Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Is It Me or Is It Hormones?





 DISCLAIMER: This is not a medical article. There are gazillions of those online, and many of them are worth a read. These are observations and suggestions for women over 40 who have wondered, "Is it me, or is it my hormones?"

Women have a balancing act in life. We go from elementary school to moody in zero-to 60 seconds flat. I mean, there was no interlude; no transitional phase. Just BOOM! One day we woke up and felt like an ultra-crab and yet no one had done a thing to us. Or perhaps you weren't emotional in an aggressive way; you were more prone to crying jags and sessions where you wanted to run away and hide. Regardless, we must face the fact that hormones do affect us.

Decreasing hormones affect us even more!

Here are some symptoms proving that hormones go out with a bang:
(my comments are in parentheses)
  • Hot flashes (What an understatement. Sweat baths is more like it.)
  • Trouble sleeping (Call it what it is; Insomnia. We can take it.)
  • Emotional changes (Ooh and oh oh. Here comes Thelma Thundercloud. Run!)
  • Cognitive changes (Now where did I put those...)
  • Hair changes (Hair jumps off the scalp and pops out of the chin.)
  • Urinary tract and vaginal changes (No comment.)
  • Body changes (Hey! Who shrunk all my good clothes?)
"Complete List of Premenopausal Symptoms" by  Sandi Busch; March 6, 2011*; 
livestrong.com; http://www.livestrong.com/article/29526-complete-list-premenopausal-symptoms/

What can a woman do? For a medical perspective, see your doctor. For a sister's perspective, read on (Again, this is mainly for those who are over 40; younger women would be dealing with the hormones of PMS = Pass My Shotgun):

1. Spend more time in the Word. There may be days when it feels like you're going to need to break out a guitar and sing the blues, but this is not permanent. "Why art thou cast down, O my soul? And why art thou disquieted within me? Hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God." (Psa. 42:11; see also Psa. 42:5 and 43:5) God's Word is soothing, and we can count on Him to swing the pendulum back to the balanced center. The more time spent in the Word, the less extreme the hills and valleys of the emotions. You can skip this step if you choose, but you will be shortchanging yourself if you do. If nothing else is wrong in life and yet you're feeling overly emotional, it's likely due to hormones.

2. Accept the changes and work with them. The world is lying to us about aging. In fact, the "anti-aging" campaign is alive and well...and false! We know that the only way to avoid aging is to die, right? When someone is trying to sell you something to prevent something that is inevitable, they are clever, bald-faced crooks. "The hoary head is a crown of glory, if it be found in the way of righteousness." (Prov. 16:31) Did your hair lose its color? Dye it if it makes you feel better, but don't believe for a second that there would be anything wrong with you if you didn't! 

Did your shape change in spite of proper diet and regular exercise? Go out and eat cheesecake in protest! Just kidding! Keep up your good habits and remember this: You have no idea what shape you'd be in if you hadn't taken such good care of yourself. My primary care physician told me this: "A woman has to under eat and increase her activity just to maintain her bodyweight after 40." Is this fact or fiction? Your body will tell you. Mine said "The doctor speaks truth." I work with my body by getting the most nutrition for the calories, getting regular exercise when possible, and by wearing clothes that fit. The size on the tag means nothing anymore. Fit is the principal thing. If you have no other unchecked medical problems, the changes are likely due to hormones.

3. Do not compare yourself with anyone. Looking around at other women is a great way to build insecurity. If that's your goal, keep studying others. If that's not the goal, just take care of yourself and stay out of the deep diet and health discussions with others. "For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves; but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise." (II Cor. 10:12) You are you. Why would you expect something that works for someone else to work in the exact same way for you? Don't compare, unless it's to your own mother. She is a fairly good indicator of what you can expect as life marches on in the hormonal realm. If your Mom went through what you're going through and it was her hormones, it's probably your hormones, too.

4. Get some rest or else. "I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, Lord, only makest me dwell in safety." (Psa. 4:8) Hormonal women who don't get their rest become hormonal basket cases. Even if you've been able to push and shove your body around on four hours of sleep for years, it's nothing to brag about, and your family is probably worse off because of it. Hormones during certain stages of life, particularly during the pre-menopausal and early menopausal years, can cause us to lose sleep either through insomnia or repeated nightgown changes from night sweats. Too many nights without sleep and nobody's sweet anymore. Pray for rest, then get to bed early enough to have a good shot at getting some. If your life is too busy to allow you a good night's sleep, something needs rearranging somewhere. Insomnia may be due to hormones, but staying up too late sure isn't.

5. Quit piling stuff on your calendar. "So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom." (Psa. 90:12) Francie, this one goes for you, too. Yes, we may be tempted to blame hormones when we hear that tape recording in our head that says, "I never have any spare time." But in reality, this one isn't hormones. This one is a calendar management issue. Overbooking a hormonal woman can make things magnified times a thousand, but the cause wasn't the hormones. Do you really need to say "yes" to so many things? Simple answer: No. Overbooking is not a hormonal issue, but you sure can provoke yourself to make it look that way!

6. Pray before trying any treatments. “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases..." (Psa. 103:2-3) Surely you've heard the old saying, "One man's meat is another man's poison." The same goes for various remedies! One woman will thrive have great success on 500 calories of lettuce, chicken breasts and hormone drops. Another will just be a hungry maniac in under 48 hours on the same regimen. 

One sister will claim that hormone replacement therapy "transformed her life"! Another will lament that all she got was a bloated belly, swollen breasts and an unexpected menstrual period (not a prize when you thought you were done with that). And yet another woman will say that you did it all wrong because you didn't do it all-naturally. $1,400 later, you could have taken a nice vacation with the money spent on the inventory of failed products in your closet. Be careful with recommendations from others. Every human body is unique, and what works for your friend may not work for you.

If you have been feeling emotionally drained, underfed yet overstuffed, tired even after sleeping, AND if you've seen a doctor lately and received a clean bill of health, it's probably not you; it's probably the decreasing hormones that begin to go down as our age goes up. Can we age gracefully? Yes. Can we enjoy the changes that come with "the change"? Not always. Will there be times when things just seem to overwhelm us. Absolutely.

And that's when you grab your Bible, get a cup of java or tea, close yourself into a quiet room, and pray. One of my favorite prayers has only four words: "Lord, please help me." And then He does.

Sometimes it's us; sometimes it's hormones.

"Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him. For he knoweth our frame, he remembereth that we are dust." (Psa. 103:13-14)

 www.keeptheheart.com

*Keep the Heart does not endorse everything found at livestrong.com. The source was cited for crediting purposes only.


1 comment:

  1. Hi Francie, it's like the Lord lead me to your blog right on time! : ) Your post has really encouraged me. Thanks for sharing the wisdom.
    Blessings,
    Julie

    ReplyDelete

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