Bottom Line/HEALTH: Dr. Lucille, here’s a question for every 40, 50-year-old woman. I’ve gotten pretty moody with my perimenopause. Doctor wants me to take antidepressants. I don’t want to do that. What else can I do to be able to deal with that moodiness, help my family to be at ease, and yet not have to take any hormones?
Holly Lucille, ND, RN: This is a great question, because one of the things that I’m a big advocate of is using “I” statements in our health. So your doctor has every right to recommend something or even write a prescription, but you can say “I choose to take this” or “I might want to get some alternatives first.” Always try the least invasive methods first.
The thing about perimenopause, or around menopause, is that if you go back into traditional Native American studies when it comes to this change – this normal, once celebrated, amazing change of menopause – you’ll understand that there is actually a pull inward. There’s a metamorphosis that happens.
In our modern day, I don’t think that we honor that, and so you present with feelings of melancholy or introspection or just wanting to be left alone, and conventional Western reductionistic treatment will be “Hey, here, take this.” It’s not necessary.
Now, it is important, though, to distinguish if there is some clinical depression going on, or if this is a normal variation of this change? I think that’s what’s most important. So understand normal variations. There’s an introspection, a metamorphosis, a pull inward, and also there are some changes.
It’s kind of like puberty in reverse. And if you remember puberty, it was a little erratic. There are things that are down-regulating and settling into a new normal, menopause and post-menopause. So be gentle, be in communication with your family and your community, but don’t pathologize yourself if you don’t need to.
Bottom Line: That’s a really interesting concept, that this is not something for people to medicate away. That there really is this shift, and in some ways this natural pull inward where our life is changing. Our children are leaving or our relationships are changing, and that that’s okay.
Dr. Lucille: And your body is changing. There’s a social shift, there’s a spiritual shift, there’s an endocrinological hormonal shift. There’s a lot going on. And yes, in our modern day we need to worry about influences that make this process more turbulent than it needs to be. But I just love that people understand that there’s a normal variant where there’s a pull inward, a transformation, and then we’re heading out the other side to a beautiful butterfly, the crone years, the wisdom years. That’s the key.
Bottom Line: As much as our Western culture wants to fix things, and as boring as this sounds in some ways, the solution really is to give ourselves time and to just take the time and let yourself – if you feel a little moody and you feel a little quiet – go take the quiet. Take the time for yourself. Which isn’t a prescription pad and it isn’t a pill to fix it, but it really is all that’s needed in some ways.
Dr. Lucille: I’ve got this great story I’m going to tell you really quickly. There was a man sitting on a park bench and there was a butterfly that was struggling to come out of the cocoon, and he saw this struggle. So guess what? He went, got a pair of scissors, cut the cocoon and pulled the butterfly out. That butterfly limped along for the rest of its life. Why? What he didn’t understand was that struggle was developing the circulation, was developing the strength of the legs for that butterfly. There’s a purpose for that.
And that’s the best metamorphosis story and analogy I have about this time period in a woman’s life. There’s going to be some little adjustments and struggles, but if you hang in there and you push against resistance, we’re going to build up stronger, and on the other side, beautiful menopausal and post-menopausal women.
Bottom Line: Perfect. Ladies, perimenopause moodiness? Make sure you don’t have any clinical depression, but beyond that, it’s just a phase. Ride through it and appreciate this new evolution of your life. Thanks, Dr. Holly Lucille.