Do you get it?
Sometimes we find ourselves echoing this entry taken from an on-line menopause message board:
“There are days where I am so full of dread, body tightness and anxiety I just want to scream ... how are we supposed to cope? Many times I have wanted to have just a glass of wine to take off the edge. I will never again judge a woman who falls into substance abuse at this time of her life… I GET IT!"
Other women recognise themselves as having an addictive personality; it's that 'all or nothing' thing that we do. Frustratingly, addiction becomes more of a possibility during menopause because our hormones are shifting; our bodies are more sluggish, our emotions have been hijacked and our midn creates for, not clarity. Whether we are entering into peri-menopause, menopause or post-menopause, the feelings and physical symptoms associated with these hormonal shifts can create social, emotional and physiological chaos. We just don't recognise ourselves any more.
Not being in control, grieving for the loss of who you once were, social isolation (eg the 'empty nest' syndrome), or just ... feeling 'different', are just some of the experiences menopausal women have, that may lead to self-medication with prescription tablets, or to alcohol.Addiction to alcohol, or to tablets, during menopause, is complicated, as everyone brings to the table their own past, and present, personal experiences along with the multiplicity of hormonal changes. Many of us turn to alcohol or prescription painkillers to numb our depression. Unfortunately, when the drugs wear off, a common effect of withdrawal or the "crash" is a depression. Excessive use of alcohol mimics menopausal symptoms. It is toxic to the liver and can disrupt the liver’s ability to metabolise hormones, as well as worsen hot flushes. So drinking too much can actually produce peri-menopause-like symptoms, simply because hormone levels are altered.
For those who come to depression naturally, drug-induced depressions or excessive alcohol intake can be overwhelmingly intense, so much so that many contemplate suicide or neglect their health to a dangerous degree.
Do you get it?
If you recognise yourself in this page, it is important that you get support. Consider seeing your GP to assess your hormone levels and your physical health. Look for answers in your nutrition, holistic therapy, and positive lifestyle changes. And, think about going to a counsellor. Good counsellors will help you develop your own personal strengths, which will help you take control of your life again.