Tuesday, September 21, 2010

When hormones and old age don't mix.

This last summer I spent a few days in Iowa City taking a Greek in a Week class.  One of the more interesting people I met while there was the secretary of the church where we were meeting.  I didn't get much chance to interact with her, but for some reason when I walked past and said hello while heading out for a break, we began chatting and before I knew it she was talking about menopause.

She's probably a few years older than I am and had, at some point, faced down some really rough emotional and physical garbage that came at her because of menopause.  I was obviously a little startled at the topic from a woman that I had just met, but one of the things she said to me was that women simply don't talk about this stuff and we agreed that it makes no sense to keep it a hidden topic.

Now, for me ... I'll talk about nearly anything and since this is one of those uncontrollable, physical things that happens ... it seems to me a completely appropriate topic of conversation if necessary.  (ok, I get it - farts are uncontrollable, physical things too and maybe we don't need to ALWAYS talk about those - but, if you bring 'em up ... I've got stories!)

She dealt with a full-blown emotional breakdown brought on by menopause and spent quite a few months in therapy and even more months on medication until she finally had her hormones wrangled back into some semblance of normalcy.  The reality is, each woman is going to face this issue differently and since it has been so hidden, we don't have a wealth of knowledge that we share with each other.

Mom died at the age of 48, but let me tell you ... before cancer hit her, menopause hit her hard. I remember walking through K-Mart one day in the middle of winter.  All of a sudden, she stopped in the middle of an aisle, began flinging off her coat, a sweater and anything that wouldn't expose her body.  Then she grabbed something and began fanning herself until the hot flash passed.  It wasn't pretty to watch, though I will admit to the fact that I chuckled a little as I gathered her stuff off the floor and put it all into the cart.  I don't remember her having emotional ups and downs, but neither of us probably identified them as hormonal and actually just ended up fighting like two witches until we worked it out.  That's what we did.

I've had a few hot flashes.  The most memorable was in the middle of teaching a women's Bible study.  I was sweating like crazy, looked up at a room filled with women around my age or a little older and asked if it was hot in the room.  They all shook their heads and within seconds, realized what was happening to me.  Yah ... we laughed.

But, I do easily recognize that my emotional stability flags when I cycle down into a hormonal imbalance.  It doesn't happen often, but when it hits, I spend quite a bit of the day in tears.  I can identify the reality of it.  For heaven's sake, I have the craziest, most self-destructive thoughts ever.  As soon as I realize what I'm thinking, I recognize that there are hormones at play and I do everything possible to set my craziness aside.

Today was one of those days.  Good heavens!  And the thing is, there's not much I'm going to do about it.  It lasts for a day ... maybe.  Probably not an entire day.  But, I will admit to being a crazy woman.  The worst thing is that I didn't get much studying done today - which means that tomorrow is going to be a little intense.  I have things that are due.  I got a start on some of it, but wow ... being a psycho, crazy, old lady sucks sometimes!


Rebecca said...

I love you so much in so many ways and this is just one of them... your "this too shall pass" attitude really just makes you this remarkable pillar for all of us wobbly "this too shall never pass it seems like I might as well fling myself off the edge of this window sill... hormones or not" types heheheeh Love you!

Fran said...

I am so right there with you!

And I get so tired of people saying as I am having a meltdown....are you warm....really? I have sweat dripping off of me, no, I'm just fine, really....