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I'm not crazy

((Attention women, this is a PSA for hormonal shifts. Men, pay attention too!))

As excited as I was about the move back to Asheville & moving in with "The Lion" ((Yes, Justin is a Leo, but I mean, look at him! He actually looks a bit like a lion, too.)), it wasn't an easy transition.

At first I thought it was getting used to living with a man again. I hadn't co-habited with the opposite sex since 2017. As a result there were buried traumas & wounding that I could feel making their way to the surface ((& expressing in not so "healthy" ways)).

Or maybe it was because this move was a pit stop until we decided on something more permanent like buying or building, which is why we rented a furnished place. You know, so we didn't have to deal with moving our furniture multiple times. But in doing so, meant that we weren't actually surrounded by very many of our personal effects or creature comforts. ((I mean living in an Airbnb full-time sounds like fun. . . until you do it.))

Could it be SAD ((seasonal affective disorder))? Late December & early January were cold & gray in Indiana, as usual & while WNC had sunshine, it still seemed to feel colder & more damp than I'd remembered. ((The weather seemed to be reflecting my moods back to me in a not-so-subtle way.))

What if the challenge was that I just needed to re-establish my habits? In a new space, I was struggling to create a meditation routine. I used to pop up & do it first thing after waking & snuggling Sheba, but now I was sharing a bed & choosing to snuggle a human instead. I also needed to create a new workout routine at new places. That meant figuring out how my body wanted to move ((which felt more like, not a lot. . . or at all)). So, I was soothing with food. Gone was any resemblance to the mostly healthy habits I had created for myself. In their place, desserts, burgers, fries, cheese, chips, TV, crying. . . ((You get the picture)).

Whatever was going on with me, I felt out of control, ungrounded, over-weight & unhealthy. (This was certainly NOT how I wanted to start the new year or this new living arrangement.)

The most unsettling part was how unsettled I felt. Asheville wasn't new to me. The Lion wasn't new to me. Renting wasn't new to me. But I felt almost foreign to everything & everyone, including myself.

I felt like I couldn't trust my thoughts or my emotions. Access to any of the tools I had to help me navigate through complex & uncomfortable situations felt like they had disappeared. . . like they never even existed to me. Things felt weighty in a way I hadn't experienced in a very, very long time. I was having meltdowns & panic attacks. ((Soooooo not a good look.))

Each time, I would check in with myself. . . "Did I want to be in this relationship?" "Was Asheville where I wanted to be living?" Each time, I would feel a resounding "Yes". ((At least I had that going for me.))

So what the fuck was going on with me?!?

Somehow, one afternoon after yet another spiral, I stumbled onto a blog talking about mood swings during perimenopause & menopause. A light bulb went off immediately!

Mood swings?!? Why hadn't anyone told me about the potential for fucking mood swings?!?! ((Don't even get me started about how little women seem to talk about this shit with each other. I mean, a heads up from someone. . . anyone. . . would have been great! But this experience is so unique to each woman that how do you even know what to share with each other??))

I kept searching & reading. . . post after post. . . story after story. There it was in black & white. Women ((& the men that loved them)) sharing experiences of roller coaster emotions. . . feelings of depression, overwhelm, sadness. . . acting out of character & having unexpected / unprovoked outbursts. . . all because they are going through perimenopause & menopause. WTF!

At first, I felt this wave of relief come over me. Finally. . . an answer!

I was a couple years into my perimenopausal "journey" & up until this past summer/early fall things had been ok. But in September my period changed dramatically. . . making multiple, heavy appearances each month. ((fuuuuuuck off)) I finally found a doctor who agreed that that "was no way to live", who put me on the pill to help regulate things. While the periods lightened up, they still made surprise appearances ((I mean, come on!!)). . . & now I had the side effects of taking the pill to deal with ((which are more mood swings & weight gain #gotobed)).

It was no wonder I felt crazy.

Let me be clear, it's ok to feel crazy. Life can throw us some wild curveballs. And sometimes when things should feel the best they ever have, things like hormonal changes or chemical shifts in the body happen, & we feel like shit.

What this experience has / is teaching me is to be more gentle with myself. . . to give myself space. . . to ask for help when I don't feel like I can help myself. . . to love myself more ((especially those extra lbs)).

I'm learning that aging is a lot of things, including beautiful & amazing & eye-opening & heart-opening & full & unexpected & shitty & wild & exhilarating.

And I'm also learning how uncomfortable it can be to talk about things like hormonal imbalances, chemical changes & mental health needs.

That sometimes there's a pill that can help. . . or a therapist who can assist. . . or a healer who can bring comfort. . . but you have to be willing to talk about it. You have to be willing to ask for help. . . to bring people in, instead of pushing them away. . . to lean on your tribe, not isolate.

So if you're a woman "going through the change" ((which is a phrase I fucking hate)) or someone struggling with feeling connected, reach out. Reach out to me. . . to friends/family. . . to online communities. . . to a professional. Find your mountain ((see my last post)) & lean into it. We're all on this journey together. . . for a reason.

You are not alone. I love you. You've got this!

PS: Perimenopause doesn't just happen to "old people". It can happen whenever your body decides it's going to happen. So pay attention. Talk to other women & your doctors if things start shifting for you.


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