Monday, March 7, 2011

Ovaries are Overrated

Many of you probably know that I had my girlparts removed a couple of months ago.  If you didn't, well now you're in the know.  You're welcome.

While I knew that this move was necessary in order to take control of my physical health, I had some serious concerns as to how it would effect my menal health.  Let's be honest, emotionally speaking I'm not the steadiest raft on the lake.  I'm prone to what The Man will tell you is probably more than my fair share of ugly mood swings, which have been mostly controlled by the wonder that is anti-anxiety medication for nigh on 13 years now.  Because my anxiety is hormonally driven, the doctors have speculated that once I get through menopause I could probably go off the medication, but realistically speaking things could have gotten a lot worse before they got better.

I consider myself extremely lucky that I managed to get myself medicated back when I did, especially considering the fact that I pretty much fell into the diagnosis.  I had no idea what was wrong with me.  I thought I had a sensitive stomach.

I was in counseling, trying to work out the kinks in my doomed marriage.  This was a good six years before we called it a marital day, but even then (and, honestly, long before that) it was clear to me that this whole wife and mom thing didn't come as easily to me as it seemed to come to everyone else.

I was discussing my marital issues with the psychologist, specifically our lack of common interests.  Funny how being from the same small town and going to the same high school doesn't guarantee anything at all in common ten years after prom.  Anyway, I told her that the only thing we both liked to do was to go to movies or out to dinner, but I had developed some sort of stomach issue that made eating out difficult, and going to a movie AFTER eating out was impossible.  So I felt that we were doomed to living separate lives, only a little boy holding us together.

We got to talking about my stomach issues, how I felt after I ate restaurant food.  I blamed the large portions, which even then I was powerless to push away, and the high fat content.  She thought for a minute and said "I really don't think you have a digestive issue, I think you're having panic attacks"., seriously.

Another thing that I didn't know was that along with what is officially called "Generalized Anxiety Disorder" I also had "Major Depressive Disorder", the symptoms of which I didn't know WERE symptoms because my mom had it too (back then I had no idea that my mom is a total loon).  I had gone through bouts of extreme sadness which left me nearly non-functional and which couldn't be blamed on any catastrophic event.  My mood would get so low you would think I had lost my best friend, but my life was nearly perfect.  Simply not having something to look forward to, no matter how small, was enough to send me sobbing to my bed and declaring that life was not worth living.

So after a little bit of trial and error I ended up with the wonderful little white pill that saved my life.  It's called Lexapro. 

Fortunately Lexapro treats both anxiety and depression, so it's been all good in my little hood for years now.  Just the fact that I was able to rebuild my life from the puddle of tears and snot that I was left with after the end of my marriage and job is a testament to how much better I am now.  But menopause was always this looming blessing and/or threat which I believed would either stabilize my chemical makeup or push me over an edge from which medication could not retrieve me.

The first two weeks after the hysterectomy were rough.  I didn't have any depression symptoms but I had constant low-grade anxiety.  If you've never had an anxiety disorder it's really hard to describe.  It's the physical and emotional feeling of dreading something, like knowing that there's a meteor hurdling toward your home, but there is no meteor or even the dilusion of one.  It's just a dread that you can't talk yourself out of.  And this old familiar black cloud followed me through my convalescence.

My doctor put me on hormone replacement therapy and my symptoms subsided, but there are health risks that go along with HRT and I wasn't willing to resign myself to these risks long-term.  So, after a month on the HRT, when the healing was done, I decided to bite the bullett, and save myself a good chunk of change, by not refilling the prescription.

It's been three months since the surgery, and six weeks since the hormone prescription ran out, and on Saturday I realized something really strange....I have nothing to look forward to.  Due recent financial setbacks we won't be taking a vacation this summer.  My tax refund came the other day and went straight to the credit card company.  I've been living with the same man for nearly five years and, God willing, I'll continue to live with him, if not for the rest of my life at least until one of us gets tired of the other's significant neuroses.  And no, there is no wedding date.  But the bizarre thing about all of this is that it's ok.  My life is good.  It's hard at times, but it's good.  I mean yes I'd love a bit more in my pay check, a carribean cruise (hell, just a massage), a nice ring on my left hand and the promise of Till Death do us Part, but I'm not crying about it and that's a HUGE change.

So I say that, for me anyway, ovaries are overrated.  I have the occasional hot flash but I'd rather have my internal thermostat be on the fritz than have my scared/sad-ometer be freaking out all the time.  I'm not really ready to give up the anti anxiety meds just yet...but I have hope.  Maybe THAT'S something I can look forward to.

Today's lunch:  Leftover homemade yam soup & roasted red pepper & asiago chicken sausage (the pic is from dinner last night).  Not so great separately, but mixed togther...YUMMY!!!


  1. I can relate to much of what you wrote about with the GAD and whatnot, but for me having something to look forward to makes me feel guilty since I don't DESERVE to have something to look forward to. Of course one would argue that having something to look forward to could ease the depression but if I could look forward to something I wouldn't be depressed. Or at least not severely. Over the summer when I was stuck in restrictive mode and slowly losing from 97 to 93 pounds, I wasn't totally depressed and I was looking forward to things, but I was super duper anorexic. So... I don't know, I read about you and medication and get jealous. I wish it worked for me. Heck even the antipsychotics they have me on now aren't really getting rid of the hallucinations.

    So I'm broken mentally and I can't even be mended with meds. Lovely!

    But. BUT! What you wrote - that you can look forward to the day when you can be off your anti-anxiety meds, that's a GREAT thing to look forward to. It's not immediate and it's not tangible, but it's definitely a carrot to dangle in front of yourself for the time being.

    I hope someday soon that I can give you days to look forward to. I really do. It's a goal. A big one.

  2. I wish meds worked for you too. Your experiences help me see how lucky I am.