Grab a martini, let's demystify menopause.
Today’s Topic: I’ve Got the Basement (Red, White, and) Blues
Happy Independence Day, fellow tribes-women!
I’m thinking a lot today about these words: independence, freedom, and liberation. Not only because of the national holiday we just finished celebrating, but because of the millions of women who once felt captured and trapped by their hormones, and are now freed from the bondage of hormonal depression. I am one of those women who suffered from this type of depression and I remember vividly the days when my hormones used to take me hostage. I struggled with one of peri-menopause’s most destructive symptoms.
I call them the Basement Blues.
I usually consider myself an optimistic realist; I’ve always seen the glass as half full, not half empty. I expect the best in people and if you know me, you know that I embrace the messiness of life, and, just like that Jerry Herman song, I do my best to Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive.
Case in point: My love of the exclamation point.
Just look at my logo…
This was sadly not always the case.
Part of my basement blues story goes something like this: One sunny summer morning and I woke up in a complete and total funk. My thoughts didn’t turn excitedly to what I would get up and accomplish that day, (as was normal for me), in fact, I couldn’t see anything to look forward to. It was hard to get out of bed, and once I did, I felt as if it was all I could do to even brush my teeth.
I struggled to make it through the day. I schlepped thru an entire week like that, rarely smiling, with nothing good to say. I felt awful and unmotivated and for the next several weeks I would come home from work and crawl into bed as early as I could possibly justify.
I wanted to escape from the whole world and it felt awful.
This was NOT how I wanted to live. I began my attempt to focus on what I could do. As usual, I turned to science for the answers. It was in the library that I discovered my ‘aha’ moment when I read something that told me that my funk could be menopausal related.
The 2008 Seattle-based study in Journal: Menopause told me this:
“…women with no prior history of depression who are in the transitional menopausal place are four times more likely to develop depressive symptoms and two times more likely to develop full blown clinical depression, than women who are not in this time of life.”
So, I thought, if its physiological, that means there should be a measurable, attainable way to combat it. A trip to my nurse practitioner and the research lab left me with even more information.
Science: Here’s your answer, Kelli. It’s called Monoamine Oxidase
Aha - Brain Chemistry!
Of course! The mystery lies within the brain’s chemistry itself. Science also tells me that lower estrogen levels have some effect on perimenopausal depression, but it is not a key player. (Yes, you read that right. Estrogen is not the culprit here.) Rather, the lowering of estrogens and progesterone’s trigger the increase of a different brain chemical called Monoamine Oxidase, or MAO-A.
Hang with me here, ladies, this is a King Kong chemical.
Research shows that as a woman’s key estrogens lower, her MAO-A climbs, like King Kong towering above the buildings of New York.
MAO-A basically eats up the feel-good neurotransmitters: serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine. With lower levels of these three, moods become un-stable, which leads to depressive feelings and symptoms.
The key to combatting that King Kong MAO-A is to do what you can to raise the levels of your good neurotransmitters: serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine.
Last month’s blog offers tips on how to reduce brain fog, and I encourage you to re-read it because those same factors will also help with depression issues.
(See? It’s all connected!)
Gut Health, Supplements, Exercise, and Finding Your Tribe
If your digestive tract is happy and healthy, your physical and emotional life will be too. Eating and drinking things that support a healthy gut will be a game changer for you. Whole grains, green leafy vegetables, fiber (fiber and more fiber), drinking plenty of water, and pro-biotics should all be a big part of your daily diet.
Constipation, diarrhea, and constant gas and bloating can be a symptom of an unhealthy gut and if you experience these, I can almost guarantee your emotional health is also suffering. Listen to what your body is telling you after you eat certain things.
How often do you eat something greasy and bad for you, and then feel bloated, uncomfortable, making multiple trips to the ‘elimination station’? This is your body’s way of telling you that the food you are putting into it is not good for you. Pay attention to what your gut is telling you and honor its voice.
You’ll quickly begin to feel better physically and emotionally.
Supplements and Probiotics
Vitamin D, Omega threes, and B Complex: these supplements are worth taking to combat the basement blues.
Last month, I began talking about pro-biotics, and I’m not going to stop now.
Probiotics are you’re your friends, ladies. I take them especially when I’m travelling, and when my normal eating patterns change.
Bonus – no refrigeration needed!
Here’s what I use:
Vitamin D is known as the sunshine vitamin, and research shows that vitamin D levels and depression go hand-in-hand. If you suffer from depression chances are you have low levels of vitamin D. I live in a part of the country that does not get sunshine all year around and I need the supplementation. And I’m betting, so do you. How much to take? I recommend 1-5K IU a day as you work to lift your mood and support your brain health. My practitioner has had me on as much as 10K IU a day for months at a time to lift my levels.
Omega-3s are essential fatty acids that will help with low mood symptoms like irrational irritation and anger and sadness. Your body can’t produce Omega-3 fatty acids on its own, so it’s vital that you take them either through food or dietary supplements. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: It’s best to get your omega-3s from whole, real food sources.
These are some of the foods rich in Omega-3s:
- Flax seeds and Chia seeds and their oils
- Seafood, especially fatty fish like salmon, tuna, mackerel, halibut, trout, and oysters
- Hemp Seeds
- Nuts, especially walnuts
- Vegetable oils like olive and coconut
- Green leafy vegetables, like spinach, kale, and broccoli
- Egg yolks
Complex B Vitamins
Complex B vitamins give you energy, and clear the fog in your brain so naturally, they are essential to combat the basement blues. The B6 and B3 vitamins will raise your serotonin levels by helping your brain hold onto and convert a substance called amino acid tryptophan into serotonin.
I’m always talking about serotonin, because it is hugely important in mood regulation. B12 vitamins plus folic acid are needed to make more norepinephrine and dopamine- those other two feel-good neurotransmitters!
(A Word of Caution: If you already are taking a prescribed antidepressant or anti-anxiety medication, you should check with your medical provider before taking these neurotransmitter enhancers.)
This one will always be on the list! Why is exercise good for emotional health? Because exercise increases those sacred serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine levels. I cannot say enough how important it is to move your body. The double-edged sword to this one is that when you have the blues, the last thing you want to do is exercise, right?
I know how it is. Be gentle with yourself on this one, OK?
To help inspire you this week, I challenge each of you to take yourself to a fitness store and buy yourself a gift. Those running shoes you think you don’t deserve? You do; get them.
How about a nice, new case to hold your phone while you walk? Practically speaking, reflective gear is a perfect safety gift for those that walk and run at dawn or dusk. Even a new pair of exercise socks can boost your spirits.
These small but powerful gestures are certain to inspire you to get out there and MOVE.
For my hometown folks, Gallagher’s Fitness is the perfect place to go these and any of your work-out needs. They know how to help even the most reluctant exerciser.
When depression strikes, it is even harder to motivate yourself.
I really understand this because I lived it, too.
I urge you to not give up. Once you lace up your sneaks and get out that door, you will feel better!
As hard as it will be to make yourself, I want you to try.
Even a slow walk will raise your serotonin levels.
Just do it, alright?
By the way, If you aren’t already a part of my #30timesthree challenge – you can join us now!
Research shows that even 30 minutes of exercise three times a week will dramatically change the way you feel physically and emotionally. All you need to do to join is decide to do it – and then do it.
Post pictures of yourself from time to time so we can cheer you on. I love seeing you ladies taking care of yourselves. It fills my heart with joy.
We get by with a little help from our friends.
The Beatles were on to something, here. We need each other. Today, for example, I feel especially great because I am still riding high from a fulfilling and wonderful trip.
I recently got back from the annual meeting of The American Dental Hygienists’ Association, and I am chock-full of love and happiness for the time I spent there.
The people I see at this convention aren’t just my colleagues, they are all part of my tribe; a group of people who believe in me, want the best for me, and will support me through the good times and the hard times.
You need this too.
Who are the people you consider your tribe? Use them, sister. You need your people, especially when your blues are telling you that you don’t.
That Tribe Power can be found at my soirée events, held monthly in small businesses all over Salem, OR. If you live in the Salem area, consider joining us!
I LOVE this picture from The June soirée at Taproot! It shows how much we get from being with our people.
That’s it for this time!
I hope you all had a Happy Independence Day.
Liberty comes in all sorts of ways and I look forward to hearing all your stories on what freedom from depression means for you. Let me know what your experiences are with this, and tell me how you take care of yourself.
I believe in the power of story-telling and supporting one another. You matter to me, and I want to help. I love hearing your stories, because I consider you part of my tribe.
Be well, and let’s beat those blues together!
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JULY SOIRÉE — We would love to welcome you into the M&M tribe!
I’m happy to announce that Gallaghers’ Fitness has offered to have a fashion show at our July 27th Soirée at Ritter’s.
Make sure to RSVP below (and sign up for my updates if you haven’t already!) It’s going to be FAB. Stay tuned, and show up!
CALLING ON MY TRIBE!
I’m heading to Cancun and I need your help!
On July 8th, I am competing in an American-Idol-Format event - live on Facebook - to win the title of best speaker. I have 20-minutes to present my best content, just like a TedTalk, and I need your help in voting!
Here’s how you can help:
1. In order to be a part of the voting, please register on the website.
2. Like the Ideal Practices facebook page. The Live Broadcast will be shown there.
3. Mark your calendar for July 8th, 8 am - 11am EST - (Kelli should be on at around 8:30)
4. Vote for Kelli!
BONUS FOR DENTAL PROFESSIONALS! If you work in the dental industry, you can earn up to 8 CE credits for participating.
Check out this VIDEO of Pre-interview with Kelli for more info!
Thanks, Tribe! I feel better knowing you’re on my side. Stay tuned for any updates on the KJVI Facebook page.
I’m off to Cancun!
COMING UP NEXT:
Night Sweats: HOT AUGUST NIGHTS
I’m Kelli. I am a menopause survivor, who has catapulted, stumbled, laughed, and cried my way to the other side of perimenopause and menopause. Along the way I’ve learned invaluable tips and resources to live my best self and beat the Hormone Groan!
No longer a hormone hostage (at least most days), my goal is to help you live well and with personal power through all the changes we go through in this incredible journey of life!