Saturday, July 11, 2009

How do YOU lean?

Some of the blogs I read are like slices of life. They illustrate blessings regularly, but they also give glimpses of messiness, of upheaval, and of suffering. To live is to experience both. Some people don't care to air difficulties on their blogs. They are more reserved. Well I admire reserved people for their self-discipline, I can look back and see that I've never had a satisfying relationship with a single reserved person. They don't allow one to get too close. And without closeness, there is only superficial relating. They may welcome confessions from others, but THEY never want to confess. Eventually I stop trying to have closeness with them, and stick with only superficial topics myself, which is long as we have both types of people in our lives.

If you've been reading long, you know I believe in talking about both blessing and suffering. Put more simply--I'm a whiner. It just feels better to get it out there. Perhaps because I am less able to put it in perspective, when I hold it in?

Something new has come into my life....moodiness. Before I was a basically happy person, even in the midst of trial. Now, no matter what I might do, I can't control the effects of hormones. They are chemicals, created by God. Last night I read a comment from Liz, which suggested that maybe I'm feeling the effects of mild post-partum depression, mixed with perimenopause.

Being the problem solver I am, I looked up perimenopause. WebMD had the following to say about perimenopause:

How Long Does Perimenopause Last?

The average length of perimenopause is four years, but for some women this stage may last only a few months or continue for 10 years. Perimenopause ends the first year after menopause (when a woman has gone 12 months without having her period).

What Are the Signs of Perimenopause?

You will know you are transitioning into menopause when you begin experiencing some or all of the following symptoms:

* Hot flashes
* Breast tenderness
* Worsening of premenstrual syndrome
* Decreased libido (sex drive)
* Fatigue
* Irregular periods
* Vaginal dryness; discomfort during sex
* Urine leakage when coughing or sneezing
* Urinary urgency (a pressing need to urinate more frequently)
* Mood swings
* Difficulty sleeping

After reading all that, I thought to myself--WHAT! Just shoot me if this is what life will entail for the next fifteen to twenty years--until I'm done with both peri and full menopause! God certainly punished us women for Eve's sin. This all sounds like part of the "pain in childbearing" curse, if you ask me. That curse goes far beyond labor pains, in my humble opinion. Premenstrual syndrome (I rarely got that), hormone headaches, painful periods, miscarriage, infertility, hormonally-induced insomnia, perimenopause, and finally, menopause. They can all be tied up neatly as part of the female-hormone sin curse.

Why do some women get all of them, and others none? Why do some women get them only briefly, while others get them chronically? Only our Creator knows. Should we be one of the sufferers, what is the answer?

The Michael Jackson tragedy drove something home for me. As a chronic headache sufferer, I've taken Excedrin nearly everyday for the past twelve years. Usually only two a day are needed, so my liver is probably fine; I am extremely careful about mixing medicines. But what about the days I've had to take more, even while still following the dosing on the package? Will my liver give out one day?

When one deals with chronic pain, taking something becomes a knee-jerk reaction. Then when another type of pain or suffering comes along, we are more likely to reach for a pill for that as well, simply because reaching for a pill has become second nature. I feel that is what happened to Michael Jackson, as well as the countless others who have become addicted to prescription medicines.

While I navigate the waters of perimenopause, or simply the hormonal blues, I have to watch my tendency to reach for something. Life will throw even more things at me--that is sure. God often doesn't take away physical suffering. I can't pray this away; I've tried that with the headaches. He has answered in the sense that I don't need strong drugs to deal with my migraines, like some people do. The Excedrin works within 30 minutes about 80% of the time. But he hasn't healed the headaches, or the ADHD, or the chronic, face-changing eczema Emily has. She will grow out of it around five or six, most likely, but in the meantime it is hard to deal with. Daniel may grow out of some of the ADHD, but in the meantime it is a huge, life-altering problem for all of us. And I will likely grow out of hormonally-induced moodiness, but in the meantime it is a problem for all of us.

The answer then, is not healing. It is leaning. On Him. Year by year, month by month, week by week, day by day, moment by moment.

I'm learning that each person doesn't lean on God in the same way. For some, reading the Bible is the best leaning. For others, praying is the best leaning. Recently I've come to realize that for me, listening to praise and worship music is the best leaning. I ALWAYS feel better after worshipping through song. I SOMETIMES feel better after praying or reading Scripture. Certainly, I need to do all of them to experience all that God has for me. But when I need to reach for a perimenopause "pill" , it will be praise and worship music.

And yes, I'll check into Primrose, too, Liz! Thank you! An acquaintance from church, who also gave birth in her forties, said last night that her OB told her the moods were a combination of post-partum effects and perimenopausal effects. You are right! Count it all joy! Hopefully my hubby doesn't shoot me before it's done. A high percentage of marriages go sour during this time--or so I read. Maybe that's why I recently ran into that marriage blog? You know, the one that posts the "positions of the week"? LOL


Holly said...

I have been hearing about a natural estrogen creme that you rub on your skin. I don't have any details, but I keep hearing people it really helps. Have you heard about that or looked into it? Holly

momma's heart said...

I will look into it, Holly, Thank you for the tip!

Liz said...

Hi Pam... I just wanted to offer my advice to tread softly with the estrogen cream. I've been seen by a myriad of traditional and alternative doctors over the years and I've used many of the bio-identical hormone creams. At this time (age 46) I'm not using any. After having 2 grapefruit sized fibroids removed from my uterus last fall I've stopped all hormone supplementation. As I've prayed about it I believe, at least for me, the answer is not to try to alter too much the natural course of my body. At the same time, I've turned to God-given products, found in nature, to help smooth me out a bit and make me more comfortable. Evening Primrose Oil is one of those things -- the EPO provides great nourishment for your hair, skin and nails as well as having hormone balancing properties. It's also an anti-inflammatory and I first began taking it years ago to help with headaches and it helped my achey joints instead! The herb chaste tree berry can be very helpful too. I know you'll research it as you're able.

Pam, although this is an exciting and wonderful time in your life -- celebrating 10 years of marriage, 4 beautiful healthy children and God's grace demonstrated in so many ways -- it's also an extremely stressful time for you. Now, more than ever, is time for you to nourish your body with the very best, fresh and nutrient dense foods. You need this to help your body find its' new normal after your pregnancies, nursing, and to fuel it for the demands on you daily. I'm no expert, but I feel as though I'm learning more and more about this all the time.

Sorry to go on so long here -- I know God will lead you in the right direction for you.