Davina McCall I salute you.

Last night I watched a documentary on Perimenopause and Menopause. Five minutes after I began watching, I posted on Facebook urging my friends to watch it. I knew that it was going to help so many women.

Sex, Mind and Menopause was a documentary with Davina McCall aired on Channel 4. If you did not see it, I urge you to watch it on catch up whilst you still can. It will bring you an understanding of what women around you may be going through and may encourage a more empathic approach instead of just brushing off things which might seem out of character. It was incredibly informative, heartwarming and emotional at times. Not only did it give us the brutal facts, but it also gave hope to people. https://www.channel4.com/programmes/davina-mccall-sex-mind-and-the-menopause/on-demand/73406-001

After watching this documentary to its conclusion I couldn’t help but think What a total eye opener! Thank you Davina McCall for bringing this subject to the fore. Sharing her own experience of this made me see this presenter in a down to earth and relatable light. I suspect that this will be a day when women all over the UK are doing alot of research and thinking about what was shown. I have had several lightbulb moments, thinking about what was said. The neuroscientists who spoke made complete sense, the image of a 43 year old brain at perimenopause was shocking. Going through much of what was discussed myself and not knowing what the cause of these symptoms actually might be has been difficult. Yes, we all hear about menopause equalling hot sweats and decreased libido, but I had never heard of perimenopause until recently. My own personal suffering with three long term health issues can complicate things and as a consequence, we do not necessarily think outside of the box. I will freely admit that up until now I haven’t either. A new symptom is just put down to being something else that may or may not be part of an existing illness, whilst all the time our health and wellbeing is going downhill. After a full hysterectomy 13 years ago, I mistakenly thought I had been cured of Endometriosis, I went to the gynaecologist who was an Endometriosis specialist and in my eyes a magician six months later and he told me he could not find any more Endometriosis. Since I had all of my reproductive system removed, how could it be possible that I would get it any more? Oh how naive I was. Endometriosis is incurable I later found out and attaches itself to scar tissue, which I have plenty of as well as other organs in the body. I experienced all kinds of similar pain just in different places. It also affects the immune system long term and since it takes at least 7 years to diagnose, has a huge impact on the mental health aswell.

I began taking HRT via Estraderm patches, the day after my surgery. At 35 I did not want to have brittle bones, hot flushes etc and thankfully they seemed to agree with me. I did not suffer any noticeable side effects from them. My hysterectomy like many other people, rectified the cyclical symptoms, but to the detriment of other things, it was as though someone has flicked the switch on my libido almost overnight. In the early days, I just accepted that this was a response to major surgery and that it would return along with the healthy sex life we had. After a couple of years, I mentioned it to the Doctor and nothing was discussed further… No suggestions were made. It was assumed for the better quality of life following the surgery, sacrifices had been made. But I was not happy about this at all and it has over the years put a strain on our loving relationship.

But, back to this documentary…

What was a total eye-opener is that so many people feel that they have no one to talk to about this, in the days before social media, I am guessing even less was mentioned about what is actually a massive issue for a huge percentage of women. What a wonderful realisation that No, we are not all crazy after all.

To find out 13 years later that it is highly likely that a simple application of Testosterone gel might rectify the lacking libido, help clear the brain fog, the frustration, the fatigue, the lack of strength, insomnia and excruciating joint pain I have suffered over the past few years has left me reeling. I am also asking the question, why on earth was this never mentioned? Having had a medically induced menopause so long ago, my unquestioning acceptance of all these changes as being the norm, or something else is making me feel a little bit foolish. So this afternoon I have done some more research and found so many more women like me who have also had medically induced menopause from Endometriosis and have eventually benefitted from the addition of Testosterone gel to their daily routine.

So, today I, like many more women in their 40’s I suspect, have contacted my own doctor. I have an appointment in a couple of weeks time, with a female doctor who I can discuss candidly what has been going wrong. Who knows but I suspect that many of the symptoms of Fibromyalgia may be reduced if this treatment is offered and I am looking forward to getting some answers. It has occurred to me though, that the percentage of Fibromyalgia symptoms in women of perimenopausal and menopausal age may be drastically reduced by simply getting their hormone levels right for them.

The statistics for suicide in women of menopausal age are frightening and should not be ignored. If I can urge any women over 30 who are affected by sudden changes in their mental or physical health to discuss this with someone, anyone actually it might just save a few lives. But if nothing else, it will make you realise that there are others who have gone through this too and who are prepared to help you. Do not suffer alone.

I had never heard of “Body identical” Estrogen until last night, I for one will be asking far more questions about this going forward. It’s a learning curve. Medical science is ever changing, what suited 13 years ago may not suit so well now. My body has changed so much over that time why would I not think that metabolism had stood still. Time certainly hasn’t!

CBT When Those Three Letters Mean Totally Different Things and when it’s just time to Breathe!

It confused me slightly when I first heard the phrase. Compulsory Bike Training was what came to my mind with them as when years before I had learned to ride a Motorcycle this was a legal requirement. I did the training then the throttle jammed I rode the motorbike up a wall and it landed on top of me see  Almost a Biker Lots of physio for several months put pay to me ever getting back on one since then but I still have my bike gear in case I change my mind.

There I go flitting off on a different subject, Oh the butterfly mind again.

CBT -This time we are talking about Cognitive Behavioural Therapy 

When I first attended Therapy for PTSD & Trauma following an accident I was sent into a group session for this therapy and to be perfectly honest with you I hated it. I tried really hard to be the positive one and take good experiences from it but dreaded each session, leaving early from home, sitting in the car thinking “I don’t need to go” sometimes getting out and having a talk with myself to pull myself together before getting back in the car and heading off.

At the sessions I could relate to what they were saying. I knew some of this stuff anyway but somewhere along the way had stopped applying it to my everyday thinking, or even when I really needed it. I had felt that sometimes I was unravelling and I really didn’t like the feeling. I did not have confidence, it had gone but I did retain the ability to instil confidence in others which meant that I fooled myself into thinking that I was recovered long before I actually was. As the weeks went by there were a few other people who turned up early and we would sit and talk to each other before the sessions started, some were very open about their reasons for attending, others were a little more reserved.

I do not actually remember her name, but she was post operative transgender who had been placed in a homeless facility. She had been Hospitalised  due to someone taking offence at her and had lost her home and her life as she knew it. The authorities moved her there and she had to share the whole facility with men. Following her ordeal she was wary around them and they saw her as skivvy to them as a woman but did not accept her either because of her sexuality. She was going through hell, but was fighting a battle against abuse substances and alcohol too. There is always someone worse off than you If you can think past yourself, did she but know it she helped me too. She just needed someone to talk to, to hear her since she had tried to commit suicide and felt so alone but before that would happen she, like I had to go through those sessions. We both struggled with the group sessions. I think everyone did but in the end I hope that she found them useful as I have done and found an understanding counsellor.

CBT taught me how to remain calm at least on the outside when the inside is in turmoil. Many talk of fight or flight and I think I was born to fly.  Unless I have a bee in my bonnet and decide to stand my ground which does happen, from time to time when my stubbornness kicks in. It also taught me that not all gut feelings are to be ignored. Yes we sometimes get things wrong and don’t see them the way we should due to paralyzing fear when we are in that fight or flight mode. 

If you look into this type of therapy then CBT is described as a type of talking treatment that focuses on how your thoughts, beliefs and attitudes affect your feelings and behaviour, and teaches you coping skills for dealing with different problems.

It combines cognitive therapy (examining the things you think) and behaviour therapy (examining the things you do).

It forces you to rethink your first reaction to something in a negative or stressful situation and focus the mind to enable you to calm the body. It is beneficial if you suffer with anxiety or depression.

But if you can’t quite get your head around what is ruling it when you are stressed out…

Then it’s time to breathe. By regulating our breathing we can give our mind the chance at rational thought when flight or fight kicks in. Just a few deep breaths can make the world of difference. Don’t believe me? Just try it next time you are wound up.

Take the deepest breath you can and hold it whilst you count to three, then breathe out from as low down as possible in your stomach, do this three times at least. How do you feel now, a little calmer perhaps? I tried this at night when I was having awful nights with very little sleep. I found it improved that too. It was just too much for me to expect me to clear my thoughts as I did so, but just that small change has helped me.

After these group sessions and before I saw my one to one counsellor, there was a three month wait in between, whilst I tried to put into practice what I had learned and deal with the day to day, rebuilding my self confidence and with it my life.  I thought that I was doing so well I learned to block out my gut feelings for a while. I became mistrusting of them thinking that they should all be ignored as my brain struggled to cope with what life was throwing at me. It was a mistake. 

In certain situations I had a very strong feeling usually about people I met and during that time I did not trust my instincts and I should have. I put my trust in some people who saw weakness and chose to manipulate me and a situation, which left me wide open to their attacks. There I was kidding myself that I had my strength back, after all I was fine on the outside and wasn’t going to let it get me down. I got a new job, I thought I enjoyed it. I got on well with almost everyone there, was eager to please but could do nothing right for my direct manager. I spent a year working with a team where I just didn’t fit in.  Try as I may I could not change that, they had seen me as a usurper, someone who was there to break the little clique they already had.  For 12 months I tried my best, but struggled and felt as though I was drowning.  I had become even more withdrawn, desperate and miserable, when beforehand I was trying and had started to become upbeat and positive again.  Whilst I saw the counsellor with whom I was referred for a totally different reason, to get me through the trauma of an accident I spent the majority of the sessions discussing my job, the situations I was in and how I should cope.

I really felt that I gained a benefit from the one to one sessions. She told me that it wasn’t me, it was them. Where I had been beating myself up, figuratively speaking for months thinking where did I go wrong?  I found that running the situations past her, someone who wasn’t biased like my partner or mother, might help me see more clearly. She advised me to find a new job for my own sanity and get out of there, she could see the damage it had done to me over the short time I had been her client. Furthermore, she said I should also find something which made me happy, to do something for myself at least once a week it would help my recovery.  She suggested that since I was missing my creativity, (it had gone when things started to go downhill for me) that I follow my true nature and get creative again. I began with a simple adult colouring book and it seemed to open the floodgates, just the simple act of adding colour to the pages.

It took a while but I did and began to write poetry again.  After a while there were quite a few poems. I thought about a book, but did not have a clue how to get my work out there or publish it. So I decided to begin the blog so that at last I would be able to have a voice again. I had felt that there were very few who were inclined to listen, however my counsellor reassured me that my voice would be heard.  I am not talking about shouting from the rooftops or getting on my soap box about subjects. I needed to make sense of the things that were in my head. It was part of my therapy and would help me more than I could have ever anticipated.

I am not out of the woods yet, figuratively speaking there are times when thoughts are dark and miserable. There are others when I am extremely happy and there is so much in between.

If you are feeling depressed or suffering, please do not do it alone. Whatever it takes to get your help, speak to someone, if you do not have someone you can trust then call a helpline.

 

 

Was Once a Garden.

We walk around the family home,
It was so plain to see.
The lack of love that it’s been shown,
Since left by you and me.
That it had been left way behind ,
Pushed away to the back of our mind.
No-one welcomed there to stay,
So we just upped and moved away.

I walked around the garden,
It was once so tended with care.
But since your sentiments harden,
And you are no longer there.

I felt the urge to help it,
You also did I feel.
Picking up bits and debris
Just wanting it to heal.

It used to be so large and free,
A place to read under the tree.
The summer house was cosy too,
Looking out upon the view.

A fish pond which you took weeks to make
Gone forever, for goodness sake!
Bushes and shrubs all overgrown,
But at least the grass was mown.

A broken window, a damaged chair.
Pieces of plastic, strewn over there.
There’s broken pots and damaged things
But in the bushes a bird still sings.
Walking around the fallen leaves,
Memories and treasures under the trees.

As we hunt around begin to explore,
The items laying upon the floor.
Hiding around behind the shed,
We find the old puppy’s bed.
From years before flooding back,
Between the eyes with a thwack.

Memories from the past it will bring,
As we discover another old thing.
A shuttlecock from badminton,
The list when you start, goes on and on.
Decorations, my old fish tank,
The fountain from which, no-one drank.

It seems as though it’s shown like a person it hurted
After we’d gone where it’s been deserted.
But in the midst where we sit
With Spiders webs round all of it.
A trail through the middle, where foxes roam
A playground for them, to call their own.

Spring is here and through the mess,
A moment to show it’s happiness.
A glimmer of a reconstruction,
In around all of the destruction.
Nature is stronger than we think
Brings itself back from the brink.