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Hormonal Imbalances: Hanging On For Dear Life While Going Absolutely Mental...A Perimenopause Update

Updated: Apr 30

I mentioned that perimenopause did not have to suck, and even though I still believe that to be true, it sure is testing my limits. To be fair, I think my personal life is testing my limits, while perimenopause is accentuating the feelings of sadness and hopelessness I sometimes experience. The situation I am thinking of has been ongoing for almost ten years now, so it is absolutely taking its toll. However, those feelings are nothing new to me. What is new is the intense emotions resulting from the hormonal changes associated with perimenopause and their impact on my ability to bounce back emotionally.


Going absolutely mental


My last post about perimenopause was a little over a year ago, I was going to write about this a couple of weeks ago but I could not even bring myself to do that. On the day I thought I would try and gather the strength to write about how messed up I felt, my period came... two weeks after my last one ended. That's right, I was blessed with two menstrual cycles in one fucking month! The writing was postponed once again as I sat in disbelief and just gave in a little bit more to the ever more unpredictable effects of perimenopause. Even though I feel like I have been going mental for ages, this latest episode of sadness and despair actually started at the beginning of December 2022. I was OK for the most part of 2022; I had made some changes in my diet and added some things to help with the mood swings. All of which were effective up until a few weeks ago.

My second epiphany as I write this (the first one being that my personal life has been quite stressful) is that I absolutely loathe winter, and that perhaps this time of year is also contributing to feeling like just about everything sucks. There is barely any sunlight, it's fucking freezing and the days are at their shortest. The last two months have been the most challenging so far in this journey: I've cried my body weight in tears almost every day and cut myself off from friends and family because everything feels like a giant effort. I've lost interest in everything: I stopped doing capoeira a few weeks ago because I couldn't deal with the human interaction and just didn't feel like doing anything at all. Giving classes has required so much mental focus on my part I almost stopped facilitating classes altogether – the last time this happened was at the end of 2014 when I fell deep into a depressive state (again with the winter time) and, for the first time in my career as a yoga facilitator, I actually had to stop giving classes. This time around I am pushing on, doing my best to deal with everything at once. This is also why I have cut myself off from loved ones, I have nothing else to give at the moment. I am trying to give myself the time and the self-care that this situation requires. I know that my lack of communication is difficult to understand for some of them, but I usually retreat when I am wounded (as many animals tend to do). I wouldn't be the type of person to pour out my feelings to just about everybody. I need to make sense of things alone first. And this process can take a long ass time sometimes, and even though I am more than OK with that, I also understand that a lot of us are designed to assume that we have done something "wrong" when someone shuts down. That is rarely the case, more often than not, we spend our time projecting our feelings onto others. But that is a subject for another post I suppose.


In addition to the emotional hurricane, new symptoms have appeared:

  • the lack of motivation has been all too real

  • my hair thinning

  • and the intense feeling of emptiness within

  • Insomnia/poor sleeping patterns (this is not new, but I think I never mentioned it in other posts, even though it is really doing my head in)

Yeah, what can I say, the last two months have been a blast. I've been walking around feeling super lost, because it is exactly that: I feel like the Raphaëlle I've known all my life has just up and left.


Hanging on by a thread


And when I say a thread, I mean a thread. But it is better than nothing. That thread came in the form of my daily pranayama and meditation practice. I kept on doing it while simultaneously thinking it was bullshit, a joke, that I still felt like this life was not worth it etc. Yeah, when I go dark, I go dark (You go hard or you go home, says my inner party girl!). Yet, a part of me obviously thought I needed to hang on to the one thing I still felt like doing. I was able to sit still, even when my mind was racing with thoughts of despair, self-hatred and contemplation of suicide – I'm keeping it 100% here. The thing is this was not nothing at all, actually it was everything. This was the culmination of years of dedication to my meditation practice, being able to sit through the hardest of emotions to bear in the hopes of making it through the other side in one piece. Years ago, a friend of mine told me something that resonated so loud inside me then and keeps resonating now: "the only way out of suffering is through it". There is no shortcut, no going around it – I mean you can, but be prepared for it to come back around one way or another. So, I have been sitting through it all, listening to my ego telling me there was no point to this, that I shouldn't believe in the power of breath and meditation, that there is no hope. This sounds so insane as I write it down, and it felt insane when I experienced it. I mentioned it before, and I say it again now: it felt like two people were living inside my mind. The Raphaëlle who understands that those intense and scary thoughts were a result of a hormonal and chemical imbalance, and the Raphaëlle who experienced the sadness and frustration so deeply in my core that it felt like the only reality. But it's not.


And there is always a silver lining, sometimes that silver lining is so slim it cannot be seen with the naked eye, yet it is there. In the midst of my despair, I mentioned to a friend that I was experiencing the first signs of perimenopause and that my hormones were all over the place; she recommended I had a look at hormone yoga therapy and lend me Dinah Rodrigues' book, the creator of hormone yoga therapy. I started looking through it a few days ago, and it looks very interesting. A lot of the theory and the daily habits she recommends I already practise. I am curious to start practising the actual yoga sequence. From what I can make of it at the moment, it makes complete sense: she uses yoga poses and pranayama techniques to target and stimulate the endocrine system specifically. The book is very easy to read, and is loaded with amazing information and tips to support women in their perimenopause and menopause journey. Tomorrow I plan on starting to practise the sequence on a daily basis now that I feel a little more motivated and slightly more upbeat.


I stopped drinking coffee and alcohol at the beginning of January; I don't do either very often, but I indulged in both of them way too much in the last week of December under the pretence of the "festive" season, when I was really only trying to – unsuccessfully – numb some of my feelings. Damn, December was a mess or what. Anyway, I also stopped eating sugar and dairy (with the exception of grass-fed butter, I am still French after all). Again, I don't eat a lot of sugar – I much prefer salty foods in general –, but I want to start afresh. So, here I am: not drinking alcohol and coffee, dairy and sugar-free. I've been eating everything my body has been craving, which have been all the foods that are recommended to support a healthy menstrual cycle: a ton of fresh vegetables, lots of salads and cruciferous veggies, lots of eggs (am really craving them a lot), fish and nuts. I've also been eating tofu and soy yogurt here and there in the hope of helping with my estrogen levels. I've also been using aromatherapy to alleviate the feelings of hopelessness and depression and to help with the thinning of my hair.


Something is definitely working: I started feeling more hopeful and, dare I say, joyful in the last few days. I do not want to speak too soon, as I know things can change in an instant, but it is a major improvement from the constant crying and deep sadness that took over me for the last two months. We will see, another update will be coming shortly.


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