A Perimenopausal Brain Fog Week.

When I used to say to my husband. “What are you thinking?” and he would reply “Nothing” and I would exclaim, “You can`t just think nothing !!”. Well now I know you can with brain fog setting in in recent years.

It seems to be linked to a fall in progesterone and the sleep deprivation caused by insomnia. I usually describe it as my head feeling like there is a huge ball of cotton wool inside and little else.

But what does it really feel like? So many symptoms of the perimenopause and menopause we can physically see. Hot flushes, night sweats (ok it might be a bit dark for that one, but we can feel it!!), menstrual irregularities, dry skin etc. But trying to describe brain fog to someone else is like “trying to plait fog” (literally!) but I shall give it a go….

  • I can`t focus on any one task at a time. I find myself standing in the kitchen surrounded by things to do and not being able to choose where to begin. I put on a podcast or the radio and it seems to snap me out of it. Perhaps it`s listening to and focusing on something else rather than trying to work out why my mind won`t work that helps?
  • I feel floaty and light headed both sitting down and walking about.
  • I can`t concentrate on writing for long periods of time, which is why I haven’t blogged this week. I find myself flitting from one thing to another. The thoughts in my head wont fall onto the key pad like they usually do.
  • They say anxiety can cause brain fog, but for me it is the other way around. I start to feel anxious when my mind feels blank and unable to function as it once did. I am such a list maker, organised tidy person,I still make lists and then forget to look at them. So, when I am stood looking aimlessly at what to do, I feel anxiety rise in me. Because the feeling is so alien to how I used to be maybe?
  • Bit dramatic, I know but I have worried I might have ADHD. My husband has ADHD and I watch him feeling like this an awful lot so he is quite understanding .“Do you think it`s catching?” I asked once in a moment of insanity. He rolled his eyes and so he should have!
  • I also worry I have early onset dementia. Is this what it feels like I wonder as I am rooting around in the under stairs cupboard with the flashlight of my phone to see what I am doing and my husband appears behind me and says, “Why don`t you put the light on?” A classic brain fog moment.
  • I forget names.Names of people. movies, songs, places. I put the timer on for anything that I cook in case I get distracted. I am always reminded of my mum’s friend who went to the theatre and had just sat down when she turned to her husband and said “John! I`ve left the eggs on the boil”. Can you imagine the panic? The house did not burn down but the smell was there for weeks. And they missed the show!

It isn`t all bad. There will be times like after I have edited this and done all my jobs (with mini speaker in tow) that I shall make a cup of tea and sit in a wonderful fuzzy world of my own, without a care in the world. On my morning walks, all is well in the world, just me, my dog, the outdoors and that piece of cotton wool preventing any interruptions. Catching up with friends for coffee is always a giggle as we in turn forget names. places and utter “what was he called?”, “what was I saying?”, or “can you read the menu, I can`t find my glasses”. And so, it goes on with us laughing in between at how hopelessly we are. It`s quite bonding in a way.

As I can`t see it and none of us knows how another really feels inside it is difficult to know I am not going a little bit bonkers. I swing between rising panic and being blissfully unaware depending on what needs doing. And I definitely prefer the latter feeling.

Until next time

A Foggy PP xx

Hello Sweaty Betty !!

My first night sweat was a somewhat memorable occurrence in that it wasn’t what I expected at all and that it had me laying there wide-eyed realising I was probably entering the ‘menopause”. I dismissed that the next morning and put it down to a high temperature (nothing like a night sweat but convinced myself anyway!) but who was I kidding really?? That was about 4 years ago, and I was 44. The perimenopause was just a “fad” then and so unfamiliar and I was far too young for the menopause wasn`t I?!Oh how much there was to learn and how much wiser I am now !This perimenopause stage and all its symptoms “having a party” had and was going to be around long before I hit menopause!

So, I am going to discuss sweating! Which I know sounds revolting but these night sweats are in a league of their own! And after all, we talk about periods as teens and some of us childbirth (which ends up discussing every orifice we have), so why not night sweats? Lets give them a hard time! They bloody well deserve it 😉,

When I hear the word “sweating “or say the word “sweating”, I think of my Nana. (and not in a Sweaty Betty way I should add). She was so English and really did make it her mission to make sure I spoke correctly. So, when I would exclaim, ” I am SWEATING!” She would correct me and say, “Now dear, you know what we say, horses sweat, men perspire and women glow “. Nana! You left out the part about the night sweats in our forties and fifties!!In all seriousness though, I would love the chance to ask her about her journey through the perimenopause to the menopause which would have been in the 1960s. I wonder how it was for her? If we are only really beginning to talk about it now, what was it like then?? I won’t get on a feminist rant …yet 😉

So, these night sweats! Where on earth does it all come from?? I anticipated a sweaty brow or sweaty armpits (nothing there!), but no! My whole face is like one big puddle and my décolletage (bit between boobs and above) is like a slow running waterfall! It isn’t like sweat at all, its like water swooshing about. Everywhere around there! So far, the rest of my body has been spared this but gosh, the boobs and above are drenched!

Another thing I have noticed is that now, aged 48 (and probably a good few years off the actual menopause, so they may increase in number) is that they are not consistent. Some nights I have a few then can go a while with none. Maybe it`s an individual thing?

And there is a difference between summer and winter night sweats. Who would have thought? Here in Australia the nights can be so hot so it isn`t such a drastic change in the body and I am hot anyway and prone to hopping in the shower to freshen up even at 3am. This could be because it is 1000% humidity for the 30th night in a row! In winter, I would never consider jumping into a shower but the night sweats(here is the gross part, but I did say it would be warts and all) can occur without me waking up and then the sweat which has then turned cold leaves me freezing so I snuggle up and then another night sweat pounces , which I do notice, and I am suffocating in horrible damp sheets! The change in the body is so dramatic. I mean you wake up in a cold room just flabbergasted that you can be in such a pool of sweat.

So what`s the reason we have night sweats ? I found this simple explanation 🙂

https://www.menopausecentre.com.au/information-centre/symptoms/night-sweats/

Oh and finally, one last gripe to you night sweats, what do you have to say about what you do to my hair by morning ??!!

Hello 2 am !!

In my early forties, I began to wake in the night for the first time. Often for a few hours. At first it was attributed to stress or worry but none of that was really a factor in my life. My partner was astonished ! Here was a woman who never moved let alone woke up in all the years they had been together, yet suddenly here she was, switching on lights, flushing loos, getting drinks of water and even standing in the shower in the middle of the night ! So why was it happening?

It was about that time that the term “perimenopause” was beginning to emerge. Some seemed to think it was a bit of a “fad” but I found myself taking note and researching some symptoms. I mean , how can we just launch into menopause? There has to be a transition phase right? And there is! The perimenopause, a now familiar term where symptoms are having a party !

Why sleep deprivation is so common seems to be a grey area. It could be worry or anxiety when those thoughts in the middle of the night seem gargantuan, yet simmer down a little by morning. It could be night sweats waking us up or needing the loo and an inability to get back to sleep. Or it could be a viscous cycle of sleeplessness leading to worry and anxiety and so the pattern repeats.

So what can we do to help this intrusion into our slumber? I have read up on this so many times and can really only find the usual suspects. You know, herbal tea, a cool quiet room (hmm, might be but not once a hot flush strikes, even in Antartica!), regular sleep routine, no stimulants, no alcohol, no caffeine, and so on. There is nothing ground breaking out there so I would love to know of any tips and tricks if you have them.

Here is mine. I used to stress and try so hard to sleep, tossing, turning, humphing around but now see it as me time. No one wants me, no one is calling , I am resting and it`s dark and quiet. I also started a little meditation of my own. I lie on my back, pop my hands on my chest (crossed) flop my feet to the sides and breathe in through my nose for five and out through my mouth for five. After about ten minutes, I get a “floaty feeling” , pop myself into my favourite sleeping position and drift off. If it doesn`t work, I try again.

Now after a few years instead of causing me instant angst, 2am wake ups cause me to sigh with relief as I know I have a while til morning. It`s a 4am one that fills me with dread! If I do get back to sleep, I shall be in the deepest slumber when the alarm goes off. Insomnia is so far my most hated part of the perimenopause as a good nights sleep is irreplaceable and something I really miss.

PPxx