One of the lovely side effects of the menopause is an increase in anxiety. To quote Dr Louise R. Newson from My Menopause Doctor,
“Low mood and feelings of depression can be very common symptoms of the menopause and perimenopause. Other psychological symptoms include feelings of low self-esteem, having reduced motivation, anxiety, irritability, panic attacks, poor concentration and low energy. These symptoms can be mistaken for depression and I see many women in my clinic who have wrongly been given antidepressants by their doctors for these symptoms.”
It can be common for women to feel more irritated and angry than they used to which can really affect their families and their ability to function at work. Women often feel more tearful and frequently have mood swings.”
I think it’s fair to say that I am experiencing this by the bucket load. It’s a funny thing isn’t it – that we can read loads about the problems we face but sharing what is going on with us isn’t always the easiest thing to do.
I figure that I may as well come clean about my symptoms as it may help someone else to open up about theirs, or at least to recognise what may be going on for them and seek support and help.
I’ve always been quite an anxious person but lately I feel as if my thought are on a loop, just going around and around and around.
I do suffer, mildly from OCD and this has flared up again since I just can’t seem to decide what I’m doing or why.
It’s as if my wheels are spinning but I cannot move, no matter how much I want to.
And it’s worse at night. I wake at random times – 4 am is a favourite – thinking about the most nonsensical of dilemmas. Where have I put my wedding ring? Should I have gone to the shop to buy more milk? Where is Ieuan’s sports kit? If we get a cat, how much will it cost to install a cat flap?
As soon as I think I have reached a decision, around we go again.
I’m too hot, too cold, need a wee, need some cold water, have a headache or have to put earplugs in because a car door has slammed somewhere in the street.
I can’t tell you how exhausting this all is.
Worst of all are the heart palpitations which seem to thunder in my chest when I start my endless navel gazing of problems so trivial, they truly are first world.
Oddly, even though I can reason with my self and tell myself to get a grip, I am incapable of actually doing so.
I thought about writing it all down in a journal but the mortification of anyone other than me reading it puts me off.
There’s always a point in my life where I am finally, finally going to pull myself together – a birthday, a certain number of days lived (I recently discovered I’ve been alive 20,000 on 1 March), a certain planetary alignment.
And of course, nothing changes because, as any ardent student of pop psychology should be able to tell you by now, it is not your conscious mind you are wrestling with but your unruly subconscious mind – and you can shout at that as much as you like, it’s not the way you’ll change.
Knowing and doing are such hugely different things, aren’t they?
Things have not been helped by the recent untimely deaths of two close friends to cancer – for both of whom their diagnosis led to their departure within around 6 months.
If you suffer from anxiety around your health, you would have to be super-human not to wonder about your own, wouldn’t you? As another friend remarked to me “you can be sure I am having every test going!”
So if, like me, you find your mind isn’t your own and seems to be more log-jammed than an NCP car park at 5 pm, you have my sympathy.
Of course HRT would probably help. Perhaps even anti-depressants. I have taken the latter before and they made me feel so uncomfortable I stopped taking them. That doesn’t mean, of course, that they wouldn’t work for you.
At the moment I prefer to let nature take its course and to seek out more natural remedies to see if I can get back on an even keel.
I’ll let you know how I get on and if you are in the same boat, please share your experiences.
Every woman is going to go through the menopause at some point and I believe that we can all help each other by opening up about our experiences.
You never know, the thought roundabout might at least slow a little, even if it doesn’t not, finally ground to a halt.