Blog Posts, Menopausal Mutterings

Tales from the other side – Does it ever stop?

The changes we undergo in perimenopause… do they stop once we enter the postmenopause zone. This is a hot topic amongst my friends… and Mr D too.

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Here are the top 3 questions asked by my younger friends (and their partners)

Once I’m through the menopause will the night sweats and flushes (flashes for my friends across the pond) stop?

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In my experience they become less ferocious. I still get them, but don’t feel like I could run the central heating on one flush. Imagine how much we could save on our energy bills if we could somehow store the heat generated from our inner power surges! To help deal with these power surges I wear layers and carry a fan. Light layers are easy to remove as a surge hits, and easy to replace when it goes, leaving me with the inevitable chills. The fan comes into play if I’m unable to remove further layers without committing indecency! In addition it gives you a certain air worthy of a Jane Austin novel!

Have I finished changing mentally and physically?

Nope! I think I’ve got a better handle on when I’m succumbing to a bout of health anxiety. You can imagine what’s going though my head today as I have a cold! Everyone keeps asking  if I am sure that’s all I’ve got. Yes I am, thanks for scaring the crap out of me!

Since the start of perimenopause I’ve developed an uncanny knack of catastrophising at the slightest physical change. This hasn’t changed. What has changed is my approach. I use the STOP technique.

  1. Stop what I’m doing – just take a moment to be still
  2. Take a deep breath (or as many as it takes to feel a little less frazzled)
  3. Observer – what is going on inside and outside. Where has my mind wandered to? What am I really feeling?
  4. Proceed – mindfully move on in a more constructive way.

On the positive side of change, I’ve noticed an increased drive for creative projects. Redesigning our master bedroom suite, redesigning a section of our back garden, creating a dry riverbed with a self-contained water feature to name but a few things. Even our kitchen has seen more action that it’s used to. I try at least one new recipe a week. It turns out that my body and nature knew how to do all these things… I simply needed my intellect to catch up!

And finally, what about ‘you know what’ … the bedroom department? Will things still work?

Yes they do. Will you need some help to keep things in tip top condition? You might. It varies from woman to woman. There are a variety of options open to you. In my case I opted for a localized treatment twice weekly prescribed by my doctor. Whatever you choose to use, the doc had one additional piece of advice, ‘use it or lose it!’ The more we practice, the healthier the tissues down there remain. Mind you, I did go to see her fairly soon  after symptoms became an issue. Early intervention is key to successful outcomes. I hope this makes sense as I am trying to keep this post safe for work!

Please feel free to share any other words of wisdom for fellow menopause warriors and their partners in the comments section.

Wishing you all a healthy and happy weekend.

Cath xx (cyber kisses are the safest at the moment!)

Blog Posts, Menopausal Mutterings

Issues in your tissues!?

No! Not paper/cloth tissue issues. I mean weird stuff that happens in your body with no obvious physical cause. As ever, I will state the bloomin’ obvious here – anything you are worried about in your mind and body needs to be seen to by a healthcare professional. What follows is merely my own opinion based on experience, observation and reading a few great books.

At this point I can almost hear you thinking ‘Where the heck are you going with this, Cath?’

Let me explain. My local village hall has organised a series of talks across the winter months, the inaugural talk was ‘The body keeps the score’, given by my old psychologist. As she is no longer my mental healthcare specialist, I decided to go along to support her. Apart from occupying a seat, I could ask some cool questions to get people involved if needed.

The main point of the talk was how traumatic experiences end up stored in our bodies and what can happen if they take root. It appears that the reptile brain (the amygdala for all you biologists) stores trauma memories which can be triggered by a variety of things, sometimes producing physical sensations in our bodies.

We touched on some of the odd things that we women go through during menopause. Changing hormone levels can bring these stored traumas to the surface, demanding to be dealt with after years of being buried deep in our memories. Our bodies are quite clever at sending us messages and will go so some lengths to get your attention.

Ever felt tired and wired? This is your body waving a white flag because it has forgotten how to flip off the alarm function, stuck at red alert. The alarm is only supposed to come on in the event of actual danger e.g. coming face to face with a tiger. Your flight and fight response is most definitely needed to get you away from the tiger. But what if the tiger isn’t there? The relentless 24/7 culture of modern life joining hands with our un-processed issues means that the alarm remains on, even in the complete absence of tigers. It’s exhausting. Our bodies and minds function much better in a nice idling state.

Palpitations. Insomnia. Jaw clenching and associated muscle tightness. Upset guts. All of them were my body crying out for help. Just remember the advice at the top of this article!!  

So, what can we do about it if issues become troublesome? Take HRT? Take antidepressants? Grit your teeth and get on with it? Or try something completely different? In my case I did all the above. Faced with a clean bill of health but still in a mess, I reluctantly concluded that I was losing my marbles. There was most definitely a hole in the bag and each marble was escaping, one by one.

Aha! A lightbulb moment!

By good fortune, my chiropractor mentioned seeing a different specialist as she had done everything possible to release my jaw muscles. She’d get them to relax and release, but a few days later they’d go back into spasm. So off to the psychologist I went, unsure if this was a viable option, but so distressed I was prepared to try anything. After a few consultations we decided to use EMDR, which stands for Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing. To cut a long story short, the traumas of my earlier years (bullying – and keeping my mouth shut to avoid more problems at the hands of the bullies) were re-processed, re-remembered but without the physical symptoms.

It’s not an easy treatment, but the results are so worth it. I still have my down days, where I drive myself nuts with unfounded health anxiety, but now I recognise it for what it is and know how to switch off the alarm.

Aaaand breathe!

Wishing you all a wonderful weekend.

Cath (finder and keeper of marbles)