We are Better After 50, because we choose to be. Midlife Women talk about sex after 50, divorce, reinvention, fashion, menopause and more. We are better because we have each other; we are willing to share our experiences, our learnings, our concerns and our musings.
Your hair can get pretty beaten up over the summer if you like to swim in pools or the ocean. Here’s some new products for the summer to help you deal with sun, salt and summer. This is a great round up from Bee Shapiro of the New York Times.
“Chlorine can be quite the land mine. Blondes and those with highlights will want to coat their hair before taking a dip. “Water itself is actually super damaging to hair,” Dr. Bowe said. “When your hair gets wet, the hair fibers themselves will swell. That will make your hair very weak and vulnerable to damage.”
An at-home solution is to slather your hair in something that coats, like coconut oil, before going for a swim. IGK recently released Blocked Water-Resistant Hair Shield($29), a creamy wax designed to prevent water from entering the cuticle. “It’s like swim cap for the hair without actually wearing one,” Mr. Grenia of IGK said.
Whether you’ve got a long car ride coming up or you just like to listen while you’re getting ready for work, podcasts are a great alternative to TV watching and can be both entertaining and educational. Today, they have a podcast for pretty much everything from fashion to food.
Have you ever come across a podcast so good you could listen for hours? We have! In fact, we’ve picked 10 of our favorite binge worthy podcasts that are so good, you’ll wish your commute was longer. Which one would you listen to?“How I Built This” is a podcast for anyone looking for inspiration on becoming an entrepreneur. The host, Guy Raz, explores the stories of how brands like Patagonia and Wayfair came to be and the journey that these entrepreneurs took to get where they are today.For all of you fashionistas, “The Business of Fashion” discusses many different aspects of the fashion industry and how brands are being affected by changes in the industry and society in general.If you’ve ever wondered how the internet plays a large and sometimes scary role in our lives, you have to listen to “Reply All”. They talk about everything from where those sketchy scam phone calls actually come from to how fake online rehab facilities are fooling insurance companies.If you’re looking to be more involved in political discussions, “West Wing Weekly” is a podcast that talks about episodes of the early 2000’s political TV show The West Wing.If you’re a murder mystery crime lover, you won’t be able to stop listening to “My Favorite Murder;” a comedic true-story podcast about the craziest crimes in America. From the people who brought you Ted Talks, “Ted Radio Hour” has short and inspirational podcast episodes that are a great quick listen on your lunch break or commute.“Stuff You Should Know” is the perfect podcast to listen to in the car with your kids. It’s a podcast about, well, how stuff works!For the romantics, “Modern Love” is a podcast by the New York Times that features stories about relationships and love with meaningful messages behind them.Looking for a good laugh while you listen? “Two Dope Queens” is a candid podcast hosted by two New York comedians who delve into pop culture with their equally funny guests. Oprah fans? So are we. “Making Oprah” is all about her journey from an audition to talk show.
If you’ve gone shoe shopping recently then you know what time it is: sandals season! Ah yes, this glorious time of the year not only signals warm weather but a chance to break out those gladiators, slides, and flops that have been yearning for a spot in your outfit. We love sandals because they work for virtually every occasion from date night to a day at the beach. And it’s even better when they’re comfortable too! From flat sandals to wedges, these are some of our favorite sandals for summer, which one do you love?
These fun and festive Ruffled Mule Sandals are perfect for a night out on the town, and they’re 40% off! For under $30, these Open Toe Chunky Heels are a steal! They’re breathable and give you just the right amount of lift.
Quite possibly the most comfortable sandal on the market, Birkenstocks have made a name for themselves with the cushioned cork footbed that molds to your foot.Add a little glam to your look with these silver and gold Ancient Greek Sandals, an instant way to make your outfit pop!If you want a little lift for a cocktail party or date night but don’t want the sore feet, try these Ugg Espadrille Wedges; the perfect balance of class and comfort.If you’re headed to the beach, you want something you can slip on and off easily. We love the bright orange color and style of this Cato Slide Sandal.For the classic t-strap sandal look, these Steve Madden Sandals come in a variety of colors and are under $40!Take your look to the next level with these sexy peep-toe Slingback Heels, also available in green, brown, and taupe!
Several years ago, I was a different person. I had Starbucks shooting through my veins, I slept about four hours a night, and I was always in motion. A stressful sales career will do that to you.
Intent on making it to the top, I endured the constant grind, fighting freeways, demanding bosses, and impossible goals. I made a good living, but I always felt like a train was barreling down the tracks for me. Anxiety was my constant companion.
Then the impossible happened. And like most people, I never thought it could happen to me.
It was the summer of 2001. We were in Switzerland in September, when the balmy air was flirting with fall, with just enough of a nip to keep most of the tourists away.
Lake Lugano, on the Italian border, was gorgeous, basking in the final rays of the late afternoon. We had to get a closer look. My friend went down to the water’s edge, when suddenly she tripped and fell into the lake. Her cries for help prompted me to act quickly, and when I tried to save her, I slipped on some slick cobblestones that were covered with moss and oil.
I looked at my drenched leg, while our travel companion gingerly came down to survey the damage. My knee quickly started to swell.
At first, I thought it was merely a sprain, and instructed my pals to go and get me an ace bandage. When I tried to stand up, my knee buckled, and soon, the paramedics were upon us, ushering us to the local emergency room. The doctors told me it was a tibia plateau fracture, which basically means your knee is history, and that it would require a complicated surgery. It couldn’t be done in Lugano.
I made my usual arsenal of jokes while they stuffed me with pain meds, provided me with some archaic crutches, and a lame travel cast. My consolation prize was getting to fly first class and enjoy the pampering from the flight attendants.
The surgery was a complication one. My doctor retrofitted me with an array of plates, rods, screws and a bone graft. I was bionic, relegated to four months in a wheelchair and crutches. People would look at me with pity or worse, not look at me at all, probably wondering if I had a congenital condition, or hoping my situation wasn’t contagious.
Eventually, I returned to work with a heavy limp. Every step was a pain, and even though I tried to get back into my fast-paced sales career, it was much more difficult than I had imagined.
I couldn’t really do the business travel that was expected of me, nor could I endure the pace and multitasking mandated by sales. My territory had evaporated, and for someone in sales, this spells disaster.
I began to wonder what the future would hold for me. On top of that, I began having vertigo, and after visiting many specialists, the cause of it was never determined. I endured my discomfort, and tried to integrate back into my former career, but I kept faltering, avoiding business trips and sales meetings.
A few months later, a round of downsizing determined my fate. Right before my 50th birthday, I lost my job. Happy Birthday to me! Soon, I was at home, trying to stay busy, and wondering how quickly I could return to my previous line of work.
Unfortunately, the vertigo I had been experiencing was exacerbated on these job interviews. I was too old, too expensive and damaged goods. Maybe a sales career wasn’t in the cards for me anymore. I had to reassess my options.
My financial planner suggested getting out of sales to focus on what I’ve always enjoyed-writing, music and photography.
“I think you’re done with that line of work,” she advised, while the room continued its gradual spin. “Clearly, your body doesn’t want you to do that anymore.”
“But what am I going to live on?” I pleaded.
“Put yourself on a budget and live your life.”
I pondered her suggestions, and realized she was right. Each time I interviewed to return to sales, my vertigo kicked in, putting me on the teacups at Disneyland. But when I tackled writing, music and photography projects, I would get lost in time. The thrill of getting published and having others enjoy my work was so fulfilling. And guess what? No vertigo.
At the time, the end of my sales career seemed like the end of my life. Without my groovy business cards, expense account, salary and company car, I thought I was invisible.
But I wasn’t. I became someone new, with another purpose, thanks to the break that changed my life.
A man I met for coffee recently told me that he didn’t date women with small fluffy dogs “because women with small fluffy dogs are too high maintenance.” This inspired me to ask my friends if they’d ever encountered any similarly odd, quirky, funny and/or surprising dating dealbreakers.
A sampling of their responses?
A friend once gave me this dating advice: “Stay away from people who take short, quick steps!”
A man I was seeing asked me if I’d consider dying my hair because he didn’t want to date a blonde.
I once refused to go out with a guy because he’d never heard of Jane Austen.
I had a rule that my date had to be able to name a favorite Magnetic Fields song.
I won’t consider guys who don’t wear jeans.
I have a “three cat maximum” rule.
I won’t date a man who doesn’t love his mom.
I won’t date you if you don’t have a library card. I once broke up with a man because he told me that public libraries are obsolete.
I won’t date you if you’ve never seen The Mighty Ducks.
I won’t date a man who can’t do his own laundry.
I won’t date a Cubs fan. #Soxfanforlife!!!
I live in LA and I wont date anyone who works in the entertainment industry. They’re a bunch of toxic narcissists and I’ve had it with all of them!
A woman once broke up with me because she’d promised her daughter that she wouldn’t date anyone who was shorter than the daughter was.
My dating turnoffs? Guys who chew loudly, are rude to the waiter, and who eat less than I do when we go out.
I won’t date a guy with a comb over.
I won’t date anyone who quotes Monty Python more than twice a week.
My cousin had a rule that before she dated a man he had to be able to keep something alive, healthy and thriving in his care… child, cat, dog, fish, house plant. (And the mold in his refrigerator didn’t count.)
I once broke up with a guy after he refused to kiss me because he was a vegan and my mouth was “tainted” because I eat meat.
A guy once broke up with me because I was “too nice.” No regrets. I’d rather be alone than be a bitch.
Because I’m too nice myself, I didn’t tell the date who dissed small fluffy dogs that I don’t date men with small, fluffy brains. But I’m a writer, so I went home and turned him into a humor piece.
So if dating a woman who just might write about you if you do or say something really stupid is your own deal breaker?
There is nothing I can say about the suicides of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain that has not already been said. I have no sage advice or pearls of wisdom or explanation for what appears to be the mainstreaming of suicide. I don’t know what I could possibly add to the conversation other than to, well have a conversation.
Off the top of my head, the top of my head, I can think of close to a dozen people who I know personally who have found life so intolerable that the only way they could find peace was to end their lives. Young and old, they were each someone’s sibling, spouse, child, grandchild or parent. No one, it appears, is immune. And, while there is no doubt that the pain that their friends and family will have for the rest of their lives is astounding , my heart literally aches thinking of these people and just how burdensome their lives had become.
Some took pills. Others used guns. One hung himself while another used a helium machine usually reserved for the joy of blowing up balloons. In each case, without exception, their absence was quickly noted. That “no one will miss me” thinking? – debunked. Their deaths unimaginable.
There is no doubt that mental illness plays a role in many suicides. And, for those of you fortunate enough to have been spared this hard lesson, finding (not to mention being able to afford) appropriate and meaningful support ain’t easy. In some instances, it can be nearly impossible, even for those well connected, well educated and with the means to pay for it. Remind me to tell you about the time I had to sit outside a locked psych ward for four hours waiting for someone, anyone, to talk to me.
Yes, mental illness plays a role. But so, too, I would strongly argue, does what life has become in 2018. It is brutal. People are angry, isolated and fearful. We claim to love our “i” everythings, but to what end? Admittedly, I am guilty of over sharing and, although I try hard to keep things real, there are those, I am sure, that think I have a perfect life. Truth: I don’t.
No one does.
Yes, I have loads to be thankful for. I am married to a great guy; we have our health, live in a beautiful home and get to walk on the beach whenever we want. But second marriages are complicated. Raising children to adulthood can be brutal. Having a hand in raising other people’s kids has some gigantic challenges. Managing an ex-husband, even one who is a better ex than he was a husband still carries constant reminders of why you are exes. And, if we are being honest, there have been moments, sometimes many of them, when I just don’t know if I can do it all. No, I’ve not been suicidal, but I understand why people are.
Truth is, as much as we know about the people in our lives, I contend there is way more that we don’t. That’s why I always implore that we be kind to one another. Most of us are masters at putting on a good face. Many of us are ashamed at feeling overwhelmed, frustrated and ready to throw in the towel because, well, you know, we have a perfect life. But, oh yeah:
No one does.
Look out for the people in your life. Answer you phone. Reach out.
Kate Spade had built an empire and was beloved by her legions of fans. Anthony Bourdain made a living out of travelling the world. But clearly they didn’t have perfect lives either because, remember:
I heard this a comment from a number of people I hadn’t seen in quite awhile when I went back to Boston for a short visit. I appreciated the compliment, of course, but was also a little taken aback. Why wouldn’t I look healthy? I’d just spent most of the last 8 months in the Caribbean on a sailboat! See the tan?
Upon reflection, however, the comments made sense. They were talking about my breast cancer.
And this was a bit odd for me, because when I think of cancer these days, my mind asks, “Did I really have breast cancer?” The diagnosis, the surgery, the chemo, the radiation, the reconstruction, the tattoo—the whole shebang that took almost two years from beginning to end, seems like a nightmare that I woke from long ago.
Did I really have cancer? I did, I know. I know it changed me, but did not define me. But I don’t dwell on it, actually, I don’t think about it much at all. My post cancer life is filled with excitement, work, distraction, and rum punch. There is no room for cancer.
My friend Jennifer called to talk to me about the article, because she knew I must have seen it, and she knew that whether or not to proceed with the chemo, given my intermediate test score, was an agonizing decision. I’ll never know if it was the right decision, and that is ok. I’m well beyond that now.
But a piece of my conversation with Jennifer really amazed me- the piece where I couldn’t remember a thing about the test- not the name of the test, nor the results of the test, even though for an agonizing two weeks it was all I thought of.
“What was the name of the gene test they do?” she asked me.
“I don’t remember,” I admitted, a little ashamed by my lapse in memory, “but I remember I was in the middle with the results.”
“I think it was called the Anka test,” she told me. She was very close. You say Onco, she says Anka, we both knew what she was talking about.
“That’s it!” I exclaimed. “The Anka test!”
“What was your number?”
“I think it was 18.”
“I think you were at 11, right at the border.”
“You may be right. But I thought it was 18.” 18 is a special number, meaning “life” in Judaism. If my score had been 18, how would I have not remembered that irony? I started to think she must be right.
In actuality, my score was 20. I had to go back and look it up. I don’t blame Jennifer for not remembering my score, but how could I have forgotten it? My score had consumed me.
What is it that allows someone to put a really difficult part of their lives away, to have large lapses of memory of the very best kind, to protect the mind and soul? I’m not sure what it is about my particular emotional makeup that allows me to do this, but I’m happy to be protected this way. I am blessed to have a brain that has allowed me to put those two years in a box, file it away in my mind under “S” for things that Sucked, and not open it again unless I have to. And I don’t have to, not now.
Recently, I received very sad news from a close relative and a close friend- one diagnosed with cancer, and one who will be getting divorced after a very long marriage. I love them both.
My wish for both of them is strength through these very hard months and perhaps years ahead, and that over time, they will each be able to put these difficult times in a box in their mind, file it away under “S” for things that Sucked, and to be able to forget the misery, at least the worst of it. My hope is that at some point in the future, when someone comments, “you look so happy!” or “you look so healthy!” they will be pleased at the compliment, while at the same time wondering, “Why wouldn’t I be?”
I encourage you all to try this exercise I just made up and loved. The result will put a smile on your face….I promise. It’s a cocktail of mindfulness meets gratitude meets intentional goal setting.
Because if you are like me and have been obsessed with the news, dealing with family issues, family health issues, financial concerns, friend issues and other worries then you deserve to have a summer.
There’s so much bad news these days, too much. I am guilty of reading twitter and more in the middle of the night. Last night I thought about global politics and couldn’t sleep. It’s been this way for months and months.This last week has been particularly disturbing.
So, to launch my summer, I’ve decided to do what I do at the beginning of each yoga class I either take or teach, I try to set an intention. And…. I’m starting right here on this page.
Although I’m tempted to judge myself about this intention as it seems a tad indulgent, I’m going to put aside that judgement and do this exercise because I think it will stop the free flow of non stop media from entering my happy space. There’s always time to catch up with the news each day however, I want to exert a daily policy of containment and assign myself limited finite exposure.
This summer I’m committing to fun. I will read a book because I WANT to, not have to. If I want to watch the next 2 seasons of Poldark on a rainy afternoon…I’m going to.
I’m way past the years of beating myself up. This kinder approach over the next 8 to 10 weeks is what I’m after.
Without getting into the details of my challenges that lie ahead, I’ve decided that most of my waking time, when possible, will be committed to laughing more, playing as much as possible, napping and eating great food.
I know this sounds indulgent but I’m committing to having a happy summer in the moments and days that I CAN control.
So, when my friend asked me yesterday what I was looking forward to this summer, I thought about it and this is what I came up with.
I am setting my summer of joy intention as a way to jump start this season:
Dancing. Over this past weekend after dinner at a friends’ house, our host turned up the music and we all danced late into the night. We danced in the living room, the back yard, we danced and danced and laughed. I’m making sure to turn up the music and dance with friends as a regular thing.
Turning on music. Speaking of music, I’m planning on turning on the music everyday. I love music and often times I forget to turn it on. I’m from a family of musicians and it’s in my bones and it makes me happy, so when I’m cooking, cleaning and hanging out…the music is going on.
I’m going to make sure my gratitude list gets said out loud every morning. (To myself).
Discovery: I’m going to hike a trail on my island at least once a week. I love the island of Martha’s Vineyard and have been involved in launching a new App, called TrailsMV which connects all the trails on our island. I’m going to discover some new places on my island after 50 years of spending summers there.
Talk to my dog more. My dog Jazz is 13 years old and I’m guilty of bypassing her to rush out to an activity. This summer Jazz and I are going to have a morning chat when we have our walk. She is the best listener and always smiles when I talk to her (she is my best friend).
I’m planning on cooking really healthy food this summer and eating plenty of it. My body is so happy when I’m eating my concoctions. That means less eating out and more dinners at home with friends and pot lucks where we get to control what we eat.
Gardening is on my list, I’m going to make sure to put my hands in the soil a few days a week because I love to do that. Maybe I’ll even get some goodies to cook with this summer if I pay attention to my veggies and herbs. The August tomatoes are the best payoff of gardening time.
I plan to write every day because it is deeply satisfying and I am going to push forward on a new writing project that I am hoping to unfold over the next year. Writing puts a smile after the first 15 minutes…pretty much every time.
I plan on being nice to myself when I play my beloved golf and tennis. These are competitive sports that I love to play with friends. I plan on enjoying it —— the winning and losing games —- all of them.
I plan to be more playful. Not just go out for 30 to 40 miles training rides like it’s work. After all, it is my 32nd year riding the Pan Mass Callenge (PMC), a truly fabulous fundraiser, but it’s getting a bit grueling, so I’m going to try to have more fun training for it. And I plan to raise alot of money for cancer once again and you are welcome to support me in this effort.
The list is actually way longer than this but as I’m intending to relax and play, I’m starting with this list and see how far I get.
Kate Spade was renowned for her taste and rock star creativity. A whole generation of women were caught up in carrying her bags or wearing her latest garb. It sounds as if she was a genuine, caring person — a loving mom and someone whose marriage was important to her. Anthony Bourdain, just as acknowledged in his own field, was known for his vivid curiosity and sense of adventure, as well as culinary expertise. One tweet from a good friend called him “a symphony.”
No one who loves either one of them wants to remember them for how they died. Their depression seemed almost perfectly hidden, the risk of ending their lives unrecognized.
Those lives epitomized what many people dream — extremely hard work that had culminated in wealth, status, recognition, respect. Even fame. Getting to the top of their game.
But there were mostly hidden vulnerabilities, secret destructive thoughts that led to suicide.
Kate Spade was being treated for depression and anxiety. We don’t know what exactly that means in the moment. Anthony Bourdain is described by his long-time friend, Eric Ripert, as having recent dark thoughts.
It wasn’t enough to keep them alive.
Michael Yapko, an internationally known expert on depression, gives us the most recent accurate information about depression and its rising prominence in the world. It’s not a disorder that has one cause. Its presentation can be unique from person to person. Suddenly everyone’s waking up to the idea that suicide has been increasing at alarmingly strong rates.
Asking why? One answer could be Perfectly Hidden Depression and Perfectionism…
One of those presentations is what I’ve termed Perfectly Hidden Depression. I talk about it candidly on this video presented by The Mighty. Here is another, much shorter take on PHD.
Dr. Margaret Rutherford: Perfectly Hidden Depressed Person: Part 1 of 5 - YouTube
Since writing and speaking about PHD, so many people have contacted me about what they’ve been hiding for so long. Early trauma or abuse that has stayed a secret, rigid punitive families where sadness, disappointment or grief weren’t allowed to be expressed, taking care of alcoholic parents whose need swallowed your own, feeling as if perfection and being a star was the only way to be loved and valued, or being loved conditionally where you had to meet the high expectations of parents or risk rejection. These and many other paths can lead to the choice to hide or the need to look perfect, where all the while, there is a darkness underneath that no amount of success can soothe.
Another question to ask… can you be vulnerable?
The possibility of PHD brings up this issue. Are we asking the right questions that might determine if someone might kill themselves? We hear experts reminding us of what to look for in depression — isolation, not enjoying things that were previously enjoyed, a noticeable depressed mood. But what about the ability to be vulnerable? Do you — can you allow others to see that you’re struggling?
If PHD is the case, it’s this question that must be answered. And for perfectionists, people with PHD — the answer is no. And if the answer is no, then you wouldn’t say you were thinking of killing yourself either. It’s chilling to think about — and research is backing it up, finding strong links between perfectionism and suicide.
I have no idea whether these two people would’ve called themselves perfectionists. Yet the quality and quantity of their work seems to suggest such. It reflected the seeking of excellence and the desire to engage with life, beauty and adventure, taking monumental risks along the way.
If you are struggling or triggered…
If you’re triggered in any way by what has happened this week, please reach out to the people you care about. Allow that connection to remind you of what you could lose. Seek treatment if you need it. Risk being vulnerable. If you’re hiding some darkness, if you vow every morning to not only strive your best, but mask your own insecurities and pain, know that you don’t have to. As Brene Brown’s research and wonderful books portray, there is immense freedom and power that can be gained from openness and vulnerability.
Allow the sudden deaths of these two people to help you recognize that emotions and impulses can get way out of hand, very quickly — that you can take only so much pressure. You don’t have to be famous to hide. You don’t have to have written a cookbook, be a famous TV celebrity or a fashion savant to feel despair and loneliness.. You could be anybody, anywhere, dealing with an imploding depression that’s slowly eating away your vitality, although no one can truly see it.
Here is one man’s story.
On Suicidal Ideation: Male Depression Interview with Stuart Walker - Trailer 1 - YouTube
Our hearts go out to the people who are mourning their family member or friend. It’s a long road of healing.
The Suicide Prevention Lifetline in the United States is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The number is 1-800-273-8255. For the UK, the numbers can be found by clicking here. Also in the US, you can text 741741 at any time and reach someone trained to help.
Please feel free to write me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you identify with PHD. All emails are confidential.
You can hear more about Perfectly Hidden Depression and many other topics by listening to Dr. Margaret’s new podcast, SelfWork with Dr. Margaret Rutherford. Subscribe to this website and receive her weekly blog posts and podcasts!
This article was written in 2014, pre Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain and so many others, but sadly incredibly relevant 4 years later.
Although there’s no definitive link between celebrity designer L’Wren Scott’s suicide and menopausal depression, she was 49 years old and the tragedy spurred a fellow celeb to hop on Twitter and get the conversation rolling about menopausal depression and whether women are really paying attention to the signs.
Recently, a study by the CDC showed that suicides in middle-aged persons (ages 35-64) increased by 28% over a 10-year time frame. It’s probably no coincidence that those high numbers reflect the transition of vibrant baby boomers into middle and older age.
If you really don’t feel like your “normal” self and are struggling to find any joy in your day, please take the time to be evaluated and treated by a knowledgeable specialist. If these feelings of depression are happening in partnership with perimenopause or menopause, step back and take stock. It could be menopausal depression creeping in alongside the hot flashes and insomnia.
Know the Triggers
Many women experience depression during the transition from reproductive years into menopause beginning long before your last missed period. Menopause can effect not only our bodies but our emotions and brain functionality. Hormones impact endorphin levels, so when your brain neuromodulators of estrogen and progesterone are up and down so is your sense of well-being.
Lack of those feel-good hormones lead to mood swings and in turn can result in your family heading for the nearest exit! Signs of depression can include one or more of the following: sadness, loss of energy, feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness, loss of enjoyment, difficulty concentrating, uncontrollable crying, difficulty making decisions, irritability, increased need for sleep, insomnia or excessive sleep, a change in appetite causing weight loss or gain, and thoughts of death or suicide or attempting suicide.
Many menopausal women can tell you that mood swings are often accompanied by anxiety and insomnia. That’s a pretty clear invitation for depression to join the party.
Here’s the difference: feeling blue sometimes is common, but if you’re continually feeling hopelessness, emptiness, and persistent anxiety, it is time to locate a good menopause specialist. A great way to prepare for your first visit is to chart your symptoms so you’re ready to share some hard evidence when you go in. Remember, during perimenopause and menopause you can find that your memory is not as sharp as it used to be. My Menopause Symptoms Chart is an easy and simple way to help you communicate to your specialist exactly how you are feeling. Start tracking those symptoms tonight!
Hormonal Testing and Treatment
Talk to your specialist about doing a hormone panel. Fortunately for us, when it comes to testing for hormone levels – no pencil is needed, and you really can’t fail! If you’re still menstruating, have your hormone panel (blood test) done during the first three days of your period. Here are the tests to ask for:
DHEAS: DHEA sulfate is a hormone that easily converts into other hormones, including estrogen and testosterone. This adrenal hormone triggers puberty and is of the highest concentration of the hormones in the body. DHEAS is the sulfated form of DHEA in the blood. While DHEA levels fluctuate throughout the day, DHEAS blood levels are steadier and more reliable.
Estradiol: Estradiol is the main type of estrogen produced in the body, secreted by the ovaries. Low levels can cause memory lapses resulting in sticky notes aplenty, anxiety, depression, uncontrollable bursts of anger, sleeplessness, night drenches and much more.
Free and Total Testosterone: Free testosterone is unbound and metabolically active, and total testosterone includes both free and bound testosterone. In women, the ovaries’ production of testosterone maintains a healthy libido, strong bones, muscle mass and mental stability.
FSH: Follicle-stimulating hormone is a pituitary hormone that stimulates the growth of the ovum (the egg and surrounding cells that produce ovarian hormones. This test can help indicate whether you’ve entered menopause. However, the suggested normal ranges need to be examined along with your Menopause Symptoms Chart, so that your specialist can properly evaluate the test results. There is no one-size-fits-all correct test result. What is normal for your best friend, sister or mother may not be normal for you.
Progesterone: Progesterone is a hormone that stimulates the uterus and prepares it for pregnancy. It also regulates the menstrual cycle, and low levels of progesterone can cause irritability. Results will vary depending on when the test is done.
ThyroidWorkup: This usually includes checking your TSH(thyroid-stimulating hormone). If there is an irregularity with your TSH, you may need to get your Total T3 and Free T4 checked as well. (Free means it won’t be affected by your estrogen status, not free of charge!) Remember that the symptoms of perimenopause and menopause and a thyroid disorder can be very similar.
This hormone panel, along with the information you gathered on your Menopause Symptoms Chart, will help your specialist evaluate the cause of your depression and help create an individualized treatment program just for you.
Natural Methods for Fighting Depression
I know that you’re eager to feel better right now! You can start by improving your diet and ‘eating clean’. In addition to the obvious benefits of keeping obesity at bay, you’ll feel good about taking control, not to mention healthy diets can even stave off the effects of dementia, particularly if you modify prior to age 50.
“Exercise, exercise, exercise is the best proven natural method for fighting depression,” according to Dr. Julia Frank. This is good news for the more than 120 million around the world suffering from the disorder. It’s not even like you have to be an athlete, or hit the gym every day, but do drive up your heart rate for at least 30 minutes with an activity you enjoy, which could lead to even more fun in the bedroom!
If you think that you or someone you love may be dealing with depression, be sure to reach out and get the help you need and deserve. We know ourselves better than ever and intuitively understand that if we get the treatment we need first for menopausal depression, we’ll have more to give to others. And you know what they say about the world loving a cheerful giver!
After struggling with her own severe menopause symptoms and doing years of research, Ellen resolved to share what she learned from experts and her own trial and error. Her goal was to replace the confusion, embarrassment, and symptoms millions of women go through–before, during, and after menopause–with the medically sound solutions she discovered. Her passion to become a “sister” and confidant to all women fueled Ellen’s first book, Shmirshky: the pursuit of hormone happiness. As a result of the overwhelming response from her burgeoning audiences and followers’ requests for empowering information they could trust, Ellen’s weekly blog, Menopause MondaysTM, was born.