ANXIETY UPDATE + TMI WARNING (THERE IS TMI IN THIS POST)
Somewhere on this blog, I joked about having a hormone imbalance as the root cause for my anxiety. It’s something I’ve always kind of suspected but after my GP said that most people who come to him with anxiousness just need a therapist, I decided not to explore it any further (that was a dumb idea).
See, my symptoms started at the beginning of this painful-for-everyone year, a little while after I started drinking a tea I was recommended for “irregular periods” and severe cramps, which I’ve always had. It’s called Raspberry Leaf tea, you can find this at Whole Foods. It’s supposed to balance out female hormones, which is helpful for cramps, and is often recommended for pre-menopausal or pregnant women, but any female can drink it. I had about a cup a day. Now that I have properly done my research (which I should have done before), I know that Raspberry Nettle Leaf tea typically increases your bodies production of estrogen. I assumed this was good. Now I know more estrogen is not so good.
Should I have been drinking this in the first place? Probably not.
I am one of those women who is really confused as to what “regular” means regarding the menstrual cycle. As most things applied to anything, but particularly women, we are taught/shown the ideal or average scenario, and really nothing more, which is why things like WebMD exist. In this case, the ideal and average scenario is the circular diagram lasting 28 days (often associated with birth control), displaying what is implied to be the average length of a complete menstrual cycle. I’ve always had a period that’s like “SURPRISE, HERE I AM!” at the worst possible moment of the month. Literally—graduations, dance recitals, long airplane rides…if I ever get married, I know my period will make every possible effort to join me in the happy moment. So I’m guessing there’s a relationship there with stress and my period.
I have been tracking my period for two years and it varies between 24-36 days. It’s been 28 days maybe four times. Literally every cycle is often a vastly different length. Is that normal? I have no idea, and research has not helped my attempts to solve this. I would assume that a few days difference is NBD, but the way my period shifts so much has left me so perplexed (and quite frankly, annoyed).
Along with this possible irregularity, I have horrifying cramps every month. I would routinely miss school because of them back in the day. The feeling would be very similar to what I imagine having a rolling pin pressed into your lower abdomen for hours at a time must feel like. Again, I assumed this is normal, because all those “Learn About Your Changing Body” videos make it seem like they are to be expected. But then I was told it is not, and sought the help of raspberry tea.
Once my anxiety symptoms kicked in, I stopped drinking the tea. Eventually, I’d give up all caffeine (except chocolate), including decaf coffee (oh how I miss you dearly).
The last few months, I’ve noticed that my PMS has gotten worse, particularly with my moods. The first few days before the menstruation begins, I am overly emotional. My baseline is already overly emotional, but this is like a whole new level. Lots of tears and lots of frustration. And it’s all unwarranted and hard to explain. That saying, “Crying over spilt milk” makes a lot of sense to me during that time. Dealing with my anxiety symptoms is a lot harder too, but they don’t increase in severity. Then my period comes, and I’m happy and normal (with no anxiety symptoms). But after my period ends, my fertile window opens and that’s when my anxiety symptoms all of sudden seem way worse, again unwarranted. It’s mostly with my breathing that I’ll notice a difference, where I’ll be relaxed at home but still be hyperventilating.
So I ordered a saliva hormone test, and I got an answer (kind of). I have low progesterone. Now whether or not it’s a result of my anxiety, or the cause of my anxiety, is the real mystery. Chicken or the egg type deal. It’s curious that’d I’ve more symptoms during ovulation as more progesterone is required for it, so maybe I do not ovulate each month?
I have an appointment to sort all this out in late January.
But in the meantime, avoiding eating out of plastics has really helped. Plastics (like water bottles) have synthetic estrogen in them, along with a lot of materials we are surrounded by or consume daily. So even with dishware, I try to use ceramic and glass. I have also started to take a B-12 vitamin, along with a D3 and a Super-Complex B vitamin. Lastly, I have been trying to eat as much fish as possible (even though I’m not the biggest fan of fish). It’s easier to take fish oil but because I have syncope, fish oil can affect circulation and blood pressure, so I’d rather just get it in as au naturale as possible. I’m not sure if these things have been the reason, but for the moment (so I’m not jinxing myself again)— I feel great! I have had almost no anxiety symptoms for a whole month! I pray to the gods that this lasts. My guess is that this change is mostly attributed to vitamin B-12, as I lot of my anxiety symptoms could actually be attributed to a B-12 deficiency.
Also, from my research, there are lots of other natural supplements that can help balance female hormones. The safest seems to be Ashwagandha, but it gave me horrible headaches so I had to stop using it. Hormone imbalance is worth looking into in depth if you suspect you’ve got a problem. Low progesterone can result in estrogen dominance, but it is also linked to other things, particularly with thyroid disorders.
I’ll try to remember to update after I see a gynecologist to see if I was right.