The only sound that muffled out my sobs was the rain pelting against the window on a dark, dreary July day. I lay there in bed in my dark bedroom, feeling lost, hopeless and petrified.
Mood swings have been a regular part of my life for the past year or so thanks to perimenopause. This time however, I knew something was different. The darkness was all encompassing, every waking moment for almost two weeks, where I had fleeting moments of thoughts of ending the pain. I hadn't experienced a depressive episode like this since 2012.
Years of learning about myself, advocacy and education about mental illness and suicide prevention, I know the signs of clinical depression. I knew I couldn't keep going the way I was. Nausea was weakening me and frightening me (as this was the main symptom that led me to be hospitalized in a psychiatric ward in 2004 at a mere 105lbs on a 5 ft 8 inch frame), I had no appetite, yet forced myself to eat, simply from that fear. The crying spells were constant. All I wanted to do was sleep, but I couldn't. Feelings of unworthiness, self-loathing and guilt overwhelmed me. I felt empty!
Thankfully our family psychologist was able to get me in the day after my call for help on July 8th, and our family doctor the next day. At both appointments, both health professionals were gravely concerned for my well-being and gave me tools, advice and a dosage adjustment of my anti-depressant. What I am most grateful to these two women for is their compassion, knowledge and wisdom. With their help, an incredibly insightful and accurate ZYTO Scan by Carla Green and Kari Dunlop that helped pinpoint which essential oils will assist me, the support of my husband and daughters I began my recovery.
The Difference Between Mood Swings and Clinical Depression
Unfortunately many doctors are quick to prescribe an anti-depressant to a perimenopausal woman due to depressed moods often associated with mood swings. The North American Menopause Society shares that there are three types of depression:
- A depressed mood
- Depression as a symptom
- Clinical Depression
They continue to share "that many women experience mood swings during perimenopause. Happy highs that turn into teary-eyed lows. Cheerful times followed by crabby days. It’s thought that these mood swings are related to the fluctuating levels of ovarian hormones during this transition to menopause. Plus, if a woman is not sleeping well due to night sweats, her mood would no doubt be affected, too."
The National Institute of Mental Health "Depression: What You Need to Know" is an excellent resource to learn more.
Since that dark time, I have refocused my energy inward and learned to be still. I have not been on social media since the end of June, which has been freeing, and have had no alcohol since July 5th. I've given myself permission to do nothing, to rest and heal. I'm also allowing myself to let go of the need to be needed, and learn to be my own best friend.
A dear friend, Annette Stanwick, who I spent some nourishing time with last week, had said to me years ago, "Lee, you really are an all or nothing girl." Those words have stuck with me and have guided me immensely this past couple of weeks. I was almost ready to stop Perimenopausal Babes altogether, as I have a recurring habit to begin taking care of myself and then launch a business or something else to support and inspire others, and go full steam ahead. Instead, I'm going in between all or nothing and scaling back Perimenopausal Babes a little by cancelling the September event and the Perimenopausal Babe of the Year award. Our October event, Let's Talk Hormones and the NeuroTrition for Perimenopause Canape Party in November will still go ahead and be educational and fun events where guests can enjoy an evening out.
As my family begins some big transitions with one daughter moving away for University and the other daughter beginning high school, my focus will be on my circle of strength and love.
Accept This Moment Exactly as it is
Being present in this moment is a gift to your soul. Recently I watched a movie that I have lost count of the many times I've seen it: "Peaceful Warrior," based on one of my all time favorite books "Way of the Peaceful Warrior," by Dan Millman. I've had the absolute honour of training with Dan, who is a gentle, humble and wise soul. I'll leave you with his six words to help you live as a Peaceful Warrior:
"Here and Now. Breathe and Relax."