I was having a discussion today with a friend who is suffering terribly with hot flushes. I remember the menopause seemingly overtaking my mind and body and spending years looking for answers.
One thing that I learnt very quickly is there’s a lot of information but no easy solutions to the myriad of symptoms that arise at this time of life.
I had my first night flush at 39, the first of seemingly thousands that have come and gone since then. Of the many symptoms I encountered, the two I found most difficult to deal with were most definitely the hot flushes and the second was the endless rage and anger that hijacked my personality for some 15 years.
A different person
My husband, friends and work colleagues were all at the mercy of my unpredictable moods and rage. I physically raged at printers, telephones, computers, televisions and indeed almost anything that dared to splutter into life or break down completely. Along with the rage was night after night of being unable to sleep which could quite easily have been a contributing factor to the changes in mood and my ability to cope.
I can laugh now when I look back at myself and I often say that the best part of coming through the menopause is that I have got ‘me’ back. For 15 or so years the hormonal changes had a significant effect on my emotions and my ability to retain a modicum of control and serenity.
Menopause affects all women differently, so it’s hard to say how many women are significantly affected by hormonal mood swings, anxiety and anger, but I am sure that there must be many.
Production of oestrogen starts to diminish over a period of years. Oestrogen is also responsible for the production of Serotonin which in turn regulates your moods. There are many schools of thought about diet and exercise helping to balance and stabilise hormones and I am sure that in some instances this will help. Unfortunately, in reality for some this will may not help you to gain control of your moods so what else can you try to find relief?
A few tips
For some soy-based oestrogen may help. Reducing your intake of coffee and stimulants may reduce hot flushes. In winter wear lots of layers as I guarantee you will be sat in spaghetti straps whilst everyone is wearing overcoats! You can take off layers very easily in the work environment. I did find practising mindfulness to alleviate stress helped me with my anger issues and did keep me from certifying myself completely bonkers.
I also found keeping a diary more helpful than you can possibly imagine. It helped me to identify triggers, symptoms, reflect on particularly bad days and gave me the ability to help cope. It is quite funny looking back on this dairy as I seemed to have a two week cycle of normality followed by a two weekly cycle of being a complete mad woman.
One thing is for sure; what works for one may not have any effect for another. But talking to others will certainly help.