Menopause can feel like an incredibly lonely experience. Not only are accessible information and health care severely limited, but often, you might be the only one in the household going through this transition. That vantage point is an isolated one.
Additionally, it can be difficult for women to find a true support system. Many are too preoccupied with their job or families to engage in meaningful social time. And even if they did have free time, so much of women’s health is still shrouded in taboo.
Emotional health is certainly no exception. Perimenopause and menopause have a wide range of emotional and mental side effects. But to the person experiencing it, it can feel like you’re crazy, overreacting, or both.
Finding support, whether through friends, local programs, or online communities can greatly aid in this uncharted period of life. Over at the subreddit Menopause, thousands of women are finding just that. In one post, members discussed the emotional toll menopause can have, and we found the conversation to be refreshing, to say the least. Hopefully, you find it enlightening, too.
‘I Just Had The Worst Week Ever’
The original post began: “Can we discuss the mental/emotional experiences during this transition? I just had the worst week ever. Honestly, physically, I felt like I was in the early weeks of pregnancy. My breasts swelled, hurt like mad as well. I could not even put a bra on.”
“But I was an emotional mess,” she continued. “I can’t even explain it. But I wanted to cry. I was so bitchy and negative. My husband says he thinks I need some meds for my crappy mood. I’m having nightmares, insomnia, and my anxiety is ridiculous.”
‘It Was Not My Fault’
Soon, women started flooding the Reddit thread with their own similar experiences. “I’ve had all of this,” one user replied. “I’ve been a monster, yelled, cried, and broken things. I have considered medication. But what I actually needed was replacement hormones.”
“For me, it was so important to realize that it was not my fault,” they continued. “I tend to take responsibility for everything, in the sense that I always assume there is something wrong with me if I’m not acting perfectly in every situation. Realizing that I was in [perimenopause] was a huge relief. I don’t think men have any clue how many aspects of a woman’s life and personality can be affected by hormones. It’s like you’re a different person.”
RELATED: You’re Not Crazy, It’s Perimenopause Rage: Women Open Up About Their Experiences, And How To Spot It In Yourself
Medication Really Helped Some Women
“The mental and emotional part of this hit me very hard,” one woman wrote. “It started with depression and anxiety. I went to the doctor and was put on meds because it was affecting my ability to do my job. They’ve helped me a lot.”
“I still have ups and downs,” the user continued. “Some days, I feel like I’m here but not here. Anxiety…oh, the anxiety. So many of us were unprepared for how bad it can get.
Another Redditor, who shared that she was 57 years old, added that her doctor prescribed anti-depressants to mitigate menopausal symptoms. “I was not happy…the moods and emotions were greatly affecting all aspects of my life,” she wrote.
“[It’s been] just about two weeks since I started. And although it’s not hormone replacement therapy, my moods are leveling off. I am considering staying the course for a bit to see what happens.”
Other Women Are Turning To DIM
“I had three friends say they needed space from me,” one user shared. “I must be awful. (But I’m not—just more negative than usual and sad and complain-y.) To be fair, one of them is also going through [menopause]. I don’t think I’ve been this depressed ever in my entire life.”
“But I started DIM this week,” the user continued. DIM, or Diindolylmethane, is a plant-based supplement that aids in hormone balance by supporting the body’s metabolism of excess estrogen. It can alleviate menopause symptoms, including mood swings, weight loss, and hormonal acne.
The user commented that after starting DIM supplements, they feel “a hell of a lot less weepy and evil. Less hot. But still a little warm. Warm flashes I can handle.”
RELATED: Hormone Replacement Therapy Will Be Available Over-The-Counter In The UK In September—We Wish The U.S. Would Follow Suit
You Are Definitely Not Alone
“Thank you, thank you for posting this,” one user wrote. “I was just a depressed, sad, maniacal person for about a week. I had some major life things happen that could make me feel unsettled. But I feel ravaged with sadness and hopelessness.”
“I live with my partner at the moment, and he cannot begin to understand it. Nor can I explain it. I am happy one day and despondent the next and try to pretend that I’m okay. It’s pretty terrible.”
But as isolating as these feelings are, it’s important to remember that you are not alone. The transition to menopause is a natural one that shouldn’t be downplayed, ignored, or fought against. Seeking the support of other women, even online, can help you feel less lonely in this new stage of womanhood.