Antidepressants or HRT? What has worked for me.
Thanks to various TV personnel there has been far more media coverage about that time in a woman's life where she turns fat,frumpy and grumpy with the added bonus of hot flushes........the Menopause.
To be honest my description above is all I knew about the 'Change', that was until I started to feel like I no longer knew my own body and what it needed. A previous blog 'Peri...what?' talks about how I learned about what can precede the Menopause and Post-menopausal stages.
What I want to talk about here is the fact that Perimenopause can begin as early as your mid to late 30s. OH FYI you can take HRT while still having periods, I do and it's totally safe as long as you are correctly diagnosed by a menopause specialist!
So since discovering that my hormones could be causing havoc from a much younger age than first thought, I have to question whether the last and by far the worst bout of anxiety I ever had (in my early 40s) was in fact hormone related? Did my hormones cause the anxiety or just exacerbate the mild anxiety already grumbling away?
There were circumstantial issues such as divorce and moving house but these were things I wanted in my bid to live as the person I wanted to be.
Once my bloods had been checked and any other physical reasons ruled out, I was treated with a different anti-depressant. I have now been on anti-depressants for 25 years. I was almost off them as perimenopause hit so was advised to stay on them....shame. They help me sleep but I would rather not be taking them.
In my opinion the marketing pitch of 'if you had diabetes you would take insulin, antidepressants are the same for depression etc' has a lot to answer for!
Even with the new medication I was still constantly anxious. It was like my body didn't know how not to be anxious. The physical symptoms always preceded the mental ones. I worked hard on my lifestyle, improved my diet and exercised but still anxiety was there alongside me.
With the help of one to one High Intensity CBT and visualisations I got passed the suicidal phase and even managed to relocate to Scotland to be with my fella. The quiet lifestyle has been a blessing and I had a couple of years feeling great.
That was until I started to have physical symptoms I couldn't explain - crippling fatigue, low vit d(I think this could be a marker for perimenopause), nausea, aches and pains and then eventually the anxiety came back. Brain fog, poor memory and a libido that had about as much chance of being resurrected as the Dodo were also present.
Who had I become? What had taken over my body and mind? This was and sometimes still is so isolating and frightening.
HRT has helped ease many of these symptoms but a locum took me off it when my blood pressure went up. I was very nervous about the HRT review so my breathing was rapid to an extent that worried me more than usual.
I then had a about a month without HRT and slowly the symptoms came back and the worst of all was the anxiety and nervousness. I was so twitchy. If the dog moved,I jumped. If I was asked a question, I panicked in case I couldn't answer it and to top it all I was starting a new job. I would lie awake hours before my alarm went off, terrified that somehow my body would fail me , making me pass out or vomit. I had lost all trust in my body's ability to support me.
Thankfully I am a stubborn old mule and I wanted this job and I wanted to be good at it.
Training was both physical and mental and to top it all I had my first Covid jab which made my arm sore and my temperature go up and down like a yo-yo.....I couldn't tell if it was hormones or the vaccine!
So I made it through those tough weeks and am now settling back on HRT but I still wonder if the medical profession are getting it wrong, very wrong?
I know blood tests are not reliable in discovering hormones levels due to the fact the levels change throughout the day but more needs to be done!
Are women suffering for years with mental health issues that could be treated as a hormone deficiency?
Are antidepressants still being prescribed when HRT could be far more effective?
Are lives being cut short because women are not supported with empathy and education by professionals?
Is it time the medical profession invested more time and money in to women's health?
Is it time we stopped labelling women as weak because they are sensitive, caring and emotional?
I for one will hold up my crown for what I have survived. I may be quick to cry, easily tired and forgetful but I am fiercely tenacious, a quality many women have and yet it is ignored.
Be You and be proud.