The Joys of Being a Woman

Fair warning to the menfolk: this post is geared more towards the female population as I will be discussing such icky things as hormone imbalances, menstrual cycles, and menopause, in addition to a little more information about my history of disordered eating. So feel free to brush on past if these topics are a little too intimate for your taste…

or run away…

either/or… 

Still with me? Okay…. 

I began so many different blog posts this week, yet published none of them. Most ended up in the trash. I began this post last night during the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics as they were still working their way through the alphabet in the Parade of Nations. Watching the opening ceremony was my reward for actually getting my chores done yesterday. I love the opening ceremonies, well, other than the commercials and the interrupting announcers. I couldn’t really concentrate on what I was trying to write, though; so I postponed posting again.

This has been a very rough week. I’ve felt emotionally out of control (my M3 score is 75), physically exhausted and achy, and mentally unfocused with little desire to accomplish much of anything. My sleep has been up and down with little consistency, Sa 9 – Su 6.5 – Mn 7 – Tu 9.5 – Wd 9 – Th 5 – Fr 11 (hours per day). And I haven’t slept since I woke up yesterday. Yeah, I’m all out of whack.

The physical symptoms have me worried that my thyroid is acting up again. I’ve had a headache almost every day this week, including yesterday. My brain felt like it was throbbing. This is probably too much information, but I gave a fair warning. My menstrual cycle is so out of control that I never know what to expect from my body day-to-day. I went a total of 4 months without a period, only to get a fairly normal one in January, and then, spotting again a week later. I began having problems with my periods starting around 9 years ago. I was only 33 years old. They became irregular, sometimes lasting for as long as 6 weeks to 2 months at a time. And then, other times, I would fail to have a period for months at a time, like this recent episode. I finally saw a doctor in 2007 who told me that the problem was my thyroid; but I gave up on treatment after several months when I began experiencing severe paranoia, convinced that the doctors were poisoning me. I haven’t been back since. I can’t remember when the last time was that I saw a medical doctor (maybe 2008 or 2009?). My boyfriend told me to go to a doctor, at least go to the health department; but my phobia of doctors prevents me from even considering this as an option, let alone the cost and lack of insurance.

I suppose it could be possible that I’m going through early menopause, but I have to admit: I know very little about menopause. I don’t know what to expect. I don’t know what is “normal.” Sure, I’ve researched it a little online; but there’s a whole lot of wishy-washy information out there that’s more confusing than helpful. I’ve heard plenty of women talk about hot flashes, which I have experienced for several years, bordering on night sweats, Lord, have mercy! And if these problems are simply symptoms of menopause, then, that’s a completely natural, normal thing to be going through, right? At least, that’s how I rationalize it in my mind.

Ladies, why is it we don’t have more open discussions about our bodies and the cycles of our bodies that affect us on such a powerful level? I mean, seriously, what have we to be ashamed of? I have my theories on where this shame stems from, but I’m not about to get into a religious debate over it since I don’t want that to be the point of this post. Our menstrual cycles and menopause are a completely natural, normal part of life. Even a lot of the hormonal fluctuations are. Our bodies are so complex and amazing that they have this incredible ability to create an entirely new little person in our womb. I will, of course, give the men credit for their contribution. Without them, the propagation of our species would come to a halt. However, it’s the woman’s body that combines the two parts together to form that innocent bundle of joy (or screaming mess of demands, depending on how tired you are at that 3 am feeding). Our menstrual cycles and hormonal fluctuations are an important part of that system up until such time that cycle comes to an end, during menopause.

Of course, my physical problems could be the result of two other possibilities. One, they may be the result of Lupus – even the thyroid issue could be a result of Lupus. See My Story – Part 1 (Childhood Background) where I discuss my diagnosis of Lupus. Therein lies the problem of confronting an original trauma from age 14, one that left me with significant questions about life and death. Or, number two, all of my problems, including a lot of the psychological issues, could be the result of an untreated eating disorder, specifically anorexia. I spoke briefly of this in My Story – Part 3 (The First Half of My Year of Hell) as it related to that time period in my life, but 1998 was also the worst my disordered eating had ever gotten.

Prior to 1998, I would have simply considered myself a picky eater. My mom would attest to that. She became so frustrated with me as a child that I became accustomed to not eating if I didn’t like what was prepared. Don’t take that as a statement of blame on my mother because I’ll be the first to admit that I was an incredibly stubborn child! In the years that followed 1998, I rarely ate more than one meal per day. A lot of times this was a result of just not having enough money for food, but other times, not so much. These last 10 years or so, I’ve restricted myself to strictly one meal per day. Occasionally, I would allow myself a small snack; but I have to admit that I feel guilt when I eat more than I feel I deserve. Also, the more stress I am under, the less I eat. Again, I think this is a control issue, an attempt to control something when everything feels out of control.

In an attempt to close yet another long-winded post, I’ll end with questions for those of you who have struggled with eating disorders or phobias, like that of my fear of doctors. How do I get to the point where I feel I deserve to be healthy? How do I improve my self-worth? What made you choose recovery? How do you make yourself want to live?

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5 thoughts on “The Joys of Being a Woman

  1. I like to think I’ve been smashing male stereotypes since 1987, so I made it all the way through the post.

    Is it definitely a phobia of doctors, rather than of medical locations? I only ask because I thought I had a phobia of doctors I found out that my fear came from memories of the sterile, unwelcoming hospitals I spent my early years in. If that’s the case, maybe you could see someone at a neutral location? Just a thought.

    • If I really try to deconstruct my anxiety about doctors, I would have to say it’s more an intense anger of not being listened to, not feeling heard. Too many times I’ve gone to doctors who rush through an exam and barely ask enough questions to understand what is going on with me. I’m always left feeling like any treatment they prescribe is based on guesswork that may or may not work.

      Don’t even get me started on psychiatrists. Unfortunately, I feel that psychiatry is little more than pseudoscience; and psychiatrists are no better than drug dealers, in the pocket of pharmaceutical companies. This also feeds my paranoia of being poisoned which is completely bizarre because I keep thinking, if I was truly suicidal, then I wouldn’t care if they poisoned me, right? It makes no sense in my rational mind.

      That paranoia of being poisoned by doctors is no doubt also caused by the insane number of side affects listed in late night TV commercials, which is the main reason why I no longer watch TV at all. The opening ceremony was the first time that TV has been turned on in over a month!

      I also feel that doctors rely too heavily on “medicating away” problems rather than finding the source of the ailment and allowing the body time to actually heal on its own.

      There’s also the vulnerability I feel with medical exams, in general, because I don’t like being naked in my own home, let alone with a perfect stranger.

      Honestly, I could keep going on and on about different fears I associate with doctors and medicine; but this response has already grown way longer than I intended. I’m not even sure if I answered your question. Thank you for the comment, though.

  2. First, I want to thank you for your continued candor and sharing. I have such a hard time even writing anything. I guess I have a fear of sharing my story. But that’s a journal entry (perhaps future blog post) in and of itself. You wrote that your feelings about psychiatry feed your paranoia of being poisoned which you expressed is completely bizarre because you consider yourself suicidal. I guess I just wanted to say that I think there’s a big difference between taking our own lives and having someone do something to us that ends our lives. So, at least for me, it doesn’t feel bizarre at all that you could be both paranoid of someone poisoning you and truly suicidal. (Though I really hope you are not truly suicidal because I’d like you to stick around. Selfishly, this is because I want you to keep blogging but philosophically I also feel it is important you remain here to do what you are meant to do. That just needed to be said.) ❤

    • Elaine, thank you so much for such a sincere and kind comment. Your words touch my heart. You know, I hadn’t thought of it like that (in regard to the paranoia of being poisoned versus suicidal urges). It would be akin to saying, “How dare you (psychiatry or Big Pharma) poison me or harm me (or kill me, as is my fear)! Only *I* have the right to do that!” Maybe, you’re right. Maybe, it’s not such a bizarre thought, after all. It’s an injustice that (I feel) pharmaceuticals do as much harm as they can do good. I can’t always see the good, though; and injustice is a huge trigger for me.

      I fight the suicidal thoughts and urges tooth and nail; but sometimes, they can be so overwhelming, so intense, and even frightening. Last week, I was a complete and total hormonal mess. I hope this week is different because I could really use a break from that fight. Thank you, again, for your comment. It means a lot to me. 🙂

      • I’ve been struggling a lot lately, too. I started my blog (not even a month ago) so I could finally “unload” about my daughter’s struggles. She’s 12 and has been hospitalized twice in the last six months. But the I’ve become almost paralyzed and can’t even seem to write much at all and when I do, it’s about my own depression and anxiety. So, for now I’m mostly reading. So, please know you’re helping others. At least, you’re helping me. 🙂

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