I’m coming out of menopause. Which leaves me as emotionally stable as an Ikea table. Crying spells are frequent and powerful. Whether it’s a “save the puppies” commercial on TV, or something legitimate to cry about, I’m on the verge of meltdown all the fricken time. I feel like my mental cognition has been compromised (for more on this check out Endobrain Recovery). I find myself forgetting even the simplest things, and wandering in rooms unsure of why I’m there. Also, there’s these fun things called hot flashes. There’s no predicting the where or when of these miserable moments. It starts on the inside of the body and radiates outward, by the time it’s in full swing my breathing rate has increased and I feel like a raging fire-breathing dragon. About the time my mind says “I can’t take this bullshit” it calms down and I’m left in a sweaty mess of misery.
For those of you who don’t know, I was diagnosed with Endometriosis back in August of 2017. The treatment used to be “yank all the girl parts and she’ll be fine.” Fortunately, that’s not the case anymore. Research has shown that hysterectomy, whether full or partial is only a temporary fix for the condition. The condition is that my uterus multiplies the endometrial cells each month, and transplants them in various other parts of the body. They’ve been found on the outside of my ovaries, on and in the tubes, and on the outside of the uterus. Basically, every time I cycle I have a cancer like reaction (only it’s not fatal).
The condition took years to diagnose – which is average. The autoimmune effects were what kept me miserable for many years. I was 33 years old and had already been tested for lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease, intestinal ulcers, thyroid dysfunction, gallbladder stones, and even hashimoto disease. All tests came back negative which was great, but my symptoms kept getting worse. It wasn’t until I met with the Gastroenterologist and completed a colonoscopy, that it was recommended we start searching for other problems with a OBGYN.
I then spent 2 years going to the OBGYN and had ultrasounds and imaging that showed multiple cysts every month on each ovary. The cysts were blamed for all the ill effects. About 2 years, maybe 3 after seeing the OBGYN I was scheduled for exploratory surgery. The Ultrasound tech finally found something to be concerned about. My right fallopian tube was nowhere to be found. It was completely covered by the webbing of endometriosis implants which wouldn’t be discovered until the laparoscopic surgery.
When I came to after the surgery, I was told what they found. All my misery, all the specialists and ER visits would finally come to an end. Praise God. My condition had a name (Endometriosis) and treatment could begin. My first treatment included 6 months of Luporn injections (a drug used for prostate cancer treatment).
The purpose of the injections is to put my body into menopause. It halts the production of estrogen. So, instead of it taking 5+ years to transition into menopause it happened to me in a matter of 30 days. I’m now at the end of that 6 months and transitioning into “regular cycling” again and will determine a hormone treatment plan soon.
As you can imagine, coming out of menopause isn’t any easier than going into it. Menopause is a hell that is naturally only supposed to be experienced once in a lifetime. However, for whatever reason, this is my journey. Apparently the universe thinks I’m strong enough to handle it multiple times, and I am, until I’m not.
I’m known for my responsible, put together, controlled nature. So when that was compromised over the last year with these bouts of moodiness, depression, crying spells, and anxiety, I realized I had to get serious once again about my recovery or I was going to relapse back into a bottle of wine.
So, what keeps me sane through all the literal ups and downs of hormone transitions, what keeps me from relapsing into old habits?
- Make exercise and nutrition your priority! I finally felt crappy enough inside and out to prioritize my nutrition and exercise regimen. This has made the biggest impact on this journey. I’m in the best shape of my life. I eat a well planned, balanced, nutritious diet that has made the difference in not only my physical well-being, but my mental well being too. For more on this, see The Twelve Steps of Nutrition and Exercise Recovery.
- Decide who your support will be, and use them! My husband has been my rock through this process. He’s my safety net. He’s the one who catches all the anger, the frustration, and the tears. I don’t know how he does it, but he does. Our sex life has been so incredibly challenged through this process, and he never once made me feel bad about it. This dude deserves a trophy. Or a new job. For more on how we decided to live uncomfortably comfortable check out Go Forth and Do Great Things: My Husband’s Liberation From Comfort.
- Find one hobby that brings you joy without compromisisng stress levels. My recovery community has shifted to an online community of encouragement and support. I’ve spent countless hours on Instagram (follow me here), building a community of like-minded individuals who have shared my struggles. I’ve had the joy of connecting with soul sisters and brothers from all over the world who accept me for the imperfect, nutty individual that I am. Hell, they even think I’m funny (which is huge since my now 13-year-old daughter would completely disagree).
- Learn to say “NO!” Finally, and this is huge for me, I’ve learned to say no. When I learned “No” was a full sentence, and didn’t need an explanation, I learned what real freedom was. I rest when I need it and cancel plans if required. I don’t allow my schedule to be overbooked to the point of chaos. I no longer feel guilty or feel like I need to explain myself when I say no, this makes my head and heart light enough to carry me through.
So, there you have it. The 4 big things that have helped me through this journey without relapsing into bad habits. Sometimes the journey looks like meetings, sponsors, and accountability partners, and sometimes it doesn’t. The trick is finding what works for you and doing your very best at it.
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Thanks, and Stay Sober My Friends!