I honestly don’t exactly know what I am going to write today or how I’m going to write it but I felt the urge to purge! This has been such a crazy year and I really don’t think I have given myself the chance to really feel all that I have been feeling–the frustration, the anger, the sadness, the loneliness, the fear…I don’t want to make this a big drama..I simply want to give myself the chance to just be completely real and completely vulnerable, no holding back.
It’s really been one hell of a roller coaster ride! Never knowing how I am going to feel from one day to the next. One of the scariest things one can experience is having a health problem. Other kinds of stress you can get away from but your body…you cannot escape. For a short time, my body felt like a prison. I really wanted to get OUT! But I realized I only had one option and that was to keep on going, to keep on swimming.
So each day I put on a brave face and went to work, after the morning nausea, dizziness, heart palpitations and anxiety had passed. And each afternoon, I struggled through a fuzzy head, inability to focus, fatigue and sometimes sore back. The worst thing I experienced was a panic attack on the train. It was an indescribably horrible feeling. I thought I was going to die right then and there.
I had just one question during that period (no pun intended)–When is this going to END?! Finally, after about six months, the HRT seemed to be doing its job and I could function pretty normally again. It was a huge relief! Like being underwater for a while and then coming up for air.
I didn’t really have time to dwell on the past (which was probably a good thing). I just kept moving forward. Perhaps I need to mourn the loss of the person I was so I can really let her go and become the person I am now, the person I am going to be. Maybe I also have to forgive myself and forgive my loved ones.
At the beginning of all this, I was terrified. I didn’t know what the hell was going on with my body. Some of the symptoms were pretty scary. I was also frustrated by the unpredictability and my complete lack of control. I was sad that I couldn’t make plans and do some of the things I wanted to do and really sad that I had lost the energy I was known for; energy I thought made me who I was. It really felt lonely at times, too…no one to talk to, no one who seemed to want to hear about what I was going through. Sometimes I felt a little crazy; like people didn’t believe me. I felt angry at doctors who didn’t seem to help much and angry at myself for letting my body get so fucked up in the first place!!
After several months, my lifestyle had changed completely; mostly by choice but partly because I had no choice. I stayed in most weekends. I had reduced my hours at work. I was meditating and doing yoga to stay calm, not consuming any alcohol or caffeine, sleeping at least nine hours at night, eating super healthy, drinking tons of water, taking vitamins…basically doing everything I could to support my body. Without even really being aware of it, I had taken back control. Healing is a very personal journey and I knew my body better than anyone. It was up to me.
The most valuable thing I have learned from this experience is that no matter how many amazing people you have in your life, essentially, you are on your own. It is a frightening and yet empowering reality. The fact is YOU are in charge of your life. You are accountable. I quickly realized that I had to stop thinking–‘Why is this happening to me?’ Why doesn’t anyone help me?’ and start thinking–‘How did I contribute to this situation?’ and ‘What am I going to do do about it?’.
I think I am out of the woods now. (knock on wood!) Every month, I seem to feel a little better. The anxiety still creeps back once in a while, I tend to get tired easily and my body doesn’t tolerate much stress… but overall I am feeling pretty fine! My biggest worry now is how I am going to handle the stress of a new job. But I have managed to make it here, all by myself, just taking one step at a time, moving forward. So I guess I’ll just keep swimming!
In the strangest way, it has been a beautiful experience and I feel such gratitude for everything that has happened. It has made me stronger, wiser, more compassionate and hopefully a better person.
Young women who are reading this: Take care of your body and with any luck, it will be good to you! Women who are going through menopause: Don’t resist this transformation–embrace the cycles of life. Let this be a time of self-care and self-discovery. You WILL get through this. For anybody: If you know a woman or have a loved one who is menopausal or has hormonal imbalance, please believe her and support her in anyway you can! And for anyone who is suffering out there: Take a deep breath and just keep swimming.