Archives for category: Menopause

I’m drinking water and counting myself grateful to have indoor plumbing, hot and cold running potable water from a tap in the house, and additional filtration that ensures the water is clean, and free of weird tastes or sediment. It’s nice. I’m drinking water because I’ve already had my coffee and frankly I do need to be drinking more water. Recent longevity-associated articles reporting on the value of being well-hydrated did not go unnoticed. I started paying attention to the differences on days when I am not well-hydrated vs days when I am – and nights. Yes, drinking more water definitely results in getting up to pee more often during the night, but that doesn’t seem to have anything at all to do with whether I sleep well and deeply, or how easily I return to sleep, so… small price to pay? Well, I guess I hadn’t previously thought so, until I noticed that being well-hydrated seemed to also reduce my snoring (noticeably), as well as improving my ability to lubricate naturally (still a pretty big deal for me, personally, in spite of being post-menopause I really enjoy sex), like, a lot. So I’m pretty committed to drinking more water.

Keep practicing.

…I learned quite recently, and yes “the hard way”, that one bad spell with my mental health can wreck that progress in mere hours. Friday evening I went through some shit and had a nasty flare up of my PTSD on this whole other difficult to describe level. It was bad. I put my Traveling Partner through some bullshit over it (always regrettable and complicated). It got bad enough that I actually had a flashback, and those have gotten to be very rare. The ridiculous level of hysteria I ultimately reached (calling it a “panic attack” doesn’t do the chaos justice at all) caused me to cry a quantity of tears that finally resulted in a loss of moisture that definitely resulted in me more than a little dehydrated by dawn. I woke Saturday morning with a stuffy head, swollen eyes, and feeling like “everything had come crashing down”. It passed, but… it wasn’t good. The low point was the painful awareness that even medicated, I am at risk. I am grateful to have the partner I do. The chaos and damage don’t reliably “take no for an answer” once shit skitters sideways. The self-directed shame and disappointment immediately add an additional gut-punch that makes bouncing back hard. On top of all of that? Damn few people actually “get” what flashbacks are actually like, and they aren’t portrayed in the movies or in media very skillfully (how could they be?).

It’s important to take care of myself. Regardless of the chaos and damage, regardless of my personal starting point on life’s journey, or where I am standing when I begin again. Problematically, this is true for everyone; self-care matters. I don’t “get a head-start” when I practice good self-care – I don’t even get to start at the same starting point as “everyone else”. I’ve started this journey where my starting point happened to be. Self-care is a thing that it is very helpful to do – for everyone. I’m still me. Still have the issues I have. Still have to work on those issues. Still have to trust that incremental change over time will improve things. Still have to recognize that my results are going to vary. My demons got the better of me on Friday night in a big way. I’m fortunate to have a loving partner willing to support my long-term wellness and growth. I’m grateful that I can understand that there is no implicit promise that having a loving partner will actually make this shit any “easier”. I’ve still got to walk my own hard mile. I’ve still got to do the work. I’m still going to fall down now and then, and have to pick myself up and start over. Begin again.

Some practices are more critical than others. Some practices are more emotionally nourishing than others. Some are more or less effective for me as an individual. I did not imagine the simple act of drinking enough water would be one of those very simple very big deals among all my practices, but here we are.

Selecting good practices is a bit like building a healthy diet… fruit is delicious. Sooo tasty. Filled with nutrients we need. Yum. The thing is, though, it’s also full of sugar. Like a lot of sugar. For many of us, building our diet around tasty fruits is not notably healthier than building it around any other tasty sweets. [Note: I am not a nutritionist or dietician, nothing I say in this blog should be construed as medical or dietary advice. I am using “diet” and nutrition metaphorically here.] Veggies may not be as sweetly delicious and tempting in the way luscious ripe fruits can be, but they do make a far better foundation for my diet. So… it matters to choose with care. Whether we’re talking about a healthy diet, the practices we choose for our emotional wellness, the partnership in which we spend our days (and nights)… or the practices we choose for our physical wellness. Turns out some of the most basic practices for my self-care support both my emotional wellness and my physical wellness (looking your way drinking water and eating more veggies!!). It’s worth thinking about for more than a moment. Abandon any one of those cornerstones of a good life, and the foundation isn’t solid enough to rest upon.

Get right down to it, and there’s just no magic bullet, or pill, or single solution to “all of the shit we go through”. No partnership can bear the weight of all of our bullshit. We’ve got to do all the things we can – everything we know to do, as reliably as we’re able to learn to practice. Through practice. Sounds like a huge thing to commit to, but taken a practice at a time, doesn’t it just amount to living life? I think about it a while, let the songs play. Watch the tiny bar of sunlight creep across my desk.

My partner comes in and rubs my shoulders and neck for a moment. “You writin’ a book?” he asks with a laugh. I laugh back; there are no shortcuts.

It’s time to begin again.

It’s a good Saturday morning. I’m listening to Megan Thee Stallion reminding me to be who I am without fear or shame. Easier to do when my anxiety isn’t a major problem, and my pain is well-managed. Today is a pretty good day. My recent doctor’s appointment was… surprisingly productive? Better than typical? I feel… hopeful. I’m also on new medication (not even a psych med intended directly for my anxiety, it’s a beta blocker that addresses some of the symptoms that follow prolonged chronic anxiety like my blood pressure). I’m pleased that it is, so far, actually helping – it’s even obvious to both me and to my Traveling Partner. We’re comfortably hanging out again without triggering each other, and without him seeming actually “allergic to me”. It’s super encouraging when medicine works.

It was important for me to be able to give my doctor an opportunity to treat me. To be open to change and to success – and sometimes that’s a more complicated detail than I am aware of. Learned helplessness over time, frustration with prior failures, anger and frustration, these can all get in the way of treatment (whether for physical or emotional ailments). I went to that appointment way more prepared for more frustration and failure than to communicate openly and honestly with my physician, and to be clear and purposeful in that communication. I got a lucky break by way of my relationship with my Traveling Partner. He was rather unpleasantly insistent that I specifically communicate some details to my doctor that he felt were especially relevant from his perspective. I could have dismissed that; my body, my doctor, my health & treatment! The thing is, though, he was on to something – I tend to minimize my own health concerns. It’s a long-standing bad habit developed during military service. “Go hard.” “Be strong.” “You’re a fighter.” “Don’t be a pussy.” “Endure and adapt.” I mean, that’s all fine for soldiers heading into a deployment, but, um, less than ideal in one’s relationship with a physician seeking to develop a good treatment plan for legitimate health concerns, for fucks’ sake. So. In spite of some internal resistance, I made a list. I literally read it off to my doctor, and answered her questions about each item. It was a tad comical, I found, but… I’m also on a new medication we’d never discussed previously, got a bunch of new lab work done (and have a plan to also adjust my thyroid medication based on the outcome of some of those tests), got a referral for a CT scan of my head (looking your way 8-year-headache – we’re coming for you!), and further, even got her wholehearted support of also treating my anxiety more directly (and a commitment to reach out to the clinician supporting that appointment, which is next week, to confirm which options are a good fit for the new medication).

I’m feeling myself this morning. I feel self-assured, comfortable in my skin, and happy to be who I am in this moment. Cardi B “gets it”. I’m not wealthy. Not focused on money all that much. It’s the wholesome (and obvious) confidence that resonates with me. When I am the woman I most want to be, I’m not mired in doubt – I know me. That’s what I want for myself, like, all the time; to rest comfortably in a sense of myself. Self-doubt is an insidious poison. I grin when She turns up in my playlist. I love the confidence of these women. I find myself thinking back to a younger version of the woman in the mirror… I wonder where Megan Thee Stallion will be as a woman of 50? 60? What about Cardi B? Where will their power rest when they are adult women farther along in their lives? Will it be in their financial power and economic influence? Politics? Intellectual endeavors? Philanthropy? How will they change the world from the other side of menopause? When life is less about a WAP than it is about knowing who they are and being that woman?

This coffee is good…

In 191 days I’ll be 60. Fucking hell, and still working to improve my mental health, resolve my chronic anxiety, ease the symptoms of my PTSD, improve my fitness and physical wellness, and become the woman I most want to be. The clock is ticking, eh? It’s a hell of a journey. I make a point of mentioning it because although I’ve made a ton of progress… I’m still walking this path, and there’s still a long way to go. It’s not “easy”. It’s not “certain”. Success is not a given. There’s no report card at intervals. There’s no trophy at the end of the journey. Is it worth the effort? For sure. It definitely has been. The incremental improvements are so very worth it. Yes, I still find myself frustrated, angry, or blue over ancient pain. Yes, I still find myself occasionally mired in my chaos and damage. Yes, there are still tears and they still fall. I’m just saying – don’t give up on yourself. You matter and you have so much to offer the world – and yourself. Get the help you need. Make small steps. Progress so infinitesimally immeasurably small is still progress and it will still get you somewhere, and it adds up over time. There will be interesting “a-ha moments” when you notice how far you have come, and how different (and better) life feels. There are verbs involved. Your results will vary. No one else can do the work for you. Just keep at it, okay?

Begin again. And again. One practice at a time, one step forward from a bad place, one new decision in favor of your wellness… it adds up, I promise you. Your darkest nights will be followed by a dawn – and a new day. (I mean, we’re mortal, so… yeah, but that’s a different conversation.)

It’s a cold Saturday morning late in the Autumn. My arthritis is bothering me. I took my Rx a bit earlier than I would on a work day, putting my self-care ahead of any other consideration today. Later I’d like to get a walk in, once the sun is fully up, and the day a bit warmer. The holiday tree is up and decorated. There is a Giftmas plum pudding steamed and aging for the celebration ahead. It’ll be a modest holiday this year; we have chosen to put our attention and money elsewhere this year (without resentment or regret), and I’m still eager to bake shortbread, to enjoy the lights and the carols, and to spend this time with my loving partner. It means so much to have that option, and to feel so well-loved. 🙂

I’ve rambled long enough – it’s time to finish this coffee and begin again.

Today’s emotional weather forecast seemed sunny, clear, and breezy. Forecasts are not always accurate. Reality is not always according to plan. Moments are what they are. This moment? Me, now? Partly cloudy with hints of storm clouds on the horizon, which is to say, I’m in kind of a shitty mood. What is most aggravating about that, at present, is that there is no real reason for that to be the case, that is at all obvious to me. I’m feeling rather cross, and I’m not up for bullshit, today. :-\

I had a lovely walk. It was hard, though, to focus on the surroundings; the trail was rather crowded, and with a lot of families and children. So, while the healthy exercise was… healthy… it was also unfortunately very “people-y”, as well, and thus not at all what I was going there for. My ankle ached the entire distance. My headache joined me about midway, and has been loyal to a fault ever since.

Yeah, buddy, I get it, I really do.

I arrived home after some errands, and my walk, and enjoyed a bite of lunch with my Traveling Partner. He didn’t hang out with me very long, and although I “feel fine” in every practical respect (aside from this aching ankle, and my persistent headache), I guess something about my vibe just feels off, from the vantage point of trying to hang out with me. I didn’t fight it. He headed to his shop. I ran another errand, came home, and had a pleasant shower. Still have this headache. Ankle still aches. Back has started to ache, too. All quite “within specifications” for my day-to-day experience of wellness and relative comfort, and there’s nothing much to do about any of that. I take a handful of ibuprofen and assure myself it’s got to do something. My partner had pointed out that I sounded “stuffy”, so I take some allergy medication, too. Whatever. Maybe something will help somehow.

…I honestly just want to relax…

Tears well up in my eyes. I don’t know why. I’m suddenly hit hard by a surprisingly visceral awareness of loss… the people who are gone… why now?? I am, for a moment, too aware that I’ll never send my mother a birthday card again. Never pick up the phone and talk to my father, or grandfather. Never grab a beer on a weekend with old buddies, now long gone. Never “get closure”… oh, so many fucked up things fit in that bucket. What a weird, hard, sharp, fierce, painful emotional moment this one happens to be. What the fuck?? Tears begin streaming down my face. This would feel like “hormones” if I were not 8 years past menopause. What kind of problematic nonsense is this shit??

I get it. I’m grieving. It’s been in my dreams, too. I don’t really know what to do with it, honestly. The timing is most peculiar, and detached from any relevant experience now. Maybe the pandemic and it’s weird vast isolation and distancing is working on my mind – maybe I just feel “lonely” in spite of being so fortunate as to spend the pandemic with my partner, loved and loving? It could be that. Wouldn’t that be enough?

…I don’t even like spending time around people all that much, so…um… whatever this shit is? Not okay.

I sigh out loud in this quiet room. I really just want to sit down and write my Mom or my Granny a long letter about oh so many things, and maybe even tucking in some photographs (remember when those were a physical thing, to hold in one’s hand?), or some small sketch or trinket or pressed flower. There’s no one to receive that letter…

And it’s time to begin again.

…Unexpectedly, just at the point of typing that period, my Traveling Partner calls to me through the closed door, “You should come out to the shop!” I reply “Okay”, and as I open the door, we meet in the hallway. His warm brown eyes scan my face attentively. I don’t recall if he explicitly asked how I was doing, but I do remember saying “I’m in pain, and I have a sad” and a handful more words, and a few tears, tumbled out. I remember saying something about “my bullshit” and “please just ignore it” (I’m too familiar with how it can spiral out of control with any measure of authentic kindness being shown, and I’m really not going for that.). I remember his hug. His reassuring presence. He shows me his finished work, and how well the CNC is working. It’s pretty cool, and a definite mood-lifter. After all… what are new beginnings for, if not to connect, to share, and to find real joy? So… yeah. I’m trying to put my bullshit aside, and enjoy these moments. There really isn’t any reason not to, and so many reasons to embrace every bit of joy life provides. I’ll guess I’ll go do that. 😉

An emotional storm of unexpected magnitude blew in from deep within the darkest recesses of lingering chaos and damage. Maybe it’s my “fault” – it nearly always feels like it must be. I am, after all, the broken one in many interactions. It is, at least, how I often see myself. It feels, in such moments, as if “it” (meaning my experience of self in the context of my own life) is inescapable. An ugly tantrum. Hurt feelings all around. Yelling. My explosion of emotion. My tears. My apologies.

…This shit again??…

I can’t seem to hold on to the slippery recollection of how rare this really is these days, post-menopause. I’m reluctant to point to “hormones” as a root cause (can’t I do better than be a slave to biology?), but in acknowledging a recent rare use of HRT, I find myself wondering.

It’s frustrating. Small issues blow up and become seemingly larger than life. A moment of frustration develops into a cesspool of futility and despair. I end up weighed down by baggage I thought I’d set down a long time ago. Fucking hell.

Breathe

Another coffee. Another moment. A break to stand in what remains of the morning’s sunshine, watching the storm on the horizon approach as if to mock me. Nah… It’s not that bad. I’m okay right now. I’m fortunate to be in a partnership with someone who loves me even beyond moments of tears or madness. It’s fucking hard, though. Having to apologize, again, while sweeping up shards of emotion, and mopping up tears… it’s not on my list of favorite experiences. I could do without it. I don’t mean the act of apology or experience of remorse and contrition – I mean having put myself in a position that earnestly requires it. That sucks. It’s very human. I still don’t like it.

My Traveling Partner doesn’t bullshit me when he’s angry, or hurt, or cross. We’re pretty real with each other. We find our way to a more comfortable place, emotionally, pretty quickly. He understands the trauma history, and the lasting damage. He has his own. We’re in this together, more than many people understand to be. It’s enough, generally, and fairly often it’s far more than enough. Doesn’t make a difficult moment less difficult in the moment, sometimes, although we do both try.

My tears dry. The ringing in my ears left over from my … whatever that shit was… will likely last the day. I mean, the tinnitus is always there, it’s just a bit worse right now. That’ll pass. So will this gray fog of ennui and anhedonia. I remind myself not to confuse these states as having any sort of permanence, and to allow them to pass as if clouds on the horizon. I remind myself they are only the chemical aftermath of strong emotions, and not to be taken personally.

…We begin again.

Strange day. Quiet, slightly sad “celebration” of moments, as I packed up all the Giftmas decor and put it away for the year. Uneventful. Fairly routine. It’s been a generally pleasant day spent on “endings”; most new beginnings are preceded by an end of some sort. It’s a thing.

I feel a certain heaviness and sense of ennui. I’m a little bit blue. I’m okay – and even okay with my emotional weather. It’ll pass.

It’s a gray, vaguely wintry day, chilly without quite being cold. Cold enough to be unpleasant to stand around outside. Nonetheless, I did spend some minutes outside on the deck, puzzling over rebuilding my garden after the scorching and neglectful summer. I fed the squirrels. Tidied up a bit.

The afternoon has turned quite gray and dismal, but I’m not certain that’s truly the weather, today, or just the weather I’ve brought along, subjectively. I would nap, but I’m not tired. lol I feel preoccupied, and also lacking in content. Or contentment. So human. As I adjusted the lighting more for evening, I firmly and purposefully (without intention) stubbed my toe on the floor lamp (has a foot switch) that I broke my toe, shearing much of the nail from the nail bed. I created some brand new obscenities for the occasion, never before uttered. lol It is still painful and throbbing some hour later, and has turned a rather amazing shade of deep violet, almost black.

My foot is cold from the ice pack resting on it. I consider the fragility of toes, and how amazing it is that so often we can still walk on the affected foot, even put weight on it. I guess, easily breakable toes are less bothersome or deadly, if one can still get around on them.

I continue to sit with my elevated foot, iced, laptop precariously balanced on my knees. The foot isn’t hurting so much now. Now it is more obvious that the impact also jarred my (bad) ankle. Shit. That’s likely to hurt more longer. I let go of worrying about it; it doesn’t help with anything. I give the evening ahead some thought, and begin again. 🙂