One night I got a wake-up call. I sat up in bed and experienced my first panic attack. My heart pounded, and I felt like I was suffocating. I could not calm myself and did not understand what was happening. Since I could not sleep, I researched panic attacks and methods to calm myself. I ran across deep breathing exercises and a method called Emotional Freedom Technique, which is tapping on parts of your head, face, and collar bone to help relieve stress. These techniques helped me calm down so I could sleep.
I was puzzled about what caused my panic attack. I discovered the root of the problem a few months later. Meanwhile, I dealt with fear and dread. My life felt like cardboard and utterly void of joy. My sleep was irregular, and I could not turn off my thoughts. Some people have described having a season called “the dark night of the soul.” I never really understood what that meant until then. Maybe it isn’t the same for everyone, but I felt like it was an accurate description. I didn’t know what I would do if I couldn’t turn this around. My faith in God was strong, and I prayed a lot, but at the time, I felt no comfort. My peace was gone.
This entire season ran parallel to peri-menopause—the few years before the change of life begins. My hormones were bankrupt, but I didn’t even know it. Through testing, I found that my estrogen and progesterone were out of balance. I began taking natural oral progesterone to treat my estrogen dominance, and I started feeling better.
I entered this “dance” that I was unprepared for. There were more symptoms and twists and turns ahead that I would have to navigate. My thought life needed an overhaul. So, I began journaling, and through that, my book Hot Flashes and Jesus was born. This book has a three-fold purpose:
- encourage women of faith to go through the change with a renewed mind
- educate women on various symptoms
- offer natural methods of treating symptoms
According to Staness Jonekos, a blogger for healthywomen.org, “Over 60 percent of divorces are initiated by women in their 40’s, 50’s, or 60’s.” This change of life is a struggle and not for the faint of heart! We cannot just ask our doctors for a pill fix. As Christian women, we need to feed our minds with the Word of God and be anchored, lest we ruin relationships and cause pain to others. I believe that we also need to have an actionable health plan to support our bodies nutritionally and emotionally through this challenging time.
Coping Tips for Menopausal Symptoms
I don’t have all the answers. At this point in my life I am only two years post-menopause; so, even though I’m through the mess, I still deal with symptoms. Here are a few things I learned that I hope help you:
- Start your day in the Word. God is your number one fan and encourager. Cry out to him and ask for his strength and comfort.
- Eat your fruits and veggies. Make most of your meals plant-based. Cut out sugar and refined carbs. Traditional “comfort foods” are a lie. They make you feel good at the moment but cause hours and days of bloating and discomfort—not to mention, extra pounds.
- Have a functional medicine doctor perform hormone testing. You may need natural hormone replacement therapy. Make sure you are getting natural hormones and not synthetic.
- Exercise. You do not need to run a marathon to be healthy. I hate running. I fast walk for twenty to thirty minutes five times a week. I also incorporate lightweight training three to five times a week. You don’t need a gym membership. I work out at home.
- Learn how to de-stress. This is my own personal nemesis. I am tightly wound and must be intentional to sit down, breathe deeply, and meditate. Yoga is wonderful because it incorporates stretching, meditating, and relaxing.
- Write down Bible verses and godly affirmations and put them in your office, on the bathroom mirror, or in your car. Speak them over yourself.
- Love yourself right where you are. There is no place for shame. At the end of the day, think about all the habits you did right. Pray for the grace to begin a new day to accomplish your health and mental goals.
I am thankful for this opportunity to be a guest blogger today on Susan Neal’s Healthy Living Blog. I pray that each woman going through this season of life may truly find peace and comfort.