Thirty-Six Days

Previously on “Peri-menopause is Not for the Faint of Heart”…Threatened by a raging hormonal surge of epic proportions our heroine Mimm was doomed to a mid-life of surly retorts and bitter regrets.

Trapped in a manic nightmare, could her moods stop swinging long enough for Mimm to find her way back from the edge of reason?

Thirty-six days is about right. My cycle is more or less consistent. Women at my age typically experience the opposite as their cycles become increasingly erratic.  But I’ve always been contrary. So while I was all over the calendar in my twenties, now I can count on a dramatic shift in my view of the world every six weeks or so.

Shortly before Thanksgiving the shift destabilized me to the extent that I sought help through yoga and acupuncture with herbs.  Reminding myself that I am in control of my changing body and my hormones – not the other way around – makes me stronger, and I believed that finding help was taking a proactive step towards health.

One cycle later, how am I doing?

Yoga: There’s no doubt about it.  Yoga makes me feel better.  With the first down dog of the day I experience a dynamic change in energy.  I can step on my mat in the most foul mood and step off the mat with a smile on my face.  My Yoga for Peri-menopause emphasizes supported back bends to open the heart, a slow flow of standing postures for strength with emotional stability and long held Yin floor work to settle the nervous system.

Acupuncture: I knew that in order for my acupuncturist to do her best healing work, I had to be honest about the symptoms I was experiencing. I knew that if I tried to tell her in person, on the day of my appointment, I would gloss over their severity.  We’re all guilty of it.  The symptom that feels catastrophic as it happens suddenly seems silly as described to a healthcare professional.  So instead of telling her in person and risking diminishing their importance, I sent an email. Having a concise list of my symptoms before our appointment supported my practitioner’s instincts and helped her diagnosis and treatment. She suggested herbal formulations and in the past six weeks I’ve had two ‘needle sessions’.  It would be wrong of me, however, to expect an immediate change.  Acupuncture – in fact most Eastern medicine and complementary therapies – is subtle and paced.  And I feel this is how it should be.  Acupuncture is gently encouraging me to move toward balance.

I know what you’re thinking.

So what about Rolfing? Those of you who keep track may remember that I began seeing Rolfer Michael Murphy – an innovative leader in the field for thirty years.  I have one more appointment with Michael and then an appointment booked in February with a ‘classic’ Rolfer who also happens to be a woman.  I intend to keep these appointments but my instinct is telling me that structural integration is not what I need now.  I also must confess that Rolfing is simply cost prohibitive.  Besides, treating symptoms with a variety of approaches makes it impossible to determine which of those approaches is most effective.  And so, after my appointment mid-way through my next six-week cycle, I’ll let go of Rolfing – although my belief in the importance and efficacy of body therapy is not diminished.  It’s just not the right time for me.

The bottom line is we all have a different set of symptoms and different constitutions.  If follows, then, that complementary therapies will resonate at different frequencies for each individual.  So while a combination of yoga with acupuncture keeps me at a somewhat even keel, it may not be the correct combination for you.

Besides, there are other considerations.  If moods were charted on a bell curve mine would still be considered ‘left of happy’.  While I’ve improved and have gained control, I’m still miles away from my usual perky self.  And so, I have to ask myself:

What am I missing?

Diet and exercise. Why haven’t I worked harder to consider nutrition and fitness?  The answer is simple:  it requires too much personal investment. It requires motivation.  Self-belief.  Faith.   If I want to affect permanent change I need to make a daily commitment to my health.  But am I strong enough?

I won’t deny that the choices I’ve made these past thirty-six days have improved my outlook.  But the next thirty-six days will require a stronger personal commitment. Am I worth the hard work?  I think so.

The First Step:

When I began writing this post at six this morning, I believed asking other people to heal me spoke to my being proactive.  Fourteen hours later and I realize it’s not up to other people to make me well.  They can contribute and guide me, but the only person who can fully commit to my health is me.  And so, with a full day between that first sentence and this last one, I took the first step.  I made a commitment to myself…but more on that in a few days.