cover image by Karolina Grabowska
I left my most recent appointment with a recommended list of supplements:
- Primrose oil — 1000 mg for my mood swings. (It’s not me, it’s you.)
- Calcium — 1000 mg until I’m 50, then I’ll want to up it to 1200 mg.
- Magnesium — 350 mg to help me sleep through the night. (I thought that’s what the whiskey was for.)
- Multivitamins — designed for women over 40. (None of that youngblood sh*t.)
I am entering perimenopause as my eldest is entering puberty — oh the fun that’s on our horizons.
I was also cautioned away from alcohol* as it could make the night sweats (the what?) worse, and the alcohol could expedite the deterioration of my brain because, if you didn’t know: “The loss of estrogen means that glucose metabolism in the brain, its primary fuel, is reduced by about 20 to 25 percent,” says Roberta Diaz Brinton, the director of the Center for Innovation in Brain Science at the University of Arizona. [Read more here.]
There was a major shift in my brain, and as a result, my personality, when I became a mother. Some of it was beautiful, but if I’m honest, a lot of it wasn’t. I didn’t like the foggy brain or the anxiety that wasn’t there before parenting. And surviving six months of sleep deprivation has left me irrevocably changed. I hate to admit it, but when I hear a young baby cry, I get annoyed and then deeply sad. I do not blame the parent or the child, but it’s a knee-jerk reaction to a traumatic period I can’t remember with absolute clarity, thankfully.
When my doctor explained it’s basically downhill from here, I started to do a bit of research about what I can do to help slow down the mental decline I’m going to experience simply because I’m a biological female. I listened to a Ted Radio Hour podcast, “Life Stages of the Brain”. It was interesting until I reached the part when the scientists were discussing what happens to a woman’s brain during menopause.
That brain fog, that anxiety, the depression, and restless could all resurface again. In fact, there’s a high probability that at least one of them will.
According to the podcast, you want to follow the Mediterranean diet, which consists of foods that contain heart-healthy fats and are nutrient-dense. (Read this for more information.)
Twenty minutes of an activity that gets the heart accelerated is another weapon in your arsenal. Here’s what I learned about exercising:
- You’ve got to love what you’re doing or it’s unsustainable. Rope in a friend.
- Don’t buy anything! Nothing! Not a weight, not a treadmill, not even new yoga pants. Improvise until you’ve found a sustainable activity—and have been doing it for at least 60 days.
- Start small. Be reasonable with yourself.
Don’t like anything physical? Walk.
This last one is deadly unless you get control of it. When we stress, our bodies prioritize the production of cortisol over oestrogen and progesterone — two hormones that are key in maintaining our hormonal balance and our emotional well-being. And if you’re perimenopausal (or menopausal), your body is already producing less estrogen; so, managing your stress levels becomes more vital.
My steps to lowering stress:
- Become aware of my triggers.
- Determine what I can control.
- Determine how much physical and mental effort I am consuming.
- Plan, then action or let go.
I made it sound simple, didn’t I. It’s going to take practice. Learning to let go is a journey. I’m on it. Wanna join me?
I also meditate at least once a day, and I write in my gratitude journal each night before bed. Oh, and that list of supplements? Yep. I’m on all of them, including a fish oil containing krill oil. Why krill? Read this.
Change, once again, is coming, but I’m going to eat, exercise, and breathe my way through it one moment at a time.
*Read this to learn more about the benefits of drinking red wine in moderation.