My emotional fly zone is generally pretty high and positive but understandably, has had some dips here and there. Having a positive attitude has saved me through some tough stuff. Most of the time, I have plowed through adversity believing that “most things work themselves out” and “most things are not as big a deal as we think they are.” Plus, I think it is a waste of time to dwell on “Why me?” so I don’t. Even so, I have not been immune to pessimism.
My fall from optimistic grace happened during menopause. It casually sashayed into my life and transformed me from kind, generous, thoughtful, and selfless to mean, angry, selfish, inconsiderate, and ugly. Nothing and no one was safe from my menopausal wrath.
Menopause can wreak havoc on our bodies and minds. Mood swings, general grouchiness, insomnia, forgetfulness, night sweats, fatigue, hot flashes, and weight gain are just a few of the gifts that menopause gives us. And, they can go on for years and years and years. When all of those things are combined, it can take a saint to maintain a positive attitude (I am no saint).
Sadly, it didn’t take me long to acclimate to my newfound negativity. I just knew people were sitting in their cars in a parking spot to prevent me from getting it. In the gym, I thought people were dropping their weights on purpose just for attention. At the grocery story, I got annoyed when the cashier took too long to scan my items. Didn’t he know I had better things to do? I saved my Oscar-worthy negativity for customer services reps. Each time I had to call for assistance, it was a foregone conclusion that it would end in fists-to-cuffs. I mean, c’mon, transferring my call to for a fifth time to another department was just asking for it, wasn’t it? I started using words like, “hate” and “stupid” – something I had sworn off doing years ago. I found everyone and everything unpleasant, most of all, me. I didn’t like it and knew I needed to reclaim my darling self.
Before I could fix my attitude, I decided to do a little research. In his book Learned Optimism, Martin E.P. Seligman, Ph.D. discusses the power of optimism. Optimists recover more quickly from illness and are happier than pessimists because optimists expect a desirable outcome even from adversity. Optimists see adversity as something from which they learn to be better rather than as a fatal character flaw. This helps them move on more quickly than pessimists do from challenging events. This can lead to a happier and more successful life. On the other hand, pessimists expect the outcome of hardships to be negative and are at greater risk of stress, depression, anxiety, feelings of failure, general unhappiness – you get the idea.
Okay. I could get on board with that. I adjusted my attitude and things got slightly better but I knew I needed more than a mental shift. My husband suggested I go get my hormone levels checked so off to the doctor I went. Instead of getting on an anti-depressant or anti-panic pill, I got my hormone levels checked. I found out that my hormone levels were so low that some didn’t even register on my lab results. I really didn’t understand the relationship between my attitude and my hormone levels until I found out that low hormone levels can contribute to a host of issues and can make others worse. I decided to give bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT). Within six weeks, I was back to in the doctor’s office in tears. Tears of joy. My life had changed completely. My hormones were optimized and I was a different person.
On BHRT, all of the symptoms of menopause disappeared for me. Getting more sleep, having more energy, remembering things, getting my figure back, and wanting my husband more than ever had a miraculous effect on my attitude. No surprise there. The point is, that sometimes, it takes more than mental will to make a change. Our bodies and our minds work in tandem. Tending to one at the expense of the other can sometimes have a net effect of zero. BHRT has been the best thing I have done for myself in the last three years. I looked in the mirror one day and with a smile on my face said, “Hello, Kelly. I’m glad you are back. I’ve missed you.”
I had finally reclaimed my attitude and once again, I’m flying high.