Suzanne Somers calls them "the Seven Dwarfs of Menopause": Itchy, Bitchy, Sleepy, Sweaty, Bloated, Forgetful and All Dried Up."
I think she's referring to peri-menopause - the decade or so of hormonal torture many women experience prior to the so-called Change of Life.
No one likes to talk about it, but it's real. Especially the insomnia, mood swings, depression, anxiety, lethargy, twice-a-month periods and inability to control the mouth.
Not to mention the forgetfulness.
A couple of weeks ago I actually forgot the words to the asthanga opening mantra. While leading it. After more than 13 years of saying it. Fortunately the students remembered the words.
The jury is out on bioidentical hormones. But this amazing New York Times article by Cynthia Gorney suggests that the estrogen patch could be a godsend.
The patches my gynecologist prescribed worked, by the way. I didn’t understand how, beyond the evident quieting of some vicious recurring hormonal hiccup, and neither did the gynecologist. But she had other women who came in sounding like me and then felt better on estrogen, and I would guess many of them, too, decided after the W.H.I. news that they could surely find other ways to manage their “mood swings,” to use the wondrously bland phrasing of the medical texts. (I’m sorry, but only someone who has never experienced one could describe a day of “I would stab everyone I know with a fork if only I could stop weeping long enough to get out of this car” as a “mood swing.”) We muddled along patchless, my mood swings and my patient family and I, until there came a time in 2006 when in the midst of some work stress, intense but not unfamiliar, I found myself in a particularly bad Pit episode and this time unable to pull out.
It was profoundly scary. In retrospect, I managed a surprising level of public discretion about what was going on; competence at the cover act is a skill commonly acquired by midlife women, I think, especially those with children and work lives. If the years have taught us nothing else, they have taught us how to do a half dozen things at once, at least a couple of them decently well. Like other women I have met recently with stories like this one, I relied for a few months on locked office doors, emergency midday face-washings and frequent visits to an increasingly concerned talk therapist. But one afternoon I got off my bicycle in the middle of a ride with my husband, because I had been crying so hard that I couldn’t see the lane lines, and I sat down on the sidewalk and told him how much I had come to hate knowing that family obligations meant I wasn’t allowed to end my life. The urgent-care people at my health clinic arranged a psychiatric consult fast, and after listening and nodding and grabbing scratch paper to draw me an explanatory graph with overlapping lines that peaked and plunged, the psychiatrist wrote me two prescriptions. One was for an antidepressant.
The other — I recognized the name as soon as she wrote it down — was for Climara, my old estrogen patch.
Click here to hear SKPJ chanting the Mangala Mantra (ashtanga closing mantra).