Menopause Helped Me Recognize My Bipolar Disorder
I turned 50 in January 2009. For a while, I felt that my only "mid-life crisis" would be the cute little green VW Beetle convertible I bought. But menopause brought with it a lot more than just a car.
I had always been an energetic and passionate person. I was very involved in my community and was constantly overcommitting myself. I kept up such a facade in my life, pretending everything was all "kumbaya" -- the happily married professional woman who's also a great mom and an enthusiastic community member. It was exhausting. But once menopause hit, the changes in my body, my hormones, and my life all forced me to tear away the masks that I had created years ago to hide the person I was inside.
I lost my filter. If I wanted to say something to someone, it wasn't difficult for me at all, regardless of the consequences. At one point, I got very close to assaulting my boss! The hormonal shift of menopause actually made me feel liberated, like I could do anything I wanted.
But it was too much liberation. I did things that weren't healthy for a marriage, for a family, for a job. I felt that, in many ways, my world was crashing around me. I didn't know who I was, what I wanted, what I stood for. Everything was about me, me, me. I adopted a "devil may care" attitude, unaware of others' feelings. I separated from my husband and moved into our basement. But this manic phase started to wear off, and I slipped into a depressive state. I wasn't secure in many of my relationships. I felt alone and abandoned, and I totally lost my sense of self. I felt jealous of friends and family that seemed to have it all together, some of whom I felt were excluding me-even ganging up on me.
It may seem strange, but it felt like there were always these barking dogs in my brain. It's hard to describe what that felt like. I was self-aware enough to recognize that I wasn't acting normally, but I felt powerless to confront whatever was overtaking me. I knew that my behavior wasn't sustainable, that something was off. I just didn't know what it was or how to deal with it.
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