures, dredge up the excuses and point those shakey old fingers a bit, and question decisions and wonder ‘what if’, and just plain fucking cry that shit out!

Yes.  That’s where I’ve been.

But I think I’m nearly done.  Because, you see, I also employed logic.  I told myself to stop making excuses.  I told myself to stop blaming others from the past.  I addressed what I could address from a physical standpoint.  I researched how I could address my hormonal shifts with food and activities.  And I started those changes immediately:

  • employ those essential oils stocked in the cabinet;
  • turn up the music and dance a bit;
  • eat more bright colored vegetables;
  • eat more nuts and seeds;
  • drink more green teas;
  • eat more salmon and tuna.

I know this routine, it has tamed my MS.  But now, I need to stick to it and tame this emotional beast.

It’s Time for the Change.

 

 

 

 

Is It Real…

Or is it Menopause?

It was a relief to discover that my red-eyed appearance was not an emotional symptom, but rather simply a case of dry eyes that I ignored to the point where my tissues were constantly inflamed.  Menopause symptom, likely, and easily addressed by adding Omega 3 and using re-wetting or artificial tear drops as needed.  As needed being more often than I remember to administer – but I’ll get there.  Thankfully, my constant red eyelids are now just an unpleasant memory.

Granted, I’ve been more likely to reach a silent overwhelm of emotion these days, particularly when I’m in the presence of my children.  It makes no sense to me, as these are some of the people with whom I draw the most comfort.

watered false nettle

I am rendered nearly speechless, unable to converse comfortably, or sensibly.  Some of it is attributed to tinnitus – there are only so many tones that I can focus on without losing part of what’s being heard.   Partly, it’s that I don’t want to miss a thing, so I nearly miss everything as I try to focus on every conversation at once.  Not as easy a fix – but I’ll be working to find my perfect hearing range so that I can focus to give full-on attention to the conversant in that range.

The part that I can’t change is that I’m full to the brim with love for these people, and am faced with a change in status, for which I have no practice.

watered dawn 2

Change is a constant in life, and I’ve done a damn fine job of handling change in the past (meaning that I didn’t go on a rampage, and I didn’t have a total meltdown).  Change during my earlier years was like drinking water.  I gulped it down and on to the next task I went.

About five years ago I noticed a shift, a grating of tectonic plates sort of shift.  Suddenly, I found myself irritable with too much change or too many compounded changes.  Sure, I could still function well, I could still move on to the next task, but my comfort zone had been impacted, and it unsettled me, irritated me.

Still in the irritable stage, change has been fairly constant, the compounded sort, but I’m functional.

watered daylight

A change in position not aptly prepared for – that sort of change is like a chasm that has opened up beneath me.  I’m not prepared for it, but accept that I must either embrace and learn to roll with it, or tumble along grasping recklessly at strongholds along the way.

Mother-in-law, Step-mother-in-law, Grandma, Step-Grandma – these titles, these changes to my position, have caught me off-guard in comparison with my own head-in-the-clouds, prior-concocted expectations.

Let me broadcast with great joy:  I have the absolute best of the pick when it comes to family.  Our sons were extremely easy to raise, and they chose very well when they chose their mates.  I have daughters-in-law whom I love dearly, and they are the perfect complement to our family.  Our grandchildren are a pure delight, and their parents are doing a great job raising these youngsters.

sunflower detail

My job should be easy, but I’m a perfectionist in the most annoying ways – obsessive about where my everyday use items are situated, persnickety about what I ingest, and particularly overly particular in creating my own expectations.

I want to match expectations that I set long ago.  I want to take bits and pieces from others I’ve observed in these positions and meld them into some fantasy figure, based on very little reality.  Who could possibly have factored in where I or my family would be in our lives when this particular stage of life arrived?

So I emote silly things based on my silly notions, and get myself all tizzy-frazzled for things that no one else can control.

Compound that with the fact that my mother-in-law died during my second year of marriage, creating a void where I could have learned a great deal.  My mentor is absent, that’s my excuse…

hewn

So I’m forging ahead in uncharted territory, with great hope that I won’t injure any relationships, step on anyone’s feelings, or cause any great distress; yet keep in mind my own emotional health and well-being.

Oh, and did I mention I’m menopausal?  😉