Late in 2020 I found that my energy was dwindling. Slowly but surely I'd started to lose interest in things that normally excited me. My motivation was at an all-time low, as was my mood, and every little thing was annoying the hell out of me. Of course I put it down to menopause and the extremely stressful few years I'd had.
Suffering from depression off and on over the years was something I'd learned to deal with psychotherapy, counselling and natural remedies, and I thought this was just another bout that I'd soon come out the other side. With multiple family stressors over a period of three years, this was something completely different.
As the New Year begun I became a little concerned because I wasn't moving through my low feelings as I usually did. All I wanted to do was rest and sleep and I didn't have the energy or inclination to do anything. Nothing. It wasn't just the low mood that was beginning to bother me but also my lack of energy; I just couldn't even force myself to do things. With more rest and more time spent processing my feelings I hoped that this too would begin to shift and I'd soon be on the up and up again. But it just wouldn't budge. No matter what I tried, nothing worked.
For a few years I'd been considering seeing a Health Coach but I'd put it off. I'd tried a few supplements myself that I'd read about, particularly in relation to menopause, and I'd even tried St John's Wort for my low mood but nothing seemed to make a real difference. I still had a vast array of weird and wacky symptoms post menopause, and my mood and energy were very low. With major anxiety on top, I was a bit of a mess.
Finally, I took myself off to see Justine Laidlaw, The Natural Bird. After blood tests she recommended and a lengthy and informative consultation in which we discussed everything from work to relationships, menopause, emotional health and more, I was prescribed Vitamin B12, C, D, Zinc, Selenium and Iodine. Off I trotted, hopeful but by no means convinced that these would make a difference.
In the following weeks I spent a great deal of time on YouTube and searching Google to learn more about both my deficiencies and the supplements I had started taking. As I browsed through the lists of symptoms for each deficiency, I could tick half of them. The penny started to drop for the first time ever; I could finally begin to understand why my body was 'acting out' in these ways, it is what bodies do when they do not have the nutrients they need.
Undoubtedly my lack of these vitamins and minerals were brought about my major stress over a number of years. In addition, the post menopausal symptoms I'd already been struggling with for a good five years gave another layer of complexity to the picture.
After a couple of weeks taking my new supplements religiously, I started to see changes. Now, one month after my initial consultation, I'm absolutely over-the-moon to report that I feel like a totally different person. The following list shows the actual improvement to specific symptoms I had been experiencing for a number of years:
Energy - In December and more so in January, I spent the afternoons watching YouTube; I was horizontal more than I was vertical. Now I wake naturally at around 6.00am or a little before, take a walk in the morning and spend the day fully functioning.
Motivation - I've gone from having no interest in anything, to being fully engaged in my life, and starting to write again, and think about what my next business venture will be.
Depression - My mood was very, very low and I found myself ruminating and obsessing over things that (a) had happened in the previous three years, and (b) things that were happening in my life now that I wasn't so happy about. In the last few weeks my mood has been more stable than it's been in 10 years, I have no obsessive or repetitive unhelpful or destructive thoughts. I feel enthusiastic about my life and excited and ready for a new challenge.
Palpitations - From many each day to one, two or none daily.
Numbness in my toes - This has been around for a couple of years now and is starting to dissipate.
Tinnitus - This came on in December 2018 and has been constant since then. It's now a lot quieter much of the time and at times is not there at all.
Blood Sugar Levels - No longer do I get cravings for sweet things which is something I've always had.
Anxiety - For the last five years I've suffered from what I thought was menopausal related anxiety which was then exacerbated by family issues. In 2020, I took some time out and had counselling, but the anxiety was still front and centre most of the time. Over the last four weeks however, my anxiety has petered out and is now non-existent.
Hot Flashes & Sweats - These have been hanging around off and on for years and years. Again, these are now totally under control, with one hot flash some days and no night sweats.
Sleep Issues - Again it had been a good 10 years since I'd slept well. As a younger woman sleep was never an issue but during peri-menopause, menopause and post, it's been a major problem. Now I'm sleeping well (without my Weleda Sleep & Relax drops I talked about in an earlier post) and only waking once or twice in the night. Previously I could wake 7-10 times and this went on for years and years. At times I'd lie awake for hours not being able to get to sleep or wake during the night and be wide awake.
Brain Fog - I'd struggled with concentration off and on over the last few years but now I have clarity, and I'm able to focus again.
Skin Issues - For last five or so years I'd had ingrown wart-like lumps on some of my fingers which I'd put down to a dairy allergy. These are now completely gone.
Hunger & Overeating - I've always struggled with my weight but I've noticed that I don't feel hungry all the time, and therefore I'm not overeating.
Irritability - This had become a major problem the last few years also, however it has now completely gone.
All of the above symptoms I experienced are in some way related to one of the vitamin or mineral deficiencies I had. Yes, personal circumstances and situations contributed to these too, but I strongly believe that I would have coped much better with those life events if I was without those deficiencies to begin with. And when I looked back and my blood tests from two years earlier, some of my deficiencies were even more pronounced.
So... what have I learned from this?
1. I now know that although my blood test results fell within the normal range according to the medical fraternity, they were far from optimal.
2. Having learned a great deal from Justine, and doing my own research, I see that there are an incredible amount of people in similar situations. This I find both frustrating and sad.
3. When I look back at my own life over the last 5-10 years it could have been quite different had I known what was really going on in my body.
4. From this point in time I will always consult with a natural health professional. Yes, of course medicine has a very important place also, but it's not the answer to everything all of the time.
5. It's been another lesson in following my gut, and giving to myself. For a long time I'd wanted to seek out a Naturopath, but I told myself it would be expensive and that this was just menopause and I'd be okay eventually. Clearly that was not the case.
6. Due to my blood test results being within the normal range, both this time around and two years ago, I had no follow up from my doctor.
CAUTION: It's important to know which vitamin and mineral deficiencies you have, rather than deciding for yourself what to take. Previously I'd taken supplements because a friend was or I'd read something about them, but knowing what you actually need is the key. I'm not a health professional, I'm just someone who has found what works for me at this time. Do your own research, but listen to your gut and give yourself what you feel you need and want.