11. Anxiety, feeling ill at ease, feelings of dread, apprehension, doom
Doesn't sound bad enough to risk cancer, right? Wrong. It can be bad enough. A few months ago, I was having a horrible time with anxiety and worse. Every single morning, as soon as I opened my eyes, I was consumed with feelings of doom, for lack of a better word. I would lay in bed and wonder what was going to go wrong that day. Who was going to get hurt? What bad news would be coming my way? Which loved one would I lose? Was I going to die? What great catastrophe was waiting right around the corner? Over and over, I'd ask myself these questions. Every single freakin' day. Yeah, try feeling that for days and weeks on end. I thought I was losing my sanity. Let me be clear...this was not depression. I've been depressed before. I've been stressed to the limit before. This was nothing like either of those things. I wasn't thinking of harming myself or anyone else. I was more like "waiting" for something bad to happen and I felt that "the something bad" was inevitable. It was going to happen, period. I had no idea that that was one of the many symptoms of menopause. Hot flashes and night sweats? Yeah, I'd heard of those. Duh...who hadn't? But this? Not as common. Or not as commonly discussed, anyway. So, after much discussion with my doctor (a lot of which involved visions of me choking the snot out of him for even daring to think a young, vibrant woman such as myself could possibly be suffering from menopause!), we determined that short term use of Hormone Replacement Therapy might be the best course of action for me. Yeah, I'm nervous about cancer. Nervous? I'm scared witless about it! But there is every indication that short term use of HRT won't drastically increase my chances of getting cancer. And there is also every indication that failure to modify my hormone level will lead to certain insanity on my part. Okay, so maybe that doesn't seem so very different from my current level of derangement, but I'm telling you, it would be. During the time of my hormonal madness, I had forgotten how to smile, much less laugh. Do you know how awful that feels? I mean really, what's life without laughter? It's misery, for everyone involved. For you, your family, your friends, your pets, your neighbors, your mailman, the nameless-faceless saps who make the mistake of dialing your phone number...you get the picture, right? For me, HRT is the right thing to do. For me, for now. But, while they've helped with that one particular debilitating symptom, don't go thinking they are the miracle "cure" for all menopause symptoms. They're not. I still get hot flashes (although they aren't as severe) and I still have night sweats occasionally. In fact, I still suffer from quite a few of those fun-filled symptoms, but the important thing for me is that they've helped alleviate the "doom" thing. Now please do not think that I am advocating HRT use. I am not. In fact, I'm telling you straight up - I hope to not use them for more than 18 months, max. And if it weren't for those "doom" feelings, I probably wouldn't be taking them at all. I had to decide what was best for me. I weighed both sides of it and decided, with the help of my doctor, that at this time, these are best for me. Only you can decide what's best for you. I've gotten a little bit of the "oh my (head shake, head shake) you take HRT. You shouldn't do that, my dear. You're going to get cancer" from some well-meaning but uninformed people since I've "come out" about my HRT use. How do I tell them that the alternative would leave me an empty vessel, cancer free or not? I suppose I could tell them that I understand the risks of cancer are not significantly increased with short-term usage, but my saying that won't make them believe it. So I usually end up nodding my head, saying something inane like "oh, yes, I know" (and just how stupid does that sound? Someone says "you're going to get cancer if you use those" and I reply "oh, yes, I know". I feel like at that point in the conversation, I should stop and write DUH! in big letters across my forehead because...damn. Then I often wonder why I'm almost embarrassed to admit I take HRT. I guess because I don't want to look stupid for gambling with cancer. But the truth is, I don't feel I'm gambling with it. I feel like I'm doing the best thing I can to get me through this particular phase of my menopause. How you get through it is totally and completely between you and your doctor! But, even if your doctor is the most wonderful human being on earth with 14 Ph.D's to his/her name, I would still encourage you to do your research on this subject. Knowledge is power, as they say. And it's your body, your mind and your health. Be pro-active and learn all you can! And get off my back about me talking hormones! It's none of your bizwich (that means "business" in hipster-speak). Hey! I'm menopausal - did you think I would get through an entire post of this size without saying something snarky? P-u-l-l-l-l-ease!Now on to something else real quick like...I want to leave you today with a piece of advice for anybody who lives with someone suffering through menopause. This is important, people, so listen up. When a menopausal woman walks into a room and says "It's hot", do not under any circumstances, reply in an off-hand, unthinking and uncaring tone of voice "nah, it's not hot in here" because I can assure you it is indeed hot and your stupid, careless remark just caused the temperatures to reach near boiling. If you doubt the validity of this claim, feel free to contact my husband. I guarantee you he'll set you straight.
To Pam: thank you for your last comment regarding last week's Menopause Monday post - you made my day!!!! Oh okay, I'm lying...you did better than that! You made my week, my month and maybe even my year! :)