Food For Thought: Surviving & Thriving With Menopause

MenopauseSketch

What’s that you say? THRIVING with menopause? The hot flashes, the night sweats, insomnia, weight gain. Could there really be anything good in all of that? I didn’t use to think so. Two and a half years ago, I was forced into early menopause by chemo and radiation. I was 42. My mom went into menopause at 58. To say that I was short-changed a bunch of years is an understatement. And I won’t sugar coat it, it was awful and not just for physical reasons, for emotional ones as well. In addition to insomnia, fatigue, hot flashes I gained 20lbs.  I no longer recognized myself in the mirror. My doctors put me on hormone replacement and suddenly you could add deep depression to the list. It got so bad a year in, that I was having suicidal thoughts and trying anti-depressant medication to try to keep it together. The drugs just made things worse. Then, 9 months ago, I went to a naturopath and stopped EVERYTHING. Five days later, I felt amazing. I felt like my old self again.

While I wouldn’t say that everything is perfect, I’ve started to notice some things. After I went off hormone replacement, I lost 10 lbs (still have 10-15 to go, but every pound counts). I no longer have mood swings.  I feel more accepting, more confident, more calm. I’ve also notice that I’m more comfortable and content with myself than I’ve ever been in my life.

So what changed? Hormones. Less of them. Yes, we love the glow of Estrogen. Who doesn’t? But those tiny little, size of a pin drop hormones are tidal waves. They affect how we feel, how we see situations and people and how we think. Amazing. Sadly, doctors still know very little. What I’ve learned is this: 1 Don’t self-medicate. It’s easy to grab something off the shelf at Whole Foods but without knowing what you are doing or what dosage to take, you can be making things worse.  2. Don’t jump into hormone programs 3. The best source for more hormones are natural herbs that allow your body to take what it wants. I’ve learned enough to fill a small book.

Menopause can be rough, but there’s more information every day about better ways to deal with it and I have to say, I absolutely LOVE being free of the roller coaster. Here’s to us ladies, here’s to us.

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  • E’Beth

    Thank you so much for sharing this very personal part of your story and speaking to what so many are and will go through as we “mature”. My mother was also forced into menopause because of chemo, one of the challenges that I don’t think people think or hear about beyond hair loss, and what we take for granted are “normal” parts of your battle. (As if there was such a thing…) Kudos to you – for not only overcoming those challenges, but sharing your story so that others aren’t alone.

    • Western

      Thank you. It warms my heart so much to hear when something shared touches someone. I feel that we all need so much of this connection in life. It’s taken me a long time to become comfortable with vulnerability. I started off that way and then was told over and over again that I was too much so I learned to hide. Now I am flowering again. Life truly is magical and mysterious, difficult and wondrous. Sending warm thoughts to your mum. xoxo Western

  • http://www.urbandarling.com/marina Marina

    Incredible story Western! Glad you feel stronger now!
    On a side note; love your illustration!

  • Alicia Howell

    Western you are truly the definition of a beautifully strong willed woman! I admire how honest you are about the challenges you have overcome, thank you for your story. I hope one day I could have one tenth of your inner strength :)

  • Kathrine Eldridge

    Thank you for sharing your story. Being 42, I am starting to see my path toward menopause and will take your advice to heart. You are an amazing woman!

  • Marion Campisi

    Thanks for your post Western. One of the great things about menopause is that once your body and brain are no longer focused on reproducing, it frees them up for creative endeavors of your own, like becoming an awesome stylist. I think it can be a wonderful times of self discovery and growth. Rock on girl!

  • Carly Montoya

    Western,
    As I hit the 1/2 way to 50 mark this June, I will keep your advice at heart. Thank you for sharing your personal story!