Mood Swings in Perimenopause: It’s Not About Control
I told you in my last post that I had a phone conversation recently with an old acquaintance. We talked at length about perimenopause, how it affects women, and many of the symptoms. During the course of the conversation, the symptom of mood swings came up.
As the queen of raging mood swings during perimenopause, unfortunately, I had plenty of insight to offer.
Thankfully for me, the days of eye-bulging, vein-popping, scream-until-you’re-hoarse type of moods swings are long gone. In fact, they are so far removed from my day to day life now, that I can hardly believe I ever went through them.
What made mood swings in perimenopause so difficult for me personally, was that I felt so out of control. God knows I certainly looked out of control to those whom I lived with – namely my young children at the time. But, I literally felt that something had taken over my body and stripped me of all self-control and freedom of will in the matter.
For someone like me, never accused of being a wilting wall flower, and who has spent her entire life bulldozing through any obstacle that might have the misfortune of being in my way, this lack of control was emotionally and psychologically eviscerating.
I’m also certain that my emotional and mental duress over my inability to control or stop what was happening to me during those perimenopause years, made the mood swings even more debilitating. But it was the kind words of a physician’s assistant which eventually set me free, as I sat in her office one morning, crying hysterically (yes, hysterically) over my symptoms, and my complete inability to get control of myself.
“This is not a control issue” she said. “It’s about your biology.”
I remember distinctly popping my head up, which was buried in my hands as I sobbed, with hot tears streaming down my face, swollen eyes, and all sorts of nasal drainage (aka, snot) pouring from my nose.
“Huh? It’s NOT?”
“No!” she laughed. “It’s not! You can’t control this! It’s your hormones!”
I wish I could tell you that I never had another mood swing after that. Or that she handed me a prescription for magic pills which took away all of my perimenopause symptoms. But, I can’t. The truth is, I suffered pretty severely for quite some time after that, in spite of this revelation.
But, like most women I deal with who are going through perimenopause, I needed an assurance that I was going to be okay. I needed to know that I wasn’t going crazy, and that what was happening to me was not the result of a flaw in my character.
Because it sure felt that way.
Fifteen years later and looking back, I know she spoke the truth. Mood swings in perimenopause have nothing to do with self-control. Absolutely nothing. So if you’re getting up every day like I was, plotting and scheming, and marking off the days on the calendar when you’re going to triumph over them once and for all, do yourself a favor and stop. Because you won’t.
Perimenopausal mood swings are based in fluctuating estrogen and progesterone levels, which is another post for another day. But what I want you to hear today is what I needed to hear:
“This is not about control. It’s about your biology.”
Magnolia Miller is a certified healthcare consumer advocate in women's health and a women's freelance health writer and blogger at The Perimenopause Blog.